|What:||Star Right Bank Reds Dinner - Dauphine, Fleur-Petrus and Figeac||Event Sold Out|
|When:||19 Feb 18 ,19:00 -22:30|
|Where:||The Travellers Club SW1Y 5EP map|
Speaker: Charles Taylor, founder of the eponymous wine importer and supplier of the Dining Club
“If Burgundy’s appeal is unashamedly sensual, Bordeaux’s is more cerebral and increasingly financial” (Huw Johnson and Jancis Robinson 2013). Tosh. With due respect, where are these two coming from; great Bordeaux is both as sensual and cerebral as Cicero, Proust and Eric Cantona. In Bordeaux the Anglo Saxons gave the name “right bank” to the eastern side of the River Dordogne around the city of Libourne. The “left bank” was the range of wineries to the north and south of the city of Bordeaux on the west bank of the Garonne river. The Dordogne is to the east and the Garonne to the west, with both flowing northwards; they meet near Bourg. The land in between the two is mainly “Entre-deux-mers” rather like Mesopotamia but somewhat less exotic.
The two most well-known names of the right bank are the neighbouring regions of Pomerol and St Emillion just east of Libourne. Fronsac, the third most respected region, is slightly to the west of the city. Cabernet Sauvignon does not do well on the gravel, sand, clay and limestone mix that makes up the right bank and Merlot is nearly always the dominant grape with, some way behind, Cabernet Franc followed by Cabernet Sauvignon. Tonight we will sample senior wines from each of these three areas, with the furthest apart being separated by only 6.4 kilometres (or four miles to Brexiteers).
As an introduction we have Charles Heidsieck Brut Champagne which, unusually for a Non-Vintage Champagne, is a mixture of reserve wines drawn from previous vintages with an average age of ten years. The wine is a mix of the three classic Champagne grapes Chardonnay, Pinots Noir and Meunier.
Then with our first course Château de Fieuzal Blanc 2013. From the region of Pessac-Léognan, this wine is made from Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grapes that are grown on gravel-studded soils with close planting and organic viticulture. The wine is a fifty-fifty blend raised in 50% new French oak barrels and no malolactic fermentation. In January 2017 Stephen Carrier, the winemaker at Fieuzal, suggested that the 2013 should be left another year or so. We have been happy to oblige.
The Right Bank Reds are to follow. First Fronsac. Oz Clarke once reported neighbouring appellations called Fronsac wines “Merlot for truck drivers,” but much has changed. In 2000 Château de la Dauphine was purchased from the negociant by Guillaume Halley of the Carrefour dynasty, and a 10 million Euro (£6m then) modern winery was installed. 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc grapes in concrete and stainless steel barrels for the initial fermentation, then malolactic in French oak. This gives fresh and fragrant, soft-fruited wines that are ready soon but age well. The 2010 Château de la Dauphine is rated at 93 points by Steven Spurrier of Decanter.
Next Pomerol and Château La Fleur-Pétrus 1995. A neighbour to Pétrus but unlike the muddy, clay-logged soil of Pétrus, La Fleur-Pétrus itself is almost entirely gravel. A ten-acre, old-vine sector of nearby Château le Gay was sold to La Fleur-Pétrus in about 1990 and according to Robert Parker this really beefed up La Fleur-Pétrus and he gave our wine 93 points.
Barely a mile away from La Fleur-Pétrus across the D244 is St Emilion with Château Figeac as one of its star wines. There have been buildings on the site since the second century AD and wine has been produced for more than four hundred years. When a financial crisis struck in the 1830’s as part of the Continental blockade, the then owner, the Countess de Carles-Trajet, sold a block of land to the north of the property. This land included what is now Cheval Blanc. Nearly two hundred years later the current owners of Figeac are still ruing that day, which just goes to confirm that you should never sell an asset to fund current expenditure.
30% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon are the mix which is unusual for this region and 1998 was a superb year.
Our dessert wine will be Château Suduiraut 2001. This was an excellent year for Sauternes and this is an outstanding wine with average ratings of 95.
- Tony Wright, Honorary Secretary
Dress code: Lounge Suits
Tuesday 24 April – Tasting at the Army & Navy Club
Wednesday 6 June - AGM and Burgundy Dinner at the Army & Navy Club
Thursday 5 July – Tasting at the Army & Navy Club