Viva Vinexpo

Viva Vinexpo

Friday 19th June 2015
by Tom Jenkins

Members of our buying team enjoyed the manifold fruits and pleasures of Vinexpo Bordeaux last week. 

As wine fairs go, this has an all-together more relaxed vibe than competitors such as Prowein, but it is a wonderful opportunity to network, meet with our suppliers and enjoy some lavish entertainment. 


Tuesday was a slightly extravagant six Michelin star day, with lunch prepared by Michel Guérard at Château Belair-Monange and dinner at Château Margaux created by Guy Savoy. Our most generous hosts, Christian and Edouard Moueix, welcomed us to the immaculately renovated Belair, renamed Belair-Monange in 2008 in honour of Adele Monange-Moueix, the mother of Jean-Pierre Moueix. We have developed a passion for the wines from this noble terroir, and the recent incorporation of Madelaine seems to have only enhanced the appeal. Before lunch we tasted Hosanna, La Fleur Petrus, Trotanoy and Belair-Monange 2009 and 2010. Anyone with these wines in their cellars will not be disappointed. The 2009s are heady and intoxicating, they are decadent and richly textured, yet there is a precision and freshness that balances the exotic nature of these wines.


The Belair-Monange, as one would expect from this astonishing limestone terroir, is more ethereal and high-toned, but no less impressive. The Hosanna and La Fleur Petrus 2010s are still somewhat dominated by their considerable tannins - these are clearly more serious and structured wines than their 2009 counterparts and require further cellaring. The Trotanoy 2010 was the wine of the tasting. This is everything one could wish for in a Pomerol; beautiful, sumptuous fruit with the silkiest of textures - a wonderfully complete and resplendent Claret. The Belair-Monange 2010 performed admirably after the exceptional Trotanoy. The limestone terroir clearly dictates its character. If anything, the 2010 is more concentrated and profound than the wonderful 2009 and will reward considerable cellaring.

With our rather delicious lunch, we were served Belair 1982 and 2000 - wines from a previous era of this Château. Although the erstwhile propriétaire perhaps did not bestow the estate with the love and dedication this terroir deserves, the wines were glorious in a delicate, refreshing style - testimony to the quality of the soils and Mother Nature. Since 2008, the Moueix family has restored the Château, cellars and the vineyards to their former glories. One cannot stress enough how much work has been undertaken in the vineyards. This coupled with Moueix savoir faire in the winery has elevated this estate to one of the must buy wines of St Emilion.

Corinne Mentzelopoulos was our most generous host at Château Margaux, for the unveiling of their new Norman Foster designed winery. 450 lucky guests were given a tour of the new facilities and the historic barrel cellars, followed by an extraordinarily lavish reception to mark the opening. We were spoiled with Krug Grande Cuvee from magnum before we were treated to a wonderful flight of wines from Margaux. Pavilion Blanc 2012 from magnum was the perfect accompaniment to our Crustacés en coque d’araignée starter. There is such tension and wonderfully vibrant fruit, with a hint of saline and palate cleansing acidity - it is a glorious wine, absolutely à point for drinking right now and very, very moreish. Our main was accompanied by a brace of Château Margaux with a combined total of 199 Parker points! In truth, the 99 point 1996 trumped the 100 point 2000 vintage, the latter, although massively impressive is still cloaked in oak and requires more time to show its full potential. The 1996 is the perhaps the perfect expression of Margaux: floral, perfumed, ethereal, complex and utterly beguiling. Anyone lucky enough to have this in their cellar should find an occasion to open a bottle.

We were then treated to the 1985 with cheese. I suspect that had we been served this in isolation, we would have been thrilled, but one becomes somewhat blasé after the 1996 and 2000. Initially the 1985 was a little musty and closed, however, with aeration it began to blossom into a gentile, refined, graceful Margaux, full of mature, nuanced flavours. Although utterly charming, the 1985 does not possess the same level of precision as recent vintages. It highlighted the enhancements that Corrine and Paul Pontallier have implemented over the last thirty years. The huge investment, technical advances and now the new winery have raised the bar and ensured this Château's reputation as one of the preeminent estates in Bordeaux.