In my last two “My Inner voice” articles I wrote about the area of Champagne and Saint-Émilion. I decided to share these accounts as I had the opportunity to go to France in October last year. In just one week I pretty much visited three wine regions, the Champagne area and then Saint-Émilion right Bank and Haut Medoc left Bank in Bordeaux. With the first two regions covered, this article is about the Haut Medoc, which is highly regarded for bottling the best red wines in the world for centuries. Their best wines are from Margaux, St. Julien, St. Estephe and Pauillac, which mature slowly and can age up to 50-60 years. It is maybe important to know that the Haut Medoc exists nowhere else in the world and dates back to the year 1855. A wine contract from 1855 helped to retain it’s sense of identity and meant that if you had a Château from this area, the wine people would talk of you as if you had the largest diamond rings in the world. All in all it was my fifth time in that famous region and I like to say I am always very happy to be there and to see the many regal Chateauxs and the well trained wine fields, which are so different to my home area of Franken in Germany as you have no hills in Bordeaux.
We started our tour in Margaux in the south of Haut Medoc. This village appellation has 1 First growth, 5 Second growth, 11 Third growth, 3 Fourth growth and 3 Fifth growth wines. We did manage to visit Chateau Margaux, the only 1er Grand Cru Classé in Margaux. You can only actually visit these Châteaux when you have the so called special connection. A Philosopher 150 years ago once said, “If you want to know about Heaven, drink Château Margaux”.
Lunch we had in the 4iem Grand Cru Classé Chéâteau of Château Branaire-Ducru in St. Julien. The Family owner Patrick Maroteaux himself welcomed us with open arms and a warmness you only feel from hose who have harmony with nature and family. After having seen the property and the employees who separate the good grapes from the bad grapes at the separating table, we tasted two second wines of the Château called Duluc de Branaire-Ducru and a further three great wines of the First Wine from the years 2012, 2013 and 2009 with the dishes Madame Maroteaux had prepared for us. It is no wonder that this wine is now also on my wine list..
Our next stop was maybe the most famous wine house in St. Julien, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. It is said that Madame Comtesse de Lalande was to wed a count from Châateau Latour and therefore inherit a piece of his 1er Grand Cru Classé Château land. In the end she did not end up marrying the count but the land remained in her ownership. When we arrived, I noticed that the Main building had received a face-lift, however the tasting of several vintages in front of the beautiful French landscape of the Château was very impressive. This wine I have sold alone for almost 42 years in Restaurants around in Europe.
Our next two stops before the final Diner at Château Cos d’Estournel where Château Pédesclaux a 5iem Grand Cru Classé is produced, which is the neighbour of Château Mouton Rothschild. This Wine making palace was a most futuristic house where Robots seemed to take over – the wine cellar was a clear sign of this. Château Phélan Ségur was then the opposite I would say, still very classic looking and still a Château of Bordeaux from the 60’s. A wine not classified in 1855 but it belonged to the precious classification of Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnels and if you would blind taste the wine, you might find yourself admitting that it can compete with all the Grand Cru Classés of the right bank. After Phélan Ségur, the dinner at the small tasting room at the Château Cos d’Estournel was one of these events you looked forward to as we were served wines from great years from this Chinese looking Château – a 1996, a 2009 and a 2010. What else can a wine connoisseur like myself wish for after a day visiting seven great wine locations than to wish to you that at least once in your life that you visit this great wine area too.