Bordeaux 2016’s glorious Summer

I put together this Bordeaux 2016 vintage update for JancisRobinson.com and for Livex, the fine wine exchange.

It’s been exceptionally dry during the holidays, with plenty of sunshine around Bordeaux. Most tourists have been on the beach, relaxing by the pool, strolling around markets or spending time in the city of Bordeaux itself. Those with an interest in wine might have visited the new Cité du Vin, which opened in June, or taken a trip out to Saint-Emilion.

Margaux, Palmer and Pavie in the shade of the Merlot at Chateau Bauduc, 16 August 2016

Margaux, Palmer and Pavie in the shade of the Merlot at Chateau Bauduc, 16 August 2016

Those who have ventured out into the vineyards – beyond the refreshingly cool barrel cellars – might have seen how dry the ground looks. The parched grass verges contrast starkly with the lush green rows of vines, which are, for the most part, in remarkably rude health. As you’d imagine, young vines with shallow roots on dry soils suffer when there’s no rain but, overall, the vines are coping well, especially given the heat over the French holiday this last weekend with temperatures consistently reaching 33°C or more.

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Taking peace for granted, and working together

We’re not allowed to vote in the UK referendum on the EU, having moved to France over 15 years ago. Enough has been said about the economy, immigration and self-interest, so I wanted to share an unusual and poignant tale about working together.

Dad tour June 2003 - 02 copy – Version 2

Noel Chavasse’s grave at Brandhoek near Ypres

Captain Noel Chavasse was a doctor, and the only man to be awarded the Victoria Cross twice during the First World War. He won the first at Guillemont during the Battle of the Somme a hundred years ago this summer, rescuing ‘some twenty badly-wounded men’ from no-man’s land under fire, and a second VC at Passchendaele the following August in 1917.

’Noel Chavasse never killed anyone, nor did he even fire a shot in anger. He was never aggressive or vindictive; never for a moment did he lose his essential decency and restraint. Yet he is one of only three men who have won the VC twice and in some ways the most remarkable of all.’

From ’Supreme Courage – Heroic stories from 150 years of the Victoria Cross’, by General Sir Peter de la Billière.

Noel was the first cousin of my granny, Esme Quinney, née Chavasse (hence he was my ‘first cousin twice removed’). They and their families were descendants of a Frenchman who had settled in England early in the eighteenth century. Chavasse is the middle name of my late father, myself and my children, so you can imagine that Noel’s story has always been close to our hearts. Keep reading

One reason for UK wine lovers to stay in the EU

Gov_blogCurrently, there’s no limit to the amount of wine you can bring back to the UK from France and the EU, provided it’s for your own use and you travel with the goods. That way you save £2.50 a bottle in UK duty (of £2.08 plus VAT on the duty). If you bought the wine outside the EU, however, the limit is 4 litres, plus a whopping 2 litres of sparkling wine. If Britain leaves the EU, we’re struggling to see what incentive there is for the taxman to increase the non-EU allowance. Keep reading