We’ve just spent a great weekend with some friends from Norfolk who rented our farmhouse. Dinner at the château on friday evening – local Agneau de Pauillac served with, er, Pauillac – was followed by two leisurely days on the Right and the Left Banks of Bordeaux.
On Saturday, Otto Rettenmaier showed us around his chai (winery) and his vineyard at Chåteau La Tour Figeac, right next door to Cheval Blanc in St-Emilion on the border with Pomerol. La Tour Figeac is one of the many up-and-coming estates in Saint Emilion making terrific wine at a fair price, and Otto is a very genial host. After a light lunch in the old town, and an opportunity in a restaurant to sniff what a ‘corked’ wine smells like, we drove around some top spots – Pavie, Ausone and so on – and then trod some of the hallowed ground around the plateau of Pomerol. The most eye-opening part is the 100-fold current price difference of wines from the 2005 vintage, between one vineyard and its next door neighbour – Pétrus and Gazin in Pomerol, with almost as much of a gap between Ausone 2005 and Belair 2005 on the hillside above St-Emilion.
Dinner was at the newish, excellent Auberge de l’Ancienne Poste in Rions near the Garonne river. Superb côte de boeuf was cooked over old vines on an open fire in one of the dining rooms. The starters and desserts are in complete contrast to the brilliant main course – all theatre and weird presentation. Actually they were quite tasty but clearly the chef must be a frustrated artist. We drank Bauduc white and red, and the wine of Château La Tour Figeac that we had visited earlier in the day.
On sunday morning, we drove up the famous D2 on the Médoc wine route, taking in the picture book views of Chåteaux Margaux, Palmer and others. Then an unusual occurrence for a sunday: a visit and tasting at a top estate in Pauillac, but I’d better keep the destination quiet in case they get inundated with requests. Lunch at the very sound Le Pauillac restaurant followed, on the quays in the town, and a very good bottle of Pontet Canet 2002 for €55. Thankfully, one of the party offered to drive the people carrier back home.