Every two years, Bordeaux hosts the enormous trade fair Vinexpo, which is on this week. I caught up with my old mate Oz Clarke for dinner in town, and the two of us went to the rather grander affair at Chateau Mouton Rothschild the following night to celebrate the opening of their smart new cellars.
We’ve never had a Bauduc stand at the show. I’m sure it works for large companies who have the (fiendishly expensive) space to arrange lots of meetings with their agents and importers from all over the world. For me though, the thought of looking like Billy No Mates, like so many wine producers staring into their mobile phones in their little booths, has never caught my imagination. The wine world is also full of tyre kickers, and I take my hat off to those who have the patience and good humour to cope.
The good news though is that there are several interesting tastings, lots of nice people come to town (especially journalists, wine writers and merchants) and the grand estates know how to put on a show. The dinners might be exhausting but some of the better ones – large and small – are certainly worth it, despite the speeches. We host a few people too at Bauduc, but try to spare them the speech.
Oz Clarke and his former publisher Adrian kindly invited me to join them at Brasserie Bordelaise in Bordeaux, one of the liveliest restaurants in town, and to bring my wines to taste. (Adrian is buying our white for his daughter’s wedding this summer, so he wanted Oz’s expert opinion on which one. They’re going for the regular Bauduc Blanc 2012, in case you ask.)
Oz was on fine form, spitting as ever with true precision in the lobby of the Hotel Normandy where he was staying. Into a spittoon, that is. We then took the wines to the restaurant, which they accepted in good Bordeaux fashion, without complaint. There was just a minor charge for corkage on the bill.
We also ordered a 2007 Pomerol, a Clos du Clocher, from the list. I thought it was a bit flat – ’bottle variation’ – while Oz thought it was very slightly corked. So after some debate we sent it back – again, without a murmur of complaint. The second bottle was far superior and very drinkable, especially with the beef from Bazas. The moral of the story, I guess, is that if you’re not happy, ask for another bottle. 99% of people would have kept the first one, and not really have enjoyed the wine.
At Angela’s suggestion, I decided to stay in town at the last minute and amazingly, for a Saturday night on the eve of Vinexpo, there was a room available at the first hotel we tried at the Hotel des 4 Soeurs. Oz haggled them down to €132. From €132.
The following night, the Sunday, was the setting for something far grander. The dinner for the 1855 Grands Crus Classés at Chateau Mouton Rothschild near Pauillac, for the unveiling of their new cellars.