Bordeaux is a great city and a really popular destination for a short break, whether you’re living it up in a swanky hotel or staying for a few days in an Airbnb. Until now it’s been difficult to get out to us for a tour and tasting without a car, so we are pretty excited about the new express coach service from the city centre to Créon, with the bus stop neatly located at the end of Rue Bauduc.
The new 407 Bordeaux-Créon Express runs every hour on the hour during the day, Monday to Friday, and more frequently during the morning and afternoon rush hour. There are three stops in the centre of Bordeaux: Place de la République near the main cathedral, Musée d’Aquitaine on Rue Victor Hugo, and on the quais at the Porte de Bourgogne by the famous Pont de Pierre. It takes 35-40 minutes to Créon, allegedly, and a return trip costs just €4. WiFi and USB points aboard too.
Well done Joe Fattorini, TV presenter on The Wine Show, wine writer and one of the leading wine Twitterati, for having an opinion piece published in The Times this month (19 August). Anyone who has seen our rants will know we take a similar view – for more and a stack of graphics and tables, see ‘19 unpalatable truths about UK wine duty.’
Here’s a chunky extract from his article.
“If you’re a beer, spirits or cider drinker you’ve had it easy for the past few years. Duty on wine has risen by 39 per cent since 2010, while for spirits and cider the figure is 27 per cent, and for beer 16 per cent. The last chancellor to cut still wine duty was Nigel Lawson, 35 years ago, when we still had pound notes in circulation.
But why? Wine isn’t the cause of some dark and growing social problem. Quite the opposite. It marks a civilised end to the day for millions of people across the country. Is wine perhaps the choice of a gilded class who can easily afford the tax burden? Hardly. It is the nation’s favourite and most widely consumed alcoholic drink.
There’s a long way to go before the autumn harvest and the grapes have yet to change colour, let alone ripen, but the end of July seems a reasonable moment to take stock of how the growing season is progressing. Most of the hands-on chores in the vines have been done, and vineyard managers can take their annual August holiday before the harvest preparations begin in earnest.
Speaking of stock, the flowering took place in June and the grapes and bunches evolved in the ensuing weeks, so we have a clue as to how the volumes might look, all being well. This month, in fact, the French Ministry of Agriculture released its estimates of the size of the 2019 crop across France based on conditions to date. AOP wine production (what most of us still know as Appellation Contrôlée) in 2019 is forecast to be between 0 and 8% below the five year average of 2,100 million litres. Bordeaux accounts for around a quarter of that figure and as the largest contributor, the numbers from here can have quite an impact.
Bordeaux 2019 latest
In short, a few days of rain and a brief chill in early June took the edge off the flowering, which had begun so well, while, in contrast, two days of heavy rain on 26-27 July proved a godsend after the prolonged dry and hot patch between mid-June and late July, with peaks close to 40˚C at the end of June and indeed exceeding 40˚C on 23 July. It’s all to play for, still. Marks so far? 7/10. Keep reading
“Phew – it’s a scorcher” we wrote at the end of June. And so it continued, right up until last Friday when, mercifully, the thirsty vines received some refreshing rain.
We’ve seen 40 degrees centigrade from time to time across a number of summers, yet it’s rare to hit such sweltering heights in consecutive months – and that’s before we’ve even made it to August.
Phew, it’s a scorcher. After yesterday, when it nudged 40˚C here, it’s calming down to the low to mid thirties today and throughout next week.
Exactly a week ago, it barely reached 20˚C and rained most of the day, and that’s been the pattern for June. Up, down and up again. Rather like our energy levels, as it’s also been a month of entertaining. Roll on the summer hols – oh, hang on…
The end of May, if you’ll forgive the cliché. Whatever next?
June, you say, and a fair amount of sport still. It’s also an important few weeks ahead in the vineyard as the vines have just started flowering, and this unspectacular yet critical period can potentially make or break a wine grower as it plays a huge part in determining the yield. A poor flowering and you won’t get decent bunches.
Ten years ago but it’s still in fresh in the memory. 2009 turned out to be one of the great Bordeaux vintages for reds (okay, so 2010 and 2016 and now, arguably, 2018 would sit alongside it) but for us it was close to disaster with not one but two hailstorms in May. The vines that didn’t get clobbered on the 13th May were whacked on the 25th.
Damaged vines from early May frost, Montagne Saint Emilion 17 May 2019.
Late spring frosts in May are extremely rare in Bordeaux but there were some icy mornings on the weekend of the 5th to 7th May. Some friends here lost the crop from a parcel or two of vines, and although the damage was bad in some spots it was not nearly as widespread as the devastating frost at the end of April 2017. We were spared, fortunately. Keep reading
If we had a pound for the number of times this will be mentioned by visitors this summer, we’ll be able to buy a bottle. Well, maybe a half. Here’s a quick recap of this cracking story that went around the world, and a brief look at how that bottle of Le Pin 2001 ended up being quite so expensive on the wine list in Manchester. Funnily enough, I was treated by some generous, wine-loving friends at a famous restaurant in northern Spain some ten years ago, and spotted the exact same wine on the list. “Wow!” I said. “They’ve got Le Pin ‘01 on the list for €600. The trade price, if you can find a bottle, is three times that.”
We’ve been bottling again this week, bringing in the same contractor but using an even smarter machine than before. This one comes in at a couple of million euros on the back of a few trucks, with all the bits, according to Thierry Bergeon who wrote the cheque. He’s the bottling guy and the logistics partner for many of Bordeaux’s leading châteaux. And us. Keep reading