Visiting Bordeaux each spring to attend the En Primeur tastings is always an interesting experience. Full of challenges and deadlines, but also rife with learning opportunities and plain old dumb luck, I try to approach the week as open and accepting as possible. It is not a time for stress or mood swings. You never know what is going to happen. Not being much of a planner, Primeurs is the one week that I keep a list of appointments, from 9am until 6pm, every day, and I cram a lot of tastings and appointments into those time slots! Monday was spent in the Médoc with appointments at 11 châteaux, including 2 First Growths, 5 Seconds, 2 Thirds, and 2 Fifths. Tuesday was again spent in the Médoc, only 3 appointments, but all 5 UGC tastings were there. Wednesday morning began with the UGC Pessac-Léognan tasting at Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte. Between the reds and whites, that was 31 wines, so it was rather amusing as to why I busted my tail after this tasting to drive to Pomerol for a noon appointment to taste one wine. What was the wine? Believe it or not, it was the 2014 Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet.
You may have heard the story before, a few years ago, former TWH staffer Emily asked me if I had ever tasted Bordeaux Clairet. The answer was no, but more than that, I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. Once again, Bordeaux Clairet is a light red wine, made in the style reminiscent of the wines shipped to England in the middle ages. It’s made like a Rosé, yet sits with its skins for a longer period of time, hence the red wine aromas and palate. We just love it! With a little chill on it, it’s fresh, it’s fruity, it’s light, but definitely more substantial than a Rosé. Around the table, it’s incredibly versatile too; you can pair it with almost anything. The best part: its price. $10 by the bottle or $8.50 by the case, it’s no wonder my fall invoice usually has a bottle or seven on it. Here is our post about the 2012 version. Also, you can read our write-up on the 2013 here.
Unlike the past two vintages, the supplier did not air-freight out any samples of the 2014 for our staff to taste, and we weren’t about to buy something we hadn’t tasted, so I made arrangements to do so while in Bordeaux. It must be amusing from the négociant’s perspective as well, as she interrupted her hectic Primeurs schedule to grab a sample of inexpensive Clairet, chill it, and meet with me so I could taste it. We went to lunch afterwards, where we did discuss more serious matters with some serious wine from a Pomerol estate called Château Bonalgue (You will be hearing a bit about Bonalgue in the near future). After lunch, I was off to four appointments at various celebrated Pomerol châteaux, then two more just across the border in Saint Émilion. When I look back on the day as a whole, it cracks me up to think about leaving Smith-Haut-Lafitte and high-tailing it across the two rivers to make my noon appointment to taste the Bordeaux Clairet. I was confident that it would be to my liking, but I needed first hand knowledge before we went ahead and bought a bunch. It exceeded expectations.
It’s container season here at TWH! The 2014 Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet recently arrived on the first of three containers due in the next several weeks! Both Anya and I took bottles home last weekend, and it looks like we’ll be doing it again after we close today! First thing this morning, Tom asked Anya if she had tried the Clairet. “I love it! It’s great, so easy to drink, so plump, so juicy. I like this year’s version better than last year as it’s fresher and less herbal.” Who need boring tasting notes when you have Anya’s enthusiasm? – Peter Zavialoff