Tasting The Unexpected at Bordeaux’s Vinexpo 2015

by Paige Donner

Vinexpo Bordeaux is all work and no play. These photos and video from the four days spent there earlier this week give a good strong visual indication of exactly what I mean.

I suppose it’s really simply a question of, yes, it’s hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it…

All photos by Paige Donner copyright 2015

Vinexpo Bordeaux 2015 Atmosphere Photos

Setting the stage….

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Excellence From Unexpected Places Masterclass…

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Of these 8 Decanter Awards- winning wines, the Australian sweet wine made a presence. It was the Morris, Black Label Liqueur Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria Australia. Established in 1859 and currently owned by Pernod-Ricard. The nose is a candied apricot, caramel and crème brulée. Mouth is ginger, cinnamon, dates. Like drinking caramel. Perfect paired with a Christmas Pudding. It is a Christmas pudding (in a bottle).

Decanter Wine Awards is the largest wine competition in the world. More awards results can be found here.

The Winemaker’s Collection

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The Winemaker’s Collection. A collection of wines from well-respected and well-known wine consultants and winemakers: Michel Rolland, Denis Dubourdieu, Andrea Franchetti, Stéphane Derenoncourt, Eric Boissenot, Zelma Long, Susana Balbo, Ntsiki Bayela, Dany Rolland.


Wine Spectator’s Global Connections Wine Tasting

Global Connections, Fine Wines from the U.S. and abroad, presented by Wine Spectator and Vinexpo Bordeaux 2015.

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These wines are all household name fine wines and famous brands. The other significant thing is that the top people from the houses were present and pouring. From Paul Hobbs to Marimar Torres to Frédéric Rouzaud to Madame Drouhin and many, many more.

Le Pan Media’s Oregon Pinot Noir Tasting

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One of the exciting new developments just launched during Vinexpo 2015 there in Bordeaux is Jeannie Cho Lee’s (MW) new publishing venture called Le Pan. It is more than a glossy beautiful wine magazine, much much more. It is The Art of Fine Wine Living.

At their elegant and spacious booth at Vinexpo they held daily tastings. One of the most interesting and best attended was the tasting of Pinot Noirs from Oregon, led by Doug Frost M.W. All excellent and chosen particularly to showcase the difference between 2011’s and 2012’s and the range among them. Highlighted were the Willammette Valley AVAs.

TIP: Buy 2011’s. The critics missed this one when it was first released and now they are an excellent value, showing excellently.


Château Margaux   1815 – 2015

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Evening time was spent taking a guided walk through the just-revealed Château Margaux chais and cuverie.

The big news at Château Margaux, in addition to this up-do of their first and second year cellars, cooperie and their vinification rooms is that they have installed a new vinothèque.  “Two centuries of Architecture in Tribute to a geat wine from Louis Combes to Lord Norma Foster.”

And, of course, this is the year that this most famous Bordelais château celebrates its 200th year.

(note: my photos of the vinothèque were too dark to publish. you will have to go visit for yourself!)


From California to Patagonia presented by Paz Levinson, Sommelier

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The wines from Uruguay were a delightfully surprising discovery for me. As was the Syrah from the northern most planted vineyards of Chile that are also just 6km from the coast in an area called Colchagua Valley. You have never tasted a shiraz like this before!

Albert Bichot’s Great Burgundy Wines

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Albert Bichot wine tasting, The Iconic climats from Albert Bichot. What else need be said? Although, you never know when you are going to learn that obscure tidbit of wine knowledge…In this case it came when they explained their Château Gris “Les Terrasses” lieu-dit. It is exceptional in that it is a real chateau, not a domaine as is the case in Burgundy, and that it is a wine from a single terroir, not assembled from different parcels. But here comes the wine competition-winning bit of knowledge: In Nuits-St. Georges, where this chateau is located, there is another property (not theirs) who planted pinot-blanc. The only exception – save for Saint Bris – in Burgundy.


Lanson’s Vin Clair Tasting

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How unusual to offer a vin clair tasting, led by the champagne house’s own winemaker. It’s enough of a rarity in Champagne, but to offer that at a big (humongous, really) wine expo is, quite frankly, unheard of.

To taste vins clair (still wines) with the man who is responsible for the blending of these into a wine that will one day sparkle with the effervescence of champagne, is a once-in-a-lifetime. Still wines from Trépail, Villers Marmery, Ay, Verzenay… It certainly makes you ponder just how these magicians come up with their final product?!


Drappier’s 2002 Vintage Champagne

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The popping of a champagne cork around midday on the third day of a wine conference gets people’s attention. And that was just what Mr. Drappier was betting on when he unveiled, then opened, Magnums and even Jeroboams of his vintage 2002 (low dosage).


Krug Champagne Masterclass, Le Pan Media, With Olivier Krug and Charles Curtis M.W.

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It’s not every day you get to swirl and then spit out 2000, 2003 and Brut NV Krug champagnes – and all in the presence of the namesake descendant of such a great house as Krug.

With 2003 being that very hot year all over France, not just in France, most 2003’s are not all that interesting. But Krug has their own way of doing things and their impeccable style of champagne comes through here too, notably in its freshness.  Another thing worth noting is that, remember, most houses keep their only their vintages 8 years; at Krug they keep their Brut NV’s 8 years minimum.


Gault & Millau’s l’Atelier Food and Wine

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Despite having a nearly unpronouncable name for their magazine, this is France’s foremeost food and wine magazine that has been around for over a couple of generations at least.

They hit the target at this Vinexpo this year by hosting a Food and Wine atelier, one and even sometimes two every day, where a noted chef would guest while their sommelier did the pairings.

For Arnaud Lallement that meant a silky kind of a mashed potato topped with divine caviar. Paired with? You got it: champagne. Two kinds were served, the no-dosage Frédéric Sarvat being the one that was the most exciting discovery and also that set off the caviar quite nicely. By the way, the front label of his champagne is not blank, it’s just white print on a white label. Very distinctive, really.


Bettane+Desseauve’s Super Bordeaux Wine Tasting

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What’s a super Bordeaux? Well, as Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve, France’s premier wine critics, will tell you, they are today’s mavericks, tomorrow’s classics.

It’s like discovering next year’s next big thing before everyone else does (and also before the prices catch up with the wine’s value).



Louis Roederer Garden Party at Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

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There are still a few people who know how to – occasionally – relax and have a good time even during something as rigorous as Vinexpo.

Not just Cristal was flowing but so was the 2002 Cristal Rosé. And even the 2007 Brut NV, the newest Roederer “baby.”

And to go with those Hachis Parmentier Canard, a nice round glass of 1989 Pichon Comtesse. Just stunning. Especially with those expansive vineyard views overlooking the Gironde.


Merci Beaucoup Vinexpo Bordeaux 2015!


♥Chérie Du Vin

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