23 June 2009

Chateau Dassault

After Laurence had insisted we visit her at Chateau Dassault we didn't need any more encouragement and organised a visit towards the end of our stay with Mary joining us. We drove through the vineyards of Pomerol and St Emilion on a beautiful summers evening, past chateaux, farmhouses, villages and roman ruins. And for miles there was a carpet of vines, all meticulously trimmed and trained upright. Green fields like we haven’t seen for 10 years. We were greeted by Laurence, who by chance had just hosted the buyers from Fortnum and Maison, and so just happened to have opened some great bottles, 2006, 2001, 1999, 1995, 1994. First we had a tour of the winery and like every French winery we had visited in the region we were impressed with how meticulous and high tech it was. She spoke passionately about the terroir, canopy/vineyard management, hand picking, hand sorting and using concrete tanks in preference to stainless steel and the use of technology to control of fermentation. There are a number of myths I think that are common in Australia regarding French wines and French wine making techniques which may be based on past practices (or perhaps just ignorance).

Then the wines! Beautiful, opulent, complex, balanced, gorgeous wines. We had to recover with dinner in Saint-Emilon sitting in the courtyard of a lovely bistro well frequented by the locals, under the bow of an ancient fig tree, besides the wall of a 14th century church, sipping a bottle of St Emilion and eating perfectly matched seasonal food, locally grown and light in style. The decanter was the most fantastic we have seen - a large bowl on a long stem with a lip for pouring. Looked like one massive glass of wine!

Laurence had told us she thought that the 2001 wines were ready to drink and of good value so that’s what we drank from Ch Laroque.

We again felt so privileged to have had experiences like this. We coined a new phrase. The only good thing about leaving Bordeaux was knowing that we would definitely be returning again.

In the instance of that restaurant and St Emilion we loved it so much we took our good friends from Australia, Libby and Ian there for lunch the following Sunday!

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