Two days of the 2009 vintage en primeur tastings done and dusted and it's Wednesday morning in Bordeaux . Yesterday morning the breakfast room of the little château I'm staying at in the Entre Deux Mers is full of smart Chinese and Japanese businessmen tapping at their laptops and speaking into mobile phones. They are about to be welcomed at the various châteaux, whose wines they're going to taste, with open arms. According to one merchant, they fart and burp a lot. He has to brief them: 'please do not fart and burp in the tasting room'.
Snow had fallen on the runway on the Thursday evening before last week at Toulouse airport but by the following Wednesday, four days before the vernal equinox, it was perfectly clear and sunny 50 minutes drive away in Gaillac.
Only 14 of the ’50 Portuguese Great Wines’ were white (an achievement, however, given Portugal’s reputation as a stolidly red wine country), so that meant to my mathematically challenged brain that there were 36 reds. Ok I lie, there were actually 34 reds. How come? You guessed it, because the last two wines were sweet wines, a 2007 Portal Late Harvest Douro, a deliciously fragrant citrusy, elegant sweet blend of rabigato, moscatel and viosinho at only 11.5% alcohol, and an altogether more robust, exotically raisined sweet sticky in the 1999 Bacalhõa Moscatel Rosso.
I tried a few cleanskins while I was in Australia this time round. A cleanskin is a wine with no label sold cheap because it's surplus to requirements. Don't therefore expect Château Lafite from a cleanskin. On the other hand you should expect something decent. Otherwise why bottle the wine at all rather than sell it off in bulk. I've had good cleanskins before. Last time I was in Australia, my father-in-law produced a memorable bottle of a Hardy's 2002 that had cost him AUD $2.50.