Heading Back for Fancy in Francey: Round Deux

Remember last year when I won that dream trip to France? And I got to taste the 2015 Bordeaux En Primeur?

Just tasting some 2015 Lynch Bages. #NBD

And I made some fabulous international wine blogging friends?

wine bloggers bordeaux france
International Wine Bloggers Do Bordeaux

And I ate gold-topped deviled eggs at La Grande Maison, Bernard Magrez’ Michelin starred restaurant?

I only eat my deviled eggs when they’re topped with gold. #FancyinFrancey

Yea, me too. It was great[1].

Well, later this month I’m heading back to Bordeaux for a few days to get my taste and tour on. My best good friends at Millesima have invited me to return to re-taste the 2015 vintage and see what a year has done to those incredible Bordeaux wines. This will be mere weeks before the 2016 vintage is released for the wine world to taste[2].

I can’t wait to return to beautiful Bordeaux city. I’ll certainly be heading over to La Cité du Vin, Bordeaux’s Disney World of Wine Museum.

I’m also planning a day in the surrounding vineyards with my good friend Mike from Please Bring Me My Wine. He and his partner JB have got a bit of a wine thing going on in Bordeaux and have a snazzy 1971 VW “combi” for wine tasting and touring the area[3].

Have any Bordeaux vineyard/restaurant/tourist suggestions I need to try? I’ll have a bit more time to explore on my own this time around. Thanks again to my good friends at Millesima for the opportunity!

Cheers my friends. Until the next glass!

Lawyer Footnotes

[1] #sorrynotsorry
[2] Alas, this year I will not be among them, as a new crop of wine bloggers have risen up to take our places. I wish them well. Remember to pack your wine wipes! #wineteeth
[3] I had to ask what a “combi” was. I thought it was some sort of British slang like Whirly Windy Pops that I hadn’t heard of before. Turns out “combi” is just short for “combination van”. I love the Brits.

bordeaux wine Chateau d'yquem
Angels sing all day at Château d’Yquem

The Millesima Blog Awards Are Back #MillesimaBA2017

The holidays are a perfect time to get nostalgic, and Millesima is making me all sorts of nostalgic this week. Entries are now open for the 2017 Blog Awards, which means seven lucky bloggers will be heading to En Primeur in Bordeaux in April. This time without me[1]. I’m so jealous.

On a boat in Bordeaux
On a boat in Bordeaux

This was literally the trip of a lifetime, especially for a wine blogger. Me and my blogger counterparts, three from the US, three from Europe, were treated like Kings and Queens from the second we stepped off the airplane until the moment we were chauffeured back to the airport[2].

Château d'Yquem in all her glory
Château d’Yquem in all her glory

You may recall last year when I asked you, and every other person I’ve ever met, to vote for my entry in the awards[3]. The contest asks bloggers to submit a wine blog that fits into one of three categories:

  • Wine & Food Pairing Award
  • Wine Travel Award
  • Wine Reporter Award (an open category celebrating the best in wine writing)
Millesima Blog Awards
Millesima Blog Awards

Wine bloggers from the USA, Europe, and Asia are qualified to enter so long as the entries are written in English. A panel of three judges whittle down the contestants to a few finalists and then it goes to popular vote[4].

Winners this year will be flown to Bordeaux, enjoy a private guided tour of the city, a gala welcoming soirée, imbibe at exclusive tastings of the 2016 vintage en primeur with the Chateaux of the Union des Grands Crus, and more[5].

I think I read something about how past winners aren’t eligible. Maybe I’ll start a new blog called Winer Esquirer and submit an entry again. Technically, Winer Esquirer wasn’t a winner, so I think I’m ok. That’s not cheating right?

If you have any questions about how fantabulous the experience was, feel free to reach out. I love reminiscing about French fairytales. For example, we literally drank the 2015 vintage of Château d’Yquem like water. For a few hours. At the Château. While we chatted it up with the winemaker.  For real. That happened[6].

Angels sing all day at Château d'Yquem
Angels sing all day at Château d’Yquem

My friends at Millesima and Bernard Magrez truly know how to make you feel like royalty. Every detail was attended to, and the trip was a jam-packed, wine-filled breathtaking experience. Not only was the wine and food phenomenal, it was an incredible chance to make some lifelong friends from all over the world. My buddies and I still chat today and I’ve even had the opportunity to meet up with people I met there in New York.

You can visit the blogs of my fellow winners, Madelyn, Michelle, Jeremy, Mike and Toma, where they document their fabulous international wine journeys.

Wine Blogger Friends
Wine Blogger Friends, from left to right, Michelle, Jeremy, Toma, Mike, Madelyn, and Wine Esquire.

I really can’t say enough about the experience, and if you’re a wine blogger, you’d be crazy not to give it a go. Can’t wait to read your entries, Cheers!

Link to more information and to enter. Be sure to get your entry in by December 30!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Never say never though, I’m working out a way for me to go back too!! #seeyouthere
[2] In a wifi-enabled Mercedes. Because how else do you travel around Bordeaux?
[3] I wrote about a white Bordeaux blend, homemade crepes and a crazy a#s client. I miraculously ended up winning the Wine and Food pairing category.
[4] Thank God for Facebook. If I’m friends with you on Facebook, I asked you to vote. Probably on a daily basis. #sorrynotsorry

Caviar Tasting at Pape Clement. That was all for me. #nobigdeal
Caviar Tasting at Pape Clement. That was all for me. #nobigdeal

[5] Did I mention I’m jealous? #sojealous
[6] See my highlights, here. More in-depth reminiscing about d’Yquem, the Bordeaux Tour and dining a la Michelin Stars, residing at a Château for a week (#normal), and tasting Sauternes like it’s my job (well, it is my job, I’m a wine blogger).

I'm pretty much a farmer. Working the fields at Chateaux Pape Clement. #nobigdeal
I’m pretty much a farmer. Working the fields at Chateaux Pape Clement. #nobigdeal

Pre-Trial Chatter Roundup

Trying to stay up to date with current events is hard. Reading my roundup of wine news is easy. Try doing it with a glass of wine[1] and it’ll be even better.

The truth about Rosé Wine

White Zin be damned, it turns out that Rosé is ok to drink. In fact it’s more than ok and can be really, really good. And not just because a bunch of hipsters in NYC say so. Contrary to popular belief, Rosé is not a blend of red and white wine, it is its own creation of red wine grapes. Its pink tinge comes from the brief contact it has with the grape skins. Give it a try. And talk about it. You’ll be totally on trend. And loving what’s in your glass.

Vatican City Drinks the Most Wine Per Capita

per capita forbes
(C) Forbes

And they have the rest of the world beat. By a lot. The US may claim that it’s the biggest and best at everything[2], but we lag far behind the rest of the world in terms of wine consumption[3]. Residents of Vatican City drink, on average, 44 liters more than the average American. Scientific proof that those beautiful Italians lead blessed and holy lives.

Remember eBay?
Now, in addition to an obscure part for your lawn mower or a vintage version of Monopoly[4], you can buy wine. The online marketplace has partnered with Drync to offer everything from hard to find collectibles to every day drinkers to its shoppers. Purchase is of course subject to the shipping laws of the buyer’s state…because this country has yet to figure out an efficient and streamlined way of shipping alcohol[5]. What was that about making America great again?

2015 Bordeaux Futures – Better Buy Early
File May 02, 7 33 23 PMPrices for the 2015 vintage[6] are beginning to emerge and prices are high, with a significant increase over the past few years. Like I learned about while I was in Bordeaux, growing conditions for this vintage were epic, and the wines have followed suit. If you’re in the market to put some money up, I’d recommend getting your hands on it while you can. Wine.com and Millesima have some options available. Just know you won’t be getting any bottles delivered until 2018[7].

Now you have some topics of discussion while you wait in the hallway with opposing counsel, or wait for somebody you know to show up to the cocktail party. Either way, you’re talking about wine, so you’ll be fine.

Until the next glass! Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Or cup of coffee, depending on your time zone. #winetime
[2] Somebody even has the idea that something happened to America and we need to make it great again … #politics
[3] Margin of Error: These pollsters failed to WineEsquire about her consumption levels, so the results may be somewhat skewed by +/- 20 liters per year.
[4] With or without all the pieces. #bargainshopper
[5] Shouldn’t a group of lobbyists get on this? #lawyerlife
[6] Which I had the amazing opportunity to taste. #FancyinFrancey
[7] Good things come to those who wait.File May 02, 7 29 19 PM

And on the Third Day, We Tasted Wine

Day Three of #FancyInFrancey started like the rest; impeccable sunrise, coffee, croissants and cheese in the heavenly château, followed by the James Bond pickup in the Wi-Fi-enabled Mercedes[1]. That morning we were headed to the official En Primeur tasting organized by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux at Bordeaux’s newest attraction, the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux[2].File May 02, 7 58 12 PM

The concept of the En Primeur tasting originated in Bordeaux. Though there’s a difference of opinion as to when it actually began[3], the premise is that châteaux owners invite négociants and critics to preview the most recent vintage before it’s ready, only six months after harvest, in order to get a sense of what’s to come. Deals are struck, prices are set, and most of the wine is sold during En Primeur directly from the châteaux to négociants[4].

File May 02, 7 58 48 PMSo here I was, little old Wine Esquire, standing in front of the looming Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, about to enter the world of En Primeur. Seeing as how I had been to approximately one (1) official wine tasting before, I felt pretty scared $hitless unprepared. I knew when I went on this trip that I’d be the most uneducated in terms of wine, and I was right[5]. But no matter, I was excited and ready to taste. On the drive in, my new friend Mike, who had been to En Primeur twice before, gave me a heads up about the real deal. This was going to be raw, intense wine. Spitting was a requirement, and you had be careful about brushing your teeth too hard after because the acid would be eating away at the enamel. He’d brought mouthwash with him to swish with after and I could have some if I wanted. Uhmmm, ok?

File May 02, 7 49 19 PMWe walked in, got our official press badges, our Riedel tasting glass and made our way inside. Typically when you taste wine in America, you go from light to dark, white to red, so that’s how I started and thought it odd when nobody else did the same. After our guide Fred from Millesima picked up on the white juice in my glass[6], I nonchalantly made the switch to the rouge[7]. I can assure you that Mike was not kidding when he said this was intense. This was like having tannins rip your mouth apart. My teeth were sore. My gums were sore. It was like Olympic training that I was wholly unprepared for. People around me were sniffing, swirling, sipping, spitting and furiously writing notes. Forget about detecting subtleties in each pour, I was just trying not to wince every time I sipped[8].

I can’t lie, this was way over my head. Looking back at my notes, it was clear I was overwhelmed. “Holy tannins,” “Powerful,” “Smells like toast,” and “Friends said this was really good,” was about all I got. I felt like a wine failure, but I quickly realized that it didn’t really matter; this was a once in a lifetime opportunity[9] and I was having a blast. I made the switch back to whites, which were far more approachable, and I continued on my merry way. I picked up a good tip from my friend Jeremy who told me about the four S’s of wine tasting: sight, smell, sip and savor. A good reminder on how to focus, or at least try to focus, on each pour.

File May 02, 7 30 50 PMIt’s important to note that my experience is certainly not a testament to the quality of the wines we were tasting, or even the vintage as a whole. The wines being poured were some of the most renowned and well-respected in the world. Those who know far more than I are saying this vintage is one for the ages, so my inability to get much from the tasting is not reflective of what was really going on.

File May 02, 8 40 20 PMAfter two hours of spitting tasting, Fred gathered our gang, took some photos and then we made our way back to the van. Off we went to Château d’Yquem[10] for lunch and a conference on the 2015 vintage put on by the University of Bordeaux. Little did I know, I was about to taste the most angelic wine I’ve ever experienced.

File May 02, 7 49 50 PMWe walked up to the gorgeous château and were ushered into a private tasting area with a small group of other guests. The setting was incandescent. The tulips, the lighting, the color of the Sauterne, it was literally like angels were singing, and I hadn’t even tasted the wine yet. File May 02, 7 51 07 PMI’d heard of Château d’Yquem, but I really had no idea what I was about to be drinking. When I say that angels were singing, I’m not exaggerating. The honey, the floral, the beauty of the wine is indescribable. And to think it’s not even ready for drinking yet is mind blowing[11]. Fred introduced us to the CEO and the winemaker, and we hob-knobbed with the Sauterne Royalty like the group of elite wine bloggers we were[12]. File May 02, 8 39 58 PMThe lunch was equally as amazing as the wine; the French take on Shepard’s pie: softly whipped potatoes over a bed of shredded duck; trays upon trays of crudités, charcuterie and cheese, delectable chicken salad sandwiches, a poached egg on a bed of butternut squash[13]. And all the while, bottle after bottle of the 2015 d’Yquem was poured. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing.File May 02, 7 52 03 PM

Once we had gorged ourselves on Sauternes and snacks, we made our way to the conference being held on the grounds of the château. Though I admit I was a bit tired after our lunch, it was fascinating to hear how truly amazing this vintage was. It had the five key characteristics necessary to make an amazing wine: early and quick flowering and fruit set during warm and dry weather; the gradual onset of water stress stemming from a dry July; full ripening of grapes in August and September; and perfect weather for harvesting at optimum ripeness. These conditions hadn’t been seen together since 2005, a stellar Bordeaux vintage, so the world is anticipating another beautiful batch of juice.

File May 02, 7 33 23 PMWe were surprised to find that the conference included a blind tasting of eleven more wines. Our schedule for the day said we had another tasting following the conference, so when the blind tasting started, we assumed they had rolled it into one. We were wrong. Next up was a separate Sauternes tasting at a château down the road. I’ve never drank so much wine in one day[14]. But we’ll leave that to the next blog.

Until the next glass, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] #normal
[2] This translates to “New Stadium Bordeaux.” It’s apparently also known as Matmut Atlantique.
[3] Some say 200 years ago, some say 1982, others 1961. Regardless, it happened this year for the 2015 vintage.
[4] Check out this awesome graphic for a visual breakdown of how it works. edvin graphicHere’s also a great breakdown of the history and how it works.
[5] That also means that I got the award for Most Improvement at the end of the week. Not that there was an actual award. But if there was, I would have won it.
[6] “Oh, you’re starting with white?” #insidejoke
[7] #fakeittillyoumakeit
[8] #amateur
[9] Although I’m hoping to go back next year with a bit more knowledge and give it another go!
[10] Pronounced Dee-Kem.
[11] This did not stop me from drinking a whole lot of it though. It was just so good, I couldn’t help myself.File May 02, 7 52 35 PM
[12] Hahaha, that was funny.
[13] Or maybe it was pumpkin, we couldn’t really tell.
[14] Actually, that’s probably a lie.File May 02, 7 50 26 PM