The third day dawns on the Right Bank. Dinner last night was something pretty special (look out for an extra blog on that) with some great Bordelais friends in the heart of St Emilion; but for now it's back to work and the day begins (as all days would, in an ideal world) with Pomerol.
After the trials and suffering of Merlot on the Left Bank, the question remained: how would these Merlot-centric estates cope with the vintage? Of course, the conditions and terroir on opposite sides of the river are very different and so it was important to go in without preconceptions. That said, we know that fruit set started late because of rain and flowering was smashed by more rain in June so crops will certainly be down (and yields are certainly well down on previous years, the last two of which were quite short already). The question relates more to the picking date, which was itself affected by the threat of rain and with it, the possibility of botrytis.
Our first morning's tasting has actually proven to be reflective of the Left Bank, in as much as those who worked with the fruit they actually got have made pretty, elegant, albeit light-bodied and red-fruited wines; those who have tried to make wines with the fruit they wished that had have often over-extracted. In their desire to gain a richer core or darker fruit, they have lost the precision and delicacy which characterises the best wines of the vintage, and left the wines short and palate-smackingy dry. The best wines are Burgundian in style, with a Chambolle elegance, balance and persistence - the best of these include Petrus and La Conseillante, near neighbours on the plateau, both of whom have used restraint and a gentle touch. Worth mentioning again that volumes are down by half at both properties. The one place so far which has succeeded at the slightly richer, deeply fruited style is L'Evangile; both pure and elegant but managing to achieve some of the black cherry and (dare I say it) plum character we expect from this commune.
A very short word about Yquem 2013: MAGIC. That's all you need to know. If you have the means, buy it.
Other wines which impressed this afternoon were Cheval Blanc, with a very small production (18 hl/ha) and a delectable, distinctive 53% Cabernet Franc which gives a musky, floral sheen to its sumptuous, silky red fruit; Ausone, which is all harmony, softness, perfect balance and class; and the charming (by which I mean completely bonkers) Roc des Cambes, Domaine des Cambes and Tertre Roteboeuf from Francois Mitjavile. Lush, supple, smoky, soft and open for business already, these are a great way to end a pretty tough tasting day.