Comparing Bordeaux Pairs
He would not write about it. This sentence from my table companion, a venerable wine journalist made me jolt and the wine in my glass slop. There have been too many best of Bordeaux pairs written about lately, he defended his stand. Coupling up a crop of Bordeaux’s best, in the years 1995 and 1985 was not new. Not news. And not wine news.
Best Bordeaux pairs
I had never tasted the Chateaux Figeac 1995 & 1985 or la Tour 1995, 1985 or Cheval Blanc 1995, 1985 in a battle of the flights. For me WineArt's Bordeaux pair tasting was very new. Of course the journalist continued, "such tastings are an excellent way of getting to know wines and appreciating those subtle levels of terroir for which Bordeaux is famous".
For me (a simple wine lover) the clearest message was the older the wine the better the taste and that Bordeaux wines travel years compared to the “drink now” shooting star wines of the new world. For the wine professionals present (and most were) the message lay on other levels: the difference meters can make (Bordeaux neighbours can taste world’s apart) and the influence of weather (and all there knew what year brought what precipitation and who harvested when and at what time). They jotted religiously their findings and opinions throughout the two-day tasting. Bereaved of insider education, I settled back to simply “enjoy”.
Quietly enjoying their wine (and in particular the 1985 La Tour) were my table partners the elegant winemakers from Bordeaux, the late Thierry Manoncourt and his charming wife Marie-France. “La Tour is a favourite of ours”, confided Marie-France. That’s when they take time to drink wine, other than their very own Chateau Figeac. “At our first picnic, Thierry brought along his wine”, Madame Manoncourt continued with a enchanting laugh. “A Château Figeac 1947, and not bad.” An understatement for a Château that is firmly fixed in the Bordeaux Premier Grand Cru firmament.
1985 Château Figeac
“And Château Figeac? your wine, what year is your favourite?” I dared to ask. Not in the least offended Thierry Manoncourt replied quickly with a warm smile “1985.” Not because this year produced wine truly better than all the others, but simply because he hadn’t drunk enough of it. His cellar master (Manoncourt explained) had oversold the 1985 wine and to honour orders had to buy back bottles from the marketplace. Psychologically 1985 was a year “that we never had”.
The perfect pair
That tale alone was story enough. A small slice of oral history told by one of the industry’s most illustrious couples. Figeac is still a family-driven Château with flair and competence. But that evening, a decade ago, I found from Château Figeac my perfect Bordeaux pair.