Bordeaux’s Chateau Bauduc. Hail and Terroir. My 159 Steps.
Day 9 in Arcachon 10th June
Gavin Quinney knew about terroir but was somewhat sceptical when he started winemaking at Chateau Bauduc fifteen years back. Hail stones weren't in the wine equation then. But they sure are now. Fifteen years on, Englishman Gavin believes in hail and terroir. And much more besides.
|Gavin checking Merlot|
Chateau Bauduc is found in the area known as Entre deux Mers, the wide strip of land between the Dordogne and the Gironde. Bauduc couldn't be more entre. Gavin, and his dogs, took us around his 25 hectares of vines, some quite young, some quite old (Semillon planted in 1947). Vines are like people, mused Gavin as he pointed out the gnarly old Semillon and its lack of vigour (though not necessarily of quality). Seems though, they will not be here much longer.
This is a working vineyard and in between Gavin had chats with various people - work goes on. And it is detailed work, labour intensive, hands on. He pointed to his many rows of vines, including Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and said each single plant would be visited by man or machine at least twenty times over the year
After all that hard work we retreated to the steps of the chateau itself for the tasting. Having seen so many museum like chateaux in France, it was some change to see a lived-in one! On the steps and in the sunshine we met his wife Angela.
We started with his 2012 Bordeaux blanc, all Sauvignon blanc, and a real beauty. Then we moved onto the lightly oaked Clos des Quinze 2012 Bordeaux, a classic blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Just sipping a glass of it again now as I type and it is just perfect, a great balance of fruit flavours and acidity.
|From the 159th step!|
They just kept getting better. Next up was the 2010 Les Trois Hectares, a Bordeaux superieur Merlot. Marvellous. And the good thing about these wines, unlike many that I write about on these trips, is that they are available in Ireland via Curious Wines http://www.curiouswines.ie.
|Crossing the Gironde at Langoiran|
Bauduc is near the town of Créon and here we enjoyed a lunchtime sandwich and a drink in a bakery recommended by Gavin. Headed on then to a local landmark, the Abbaye de la Sauve Majeure. It is now a ruin but much of the shell remains as does the bell tower. The receptionist more or less dared me to take that on and, with some power from the Bauduc wines, I scaled the 159 steps in record time.
Had been hoping to visit a top restaurant in Arcachon but it closes on Tuesday. Luckily for us, we found another traiteur just across the road and the madame here was welcoming and smiling. We liked that and liked her food as well, including a main course of beef tongue. Three courses costs us about twenty one euro. And we had lots of Bauduc to wash it down! Say no more.