Despatch from The Institute of Masters of Wine- Annual Bordeaux Tasting
By Fergal Gleeson
Bordeaux + Investment Banker = Synergy. So it was no surprise that there was a massive wunch of bankers at Bennelong Restaurant in Sydney Opera House, at the Master of Wines’ Annual Bordeaux Tasting. They go together like politicians and helicopters. Like Masterchef and crying cooks.
I was hearing snatches of “arbing the game” and “Jonno’s new venture”, mixed in with chat about Grand Cru’s wherever I went. Plenty of Ralph Lauren gear, sweaters wrapped around shoulders and deck shoes on show. All standard garb for Masters of the Universe when they are at play.
If it was overweight on financiers, it was underweight on the fairer sex. When I looked around me, I saw a zoo of middle aged men, swirling and spitting into oversized paper cups. Less than 10% of the attendees were female and sadly I was contributing to the skewed demographic.
Where were the ladies? While our MW hosts were female, the tasters were overwhelmingly male forty somethings. Bordeaux obsession, like wood working in your garage or building elaborate model railways is a guy thing. But of course it’s much, much cooler than that stuff…..
About three tasters at the event could pronounce the names of the wine correctly. They were French. They eventually gave up trying to teach me to pronounce Pessac Leognan correctly. Most people stuck with “I like no. 7 and no. 14”.
Tickets cost $130, so this event was for genuine wine people rather than the marauding hordes of backpackers that pillage the Hunter Valley from mini vans (the modern day equivalent of the Viking Long Boat).
Everybody spat and nobody swallowed. And many diligently tasted their way through all 67 Grand Cru wines. Tasting that volume of wines is an endurance test as well as a thing of pleasure. Despite assiduous spitting, I found myself getting lightheaded and jolly.
While prices weren’t shown, the wines ranged in price from $60 up to $900 so this was the good stuff. Some of the best cabernet, merlot and late picked semillon on the planet in fact. My three favourite reds were Chateau Bouscat, Chateau Boyd – Cantenac and Chateau Pouget.
However I enjoyed the sweet dessert wines of Sauternes and Barsac most of all particularly Chateau De Myrat, Chateau De Malle and Chateau La Tour Blanche. I vowed to drink more dessert wine in future. Or to use the banker’s lingo “to diversify my portfolio.” Sweet!
For more information on Masters of Wine events go to www.masterofwine.org
Bordeaux at a Glance:
- Bordeaux is a massive wine producing region. It produces approximately 900 million bottles of wine every year.
- Bordeaux is the second most visited city in France, after Paris.
- Close to 90% of Bordeaux wine is red. The most planted varietals in descending order are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
- A Grand Cru wine is one produced by a Winery (Chateaux) classified in 1855 as being of the highest quality. The 60 or so Grand Cru’s were then ranked from First to Fifth Growths (First Growths being the best). To this day wines from Grand Cru Chateaux remain the most famous, sought after and expensive.
- While Grand Cru wines generate most of the headlines only 3% of Bordeaux wine sells for more than Euro15 ($22) per bottle.