Okay, here we are! This is one of the reasons that pushed me to leave Paris – a genuine tasting session.
And not just any old tasting session as today we’re going to produce wines from the 2011 vintage year which will be bottled soon. Over forty samples are spread out successively on the table, each coming from a plot of the Domaine – those located in Vin de Pays up to those in Farguerol where the Centenary comes from.
The game consists of tasting (as of 8:30 in the morning …) each of the samples present and to produce the best blending possible for the various wines in the range, which means basically about 80 wines to taste. This is all team-work with: my father, Jérémie, the cellar master, Philippe Cambie - the local “Flying Winemaker”, as well as Julien and myself. The hard part is remembering the characteristics of each of the samples tasted but also determining the amount to be put into a complex blending – will it provide freshness thanks to the pronounced fruitiness, structure thanks to the powerful tannins, etc...
Everything rolls along fine for the first 10 samples: I smell, I drink, I shut-up. I let the aromas of chocolate, blueberries, freshly-picked blackberries, and light acidity which allows to preserve a good tension to the final wine, do all the talking.
Then between the 10th and the 20th sample, it starts to get difficult: the rest of team are buzzing along efficiently, establishing the best blending, remembering perfectly the qualities of the 1st sample whereas I find myself trying to maintain a vaguely enlightening look, desperately trying to remember the qualities of the previous sample.
As of the 30th sample, everything becomes fairly muddled and I prefer to leave the specialists finish this exercise.
What is nevertheless astonishing is to witness how even the slightest change in a blend, for example by increasing the Syrah content by 2%, will completely change its features by adding a touch of structure or fruit which it was lacking before.