There was a lot of talk about Bordeaux before I left for holidays… Is en primeur 2013 on or not? On that hanging question, I left it all behind at Stanstead Airport for a week of mint tea and tagines in Marrakech. Of course, “getting away from it all” is not that simple. If only you could leave work behind sometimes, but when you work in the wine industry it seems to follow you around like your hand or foot. You try to get away but end up in some sort of Interzone only for it to arrive on the scene again like some Burroughs bug. Even in Marrakech, Bordeaux seemed to follow.
It started with the Domaine de Sahari at the beautiful restaurant run by women called Al Fassia in the new town. We had to try the Cinsault (under the menu as a Vin Gris) and the red – a Carignan blend. Mysteriously, on the label it mentioned a “Bordeaux enologist” had some part to play in it. Later I found it was owned by the Bordeaux-based Castel group rather than Michel Rolland and ilk. Even though wine has been in Morocco for 2500 years, and not always cosily with the islamic culture, most of the varieties were decided from the time under the French Protectorate. Hailing from the Meknes region further north, Domaine de Sahari was a fine holiday wine for slurping at sunset and went well with the lamb tagine with almonds and prunes. The tannins spoke of Bordeaux rather than Carignan from the South of France.
Did it taste of Meknes? I can’t say. What I do know is Meknes is situated by the Atlas Mountains, the vineyard had an altitude of 600 metres and the Carignan had the taste and structure of a wine from a cool climate. Although the Vin Gris tasted close to a Provence rose, perhaps in a sense this is an allegiance to place, vaguely to the Mahgreb/Mediterranean but, then again, Marrakech does have a powerful pull on your imagination.
So will Bordeaux en primeur 2013 go ahead? Yes, in one form or another. Robert Parker may be on his grand tour through Asia but “one monkey don’t stop the show” as the old Gillian Welch song goes. These difficult vintages are important to taste. Even more so than the ones where you can just throw a dart and find a good wine. Some seem to want to play a blind game of William Tell arguing Bordeaux en primeurs is over before tasting the vintage but I’d rather taste it first and shoot for the apple rather than the wife.