“T’was a long and hairy day” he writes at midnight …

as massive storm rages outside in the dark in Bordeaux.

Early start to catch the 7.50 Gawick to Bordeaux. “Gate closes in 5 mins” she says, “so where’s your group?” 25 Laithwaite’s people – Brits and Americans – finally turn up – totally unconcerned – seconds before door shuts. I’m too old for this stress.

But then Bordeaux is all sunny and warm and we get our coach to take us to Saint-Emilion then turn right and follow the Côte ridge a couple of miles to Ste-Colombe and our new, old Château du Bois. Walk group up through the Bois Jolie to new-planted vineyard on top with its sensational views. Then right down below ground to the cellars hewn from the rock to taste the 2013. The most difficult vintage ever. Still don’t know if we’ll put it on the market. But it’s improved some the last 30 days.

To Le Chai au Quai to try the 2014 whites already in and fermenting nicely. Everyone jealous of those who work here in the great loft-office overlooking the magnificent Dordogne. Then to Saint-Emilion and lovely Château Canon’s new cellar in the converted old chapel. This place – I rediscover what I’d forgotten – used to be the cellars of Château Matras which was one of the five producers who bought me the van in which I started taking wine back to the UK 45 years ago. Now it’s part of Canon, owned by the Chanel couture and perfume family who have spent several fortunes on it. It is unrecognisable.

At dinner at Le Comptoir de St Genes we do blind comparisons; bottles of Ch Canon Premier cru classé vs our Ch La Clarière. Love the result. We must do many more of these tastings; I claim my La Clarière is now on a par with top Saint-Emilions … that’s what we’ve worked for for 30 vintages now. Only one way to check this. You just have to blind taste (in unmarked decanters) to see if you believe we have done it.

Your call, customers.

Dinner interrupted by a very popular French TV programme “Des Racines et des Ailes” which this week features our Chai au Quai … which looks sensational from the air. But I cringe to hear that my French is a lot worse than it was. Huge storm then kicks off massive clouds thunder lightning all around. All get soaked. I pray it was just rain. Not hail. I couldn’t bear it if yet another vintage got ripped to shreds just as it’s almost ready to pick. Will know in the morning. How on earth can I sleep now?


About Tony Laithwaite

Tony Laithwaite, founder of Laithwaite's, whose passion for wine is still going strong!