IN FRANCE, they enjoy their regional foods and wines - and every
food and wine seems to have its individual gastronomic brotherhood
to support it. I have been to some remarkable meals in my time, but
I think the most remarkable was the annual banquet of the
Burgundian Brotherhood of Snail Scoffers. Every dish in the meal
featured snails, although the ice cream was not snail-flavoured,
but only in the shape of a snail.
As far as the wines of Bordeaux are concerned, there is a
hierarchy of such gastronomic associations, with, at the top - and
here I must, like Agag, tread delicately, for I wish to offend no
one - the Jurade de Saint-Émilion and the Commanderie du Bontemps
These "orders" promote the wines of their members, and
overseeing all this is the Grand Conseil du Vin de Bordeaux, led by
the Grand Maître, Emmanuel Cruse, of Château d'Issan, Margaux.
The links between Bordeaux and Bristol are close, and there was
recently a visit to the latter by a team from the Brotherhood,
representing the most humble of the wines of Bordeaux - L'Ordre des
Vignerons de Bordeaux et Bordeaux Supérieur, led by their Grand
Maître, Hubert Burnerau. Their wines come from the host of
petits châteaux that are the backbone of the Bordeaux
wine-trade, with more than 5000 growers producing more than seven
million hectolitres of wine.
In some ways, M. Burnerau is not typical of the producers he
represents; for he sells the grapes from his vineyards in the
village of Saint-Vincent-de-Pertignas to the had co-operative
cellar. No wines appear on the market under his name. Over the past
few years, he told me, the owners of vineyards at this level had
had a torrid time. While both investors and speculators were
prepared to pay inflated prices for the prestigious names from the
Médoc and elsewhere, the wines labelled simply Bordeaux and
Bordeaux Supérieur found few outlets, and prices collapsed. It
appears that there is now a light at the end of the tunnel, and the
market is picking up again.
Apparently, the wines available at the tasting are all sold on
the British market, but we were not told where, and at what price.
The only prices that we were given were in euros, per bottle,
directly from the cellar. Available for tasting were not just red,
white, and rosé still wines, but also white and rosé sparkling
wines, and three representatives of Bordeaux Clairet, a deep pink
Among the white wines, my favourite was the Château Côte
Montpezat Cuvée Compostelle 2010. The price of €11.90, however, I
found to be on the high side. Among the reds, my selections were:
Château Galand 2010 (€7); Château Peychaud 2009 (€6.25); Château de
Camarsac Sélection 2009 (€8;) and Château Landereau 2010 (€6).
The hosts for this event were the Bristol branch of the
Commanderie de Bordeaux, which also has branches in Manchester,
London, and Edinburgh. Should you be interested in joining, I
suggest you contact the British Grand Master, Paul Chedgey, at