Adventures Abroad: Malbec Days in Cahors, and Ontario Chardonnay in London

For the next four days, I’m going to be all malbec, all the time.

I’m just about to get on the plane that will take me across the Atlantic, as I head out to Cahors, in Southwest France, for the International Malbec Days and a particular tasting challenge at Château Lagrézette. The former provided the opportunity for the latter. Indeed, with Malbec Days inviting me to Cahors, I was able to take up the folks at Lagrézette, one of the most renowned producers in Malbec, when they challenged me to have a second taste of their 1999 Pigeonnier, a reserve bottling that I reviewed rather negatively in February.

You can read more on the context of this tasting on this PalatePress article I posted on Monday. It’s very interesting that a prestigious estate like Lagrézette would issue such a challenge to a wine blogger, something that illustrates the changing landscape of wine writing, in the era of social media. I’ll post about the tasting as soon as possible after it takes place, tomorrow afternoon (May 20), at Lagrézette.

Cool Chardonnay shoots and scores

Before I go, though, I have to say a little something about the tasting of Ontario Chardonnay organized at Canada House, in London, by Bill Redelmeier of Southbrook Vineyards. Bringing wines from some 22 wineries from Niagara and Prince Edward County, Redelmeier exposed some of the best Canadian chardonnays to the palates of some of the top British critics. Jancis Robinson, Steven Spurrier, Stephen Brook and Oz Clarke were among the group and they all had good things to say about the wines, according to what Tony Aspler reported in the Toronto Star. Steven Spurrier said he was “amazed” and, according to a tweet I caught while the tasting was going on, even compared a 1998 Southbrook Chardonnay to a Bâtard-Montrachet from a good vintage. High praise indeed.

Many other compliments were seen on Twitter, including this one from Andrew Neather, who writes for the Evening Standard: “Tasting some fab Ontario chards at Canada house – great purity and elegance. Place is full of disarmingly friendly Canadian winemakers.” So the wines and the winemakers made a very good impression.

Interestingly enough, Redelmeier’s objective was not only to impress the British, but also to raise the profile of Ontario chardonnays on the home front. Nul n’est prophète en son pays, as we say in French. If a little foreign praise helps at home, why not?

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