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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Wines with George Kassianos ]

Wines with George Kassianos

Further complexities of the Bordeaux market

Although the Revolution separated many noble families from their assets (and also their heads), the Bordeaux market place survived, the major difference being that now the courtiers were dealing with new money, rich bankers such as the Rothschild’s, rather than the nobility of old. Many regarded their Bordeaux estates as little more than a country retreat with an interesting viticultural sideline, and the running of many vineyards was left to the régisseur, essentially an estate manager who would also oversee the harvest and vinification. This is effectively the business model still most commonly employed today. Any particular Château and vineyard are more likely to be in the ownership of a multinational corporation (which provides investment) or at least a family-run business, than individual family members, but they are still largely run by employees, whether a true régisseur or one of the family. What has certainly changed over the years, however, is the circus that surrounds the sale of Bordeaux.
Bordeaux has always been sold in barrels. In centuries past that was because the oak barrel was the norm not only for storage but also for the transport of wine. Once sold, the barrels traveled to the cellars of the merchant in question and it was at that point that the wine would be bottled for sale and final distribution. Today, of course, although the wine is still in the barrel at the time of trading, it is no longer shipped in this container but rather bottled first. In some cases this is a relatively recent development, as although many properties have been undertaking château-bottling for decades it has only been compulsory since 1972. And yet today, the Bordeaux system still revolves around the tasting, assessment, selling and buying of unfinished wines in barrels, more than a year before many of them are likely to be assembled into the final blend and bottled. Between their assessment and purchase and their bottling, as well as the all important assemblage they may also experience racking, fining and filtration, or even more novel manipulations such as micro-oxidation. Naturally this has led to the accusation that the wines presented in the spring tastings each year are not truly representative of the finished product. There have been those who claim the existence of ‘Parker barrels’ and that the wines are drawn from these, fashioned so as to appeal to the palate of the critic Robert Parker and may be presented on his visit. It would seem a logical practice as Parker’s scores drive prices and markets, but the existence of such samples is vehemently denied by all involved. Nevertheless the concept of buying based on the assessment of an unfinished product still seems faintly ridiculous.

The Union de Grands Crus de Bordeaux en primeur circus begins with the release of a wine by the château, with a prix de sortie. As all knowledgeable proprietors know, however, the trick is not to release all your wine, but rather a small slice, or tranche. After testing the market in this way, and also using the cheaper cases to reward loyal courtiers and négociants, the price of subsequent tranches can be increased. It seems reasonable enough, as subsequent price rises are effectively driven by the demand and forces of a free market, but it is perhaps not really that straightforward. With increasingly small tranches some proprietors claim fair play by releasing a minuscule amount of wine at a good price, before doubling or even trebling the asking price of subsequent slices. The négociants naturally follow suit, and a lucky few consumers – perhaps loyal customers – will obtain the wine at a good price, but most will pay top whack in a market that has been stoked up just a little bit more by the attractive first prix de sortie. To me, though, the business of tranches seems to be increasingly irrelevant. As the price of Bordeaux continues its climb skyward, increasingly expensive release prices on the back of hyped-up consumer interest, Parker scores, economic affluence and the opening up of new markets dampen the difference between tranches. And after all, there is no point worrying about the cost of the second tranche if the first one is out of your price range anyway.

WINE OF THE WEEK
1996 Château Bastor Lamontagne, Sauternes AOC, France abv 14%

Localised in an area of great wines of Bordeaux, this wine has a pale golden colour with a nose of honey, vanilla and lanolin. It is plump, creamy, rich and resinous although it lightens up somewhat through the midpalate. The juiciness of peaches, apricot and coconuts blend with a nutty flavour that gives the sensation of a four-star tropical fruit cocktail. On the palate there is a lighter style than other Sauternes, delicate rather than opulent but nicely lifted by incisive blood orange acidity. To avoid a sugar overload, however, I would pair with foie gras or blue cheese instead of having fruit tart or the like. €35.42
Imported by Oak Tree, Tel: 24 81504 or 22 459096



(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.



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