It is the biggest and arguably the best international wine trade fair, held biannually, and attended by literally thousands of wine producers and buyers from around the world. It is slick, smart, professional and thankfully cool ... after the searing heatwave in 2003, the organizers were obliged to install air-conditioning thereby saving countless bottles of samples, not to mention Buyers, from 'stewing' in the heat.
By day, the Laithwaites Buying team walked the endless corridors of the Show, to and fro, up and down, from supplier meeting to tasting, to supplier meeting. It's a marathon though; 4 Halls, the largest of which is a 1km end to end ....
By night, however, we turned into serious party-goers ... Monday saw us under-dressed but made most welcome at Chateau La Gaffelière, tucking in to mouth-watering oysters and foie gras - seriously upmarket 'nibbles' - around the pool, by the light of a large hot-air balloon moon. Tuesday was Chateau Lafite night; a taste of First Growth magic (it's a slippery slope).
Wednesday was a fairy tale - Fete de la Saint Jean at Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou; a sumptuous feast in a beautiful setting, 8 different vintages of the Chateau's wines going back to 1961, served from magnums commentated through the evening by such eminents as Serena Sutcliffe, David Peppercorn and James Suckling. And throughout the dinner, we watched as huge bonfires along the terraces and lawns together with a Son et Lumiere show, turned the Chateau slowly but surely into a burning inferno before our very eyes - wonderfully dramatic and totally unforgettable.
By Thursday evening, Clare our now-local Bordeaux buyer, was the 'last man standing'. She soldiered on, attending the traditional last night Fete de la Fleur, hosted this year at the beautiful moated Chateau d'Issan in Margaux. It also marked the occasion of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Commanderie de Bontemps, a guild established to celebrate and promote the appellations of Medoc, Graves, Sauternes and Barsac.
Clare was enthroned as a Commandeur d'Honneur which involved much pomp and ceremony, robed in heavy golden damask velvet and swearing allegiance to the regions, to the death . 'PAR LE BONTEMPS, POUR LE BONTEMPS, TOUJOURS BONTEMPS!' .. a Good Time all round.
So Clare's now officially a 'Good Time Girl'!