Breakfasted, we walked down in the sun to Verniotte where they were emptying the first small vat. Containing wine of Henry's 'vigne' that sits right on top of the ridge, and did the best of all his plots this year. This tank - first to finish - is at 14.5%! Smells almost brandy-ish at this stage. Young Scott was swaying about a bit when he came out.
Then put Hugh and Judy in the car and take them into town - the pretty way, of course, along the river. Dazzling reflected low sun.
Get Hugh to do a Presidential visit. Meeting everyone upstairs and down. Long chat with the 'Bounders' on the phones to their customers.
Mark had opened the big doors wide for a tasting bathed in light. We tried all our Castillons from separate properties - about half the price of those we tried yesterday. Is what Le Chai is for. Then we went though almost everything else. Which is a lot, just now.
Up to Le Comptoir for a lunch, outside. Then more wandering about with map in hand for Hugh. It’s what he does. Likes to get a feel for landscape.
Barbara had to catch a plane home to prepare for our final bit of harvesting; her Oxfordshire Chardonnay at the weekend. She has 52 volunteers despite the rugby. Just praying weather holds. The remaining nine sat down to supper with three Verniotte vintages. Of course I think my boy makes the best Castillon of all.
Then we opened the box of 'Hugh Johnson Collection' that had been delivered specially. Looks nice, tastes better. Comes in a carton like a large briefcase with the six bottles cushioned carefully against shock.
Hugh selects these wines (3x2) with Justin MW and Abi. He looks for really special bottles. In this case a big Sancerre from Alphonse Mellot, the Chateauneuf that won this year's Wine Challenge Trophy … NB AFTER Hugh picked it, and a so-gentle 2001 St Emilion; Tertre Daugay. Wonderful stuff. HJ will be picking a case like this every 3 months. Limited Edition (very).
You want the benefit of a long lifetime travelling, tasting, writing? Hugh doesn't like to reduce wines to a numeric score. Too simplistic. He likes to write words. And what words! No-one ever did it better. But that is a hell of a lotta words.
Never mind the Wine Atlas and other big books, his Pocket Book is now in its 35th year, has up to the minute information on 6000 wines - completely revised every year. It’s written in his own-invented shorthand that pre-dated Tweets and Twitter by three decades, and is just dense, dense data. Notwithstanding, it has now sold over 11 million copies. Boggles your mind!
Far simpler, now, to sign up for his little selections; £150 for six bottles - not for everyone - but it is amazing what good deals wine-growers will offer just to get in Hugh's box … so it’s certainly good value. He really does choose them himself; they reflect the man himself.
Get the case and try for yourself.