Henry and I drove down through a weirdly empty Bank Holiday France for a fleeting glimpse of Bordeaux … for me. (Henry has two bottlings to do). It was lovely to have time to father-son chat. We should talk more; he is a wise boy.
You used to be able to spot British pukka wine merchants by the corduroy and tweed. Now it’s by the red trousers. Note. Red trousers were clustered at their densest around Château Angelus during last week’s 'En Primeur 2011' tastings. That could be a hot tip.
Anyway, as is my wont, I got to Bordeaux as all the others were leaving. Slow; me.
We left town to check the bud burst around our vineyards – two hours? Arriving home I got an email from Agnes saying 'Le Voyageur' was "all on fire" and firemen were up great ladders.
Drove past this morning. All black-stained and shut. We are devastated. Mark is in tears. We all loved little Madam Mimi with her Juliet Greco hair. And deaf old Monsieur Marches and his Steak Frites. And his duck hearts, andouillette, Isles Flottant, soup, hors d'oeuvres, plat fromage dessert and wine for €13!
He fed all the town’s waifs and nutters including Team Chai au Quai at two long tables in the back-room through the kitchen. Away from the smarter people. Never again, I fear. Gutted. Us, as much as the building. Where will we go?
This morning I first went to tell Anne-Marie at 'Le Comptoir' up at St Genes this she might get an influx of new business. She gave me a calming tea. A few growers were poring over the newspaper report.
Went down to the Chai past the wreckage and the rubberneckers. Mark inconsolable. But we tried. A glass of what he calls 'Tony's Dry Botrytis'. (In case it doesn't work it’s to be was my idea! But I think it will work. Then it'll be his idea? Fair enough; he's making it; Sauternes-style noble-rot-affected Sémillon fermented dry in cask.
Went back up the hill to Ch. La Clarière Laithwaite; Henry bottling the 2010 – and delighted this morning to get a big order from the USA. We'll be welcoming American Confréres soon.
Also looked around the empty Château du Bois. They've left it very tidy. But huge works are needed in the vineyards. Well under way. Should we call it Château du Bois Laithwaite? I wonder. OK, so I have an ego. But think it important to stress our ownership.
Just missed meeting the new estate manager as had to leave for airport … this is a <24hr trip! She's an Alsace girl, but been working in Majorca. Have high hopes.
Wanted to miss lunch; no appetite. But Berndette was feeding the bottlers so a got her wild sprouting garlic omlette à l'Aillette.
But Oh! MIMI! Someone should write an opera: Le Voyageur!