You know things are getting rough in Bordeaux when they start letting the proletariat in. All joking aside, it's quite astonishing that for the first time since, well, forever, this year the top Chateaux in Bordeaux will allow any Jane or John Q. Public to purchase a ticket to engage in an activity that has for years been solely the privilege of the top trade and media representatives in the wine world.
Every Spring, Bordeaux holds its En Primuer weekend, where the recently barreled young vintage of Bordeaux is trotted out and offered to the "people who matter" for tasting. There's lots of prodigious spitting, note scribbling, and quiet murmuring, all of which add up to voluminous reports on the new vintage and the the tone of futures sales for that particular harvest. Michael Steinberger of Slate Magazine wrote a very nice piece on this process a couple of years ago.
Up until now, you had to be Somebody in order to participate. Needless to say, I certainly didn't qualify. But now, on the eve of perhaps one of the most talked up vintages (prices for 2005 Bordeaux are going to be stratospheric) Bordeaux has changed its tune. Not only that, but they seem to be going out of their way to make it easy for run-of-the-mill wine tourists to get in on the action. Are they finally realizing that they were alienating their future consumers or are they simply creating more hype for a truly exceptional vintage?
Regardless of the motivation, I think this is a fabulous idea, and if I weren't busy as all hell, I would be signing up for this today. Check out the official site (in English even!) for more information or use the contact information below.
The weekend includes a walk around tasting at a warehouse in Bordeaux, dinners at some of the major Chateaux, and tours of some of the First Growths. It may not be quite the welcome mat that gets rolled out for Hugh Johnson when he comes to town, but it's pretty darn close. Are the winds of change blowing across Le Deux Mers? Someone please attend and tell me!
P.S. It's pretty cheap. Just 50 Euros gets you into the tasting, and 15 Euros gets you into the Grand Cru Chateaux. There's even a discount for people who have a business card proving they're in the wine business or a student ID!
Le Weekend Des Grand Amateurs
6th and 7th of May, 2006
Tickets are available for purchase online, I believe. Or at the very least you can register online and pay for your tickets at will call.
For more information contact:
Anne Attia, Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux
10, Cours du 30 Juillet 33000 Bordeaux France
tel: +(33) 0556-51-91-91 Fax : +(33) 0556-51-64-12
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