On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
Steve from Mendocino
The second half of my collection of French winery photos. It would be interesting to revisit these wineries today to see if they’ve commercialized the visits as they have here in California with tasting bar and purchased samples in a glass. In 1970 you’d just wander in until you found someone, typically the cellarmaster/winemaker. The cellar master would stick a giant eye dropper into the hole at the top of the barrel and lift a bit of wine to be deposited in a glass which would be talked about and discussed.
The cellars of Louis Latour in Burgundy, 50 years ago. Latour is one of the better Burgundy wineries, although small. Most everything is small in Burgundy, and the vineyard land is some of the most expensive property on the planet.
Two of the top 20 Bordeaux wines are Cos D’Estournel and Brane Cantenac. 1969 was a poor year in Bordeaux, and here we have a truck loaded with barrels of the former that has stopped to pick up barrels from the latter to be sent off to Copenhagen. In most years, essentially all the wine is bottled before leaving the winery, but in lesser years like ’69, it is sold off in bulk. These barrels will presumably be delivered to restaurants in Denmark to be by the pitcher.
The classic view of Chateau Margaux with the property’s fence. Margaux was rated at the top of the Bordeaux wines in the 1970 vintage, and I bought futures on a case of that wine. Unfortunately, after 5 years it collapsed, becoming small and uninteresting. My other 70’s remained outstanding. My big regret was that I never tasted the Margaux during the period when it was looking so good.
The cellars of Chateau Margaux. These are barrels of 1970 Chateau Margaux. Note the raw wood on the outside thirds of the barrel. At the time of the photograph only first growth Bordeaux used new wood with each vintage and only the mid section was colored by wine as the barrel as the barrel was topped up to replace wine which had evaporated. Lesser chateaux would wash and reuse barrels after a vintage was bottled and the coloring was a uniform brown.
Chateau Cheval Blanc. This property is located “across the river” and was not included in the 1855 classification. It is considered one of the handful of very best of Bordeaux and is priced accordingly. I never focused on it during the period when I was building my cellar and have only tasted it twice. Needless to say, it was a delight.
Just south of the Bordeaux reds is the region of Sauterne, a wonderful sweet wine that relies on a mold, the “noble rot,” to concentrate the flavors and add its own distinctive taste. It was commonly referred to as a “dessert wine,” but I was told during my visit that locals drink it with everything EXCEPT dessert. It’s a late harvest category of wine and as a result produced excellent wine in 1969 because it remained on the vines when the reds were fully ripe and ruined by the rains. This is Chateau Rayne Vigneau.
Chateau Suduiraut in Sauterne.
Chateau Yquem is the recognized best Sauterne, year in and year out, and is priced accordingly. I borrowed $127 from my brother in 1971 to buy a case of 12 bottles of 69 Yquem. These days the price is upwards of $400 a bottle.