CWI Bordeaux wine trip June 2017
Dates of event: Thursday 8 and Friday 9 June 2017
Châteaux visited: châteaux Margaux, châteaux Haut-Brion, châteaux d’Agassac, châteaux Beau-Séjour, châteaux Candale and visit to the medieval village of Saint-Émilion.
Highlights of the event:
Timing in the investment business is everything. I have been fortunate in my career to wander into some pretty good positions- starting my new position as Director of Business Development in late May was certainly a continuation of this. I was given the not so taxing task of accompanying a great group of CWI’s biggest clients to Bordeaux- for a weekend of wine tasting. Somehow I was managing to be paid for this. All humorous notes aside- it was a truly special weekend I won’t forget and a fantastic microcosm of the energy, global reach, happy clients and slice of the joie de vivre that makes CWI what it is. You will want to join next year. Here are a few highlights Bordeaux wine trip.
Day One: Bordeaux wine making possesses an unrivalled history, grandeur and elegance- and within this Chateau Haut-Brion one of the five classified first growths remains the archetype. So touring Haut-Brion as a first stop was pretty special way to become acquainted with Bordeaux. Viewing the meticulously pruned vines on the gravelly soil which gives left-bank grapes the power, complexity and finesse they are renown for- one got an appreciated that these wines were a sublime meeting between man and nature. After a tour of the estate and appreciation of the painstakingly nuanced wine making process, we strolled past an original oil painting of Thomas Jefferson- one of my personal heros and Haut-Brion lover 230 years ago and into the tasting room- where we were greeted with a glass 2011 Chateau Haut-Brion rouge.
Should anyone tell you wine tasting is pretentious- challenge them to taste a first growth Bordeaux. From the first swirl- it was obvious this wine was special- notes of dark berries, tobacco, earth, smoke with the strong tannic structure lacking in many New World Cab-Savs. To be fair- the wine probably needed another 10 years before optimum drinking- but the privilege of tasting a £400 bottle of wine at 11 am over laughs with clients silenced any critique.
As much as I enjoyed the wine tour- a multi-course lunch at Chateau d’Aggasac with wines selected by our own Kris- was even more enjoyable. CWI has a very diverse group of investors and wine as an asset class brings out the joy far better than I imagine an Exon-Mobile shareholders meeting to be. On one end of a very long table the dulcet tones eloquent French could be heard; five meters away I joined my clients (and fellow Americans) Joe and Sandy; in discussing the finer points of Rodney Dangerfield films.
If there is a better way to cap off a perfect early summer day in Bordeaux than drinking surprising generous pours of 2004 Chateau Margaux, it would be to do so in their in a modern art tasting room that has to be seen to be believed. This was a wine ready to drink, with the unmistakeable perfume unique to the Margaux terroir, with perfectly integrated tannin and lingering finish. After leaving what could be the world’s most famous chateau- it was time for a nap and to recharge for the right bank.
Day Two: After a day powerful of Cab-Sav found on the Left Bank, it was time to pay homage to the slightly softer but equally complex wines of St-Émillion and Pomerol across the Gironde . Beginning with Chateau Beau-Séjour and their labyrinth of caves filled with dust covered bottles of vintages up to 150 years old- we were off to a good start.
I don’t think any grape on the planet has been misused more than Merlot. Often left out too long in a hot sun, overly oaked or produced in yield too high- the grape is often associated with the highly alcoholic ‘fruit bomb’ wines found in supermarkets. The wine makers of the Right-Bank use the sandy/clay soil and a bit of alchemy to extract the body and perfumed fruit of Merlot; balancing with the structured backbone, raspberry, graphite and cigar tones of Cab-Franc. Simply delicious. Pomerol continues to be my favourite wine appellation in the world.
The grand finale of our Bordeaux wine trip featured a lunch at Chateau Candele which took on a metaphor for life well lived. After a four -course lunch on a shaded veranda overlooking some of the most famous vines on the planet, I took a stroll through the village of St. Emillion- which dates back to the second century and reflected a bit about what makes these wines so special and bright future of our company.
Personal preference in wine drinking can be subjective but there are qualitative differences in the wines we invest in at CWI. While we do make buying decisions based on market driven data, it’s always important to understand the real reasons demand for the Margaux and Petrus’ of the world is so high. Wine making techniques can be replicated- but terroir cannot. Bordeaux’s setting on the Gironde with just the right amount of oceanic influence, latitude, soil blends, fogs and perhaps intangible qualities give these wines a unique profile in perpetuity. Which with the amount of fine wine drinkers growing globally, positions CWI’s exclusive buying access in a position to deliver for clients well into the future. In a financial climate where everything from collateralised debt obligations to hurricanes (yep!) are traded, it’s a nice reminder to be so close to a product that brings so many joy.
But enough about that. The Bordeaux wine trip was about celebrating another great year for the company, clients, and the product that binds our customers from literally all corners of the globe. See you next year.
Agenda of the event:
Gallery of the event: