We are in the middle of the Primeurs Week here in Bordeaux and we are tasting the 2014 vintage. This is one of my favorite times of the year. The vineyard, which is usually a very peaceful place, is invaded by people from the entire world. Here, at Pichon Baron, for example, we will be receiving around 1300 people in 5 days from all over the world. It is a real pleasure to meet all these people and to taste the new vintage with them.
Last Saturday was the 30th Marathon du Médoc. As usual we had a big Pichon Baron team, with many distinguished runners including Jamie Goode, whose blog on the run you can read by clicking here, and Yves Bruno the butcher from Pauillac, perhaps the thinnest and fastest butcher in the world, who was second in his category “V2M” in 2h53m42s and 2nd fastest on the Pichon Baron team. I would also like to give a special mention to Patrice Taris who was the 1st of our runners to finish in 2h45m52s and Cédric Zilligen who was 3rd with a time of 3h38m22s. The fastest of our lady runners was Céline Nicolle with a very respectable time of 4h10m35s.
As usual there was a joyous party atmosphere. I love this event – it hardly seems right to call it a race, as though many people train hard and run great times, the majority of participants are there just to have fun – because it is a celebration of the truth which seems self-evident if you participate in the event, that wine is a natural and healthy part of a balanced life, in the same way as exercise and physical fitness. The ambiance is festive without being excessive, and indeed how could it be otherwise for thousands of people who are running 42 kilometres on the day. There is an excellent rate of participation from the chateaux, many of whom offer tastings of their wine to the runners, along with more conventional marathon refreshments such as water, glucose and bananas. Personally I avoided the bananas.
The day was especially enjoyable for me as I was joined by my son Alexander at kilometre 18 where he had been waiting for me at Château Pibran with many members of the team from Pichon Baron who were serving Pibran to all the runners who cared to stop for a taste.
We carried on until kilometre 21, when I called it a day. I had a lunch to host at Pichon Baron, and some members of our team get back rather fast. Well that is my excuse for just enjoying the first half of the marathon, and I am sticking to it. We then walked across the vines to the garden of Pichon Baron, and welcomed the members of our team as they progressively came in.
It was a wonderful day, and as always a triumphant affirmation of the idea that a reasonable balanced approach to the pursuit of pleasure and to the enjoyment of physical fitness makes perfect sense, and a great deal more sense than a radical, puritan attitude to either subject. Everyone present had of course spent long hours training hard in order to be there, but the festive and happy atmosphere of the day showed that there is no incompatibility with that fact and with the idea that good wine and good company are part of the joy of life.
It is pruning time here in Bordeaux. This is a short video clip showing Alexandra Lebossé and Joël Dupuy in the vineyard at Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, demonstrating how we prune here.
If you have trouble watching this video, view the web version here
Here are a couple of photographs which illustrate more closely the operations Joël performs in the video.
We have just launched the Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Quick Response Code (QR code) and its mobile website. I think the idea is great, giving people the chance to find out more about the property and the people behind the wine, just by scanning the QR code with a smartphone on the back of the bottle.
The QR code is on CChâteau Pichon-Longueville Baron bottles from 2009 vintage onwards. It will also be supplied to retailers and restaurants to give their customers access to this information for older vintages.
Here are the three video clips that appear when you scan this QR code.
If you have trouble watching the video “The identity of Château Pichon-Longueville Baron”,
view the web version here
If you have trouble watching the video “Fining with egg white”,
view the web version here
If you have trouble watching the video “The first tasting of the 2011 vintage”,
view the web version here
We had a wonderful day for the Médoc Marathon this year. The early morning was particularly beautiful as you can see from this photo of the Château Pichon-Longueville Baron team ready to leave for the race, taken on the steps of the château.
Davar Irvani and his wine loving friends from London, Woody and Alex claimed to have chosen their elegant penguin costumes with striking bow ties in tribute to my normal get-up, which made me feel suitably honoured.
There was a great ambiance this year, very relaxed. Château Pichon-Longueville Baron was at kilometer 4, so we decided not to serve wine there, but instead at Château Pibran, at kilometer 22,7. (These decimal points matter when you are doing the run).
Here you see my assistant Ruth Santry’s daughter Laura, who for very obvious reason has just won the title “Miss Medoc”, waiting to welcome runners at Château Pibran just before the onslaught. (The first ones through take a Spartan approach to glasses of wine and do not stop, but a significant proportion are here for a party, which is just about to begin.)
Marie-Louise Schÿler pictured above was running in the Château Pichon-Longueville Baron team of course, looking very relaxed about the ordeal, in spite of being pursued by several people with eccentric headgear. Marie-Louise is part of a group called Bordeaux Grands Crus Runners, from fifteen properties in Bordeaux, who are all training together for the New York Marathon.
I was running alongside my friend Axel Probst, the German Port enthusiast and expert, who in spite of his youth and Olympian form (he was a competitive swimmer and then a pilot in the Luftwaffe), was polite enough to run at the same speed as me until kilometer 19 when I needed a rest before limping in slowly to Château Pibran, where we met up again as you see.
Here we are together with Miss Médoc and Alex Smith, one of the bow tied penguins, who also got to Château Pibran before me in spite of wearing his thick Penguin suit.
It was as always a great event, with a festive and convivial atmosphere, proving that neither wine nor exercise need always to be taken too seriously, and are just a part of a healthy and balanced life.