Bordeaux games - part one

Tom Harrow reports from Bordeaux for FT How To Spend It
Visitors who spend time in London soon complain like locals about the crowds, traffic, weather, tourists, Central Line, prices etc… But it only takes a few days outside the capital before they start missing ATMs, sun-dried tomatoes, the presence of elegant footwear and being able to get a cab after 1am. Bordeaux inspires the reverse effect. From a distance, the focus can often be on the arrogance and intransigence of the Bordelais, the unjustifiable prices for vintages both weak (classic) and strong, the increasingly unsustainable en primeur system, and the fact that the Chinese and investment funds have made the top wines eye-wateringly expensive.
But then you arrive in Bordeaux: passing between Haut Brion and La Mission in Pessac on your way in from Mérignac; a Lillet Blanc on your balcony at The Grand, overlooking the opera house; lunch and wine-celeb spotting at Le Lion d’Or, a short drive north on the D2 up to Saint Julien, left after two of the three Léovilles and onto the gravel-rich soils that produce the world’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon; Las Cases gives way to the Pichons and Latour, then it’s across the Gironde, taking in the panoramic view from the Place du Clocher in Saint-Emilion; Poulet de Bresse on the terrace at Troplong’s Les Belles Perdrix (Cheval Blanc’s space-age winery); and blinking and missing Le Pin (the world’s greatest two-up, two-down château). And all is more than forgiven and hard to forget.
The team from Château Rigaud (from €14,000 per week for the whole property) was waiting as we taxied in at Bergerac airport and, having stowed various sets of golf clubs and the selection of bordeaux I had brought over from my cellar for the evening’s dinner, we set off towards Castillon, 20 minutes east of Saint-Emilion.
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