Bordeaux 1986

Being invited, along with approximately thirty others, to taste my way through twenty of Bordeaux’s best from the 1986 vintage, was an experience not to be missed. In October 1986 when the grapes for these wines were picked, at least two of the people present were but mere twinkles in their parent’s eyes. I on the other hand had just turned fifteen and my wine experience was limited to the occasional two fingers worth of Yugoslavian Laski Riesling or Rioja with dinner.

As someone with an appreciation of the stresses and strains involved with running a business, I am never less than respectfully reverential in the face of tastings where expensive bottles are being opened. After all, someone is paying, even if it is usually not me. For those less fortunate, who rarely get to taste such wines, the idea that I might find such opportunities remotely problematic will likely be greeted with a harrumph and a furrowed brow rather than sympathy.

The Entre Deux Mers is one of Bordeaux’s less talked about regions, especially when it comes to the production of fine wine. A day spent with the Despagnes demonstrates that with effort the E2M can produce wines of character and complexity, capable of rubbing shoulders with the best from some of the loftier appellations to the north and south.

Is there anything more powerful than someone with unimpeachable credentials as a world-expert on their subject, being warm and approachable, unassuming yet authoritative whilst also showing real interest in what you, a mere mortal, are up to? I had the opportunity to find out when Gerard Basset MW, MS, Bordeaux Wine MBA, Best sommelier in the world 2010, OBE, and successful hotelier, visited Taipei in August.