Kick-ass Kanonkop in France

Sunday lunch at Haut-Bacalan had all the elements of an exemplary lunch. Michel Gonet Champagne 1998 served with Bordeaux’s famous oysters, with main course wines consisting of a show-down between South Africa’s Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 1993 and D’Eck Bordeaux 2003 (which is from my host, Charles-Henri Gonet’s other property in the Pessac-Léognan). His observations on the Kanonkop: “It is very delicate and smoky. More Burgundy than Bordeaux.” I was in a nostalgic mood and enjoyed  this sensory reminder of home – swirling Stellenbosch’s soil in my glass. I thought that it was superb. And, nostalgic patriotism aside, it kicked the Bordeaux’s butt.
Sunday lunch at Haut-Bacalan had all the right elements, Champagne, oysters and a French bulldog, of course.

 

 

The arrival at Château Haut-Bacalan

Chateau Haut-Bacalan where I will be based for the next month. Very nice.

After 25 hours of travelling I arrived in Bordeaux on Tuesday. Two long flights on Etihad with a five-hour train journey from Paris to Bordeaux St Jean station… But it’s all worth it, considering where I am staying.   

My base for the next month is Château Haut-Bacalan situated in Pessac-Leognan appelation. I was told this morning that the ‘castle’ was previously home to Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu, during the 17th century. According to official letters, Montesquieu decided to enlarge the vineyard but this choice didn’t sit well with King Louis XIV (due to reasons unnamed). Mr. De Bacalan, an attorney, bought the property and gave it its name in 1748. Today it is owned by Corinne and Charles-Henri Gonet, wine growers in Champagne for seven generations, it forms part of their group of properties in the Pessac – the other s being Château Saint Eugene, Château D’Eck and Château Lesparre.

Castle Bacalan has been revamped, of course, but still no use of lifts, with my room situated on top of a spiral staircase, which presented a problem when my suitcase had to be lugged up to my room… 

The plan is to ‘experience’  the harvest and to gain a general impression of Bordeaux. For the moment my harvest experience has consisted of helping out at the sorting table where the Merlot grapes have to seperated from MOG.  None of the cellar hands really speak any English so communication is a mix of broken sentences, lots of hand gestures and facial expressions. I’ll have to brush up on my French, but for now I say “Je ne comprends pas” a lot…

Sorting grapes in the cellar at Haut-Bacalan.