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Moueix on Bordeaux

Edouard Moueix is a tall, handsome man with an impeccable manner that at first belies the wry, sly wit that sons born into prominent wine families with a silver tastevin to their lips often possess.  Moueix and his folks own several premium properties (Pétrus, Hosanna), mainly in Pomerol but also in St-Émilion, as well as serving as a wine merchant or négociant for wines others make.


I had met him before on trips to Libourne, and it was a delight to chat with him again earlier this week in New York, where he was speaker at a Pasternak seminar on the holiness of terroir – the type of conclave that sometimes takes on the aura of a fundamentalist revival meeting with their repeated testimonials of faith.


I asked Moueix about preparations for the upcoming primeurs, the annual event where the trade tastes barrel samples of the previous year’s vintage.  This sets into play critics’ ratings and the prices asked for the unfinished wines.  “Because of the weather difficulties with the 2013 vintage, it’s especially difficult getting ready this year,” he said.  “The blends will be very approximate for primeurs [the first week of April] but we will play by the rules.”  And, as he noted, important buyers and critics often come a week early to avoid the rush, even though the wines they are tasting were fermented only a few months ago.


In spite of the imperfections of the system, however, Moueix has little sympathy for those producers such as Château Latour who are dropping out and not putting their wine on sale until they are almost finished with it.  “No one is following their lead,” he reports.  “It’s a confirmation that the current Bordeaux system is the right system for the great properties.  It’s a good lesson for others who are thinking of getting out.”


He also is critical of Latour and other Left Bankers who are picking off Pomerol châteaux, the smallest of Bordeaux’ major regions, because that elevates property prices.  “It’s driving the small producers out of Pomerol,” Moueix says, “because they can’t afford to pass their vineyards on to the next generation.”


Later, during the seminar, Moueix delighted his audience by beginning his talk about Right Bank terroir with, “We’re actually new to the area, as I’m only the third generation.”  He indicated that he prefers the unclassified system of Pomerol to the classified system of the much-larger, neighboring St-Émilion because, he believes, Pomerol encourages more diversity of taste.  “St-Émilion has always rewarded properties whose wines favor a style that the classification thinks should be the one style of St-Émilion,” he says, a result he doesn’t like.


Before finishing his own testimonial to Pomerol’s varied terroir, Moueix gave an endorsement of less-fruity wines balanced by acidity that assure “you will come back to the glass” for another pour.  And he couldn’t resist rattling the cooperage of another familiar target, heavily oaked wine.


“If you like to taste caramel,” he advised his audience, “go to Häagen-Daz.  They do a much better job.”

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