Neal Martin need no presentation. Ok, here’s one if you’re not familiar with the British wine journalist. His book on Pomerol does though. Neal has gathered a rather impressive amount of information surrounding Pomerol. Actually there’s never been a work of this extent on the commune previously. Released just before Christmas last year, I never hesitated upon being asked by my wife what I wanted from Santa.
A few months later I’ve read the book and are meeting Neal at a Pomerol tasting he’s conducting for the Swedish part of Roberson Wine. Present is also Johan Berglund who has taken all the photos in the book. Johan’s photographs is adding value to the text. Simply put; they’re the work of an artist.
Johan Berglund, a photographer that first last year started using digital cameras!
“It’s the eyes, not the technique,” he tells me when we discuss his choice of camera for the Pomerol book – a Leica D-Lux 3. Johan, an award-winning conflict photographer, has an unique style and the ability to capture people in an unpretentious situation. Besides the photographs in Neal’s book, they pair really well by the way – the text and Johan’s pictures – photos from en primeur tastings and visits to Bordeaux is shown on a flat screen.
Pomerol is the work of a man who knows how to tell a story. It feels as if Neal has found a way to liberate wine from stiff writing by mixing it with music references, subtle humour, adding soul to the history telling and less focus on reproducing statistics. Simply put; Pomerol is a book written by a guy who has taken his Internet background with him when he has contemplated over the form.
“Upon starting I had an idea that I could write this book in six months,” Neal tells us. When reading Pomerol I must admit it would have been an accomplishment even if doing this as a full time job – which he didn’t. Pomerol is a work late at nights, in spare time, on trains, on flights. It took three years.
Thrown in every here and there, are his notes on memorable wines. No, again it’s not boring tasting notes but little stories in his Pomerol life. Like his Memorable wine #9 when he tells about his first phone conversation with Robert Parker and how Mr. Parker promised to pop a 1982 Lafleur if Neal should become a part of the team. Well, he did.
Pomerol is written and documented for a new generation of winelovers, we who have grewn up with totally different references, media and a lots of other passions than wine easily accessible and competing for our attention. This doesn’t mean an older generation won’t fancy the book; it’s just worth having in mind. And above all; a majority of wine literature I use as a reference and reads it just like that. Pomerol I read as a novel. That says it all.
Buy the book? Visit Neal’s site, Pomerolbook.
A selection of Roberson Wines tasted.
Neal is conducting a Pomerol tasting for Roberson Wine Sweden. We’re tasting the 2007 Latour à Pomerol, a respected name from an underrated vintage. I do like the year; it’s lighter in style but balanced and a pleasure to sip. Preferences will decide if you drink now or save a couple of years. The property has a special place in my heart and I still remember the feeling seeing it live. Oh, and the fabulous 1982.
Another so called mediocre year is presented, now the 2002 Trotanoy. For many the true reference point in Pomerol. Or as Neal says, the Chateau most other Chateaux would like to resemble if possible. Trotanoy is all about perfume, elegance and delineation. Even in a year like 2002 it is pretty delicious and a good buy in the ‘off’ years. Will continue to develop. Good to taste Trotanoy again, my last popped Trotanoy, the 1999, was badly cork tainted.
I tasted 1998 Bordeaux en primeur as I worked for a Bordeaux oriented wine merchant in 1999. It was my first real primeur tasting and I was fascinated already then by the purity in the Merlot fruit. 15 years later and I can only confirm that first impression lasted, 1998 La Fleur-Pétrus is a beauty. Slightly floral, humus and plums. A dash of leather. Slowly developing on the nose. On the palate it has great structure for a long life, plenty of acidity, fruit and tannin structure. Long finale and for me a real Pomerol. Probably my glass of the day.
Then a great 1998 Vieux Chateau Certan. A lot of things has happened here since I worked with the Chateau 15 years ago. Then we had a hard time selling it. The Pomerol Chateau has had its loyal followers for many years but in recent years the price has exploded which correlates with even higher quality. As Neal says, Cabernet Franc was excluded in the 1998 as it didn’t pair well with the Merlot fruit, but that doesn’t make it a bad wine; no, this is at the same level as the latter. Great stuff and again Bordeaux, Pomerol, Merlot shows why this always will be amongst my preferences in the wine world. It simply can’t be copied!
NB. Invited by Roberson Wine to participate in the tasting.