Wine is a happy drink

Alfred Tesseron is a member of Les Cinq, the five cháteau owners from Bordeaux who travel the world promoting their wines. He explains why people of different age groups prefer different vintages and tells you how to choose a red wine that suits your palate and your pocket.

Dhiman Chattopadhyay | Print Edition: February 24, 2008

Alfred Tesseron
Alfred Tesseron
He is 60, and has spent the last four decades “tasting grapes day in day out,” to ensure he produces some of the best red wines in Bordeaux. And he has his own take on why different people have vastly different tastes in wine. “When you are very young, you like drinking sweet things. So, younger people prefer fruity, young wines. As you mature, your palate changes and you want to try out different things. So, you develop a taste for older vintages. Also, you can afford better wines. As a result, you also learn to appreciate them. You become an epicure,” he says.

Choosing the right red wine

 Les Cinq: The famous five

They met purely by accident at the Brussels Airport in 1983 when their flights were delayed due to a sudden strike by Air France. That’s when Count Stephan Graf von Neipperg met D. Cathiard and they decided to get likeminded cháteau owners together to promote the Bordeaux region as a whole. “We ensured that all the members shared the same passion: to constantly improve their standards while sticking to the best possible business practices,” says von Neipperg.

Soon, others, including Alfred Tesseron of Château Pontet-Canet, joined in and the Les Cinq came into being. The five renowned cháteau owners from different regions of Bordeaux now travel the world, promoting their wines in new countries. They represent five cháteaux—Pessac Leognan, Saint Julien, Paulliac from the right bank, and Saint Emilion and Pomerol from the left bank of Bordeaux.

“It all started in 1983. We were not too well known then. We thank Air France for going on strike just then; really. We were just sitting in the airport lounge, so we got chatting. After some time, we struck upon the idea of getting likeminded people together—people who were private owners of vineyards and wanted to make the best wines. Most of us took over our respective wineries in the mid-1980s and shared the same dream. We really get along like a house on fire,” smiles Count von Neipperg, who traces his roots to Austria.

Their trip to India in collaboration with Brindco means that these topend fine wines will make their way to select wine stores and five-star hotels within months. “Les Cinq hopes India will take to these great wines just as the rest of the world has,” says von Neipperg.

Les Cinq are: Alfred Tesseron (Cháteau Pontet-Canet), Florence Cathiard and Fet D. Cathiard (Cháteau Smith-Haut- Lafitte), Stephan von Neipperg (Cháteau Canon-la-Gaffeliere), Patrick Maroteaux (Cháteau Branaire-Ducru) and Christophe De Bailliencourt (Cháteau Gazin).

Tesseron smiles when asked to answer this one. “To ask a wine grower about the best wines is like asking a father about his child. I think you should always choose the wines we make, no matter what,” he laughs, and then proceeds to list factors that determine how you can select the right red wine.

Celebrate with wine
Celebrate with wine
Money wise: Wine is a feel-good drink. You drink this for pleasure and to feel happy. So, the first rule is to buy or order a wine you can afford. Do not go way beyond your budget, since you can never enjoy anything when you are worried about how much you are spending.

Food funda: A lot depends on the kind of food you generally like, or, if you are in a restaurant, what you are ordering for the main course. Good wine complements your dinner and cannot be viewed in isolation.

Bland food: Order a 2003 vintage, spicy wine. They have a lot of sunshine, though they are not really classics.

Delicate food: Choose a 1994 vintage if you prefer a lighter wine. If you want bigger flavour, go for a 1995 vintage.

Slightly spicy food: Choose a powerful wine. This means it should be a younger wine, maybe a 2004 vintage.

If you want to impress someone: Ask for the 2000 vintage. It has all that you wish for in a wine. It goes with all sorts of food.

Very spicy food: Don’t order wine. Try fresh lime and soda, instead.

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