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ead of Emirates catering Joost
Heymeijer is running his eye over
a three-day Bordeaux itinerary
with quiet satisfaction. I've joined
him and the wine-buying team
from Emirates in France to nd
out more about the role ne wine is playing
in the airline's in-ight oerings, and how it
works with Bordeaux châteaux in particular.
In its way, this trip is a living endorsement
of a plan that started a decade ago, when
Emirates decided to put ne wine at the
centre of its catering programme.
Back in 2005, airline president Sir Tim
Clark was rm in the belief that wine could
underscore that crucial sense of luxury for
his passengers, as well as give his airline a
decisive competitive advantage.
Over the subsequent 10 years the wine
programme has beneted from investment
of more than £350m, and has two million
bottles currently ageing in its own cellars in
the heart of France. These days, Emirates is
not only the biggest corporate buyer of Dom
Pérignon Champagne, but also one of the
biggest players in the en primeur market.
Bordeaux accounts for about 45% of that
cellar stock, with rst- and second-growth
aristocracy peppered in every corner. But
FLYINGYou don't expect to �nd �ne wine at 35,000 feet. But
as a trip to Bordeaux with Emirates airline proved,
wine is now receiving star billing in the skies
WORDS MARK DE WESSELOW
what surprises me is just how much wine is
bought direct from both Left and Right Bank
châteaux, often in surprisingly small parcels.
This means fostering close relationships,
and it is these relationships that are opening
the doors of some of the most renowned
producers on the planet during this trip.
Not only am I being aorded the chance
to taste big names such as Margaux, HautBrion,
Lynch-Bages, Cos d'Estournel, Mouton
Rothschild and Cheval Blanc, I'm visiting these
venerable estates, too.
First stop is Haut-Brion, where current
doyen Prince Robert of
why he feels it's equally
important for these
prestigious châteaux to
work with the airline.
"Being on Emirates is a
great showcase for our brands," he says with
gravelly solemnity. And in a world where
time is a luxury, he rmly believes a ight "is a
great time to fully appreciate our wines".
At Château Margaux, talk turns to terroir.
Managing director Paul Pontallier speaks for
all the rst growths I visit when he stresses
that "great terroir has the ability to adapt
according to the weather conditions for each
year, whereas the lesser terroirs produce
signicantly less good wines in dicult years".
As if to prove the point, we taste the 2004
from his cellars - not a great vintage for the
Médoc, but everyone agrees it is drinking
"GREAT TERROIR HAS THE ABILITY TO ADAPT
ACCORDING TO THE WEATHER CONDITIONS
FOR EACH YEAR" PAUL PONTALLIER