134 | squaremeal.co.uk
superbly with all the pure-fruited and negrained
elegance of a classic Margaux.
Pontallier, who has been at Margaux for more
than 30 years, is also clear on what he feels
has been the biggest single development
of the past century. "It's the work in the
vineyards and our ability to harvest the
grapes at perfect maturity," he says. "We've
learnt to make this standard practice and
we're not afraid to let the acidity drop, which
explains why poor vintages like 1984, 1992
and 1994 are no more."
It also explains why the amount of Merlot
in wines such as those from Margaux is falling
fast. "We no longer need a proportion of
Merlot to produce the ripeness [in the wine]
to mask what was sometimes under-ripe
Cabernet Sauvignon," says Pontallier.
One of the vintages we taste is closed at
the moment, another is drinking beautifully,
while a third is drinking well - though
Pontallier predicts it will be so much better a
few years from now, in 2020.
Oliver Dixon, head of ne wine and in
charge of the Emirates wine programme for
the past ve years, is with us, sni ng and
swirling vigorously, and scribbling away in his
notebook. The fact that Emirates is currently
serving a Palmer 1995 on one of its routes is
ample proof of just how patient the airline is
prepared to be in making sure wine is always
served at its optimum.
Most of the wines we try are currently sitting
in the Emirates cellars, and Dixon is keen to
see how they are showing, knowing that
many are not slated for his cabin lists for
another two to ve years.
"Emirates purchased a number of parcels
of 2014 Bordeaux wines for both business
and rst classes," Dixon tells me. "But these
wines will not be seen on board before 2022,
and some not until 2030."
Best of Bordeaux
CHÂTEAU COS D'ESTOURNEL 2005,
Charming nose of plum and black fruit,
wrapped in cigar box notes. Powerful, sweet,
peppery tannins, rich black fruit, and hints of
anise and liquorice. Concentrated, markedly
pure and fresh. Delicious long nish.
CHÂTEAU HAUT�BRION 2006,
Fine tannins and sweet, savoury concentration
are the hallmarks of this completely
harmonious, deeply textured wine. Fruitpacked
but sleek, too. Fresh long nish.
CHÂTEAU LYNCH�BAGES 2005,
Fragrant nose full of luscious cassis and black
cherry fruit. Generous palate combining dense
fruit, earthy minerality and freshness.
A forward, show-stopping vintage that's
drinking superbly now.
CHÂTEAU SMITH�HAUT�LAFITTE 2008,
Tobacco, spice, smoke and sweet cassis
underlie an aromatic nose. On the palate it
reveals ripe fruit, polished tannins, minerality
and an elegant long nish.
CHÂTEAU LYNCH�BAGES BLANC 2014,
Ripe nose of citrus, grapefruit and pineapple.
Lovely acidity adding energy and drive to
a palate rich in layers of peach, melon and
pear, counterpointed with minerality. Clean
BLANC 2014, PESSAC�LÉOGNAN
White owers juxtaposed with tropical kiwi
and lychee notes on the nose. Hedonistic
palate mixing pineapple, citrus and orange
with wet-stone minerality. Aged in 55% new
oak, with lots of lees complexity.
CHÂTEAU MARGAUX 2004, MARGAUX
Meaty, earthy, cigar box aromas. Super ripe
tannins and elegant, delicious red and black
fruit on the palate. Long nish. Classic, elegant
Margaux, still in its infancy; drink from 2017.
CHÂTEAU MOUTON�ROTHSCHILD 2001,
Rich, sweet, inviting cassis nose underscored
with tobacco and spice notes. Elegant, but fullbodied
on the palate, with rm but ripe tannin
structure. Textbook long nish.
His approach means that passengers can
be given the choice between Vega Sicilia
2000 and Château Pavie 2004 on one ight,
and Montrose and Penfolds St Henri on
another. This matters to an airline that values
"Emirates is not just an airline, it is a lifestyle
brand," says Heymeijer. "We are committed
to the highest levels of service and in- ight
entertainment, and, as well as the food, the
wine is a major part of the entertainment.
To us, and to many of our customers, wine is
an experience. Our customers want to enjoy
wine on board as if they are in a ne dining
restaurant." I'll drink to that.
As well as looking after such an ambitious
cellaring programme and the di culties of
sourcing scarce parcels, the Emirates team
has to also consider the logistical problems
of loading ights correctly, the frequent
updating of menus and the training of cabin
crew. Wouldn't it have been a lot easier to
count the ights, calculate the bottles needed
and put it all out to tender?
"We wanted to take control of our own
destiny," says Clark, who is closely involved
in all of the key buying decisions. "O ering
our customers opportunities to try the best
vintages of a wider variety of top names is all
part of the aim."