RICHARD EHRLICH'S BEVERAGE REPORT: French tears

Children and the French vineyards really don't mix - especially when it's hot

Three tips for would-be explorers in the vineyards of Bordeaux: one, leave your children at home; two, don't go in August. Having spent two weeks of it within wine-spitting distance of both St-Emilion and Bergerac, I can tell you that children do not like vineyards much, especially in the scorching heat. We did most of our oenological research at the places where we bought wine for the evening meal. Tip three: take a Peppercorn. David Peppercorn, to be precise. His books on Bordeaux have long been my guides, and the one we had was Wines of Bordeaux (Mitchell Beazley, pounds 8.99), part of the publisher's Pocket Guides series. I'd planned to carry it on shopping trips, but plans have a way of slipping out of memory when you're on holiday. I chose mostly by guessing, and sometimes came up trumps.

At this point I would like to describe the wonderful things we drank and then tell you where to buy them in the UK. Instead, I have to report two pieces of bad news. The first is that we had some pretty dull bottles, especially everything under 40FF(pounds 4) from Bergerac. This area seems to have lost its way, with more southerly appellations taking up the running in the lower price ranges. The other bad news is that hardly anything we drank in France is sold here. Well, I call it bad news but it's also reassuring, in an age when the same products are sold from Bangkok to Bournemouth, that some can only be found in or around the region of production. And in any case, holiday wines don't always make a happy journey to home ground. If you've ever brought back that delightful 72-pence plonk you so enjoyed in Cyprus/ Provence/Siena and found that it actually tastes like vinegar, you know what I'm talking about.

We did drink a few good things, however. One was a cheapo rose, Comtes de Negret 1997 Cotes du Frontonnais (17.95FF), a Syrah-Grenache with good weight and lively, lush, cherry-ripe fruit. Other wines from the producer are sold over here, and the importers promise to let me know if they get the rose. Of the obscure clarets on our drinking list, the one that stands out is Chateau Ruat-Petit-Poujeaux 1995, Moulis (50FF) which I only found in a tiny, lovely shop called Le Tire-Bouchon in Mont-pons-Monestrol. One wine you may be able to locate is Chateau Larose-Trintaudon 1994, light but well-structured, and cheap at 45FF. If you have to pay much more here, forget it.

I did do a little chateau-touring with my 12-year-old daughter Rebecca. The vineyards were as busy as a creche at midnight, this being August, but the grapes - now they were busy. At the few properties we visited, notably La Lagune and Giscours, we could almost feel them ripening by the second. There is something deeply moving about the thought of all that energy in those wonderfully situated, lovingly tended vines. Rebecca loved the idea that the La Lagune grapes would be fine wine by the time she was old enough to drink. I may buy a dozen of their 1998 en primeur, in the unlikely event that I can afford it.

But I'm more likely to stick with Chileans like a trio sampled since our return. First and best: Errzuriz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 1996 (pounds 7.99 at Thresher, Victoria Wines, Fullers, Tesco and elsewhere), a sumptuous slug of ripe fruit and silky tannins. Totally delicious, and the sort of wine to make Bordeaux producers quake in their boots. The others are 1996s from Veramonte, a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (both pounds 6.99 from Oddbins). The Merlot is sweetly slurpable, with good concentration and nice finish. The Cabernet is better still, great gobbets of cassis coming through fairly hefty tannins. Decant it to get some air in, and drink with lamb.

Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
musicReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Arts and Entertainment
‘Dawn of Planet of the Apes’ also looks set for success in the Chinese market

film
News
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?