As I mentioned last week, I took a brief but intensive trip to Bordeaux in south west France.

Ruled by the English for over 200 years until the advent of the 100 years war and eventually returning ownership to the French in the mid 15th century.

However, the earliest influence of the English then, still has echoes today. We even created and maintained English colloquial slang to encapsulate the wines of the region – Claret. Spelt Clairet in French, and still made as a rich pink wine in the area reminiscent of vast quantities of blended light reds and whites shipped back to our shores in the Middle Ages. But these were not the wines that prompted my visit. I was there to meet some of the new breed of red wine makers (Viniculturalists) formally graduates of the famous Institute d’Oenologie (Bordeaux University) and its sister establishment 12,000 miles away at the University of California known locally as the Davis Institute. Still today they are the world’s pre-eminent outlets of wine making and viticulture, both established co-incidentally in 1880.

Younger graduate winemakers increasingly flock to Bordeaux for good reason. Without doubt, this is still the most famous wine region in the world and has once again adopted the mantle of battle in the global wine wars. Around the rivers and estuary of the  Dordogne and the Garonne it is estimated some quarter of a million acres are under vine, the vineous equivalent of Mayfair and Park Lane on the monopoly board, producing over half a million bottles per annum.

If the English colonised the wine trade and supported the former flood plain to nurse it to its present heady commercial heights, our relationship is presently being undermined by the advent of the new ‘tiger’ economies.

It is interesting to note that just as many wineries in Australia are named after English and Scottish doctors sent to administer to the British convicts that preceded them, the hallowed names of Great Britain still abound in Bordeaux.

Brown, Clarke or Palmer are found on the labels of the most sought after wines in the world. There is even contention that the Irish family of O’Brian filtered its way onto the bottle of Haut-Brion, although this could have been a cruel joke told to a susceptible wine merchant along the way.

The region and its historic 1855 classification under Napoleon III, at the great Paris exhibition, created what are now benchmarks for many customers under the growth or crus system. I will be dealing in gretaer detail with the momentous effect in my forthcoming EDP wine course.

For the present, visiting old estates rooted in 19th Century history previously run by imperious families and their self created feudal systems of peasant farmers, this trip was a treat indeed. Apart from the 5 first growths destined for Japanese Cellars and Investment Bankers elsewhere, I was there to re-connect with the affordable and the approachable. The wine makers, not all French these days by the way, are in accord with such intentions. To build wines that we can find, can understand and more easily enjoy, divested of hype and stratospheric auction prices.

They were achieving remarkable success. We spent time on the left-bank tasting cask samples of Margaux and Haut Medoc, on the right, Pomerol and St Emilion.

Now I know this is not all altruism on their part, the judder of the Australian and South American invasion still vibrates here. The loss of their principally blended two varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Argentina, California or South America has hurt. What twisted the knife was how these New-World offerings returned to their former English market and were greeted with open arms.

But their response is equally dramatic. Many are seeking wines with the propensity for earlier drinking, with wines gently mellowed in softer French oak barrels rather than harsher flavours of American oak, with less filtration and therefore the advent of more ‘fruit-forward’ styles and with a general hope, here in England at least, that their wines will be properly respected once again.

From my surface-scratched tasting last week and the subsequent bottle samples that have arrived I feel that some of this new philosophy is becoming tangible.

I would be disappointed if this were not the case as even the well made and well forecast wines deserve pole position in our new understanding of ‘marrying’ our wine with our cuisine as Bordeaux can provide again what it clearly did in the past that is to offer food friendly wines that don’t quadruple our restaurant bill on a Saturday evening.

Maybe the English can re-assert a more intelligent, less commercial interest, to the mutual benefit of both countries once again.