Friday, December 28, 2007

Brazil

Tormentas is looking like the greatest wine from Brazil and the "only garage wine produced with manual desteming, which gives it a silky texture and a unique originality", different from every other high quality wine. They probably don't know what is being done in other places...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Château Ratouin, Pomerol

This cru has finally changed hands (Murielle and I) as well as name and will be called Le Clos du Beau-père.

It’s 1.3 hectares (3.21 acres) in Lalande de Pomerol will keep the same name: Clos des Sabines.

This is what Bernard Ginestet wrote in his guide on Pomerol (Collection Le Grand Bernard des vins de France, published in 1984)

“Château Ratouin
Area: 3 ha (7.41 acres)
Location: In the north-west part of the district, near the town of René.

Since the end of the 19th Century, this Château was called L’Angélus, but after the owners of a property with the same name in Saint Emilion protested, Serge Ratouin had to give it up and gave this property his own name. Located in a “charming little corner of France”, Château Ratouin produces beautiful wines. It is the quintessential family property, concerned as well as proud with the quality of its production. Located in the north-west of the district, the domain’s vineyards extends from the N. 89, the road between Bordeaux and Périgueux, and the train tracks of the Paris-Bordeaux line. The clever choice of varietals planted and a soil rich in gravel and iron make it a classic Pomerol. While the premises and equipment have been renewed in the past few years, the vinification techniques, such as aging, are still done according to the experience acquired over several generations. The wines can be tasted with the owner in the beautiful and pleasant room where, during the harvest season, the workers eat. The wine-lover will be able to get a long finish as well as the right touch of tannins”.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Je m'aime.... moi non plus!

A journalist (I don’t care much for and vise-versa) is listed in the top 10 first responses on Google, he has the right to be proud of it… as he is the one claiming this.

I would only have the following question: is he interested in quality or quantity vis-à-vis his competition? (as he doesn’t use the word “colleagues”, excluding himself…).

In any case, what is sure is that he knows how to get listed on Google, and speak about himself in the 3rd person. However… when a wine gets a good note in his media, I get suspicious.
Is it serious doctor?

Quiet Christmas

For Christmas, we drank a bottle of Tour du Pin Figeac Moueix 2005, good wine for this property where this vintage is the last one listed as a Grand Cru Classé (because the property was downgraded). The new owners of Cheval Blanc transformed its name to Château La Tour du Pin which will be a Saint Emilion Grand Cru starting with the 2006 vintage.

Following, we had a half-bottle of a wine listed as one of the best wines in the world by the Wine Spectator (and noted 95 by Robert Parker): Clos des Papes 2005, very good, balanced, pure, delicious and easy to drink (surprisingly, this particular example justifies the false notion that the so-called American taste is for over-the-top wine!). Too bad we didn’t have a full bottle… We finished with a half bottle of one of our wines: Bel Air Ouÿ 2000.

The next day, we drank with Murielle’s parents a Flor de Pingus 2003. Always good (one of Murielle’s favorite wines) and Monbousquet 1994 who aged well and was a success in this difficult vintage.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Quarin and Bordeaux 2005

Valandraud was rated 18, with a nice comment and is part of the top 16. That shows the level of 2005.

I am certain to get an even better place in blind tastings… we will see, if like 1995, we will reach the 1st place in 10 years at a Grand Jury Européen tasting?

In the meantime:
Haut Carles 16.5
Fleur Cardinale 16.25
Marojallia 16.25
Virginie de Valandraud 16
Clos Badon 15.5
Haut Mazeris 15.5

Bordeaux 2003 and visit of Ronald de Groot

Neal Martin published his notes and comments on Bordeaux 2003 : Valandraud reached 3rd position in the Right Bank behind Ausone and Cheval Blanc. Jancis Robinson placed our wine in 3rd position overall Bordeaux.

Friday, the Dutch journalist Ronald de Groot spent the afternoon and evening with us. First stop Château La Dominique where a reception for the new tasting/reception room was organized by Clément Fayat for a small group of guests. We spent a pleasant moment, almost family-like, with a great meal and an excellent Château La Dominique 1990. This bottle proved, as if it needed it, the exceptional potential of this château which I have the honor to manage in order to reach the target set by the Fayat family (Clément, Jean Claude and Laurent).

We spent the afternoon at L’Essentiel tasting a series of “Thunevin” wines including the Roussillon.

For dinner, we only drank the Blanc No 1 2004, Les 3 Maries 2004 and the Maury 2004. Only in France you finish a meal at 4:30 pm and do it all again at 7 pm!

One more note, Valandraud is like a 6 year old racing horse who, since May 20 2004, earned 32,900 Euros.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Parker and chocolates

We received at the office lots of chocolates for the holidays, sent by our business partners. Our attorney, Joëlle Bordy, sent us little pockets of personalized m&ms with her initials JB. Our world is becoming so impersonal that it is the attention to details that creates a more human space.

Mr. Robert Parker who was supposed to come in January to taste again and give a final note on 2005 Bordeaux cancelled due to surgery (back pain). Of course, I wish him good and prompt recovery. I hope he will be a good shape in March to taste our 2007 as well as 2006 and 2005.

To bad for him to have to wait to taste 2005, but interesting situation as all the other critics will have time to write and rate Bordeaux before him… The Wine Spectator and Jancis Robinson already started, and why not the Grand Jury Européen?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Traceability

We had the visit of Eric Vogt and the former head of communication of the Syndicat Viticole of Saint Emilion.

Eric is the Commander of the Commanderie de Bordeaux in Boston. He was in town to talk about his big project: finalize a system of traceability and security for the world’s great wines. This battle is not yet won… but at 59 years old, Eric has the passion of a young man.

In fact, it looks a bit like the Loch Ness, or Don Quichotte fighting against these lousy windmills. If everyone wants to have better security against counterfeits, the 2nd aspect should be respecting conditions of storage, of transportation in regards to temperatures (a truck riding here during the month of August makes more damage than a bad note from Broadbent!).

As soon as the system is in place, I think of using it at least for Valandraud. The cost will limit this tool to expensive wines: I was told that it will cost 3 Euros per bottle?!

During the meal at the Clos du Roy, we drank a delicious bottle of Clos des Fées white 2004 and Valandraud 2005, which is most likely the best wine we produced since 1991.

Aging of the 2006

We tasted with the whole technical team various batches of wines aged separately in barrels from different coopers.

This kind of tasting helps to generally bring out the least suitable cooper for our wines (or the opposite),. In any case, we rarely have a consistent point of view.

We talk about past vintages, the current one, the evolution of the work in the vineyard, changes in styles of vinification… there too, no definite opinion. This shows the challenges we face improving our work in the vineyards, the cellar, etc…

If it is not easy, it is in fact difficult” (La Palisse).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Parker : the idol to kill"

In the Saturday, December 15 2007 issue of the Figaro Mag, Bernard Burtschy writes quite a positive article on Robert Parker, despite the title.

Below, the few lines that caught my eye while reading it in the TGV on my way to Paris to Michel Rolland’s birthday party:
“… The success of garage wines… Even when presenting in tastings 10, 20 or 50 high level vintages, the top chateaux in Bordeaux were being beaten by unknown wineries in blind tasting. The spur from the Garage wines from Saint Emilion, very small properties producing hand-crafted high quality wines, would deeply change the landscape. Today, even if they resist to the idea, this spur gave the opportunity to the most illustrious chateaux to use some of the modern methods of production to catch-up with the group of front runners, pass them, while pushing their prices to unforeseen ceilings.”

Monday, December 17, 2007

Michel Rolland’s birthday

After having celebrated his 50th birthday in 1997, this year he turned 60.
Born in 1947, it helps to offer as gifts only great bottles to our friend Michel. As for me, I couldn’t find any Valandraud 1947 in my cellar, however, Catherine and others were able to find and even offer DRC "la Tâche" 1971 (instead of 1969). Go figure why an enologist famous for his Merlots has a weakness for great Pinots from Burgundy.

In any case, it was a great evening which took place in Bistro Benoit in Paris. Lots of good bottles were brought by guests, friends from the USA, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Chili and France.

Lots of friends, including some from primary school like Alain Raynaud, others from more recently. In any case, Dany, Michel, their children and grand children will have a great souvenir of this great evening, and to top it off, a top form Gérard Depardieu very happy to participate to this event in the company of owners of famous crus, customers of Rolland, and even a couple of garagists

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nice series of meetings

Yesterday, I had a big day at Clément Pichon : Meeting with Pierre, David, Christine and Laetitia, conversation with Mr Bonnalet and Jean Claude Fayat.

I spent the afternoon with one of the biggest brokerage firm in Bordeaux in order to better understand their business practice and, of course, talk about our wines as well as the ones from Fayat, Fronsac and even the Roussillon.

In the evening, I had a private dinner at Clément Pichon with the people in charge of construction in one of our property. I was back home at 11:30 pm…

This morning, I had a meeting with a journalist from RVF (Revue du Vin de France) to talk about our Pomerols, then, lunch with my employees, phone meeting with the group Fayat and visit of La Dominique with the group Fayat.

These kind of days make you feel the need for 48 hour days!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

2 Spanish wines that take your breath away

In Sweden, we drank: Clio 2005 and especially El Nido 2005 from the Jumilla appellation. These wines are not for every palate! Concentrated (and this coming from me!), this wine is made by an Australian and was produced in an Astralis style with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Monastrel or Mourvèdre (for El Nido and the opposite for the cuvee Clio). This made me want to make an experiment next year for we picked a few vines in Pomerol who could give us an Amarone style Bordeaux!

I also saw, but unfortunately didn’t drink, a nice looking South African wine called Chocolate Block. It was quite a program!

I would like to thank Jancis for the great note given to Valandraud 2005 ( 18/20) at a blind tasting event:

Ch Valandraud 2005 St-Emilion Grand Cru 18 Drink 2015-28
Dark and healthy-looking. Savoury, well integrated perfume. Real attack and confidence. There is lots of tannin here but it’s ripe and well hidden and there is still enough freshness to keep the wine appetising. Pretty dry finish for the moment. Obviously a long term wine. Not going down the overripeness route.

Without forgeting 16/20 for La Dominique and 15.5 for Clément Pichon !

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Quick trip to Sweden and Finland

I traveled with Catherine to Sweden to visit our agent/importer with whom we have been working with for now a year.

As soon as we arrived, we took the Stockholm-Helsinki ferry: The whole night journey is a good opportunity for Swedes and Fins to party and buy product duty-free, especially alcohol which are highly taxed in these countries.
It was the opportunity for me to promote my wines and had the luxury to use the services of an illustrious interpreter: Andreas Larsson, best sommelier in the world and 1st Swede to have won this title. As you can expect, he is famous.
We didn’t stop working, our importer is a mix between a passion for wine and Nordic pragmatism. I think that our wines: Valandraud, Virginie de Valandraud, 3 de Valandraud, Présidial, our entire range of Calvet-Thunevin, as well as Haut Carles and Commanderie de Mazeyres, we well received by sommeliers and journalists.
If we had 20 agents like this one, our company would be one of the top in Bordeaux.
The Boutique Hotel Rival in Stockholm (which belongs to the singer of Abba) was really nice and the meal lively. Swedes like to drink wine and party. Unfortunately, I had a throat infection (flu?) and couldn’t really talk, having lost my voice.

I quickly went back to work as soon as I got back to the office for we had to give our last balance sheet to our bank and had meetings with the architect for the project in Maury and fixing up the houses and cellar in the village.

Auction

For the first time on my blog, I post information on the sale of a property :

WINERY AUCTION:

On January 23 at 2:30 pm, the town of Saint Emilion will auction a winery known as “Château BADETTE” with 8 hectares (19.77 acres) of vineyard of red wine in the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appellation.

Date, hour and location of the auction : January 23, 2008 at 2:30 pm in the meeting room of SAINT EMILION’s town hall, 6 Place PIOCEAU.

Description: This active vineyard of 8 hectares, all in one piece, is located in the district of Saint Christophe des Bardes in the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appellation. The varietal is 100% Merlot. The vines are in good health with an average age of 35 years old.

The property includes a small old house needing restoration work (3 rooms on the ground floor and an attic), a garage and an additional outhouse.

The winery includes: an independent cellar, tiled with 11 concrete vats (1137 hl), with thermoregulation, insulated roof. A large cellar for barrels and one capable of storing 60 000 bottles. A new storage facility with insulated roof. A concrete garage and 2 annexes. A garage for equipment in the back.

Asking price: 3.7 million Euros.
A deposit of 740 000 Euros is required for residents of the Euros zone. Payment terms of 30 days from date of last accepted offer.

For information and visits: All information on the property, terms of sales and legal and tax questions regarding the transaction will be provided by the notaries-seller (attorney-seller): Maître François COUTANT or Maître SEYNHAEVE at +33 (0)5 57 24 71 05, cazaillet-coutant@notaires.fr

Sale organized by MINENCHERES, le Marché Immobilier des Notaires (the notaries real-estate market) : Contact : Sabine BAJARD at +33 (0)5 56 79 37 04 – +33 (0)6 15 05 66 43, min-bordeaux@minencheres.com

Monday, December 10, 2007

Paranoia?

(What’s taking place while I am in Sweden?)

Paranoia is one of the effects of modern life, due to stress, the desire to be successful, media, being egotistic… Who knows! In any case, this is not what’s missing in the world of wine. It even gets contagious.

The smallest remark on his wine and the owner gets on his high horse… people hate him, don’t understand anything, whatever the status of the wine or the owner.
Myself, I constantly have to fight against this, but I think I am overcoming, although…: My last corked bottle (even though my colleagues use the same cork supplier and have no problems), the last tasting where my wine finished right behind this jerk, the last court case which I lost (even though I should have won but didn’t know the judge), a friend who doesn’t want to speak to me, also having himself become paranoid…

In fact, this paranoia can be explained. However, when one reaches the point to avoid any contact, except through an advertorial… (still, with little praise). In this case, I recommend to consult a specialist, but who would is capable of giving the proper diagnosis?

Friday, December 7, 2007

I told you so...

Neal Martin just published his tasting notes (tasted blind) of Saint Emilion 2003. This is what he wrote on Valandraud :

Château Valandraud 2003: the best wine of these four Saint Emilion flights so kudos to Mon. Thunevin whose wine consistently shines in tough blind tastings such as these. Valandraud was the top-scoring Saint Emilion although note that Château Ausone was included in a separate flight consisting of the “Big Eight”.

2003 Château Valandraud 93

The first Saint Emilion that shows real, bona fide quality. A tempered nose of raspberry, redcurrants, damsons and a touch of fennel. A very elegant nose, plump and with great delineation. Very focused with good weight, this is a wine that has brushed aside the limitations of the 2003 growing season to produce a seamless, delectable wine in a “traditional” style (written blissfully ignorant of its identity!) Wonderful. Drinking 2008-2018. Tasted January 2007.

Merlove

Pure Merlot Blend for 3 Americans, Lionel, Carlos and us 2.
Bad Boy 2005 (pure Merlot)
Fleur Mongiron 2001 (pure Merlot) 80 % sold in the USA
Croix de Labrie 2000 ( pure Merlot) our local Viagra 100 % merlot
Valandraud 99 (70 % merlot 30 % cabernet franc)

This team of young American is producing a documentary in the Mondino style (I hope that the camera won’t shake as much… at least they are using a tripod!) with the working title (if I understood correctly) “Merlove”.

What is certain is that this film is shot by 2 wine professionals, who love Merlot, Grenache and blends. Therefore this film won’t be sectarian. They loved the atmosphere at our place, and our bakery, cheese and ham suppliers, butcher, vegetables and patisseries… As well as Murielle’s talent.

On the site of La Passion du Vin, I read a piece on Broadbent’s article published in Decanter, where this old man hangs on to certainties and denounces in a Nossiter way, wines that are “too much”, “not enough”… I had the rare pleasure to participate to an event organized by the great chef Mr. Raymond Blanc, in his starred restaurant Le Manoir des 4 Saisons in Oxford: where Mr Broadbent was my interpreter (I don’t speak English). You can imaging this poor man obliged to translate all my bullshit. It must have been the worst day of his life. All this to please his host.

The advantage, at least for me, is that he saw that I am not the devil, and that I don’t smell like sulfur. I must say that despite his total opposition to what I represent, his good education (and mine) helped us spend this moment without any trouble (at least on my side).

In any case, age doesn’t seem to change his opinion, and it won’t be tomorrow that I will agree with him!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Merlot

Will an American documentary currently being shot be able to counter-balance the pinotmania impact “Sideways” triggered in the USA? Who will find the way to save this poor soldier Merlot, this nice varietal, soft and just the way it should be, maybe too much, for one needs to be visible, recognizable at first whiff or simply “in” and/or simply good.

We’ll see what these young people will be able to do with this nice topic. As for me, we don’t have much problems selling our Pomerols, Saint Emilion and Bordeaux, especially if the quality is sold at good price (as well as a story to tell).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Evolution

Afiliates, participations, associations….

On December 1st 2007, I created the « Thunevin WP » (WP= wine product) SARL (corporation) due to the evolution of the company and in order to bring the status of the employees and management in line with labor regulations; whether working in the agriculture side or in the cellar, with our partners or in the service department. For France has different legislations (for how long?) depending if you work in the industrial sector, sales, agriculture, etc…

What will the status be for the employee working in the vineyards, bottling the wine in our cellars and labeling bottles in our warehouse? This is mainly a French problem and the “absurdity” of our system. But this is the way it is!

Another example. The regulations for overtime is different for the agriculture sector (seasonal) than for others.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Parisian life

I got back from Paris having done many things: the Grand Tasting organized by Bettane and Desseauve in the Carrousel du Louvre. It was well attended and better organized than last year. I think I will be attending next year’s event, if there are still available places. I only had to present La Commanderie de Mazeyres 2005 as a part of the Cercle des Grandes Vins de la Rive Droite, which actually allowed me to speak about all the Fayat properties.

A meal at Robert Vifian gave us the opportunity to drink: Krug Grande Cuvée, then a Riesling 2001 Frédéric Emile Trimbach, Meursault Charmes 2001 from Lafon, Hermitage white from Chave paired with a plate of red salade with black eye and scallops, then with the chicken with lemongrass and aromatic rice: cuvees of Clos de Vougeot 1997 from Lalou Bize Leroy, Jean Jacques Confuron, Denis Mortet, Chamirey red 2005, Gevrey Chambertin 2001 from Denis Mortet… With cheese Ridge Lytton Springs 1999, Chateauneuf du Pape Marcoux Vieilles Vignes and Hermitage red from JL Chave.

We had dinner at Tan Dinh where the nice Vietnamese meal was paired with 2 wines served blind: Roc d’Anglade 2001 and Hermitage Gambert de Loche 2003. The table next to us ordered a Clos Badon, which made our evening even more enjoyable.

The cabaret “Chez ma cousine” in Montmartre gave us the opportunity to drink a bottle of Clément Pichon 2000 (correct) and a very good Lagrange 2001. The evening was fun and the place had talented artists. We talked to the owner, a friend from Bordeaux, who complained that we (Bordeaux négociants) had abandoned Paris. Looking at wine lists in restaurants and brasseries only confirms the damage done.

We will make an effort to fix this in my company by organizing events presenting our wines and my friends’ wines with the help of wine stores and agents.
The Château de Carles and the cuvée Haut Carles should be the first to benefit from this new strategy. A good number of our wines are already available at Vignon in the golden triangle and in the Maison des Millésimes in Saint Germain.

Our Paris trip ended with a meeting with the national buyer for a supermarket chain.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Not to mistake

Goodbios (good organic)
Bobobios
Biocons
.....To constantly think of someone as the “con” (schmuck or even asshole) of someone diminishes the strong meaning this swearword, at least in French. If you live in the South of France, this word is commonly used at the end of sentences or in a phrase. One of the finest being “Ah le con!” (oh the schmuck), used in an admiring way even envious.

The exact title of Michel Bettane’s piece in the Grand Guide des Vins de France 2008 is “No to the bio-cons!” and includes 2 paragraphs on the trend of organic agriculture (where et writes about the interest of organic agriculture) and out with stinky reds! (hard not to agree?)

By the way, how do the whites taste?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Is it serious doctor?

François Mauss from the Grand Jury Européen, Mr. Hugues Touton, architect, Eric Fauchon from the BNP who is financing this large restoration work, my in-laws, Murielle and I, had a simple lunch in preparation for the holidays feasts that we will celebrate with a few couples in our new Château Valandraud, with its 5 guest rooms, dinning room, semi-professional kitchen, living room with view on the valley. It will be fully air-conditioned and the work will be completed by January 1st 2008.
Back to our simple lunch, Pata Negra, roast beef, mash potatoes, fruits.

I decided to serve Burgundies - go figure – some offered by a friend (thanks Patrick) and others from my wholesale stock.

The bottle of Domaine Humbert Frères, Gevrey-Chambertin 2005, 1er cru Estournelles Saint Jacques was a real delicacy with flavors of pure and fresh grapes and was swallowed with no comments except for glasses emptied in no time (probably due to thirst).
The second bottle of Gevrey Chambertin (Villages) 2005 from Domaine Rossignol-Trapet was a bit closed, not as easy, more on the power of the terroir than of the fruit, not as much a delicacy. It tasted more like a Bordeaux. One glass each for lunch. Murielle and I had the 2 last glasses for dinner, and appreciated it more. It showed the potential of this cru which I had the chance to visit with interest, as they are seriously committed to biodynamic.
The 3rd bottle, as opposed to the 2 others, was opened, decanted and served blind to test the knowledge of our guests, and particularly the president of the Grand Jury Européen.
Everyone agreed that it was a great wine, at the level of a 1st growth Bordeaux. François Mauss easily guessed the vintage (2001), but only Murielle said that it was a “great Burgundy” (she only likes great wines!). Everyone else, including François Mauss, said: Saint Emilion – Pomerol. Names like Petrus, Eglise Clinet, even Ausone were given, but this time, it was a Burgundy. François Mauss should have guessed it for it was from Mr. Denis Mortet, 1st cru Aux Beaux Bruns 2001, in the beautiful appellation of Chambolles-Musigny. Now I believe that I like Burgundy, not because François didn’t recognize it, but because, finally, in one meal, I liked 3 wines from Burgundy, and especially thanks to Denis Mortet’s wine I want to buy some more… Is it serious doctor?

Oh, I forgot to ad! While driving back home Monday evening (around 7pm), I ran into 2 pilgrims chilled to the bone and famished wandering through the streets of Saint Emilion: Jean-Pierre Xiradakis from La Tupina and one of his friends who just walked 70 kms in 2 days from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion via the Entre Deux Mers. The dinner Murielle prepared for the 2 of us was shared between the 4 of us. There too, we drank 2 bottles of Gevery Chambertin… I believe this getting contagious! (We had a delicious meal… Just ask Jean-Pierre what he thinks of Murielle’s French fries and roast chicken!)

I will be at the Carrousel du Louvre for the Grand Tasting with the Cercle des Grands Vins de la Rive Droite, Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm and will be presenting Château La Commanderie de Mazeyres (and see friends!).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sad day

Our mascot, our beautiful black rooster who was a mix between a Nègre-Soie and a Bantam de Pékin died.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Decanter, the magazine where all the opinions can openly be expressed!

Will Panos Kakaviatos be able to write the opposite point of view expressed by Steven Spurrier on April 19, 2007 ?

Yesterday, a tasting was organized for Panos Kakaviatos in our wine bar l’Essentiel: He is supposed to write an article for Decanter on (if I understood correctly) the various categories of Bordeaux: modern/classic.
In any case, we tasted:
Gracia 2004
Croix de Labrie 2003, 2005
Petit Labrie 2005
Petite Chapelle 2005
Fleur Cardinale 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005
Balthus 2003
Bon Pasteur 2001
And Valandraud 1992 et 1995

Were attending : Jeffrey Davies, Dominique Decoster, Michel Gracia, Ghislaine and Michel Puzio, and our colleague Emmanuel Emonot from the restaurant – wine bar « Lard et Bouchon ».What did Panos Kakaviatos think about the wines he tasted? The answer in his future article. I am convinced that he noticed the passion shown by the producers attending, how different each wine he tasted were, this due to the vintage, the terroirs or the style of each winemaker, and this, despite the fact that the same oenologist (Jean-Philippe Fort from Michel Rolland’s lab) takes care of Valandraud, Fleur Cardinale, Croix de Labrie and Gracia.

So, to answer all the nonsense written here and there about wines tasting all the same, I am certain that Panos, despite his classic taste, will write about his experience. The other clarification I need to make is regarding the aging of my wines.
Jeffrey Davis presence gave me the opportunity to open (a rare occasion) a bottle of Valandraud 1995, and especially one charged with history, Valandraud 1992.

These bottles, served in the right conditions, could rival, in blind tastings, the wines from all the property owners who predicted a short life span for my wines: 10 years for them seemed unthinkable; It is rare today to read these kinds of nonsense on my wines, except when a bottle was not properly stored and/or due to a defective cork (don’t forget this maxim from Jean-Marc Quarin: There are no great wine, only great bottles).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 26

Visit of the warehouse for my wholesale business in Saint Magne de Castillon for the departure of Christelle who helped us during the time we were looking for a replacement for Annie who is away on a training program in the South. Welcome Jeannine Chauvin.

At 11 am, tasting at the Château de Carles in Fronsac of a few samples of 2007 and 2006 of both cuvees (Haut Carles and de Carles). Were participating: the whole technical team of Mr Dosso, the cellar master, Mr Bouëtz, in charge of the vineyards and the cellar, Mr. Fort, our Oenologist from Michel Roland’s lab, Doctor Alain Raynaud, our consultant and I, in charge of the overall strategy of this beautiful property to try to get it out of the infernal circle of the Bordeaux caste system. If it is possible! The 2007 batches were good to very good, a batch of Haut-Carles 2007 was simply fantastic, the marriage between wine and barrel worked perfectly.

At 2 pm, meeting with our accountant to review the 2007 numbers. Our revenues of 10 million Euros are down 30% from 2006: The volume and price of the 2004 futures compared to 2003 explains this drop. Results being divided by 3. Already we have indications that the results for our next statement, thanks to 2005, will most likely increase by 50% and our profit multiply by at least 5.

Our activities must be considered in mid term: the difference in price and demand for each vintage prevents any reliable projection and explain such variations in our numbers. It is therefore important to work with bankers who understand the specificities of Bordeaux wholesalers (and just for a your information, labor cost: 1.6 million Euros ).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Biocons, the sequel...

This word “Bio-cons” (organic worshippers), invented by Michel Bettane, like the word “garagiste” he also invented, is able to get plenty of attention. A word which brings up so many questions, comments and opinion, is a bit like Nossiter. I don’t agree with his point of view but find it useful.

I have to justify myself (probably due to my catholic upbringing), so I would like to make it clear that I was mainly giving my opinion on Nossiter – who I got to know a little having the pleasure of being included in his film “Mondovino” and where I was not too much made into a caricature.

I am only interested, and people who know my hypochondriac side will agree, in “good” organic winemakers who make an effort to produce good wines from grapes grown with no or minimal use of chemical product as opposed to the rest of the so-called “normal” production. I was sufficiently influenced by Maryse Barre when she was in charge of Pavie Macquin. I even tried biodynamic agriculture 2 years in a row in my vineyards with the help of Cyril Chancelier or a consultant in the Roussillon. I still carry inventory of biodynamic wines produced for me (Jacques Blanc, cuvée l’Apogée). These wines are good, even delicious to drink and I only regret not having continued on creating them.

If Didier Michaud understood in this word “biocons” (organic asshole), I believe that he didn’t quite understand Michel Bettane. It’s his right, but apparently, my understanding is different from my colleague. This term “bio-con”, it seems to me, concerns grains and granolas or producers of bad wines for they are too sectarian. It doesn’t concern winemakers who have mastered the technique and produce wines I drink with pleasure like the wines of Anne Leflaive or Pontet Canet. Like “garagiste”, the word “biocon” is only intended to the winemakers it concerns.

Sunday, I received a journalist who likes old style wines, a bit of red pepper, not too dark. It is good that some people think differently, even if I prefer the opposite.

Friday, November 23, 2007

No hard feelings…

Following a post found on the Château Loisel site regarding Latour de France in the Roussillon and called "18 hectares escape from the hands of the cooperators": I personally feel that it is best that a vineyard be sold to a foreigner than being up-rooted, even if it means that the cooperative loses a member. The county, the appellation get a positive boost of energy (and in this specific case Nicolas and Miren de Lorgeril). A winning proposition for them of course, and for the wine: this repeat of a new acquisition proves the interest of this wine region.

So, no hard feelings. The private wineries and cooperatives are complementary: we can see it here in Saint Emilion where the Union des Producteurs shows that it is a leader, not a follower. Men, always men, in whatever system, are the key to success.

I recommend you to read a nice text written by Michel Bettane on http://www.presse-vin.com/blogs.php

I believe it is not worth giving so much attention to Nossiter’s book. Even if it is useful to reaffirm our strong belief concerning the “small French sect” of worshippers bio-cons, voluntarily taken hostage (I know…) for having thoughts contrary to the so-called simple unique thinking, and so vulgar: good wines are made from good grapes.

On the Dutch side, David Bolomey writes about Clos Badon on his blog : http://bordoverview.blogspot.com/

No hard feelings…

Following a post found on the Château Loisel site regarding Latour de France in the Roussillon and called "18 hectares escape from the hands of the cooperators": I personally feel that it is best that a vineyard be sold to a foreigner than being up-rooted, even if it means that the cooperative loses a member. The county, the appellation get a positive boost of energy (and in this specific case Nicolas and Miren de Lorgeril). A winning proposition for them of course, and for the wine: this repeat of a new acquisition proves the interest of this wine region.

So, no hard feelings. The private wineries and cooperatives are complementary: we can see it here in Saint Emilion where the Union des Producteurs shows that it is a leader, not a follower. Men, always men, in whatever system, are the key to success.

I recommend you to read a nice text written by Michel Bettane on http://www.presse-vin.com/blogs.php

I believe it is not worth giving so much attention to Nossiter’s book. Even if it is useful to reaffirm our strong belief concerning the “small French sect” of worshippers bio-cons, voluntarily taken hostage (I know…) for having thoughts contrary to the so-called simple unique thinking, and so vulgar: good wines are made from good grapes.

On the Dutch side, David Bolomey writes about Clos Badon on his blog : http://bordoverview.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Medias

Little overview of what you can find in various guides, magazines and surfing the web…

Clos Badon Thunevin was selected by the Gault et Millau 2008 wine guide (included in a selection of 1200 wines from France).

Valandraud and Virginie are included in the insert from the Wine Spectator on the 2004 tasting.
Big article written by James Lawther (4 pages in the latest issue of Decanter about the garagistes) as well as another article written by James in Flavours from France (http://www.flavours-from-france.com/) on the wines from Languedoc and the Roussillon with the title: « Investing in the Languedoc-Roussillon »

I also read a thesis published in September 2006 and written by Pierre Marie Chauvin , titled: « AOC, typicity and conspicuous production: the case of two “atypical” winemakers from Saint-Emilion »
http://www.melissa.ens-cachan.fr/article.php3?id_article=977

I also recommend to read Andrew Jefford’s blog
http://www.andrewjefford.com/blog/?p=28#comment-2602

Without forgetting Mark Squires’ Bulletin Board, with a beautiful comment from Robert Parker himself on Fleur Cardinale and François Mauss comments on Haut Carles.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Relaxed

A full page of the results from the Grand Jury Européen tasting of the 2004 vintage just came out in the Wine Spectator. When will the same page appear in Marianne?

Friday, November 16, we harvested a few rows of Merlot in Pomerol to make a barrel. The red grapes reach 30% of noble rot, the rest sort of "passerillé". It will certainly be a wine made for our own consumption, if it is good....

Monday, November 19, 2007

Weekend receptions and planning

The 1st meal Saturday took place at Château La Dominique and was organized for a small group of cardiologist from Bordeaux wine lovers and friends of Laurent Fayat. Visit of the property, tasting of the right bank wines from Clément Fayat: Prieurs de la Commanderie2001, Commanderie de Mazeyres 2003, La Dominique 2003, 2005 and 1998. Nice moment taken in my busy schedule. The quality and interest in wine of this group made the 5 hours spent fly.

All the wines tasted showed well and of course La Dominique 2005 equaled the best vintages of La Dominique like 1989. The dinning room is not yet finished but will be quite useful to showcase the Vignobles Fayat and particularly La Dominique which, considering its location and its prestigious neighbors is the best publicity than you can get from any ad campaigns to show the full potential of this cru.

Friday, we had lunch with our biggest and most loyal customer as well as a good friend, who distributes 75% of our wines in Japan, our 1st export market in terms of volume and revenue. This year, the USA are just starting to pass Japan, thanks to the work done by 3 of my collaborators and my frequent visits (4 trips this year, against 2 in Japan).

A little overview of my program in the next few weeks:
Tuesday 20: Tasting at Château de Carles
Wednesday 21: Meeting of the Alliance of the Crus Bourgeois in Château Clément Pichon
Tuesday 27: “Garagist” tasting organized by Panos Kakaviatos
Saturday, December 1st: Grand Tasting in the Carrousel du Louvre for La Commanderie de Mazeyres and the Cercle des Grands Vins de la Rive Droite
From 9 till 11: Sweden and Finland
Thursday 13: All day at Clément Pichon for VIPs from the Group Fayat
Saturday 15: Paris for a nice party

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Confidential?

For several years a blind tasting of all the great Bordeaux takes place in England where some of the biggest English buyers (in other words in the world), a few English journalists participate. This year for the 2003 tasting, were included: Andrew Jefford, Sebastian Payne, Steven Spurrier and even the courageous Neal Martin.

I never participated as a taster, but I always read, with interest, the tasting notes, for this group has a pretty good palate and can especially identify wines with defects (corks, TCA).
Yes, it is a blind tasting!

Each wine is tasted within its own appellation which could be seen as an advantage. In fact, in 2003 it is not difficult to overate Saint Estèphe and Pauillac and underrate Pomerol, or the category Médoc-Haut Médoc-Moulis. Well, we are in the kind of tastings similar to those organized by Jacques Luxey and of course (even if I don’t totally agree), the 1st growths are all tasted together.

In the end, the successes and failures are identified.

I looked closely at these last notes, and noticed that what was already known is being confirmed. For instance, the high standing of Pape Clément in the Graves, which would have been more useful to taste side-by-side with Haut-Brion, better rated for it is noted with its peers. The nice success of Sociando Mallet, Lascombes in Margaux (even though it is not the “English” style). The nice notes of Ducru Beaucaillou, Pontet Canet, Léoville Barton, Las Cases and Poyferré, as well as those of Pichon Baron and Comtesse. The well known success of Cos, Montrose and the nice success of my wine which was rated right after Ausone and Cheval Blanc (both tasted with the 1st). All the 1st growths were, of course, well rated, with Latour and Ausone in front of all the others.

I checked out the sites of English wholesalers, and especially my friends’ (who rarely give me good notes during the primeur) where the notes are posted.

In any case, Valandraud had better luck here than during the last tastings of the Grand Jury Européen where my 2001 vintage played yoyo between the 3 different classifications…

Friday, November 16, 2007

Visits

We hosted a group of Americans from Las Vegas, including the sommeliers from the restaurants Fleur de Lys in the Mandalay Bay and Craft Steak in the MGM. At the same time, we had the visit from a German couple (an architect and his wife who works in the textile industry) who won a trip to our place during our last visit in Austria after guessing our wines in a blind tasting.

We visited our vineyards in Saint Etienne de Lisse, our cellars, we talked about the classification, our neighbors (Fleur Cardinale, Faugères, Rol Valentin, Fombrauge), had a relaxed conversation about our wine, our history (appreciated by Americans) and had lunch at our house with 10 guests. Fortunately, I was able to take a 15 minute nap before meeting a journalist from the RVF who is writing a piece on blogs.

We talked about everything: the Saint Emilion classification (currently in the news), Bertrand Le Guern’s statistics, the evolutions of communications, etc…

It is hard to find time to deal with tractor issues, accounting, customers, comments from Colin Ferenbach (Château La Vieille Cure in Fronsac) who reacted in his Franglais to the statistics of Bertrand… And this is my answer to Michel Puzio (Croix de Labrie) on working until 100 years old (if I can) and then retire…

Bertrand Le Guern

Bertrand Le Guern posted statistics in la passion du vin:
http://bertrand.leguern.club.fr/blg/rp/preference.php?type=all&source=all-wines

He made some interesting discoveries following the release of the last books on the « world of wine » where he noticed that Rolland, Raynaud, Moueix didn’t get the best ratings from Robert Parker and that my clients and I somewhat well noted by la Revue du Vin de France and not as well by Robert Parker. I must particularly thank Alan Duran, Didier Romieux, Gault et Millau, Gavin Quinney, le Grand Jury Européen, Jean Luc Pouteau, Michel Pronay, Neal Martin (few!), Roger Levy, Tom Cannavan. And I must convince better, if possible, Dieter Mittler, Gute Weine, Lea & Sandeman, Mayfair Cellars, Panos Kakaviatos (I knew it ! good he is visiting soon), Peter Moser and the Wine Journal.
This is a good lesson for people who spend their time always criticizing and are never close to Parkers ratings, English wholesalers, even friends, who still don’t like my wines. The proof is there…

In the latest issue of Decanter, James Lawther, MW wrote a 4 pages article on garage wines with a nice picture of Michel Gracia and an overview on the garagist movement seen by English merchants (price, Parker, etc…)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Saint Emilion classification

We celebrated the Saint Emilion classification with a series of good wines, while still waiting for other ups and downs!
Corton Charlemagne 1994 from Bonneau de Martray, good
Volany Santenots 1er Cru 2004 from Buisson Charles, good, refined (a bit too much for me), but several Bordeaux owners liked it, just goes to show!
½ bottle of a great 1998, corked, and a very good 2002
A bottle of Le Gay 2004, rich wine, concentrated, ripe, maybe a bit too ripe, which is rare for this vintage and rare as I am known to like wines which are “more” than not enough!

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Saint Emilion classification

It looks like the new classification has been validated!

Parker notes

While we are regularly using the ratings from Robert Parker for my wholesale business, it is sometimes difficult to know which one to use: the one from the internet site we have a subscription for (erobertparker.com) or the one published in the last books?

For instance, Valandraud 1994 is noted 94 on the site, but 92+ in the book Robert Parker wrote about the 155 most beautiful wines of the world (published on October 2006 by Solar Edition). And especially Petrus 1982: which note should be used today, and should we give the notes without comments nor history on these comments and notes?

Friday, November 9, 2007

La Dominique 2006

La Dominique 2006 will be a great wine. It surprises everyone at each tasting and even better, they want to buy it every time for their personal cellar or wholesale business. The quality-price-notoriety ratio of the brand reaffirms this impulse buying decision. I have no doubt that Robert Parker’s good notes for the 1971 1989, 1990, 1982 and 1998 vintages play a role in this professional decision, but I can be proud that the 2006 vintage has sold well despite the lack of notes (everyone here thinks it is only temporary).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

La Pointe has been sold

I read on the site of Mario (http://bordeaux.blogg.de/): Lots of changes are taking place in Pomerol! Changes in ownership taking place now or later like at La Violette, La Pointe, Vieux Château Bourgneuf (by Fayat and me), Ratouin, Vieux Maillet, etc… All these crus from this tiny appellation (less than 800 hectares) are able to fetch star prices, like Pétrus. The price of real-estate is way more expensive than the ratio profitability, price of bottle; the average value for one hectare is 1 million Euros, one hectare undervalued around 500,000 Euros and a well known Chateau 2 to 3 millions! There is no chance to see the price of wine from this appellation go down. In my opinion we are even lucky to drink good wine at a “normal” price.

La Commanderie de Mazeyres, which is sold between US$45 and US$50 at retail is positioned in the mid category of fine wines. The new label and our partner Cordier should help make it available around the world.

Jeff Leve’s birthday

To celebrate Jeff’s birthday, we had 11 guest for dinner plus 2 friends to taste wine. However, before dinner we tasted around fifteen wines I am involved in from 2005 and 2006, including a great La Dominique 2006.

Champagne (magnum) Piper Heidsieck brut
Foie gras de canard maison, jambon pata negra
Eglise Clinet 2005
Côte Rôtie Chapoutier non vintage (probably a blend from 1969/1970/1971)
Seavey 1991 Napa Valley
Sine Qua Non 2002 Napa Valley
Rack of lamb with flageolets
Certan de May 1975, Latour 1959, Mouton Rothschild 1953
Cheese
Chocolate cake from Mr Lopez
Calvet Thunevin Maury
Vouvray 1990 Goutte d’Or from Foreau

Only great, only top! The American wines were a pleasant gift from Jeff. The Certan de May was opened for Denis Durantou and we drank Latour with a thought for Hervé Bizeul… Mouton Rothschild 1952 for the 2 Jeffs and the Vouvray and Maury for Noëlle!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Blog

Useless for some, this mean of communication where I write about my life as a owner-negociant-consultant-wine lover, received 631 hits on October 31. Reading what I wrote that day, I see a little piece about the fire that broke-out above the macaroon shop in Saint Emilion, and more seriously about the ratings published in the Wine Advocate and given by David Schildnecht on the wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon. My project with Marie and Jean-Roger Calvet in the Roussillon was included in this review. I am very happy that some of the wines I produce and distribute were part of this article, even if our Maury and the wines from Jacques Montagné (Clos and Mas del Rey) were not included. I had this thought.

One of the paradoxes from the ratings of the Wine Advocate is often to help their readership to easily discover good wine, thanks to the credibility of Mr. Robert Parker and his associates, but unfortunately, also encourage owners or wholesalers to increase their price when receiving a good rating. In the Roussillon, it’s not like this; a well noted wine should not and will note increase in price, for there are no speculating collectors interested, only the confirmation for wine lovers for choosing the right wine or to confirm their opinion if they disagree, and to encourage true wine lovers to taste some of these wines. The rating has reached its objective: give information on a region still unknown without affecting the price. The proof is that the notes given to Calvet-Thunevin will not increase the price, and this is good news considering Bordeaux, Chateauneuf du Pape, Priorat and others. Constance, being well rated, confirms its good quality-price-ratio for the 2nd time, after 2004 and 2005, I have no doubt that the quality for 2006 will be close to 2002/2003/2004.

These notes won’t, of course, change the face of the wine world, it won’t prevent to acknowledge that Gauby and after him Bizeul, created a movement, open doors, create desire and especially help this beautiful region get rid of its complexes by their example and success. I am also in love with this region thanks to Jean Pla who introduced me to Marie and Jean-Roger Calvet and create my own story in this region. I should remind you that I was a student in woodcutting in the Ariège and that the closest beach is Argelès-sur-mer. I was 17/18 years old, with long or shaved hair (already a bit provocative!), full of dreams and cared more about women, partying, friends… Less by work. In any case, I feel the nostalgia of my youth for this region.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Monday

I stopped by the office then went to Clément Pichon to talk to Christine, Laetitia, David about the future reorganization plans. The changes requested in order to improve the good functioning of this chateau have been going through some problems causing everyone to overwork, especially when you include the amount of extra work brought by the harvest, shipping of orders from the futures campaign and internal orders within the Groupe Fayat. Every time improvements need to be implemented, some human and financial factors need to be addressed and resolved. The investments in personnel and equipment are not always easy to implement, doubt being the reflex to changes.

Lunch at 1:30 pm at the Brasserie du Relais de Margaux, which is always full (I must point out that it is common in this area) with the nice settings of the golf course and not too expensive.

In the afternoon, meeting with our future partner to open stores in China. Our attorney, Joëlle was able to sort out our agreements, company, financing, etc…

We had dinner in a brasserie in Bordeaux, which I won’t name by charitable spirit (for the dishes were expensive and the food average).

Visit of Jeff and Noëlle

Noëlle and Jeff just arrived from the Villa d’Este in Italy where they participated at a big tasting event organized by the Grand Jury Européen. I took them around our vineyards and cellars, and tried to explain the challenges faced with our terroir when, on the same plot, the Autumn leaves could as well be pale yellow, golden yellow, green… This shows how the terroir affects the distribution of nutrients, water, etc.

We had a light meal for 4 and served Clos del Rey 2001 (with Pata Negra ham – sliced bread and olive oil), delicious and able to age harmoniously, Angelus 1959, nice wine with its original cork (not refurbished), good, classic for this great vintage that I often prefer to 1961, an astonishing Petrus 1974 full of youth and pleasant in this lesser vintage. The fresh temperature of my cellar (constant 14 to 16° Celcius) and preparing the bottles (decanting and swift serving at cool temperature) certainly helped these 2 bottles served with a beef sirloin grilled in the fireplace on live oak charcoal. A nice and comforting moment for our friends used to the heavenly weather of Los Angeles. A half bottle of d’Yquem 1997, delicious, served at the end of the meal with a sort of pear clafoutis Mumu style and “hop”, time for bed to recover from jetlag.

Today, big work day to finalize, with my attorney and partner, a project to develop a sales entity and store in China, as I really believe in the potential of this market, well aware of the challenges we face.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tahiti

Sunday, October 21, we left the USA for Papeete, Tahiti where our exclusive distributor was expecting us. He took us to the quiet and comfortable Sheraton hotel conveniently located between the airport and the harbor. I know that it is not glamorous but we were really there to work.

Every day, we visited Champion and Carrefour supermarkets, quality restaurants where our wines were on the wine list: Virginie, the 3, La Dominique, etc… The beauty of these islands doesn’t prevent our wines from being distributed, especially as Bordeaux represents a big part of fine wine sales, even if the substantial VAT makes the wines quite expensive for consumers, tourists or locals. In addition to visiting clients, our importer organized a series of meetings with local media: newspapers, the local RFO television station. With its 220000 inhabitants, Tahiti doesn’t lack news and this year our visit was considered as an encouragement. Actually, our participation in 2 wine fairs must have attracted around 1000 people, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Here, no one seems blasé, and likes to get together and taste new wines, some being enthusiasts subscribing to the Revue du Vin de France or Parker, others looking for medals and recommendations from the Guide Hachette.
I recommend a good place to eat in Papeete: The restaurant café Koké, tasty cuisine with young and friendly owners.

We spent the whole day Wednesday doing in-stores in Carrefour. It is hard to sell a few bottles of Virginie, 3 de Valandraud, Bel Air Ouÿ or La Dominique when you get used to let this work done by our clients. Murielle was able to see Bernard and Jean-Pierre work. I was in another Carrefour admiring the work Marie-Claude was doing and how useful their catalogues was. In the evening, we went to a very chic cocktail party organized by our partner around Valandraud 2002 and a few Chilean wines. We then had dinner in a high-end restaurant where the wine list is put together by our importer who, with his knowledge, created an attractive and simple list including copies of the labels.
Thursday in Bora Bora, a striking island with it’s beautiful colors, blue, the sea, the lagoon… Superb. We visited our client, one of the latest palaces created in Tahiti: The Saint Regis. 100 bungalows on pillars with rooms costing from 1000 to 15000 Euros per night.
We had a guided tour of this palace, picture perfect scenery and especially Lionel Richard (who worked with Pierre Jochem at the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi) who acquired the franchise to open a “Jean-Georges” restaurant. We had the best meal of our trip, light and spicy cuisine (with an Asian influence)

We shared the trip to Papeete with our colleagues from the Grands Chais de France, Chateaux en Bordeaux, Casa Donoso from Chili, the owners of Fleur Vauzelle and Grand Moulinet.

The return trip was difficult but not so much due to the Air France strike. My insistence in not being included in the waiting list and the alliance with KLM allowed us to return to Bordeaux via Amsterdam with only a few hours of delay. I must note the quality of the service of KLM.

We are now back in France, tired, but as soon as we returned at 6pm, we had a tasting at 8pm with my team of more than 50 different batches of 2007 wines at the end of their fermentation, maceration and run off. I can say that the batches are good to very good. At least for Bellevue de Tayac, Clos du Beau Père, Valandraud. And I already know that Commanderie de Mazeyres, Clément Pichon and La Dominique will be successful wines in this vintage.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Live from Saint Emilion

A (little) fire above our favorite supplier of macaroons !

Finally

In the latest issue of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, David Schildknecht wrote a nice series of comments and gave good notes to our wines from the Roussillon. Of course, a good number of wines were not rated as they have not yet been imported in the USA, therefore, were not being presented… But this is only the beginning for this region which has been ignored for a long time by many critics and buyers. This region is becoming the best potential of all French wine regions: Top terroirs, old vines and the creation of many new boutique wineries.

Our friends have also been getting good notes, it makes a base to build on. I am certain that this region will keep getting underrated as long as it doesn’t become commercially successful. Success brings success. I would like to thank our private and business customers who believed in us. I am proud of the progress made with my partners since 2001 and I am certain that within 3 years, everyone will recognize that the Roussillon is capable of producing wines able to compete with the great wines of Spain or the Rhone, California…
For your information, here are the notes, for what its worth:

2005 Calvet Thunevin Constance 90
2004 Calvet Thunevin Dentelles 91
2004Calvet Thunevin Hugo ??
2004 Calvet Thunevin Les 3 Marie 94
(The Maury has not yet been tasted)

I don’t understand his comment on the cuvée Hugo. It was most likely a bad bottle or maybe that this wine, a bit excessive, is not to his taste. But it is not important, except if he was right. Lets see in 10 years (it reminds me the comments written on Garage wines stating that they would not age well. It was in fact a comment written by the old guard of anti-Parker always active with tasters used to the old Bordeaux or Burgundy styles, defended by Broadbent and his cohorts, but a bit surprising here).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Canada & USA

We left Sunday, October 14 for Paris, then Canada (Montreal) where we had meetings with our 3 different agents who handle several of our wines on an exclusive basis. Our portfolio of exclusivities is so large that we have to work with different agents as one couldn’t focus on all our wines (in addition to theirs). We also had a meeting with a few managers from the SAQ, the wine and alcohol monopoly in Quebec, who are capable to offer one of the most beautiful collection in the world. We participated to a tasting organized in a school for active sommeliers eager to learn more outside of their working hours, tasting – sales with restaurants, tasting dinners with culinary journalists to speak about our wines already available in Quebec: the cuvees Calvet Thunevin, Calandray, Château Lafont Fourcat, Château Coucy, Présidial., Clos Badon, Château La Dominique, Château Clément-Pichon, Château Compassant, Château de Carles…

Wednesday, 17 in the afternoon, we left Montreal for Los Angeles where we arrived in the evening. We rented a car as Los Angeles is so big. Our hotel the Millenium-Biltmore was very well situated. The room was not too expensive but very noisy and a bit warned out.
Thursday, we had lunch with Jeff Leve and some of his friends, 2 Michelin stars well deserved, and drank cult wines… 03 Marcassin Zio Tony, 77 Weinert, 02 Sine Qua Non Grenache, 98 Sine Qua Non E Raised Syrah, 97 Guigal La Mouline, 98 Haut Brion, 03 Yquem.
We had dinner at the Water Grill (who carries Valandraud on its list) with one of our importers. The conversation focused on Bordeaux futures and its unwritten rules regarding allocations which you have to buy-in if you want to access some of the most sought after wines. It seems that I am one of the most difficult negociant in Bordeaux, the least cool, the most demanding compared to my colleagues who accept to sell the most sought after wines with no strings attached. I will probably try to become customer of some of my colleagues so I can access the wines I cannot get…

Friday, I had a meeting with one of my oldest and most important customer, to ask him to distribute some our wines. The meal at Patina was of very high quality, one of the best QPR. It would so great to have in Saint Emilion, such level of quality.
In the evening, we attended an event organized by a distributor. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned as only 15 people showed up when 150 were invited. The location, the date, the lack of professionalism, maybe we are not interesting enough, in any case, it was a pity… Especially when the next day, only 30 people showed up to our tasting at “THE” wine store of Los Angeles, Wally’s. Even if the results, in terms of probable sales and how the wines were received was OK. Saturday evening, the dinner organized at Spago, high class restaurant, for 24 people was a success. The quality of the guests, great wine connoisseurs made us feel better (after the bruises from the day before), as well as the friendly visit at the very exclusive California Club.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Domaine Calvet-Thunevin

Bettane et Desseauve recently published "Le Grand Guide des Vins de France 2008" and included comments on the various cuvees of Domaine Calvet - Thunevin :

Jean-Luc Thunevin, who built his notoriety with Château Valandraud in Saint-Emilion, created a partnership with Jean-Roger Calvet dedicated to the wines of the Roussillon which he is particularly fond of. The wines are aged in high quality barrels and built on power. Hugo and Les Dentelles are made of a blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah aged for eighteen months in new or fairly new barrels. The Trois Marie is produced with only one varietal of Grenache and aged in new barrels. The technical skill is obvious and all the wines are a success in an ultra powerful style.

Côtes du Roussillon Villages Hugo 2004 16/20
A great success for this domain with a generous and well aged wine. The finish is refined and delicious full of fruits in the great style of the Roussillon.

Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Dentelles 2004 14.5 /20
These Dentelles are produced in a powerful and warm style. Their imposing structure is supported by generous alcohol followed by spices and an elegant finish.

Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Trois Marie 2004 15/20
A dense and structured red where dark fruits are followed by strong notes of liquorice and cashews. It will be appreciated by people who like wine with a strong aromatic expression built on power.

Maury 2004 rouge liquoreux 16/20
This Maury has been vinified by the Bordelais school where aging has been done with utmost care. The toasted finish has notes of cream and power ending on dark fruits.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bad Boy

Last month, the magazine Le Nouvel Obs published a special section on wine and placed in 4th place in the section "Les vins du rebel" our cuvee Bad Boy 2005 :"Robert Parker, his American accomplice, calls Jean Luc Thunevin " Bad Boy". It is true that the enfant terrible of Bordeaux loves provocation. The cuvee 100% Merlot; dense and concentrated, aged in 100% new barrels, is only the first stage of the production of a vin de pays de France 70% Merlot and 30% Grenache. "I am not afraid of being considered ridiculous in front of people who taste wine like scientists", declares the founder of garages wines, convinced of his success. To be continued. " G. Muteaud September 2007

I don’t think I said "I am not afraid of being considered ridiculous in front of people who taste wine like scientists", even though the fear of looking ridiculous is only a way to think highly of yourself. I intended to say that I am not afraid for this wine, which, tasted blind with more expensive wines, will always stand out in this kind of quality-price confrontation. I am certain of this… However, the wine is still not bottled…

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Millionaires

Below, the results of a study done by World Wealth Report, Cap Gemini & Merrill Lynch (which was sent to us by the Bordeaux brokerage firm Les Grands Crus).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mission accomplished

The harvest was finally done only a few days ago. Under the supervision of Christophe and Guillaume, our teams finished picking the last plots.


Below, a comment found on Mark Squire’s BB, Thank you Peter Hirsch:

1998 Valandraud. Wow, do I love this wine. I keep buying more just to make sure that I don't have a chance of running out. It's a little deeper than the PF, a little more structure, a little more serious. I've had this blind a few times and I often confuse it with good/great vintages of Haut Brion. I get the tobacco aromas and flavors that come with Graves, just a hint of cedar to throw me off. The group agreed that this is 'world class' juice. '97'

Friday, October 19, 2007

A bol of fresh air

Last Saturday, meeting with a Chinese journalist then we visited one of the most famous of the bay of Arcachon… who has been fighting against the ocean to protect his little paradise, the Cap Ferret!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hopeful

Friday, friends of ours invited us for dinner at the Hôtellerie de Plaisance, the high-end restaurant of Saint-Emilion: the 4 star hotel was entirely redone, with a new dinning room, a €55 menu with one of my favorite appetizer: Chef Etchebest’s Ravioli with truffles and Foie Gras… Great meal.
With all this effort, will they be able to get their 2nd Michelin star?
Answer in the near future…

We drank a very god bottle of Copa Santa from Domaines Clavel 1998, which was decanted. All this nonsense about wines from the South not being able to age.
This 1998 showed its age well and tasted even younger than some of the supposed appellation wines able to age!

This gives me hope that our southern wines will age well: les Dentelles, Hugo, and les 3 Marie (Constance being made on the fruit is intended to be drank young).

I spent the afternoon with one of my client, a Bordeaux negociant. We visited our vineyards not yet harvested near Fleur Cardinale, our cellar and vinification accompanied by his brokers.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

About to leave...

Friday, October 12

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a journalist from Wein-Markt (Germany), Mr. Klaus Hermann who is doing a piece on Bordeaux wine consultants, which I am a part of…
He already met Denis Dubourdieu, then me, and was meeting with Michel Rolland. He will certainly miss at least a dozen as it is a very prolific profession here.


Again yesterday, beginning of the harvest for the Cabernet Francs and young Sauvignon in the sectors of Badon and Plaisance. Fleur Cardinale stopped and will start again on Saturday. As for us, I will be leaving to spend a few days in Montreal, Canada, then the US in Los Angeles and in the end in Tahiti where we will have the chance to have a few customers.

Friday, October 12, 2007

End of the harvest

Thursday, October 11

The harvest of the black Merlot in our vineyards in the valley of Saint Emilion is now finished. Today, October 11 2007! One month after the early harvest and most likely the last one in the sectors of Badon and La Grézole.

The Merlots from Bel Air Ouÿ in Saint Etienne de Lisse will most likely be harvested next week, after October 15. It is certainly due to my role as consultant at Fleur Cardinale that I felt the need to let my team manage this late harvest. I felt that this particular vintage was conducive to take maximum risk. I actually accepted the risk of losing part of the crop or even fail (which is not in my nature) to allow Jean-Philippe Fort and Christophe Lardière not to limit themselves by my nagging later on. Why has Fleur Cardinal influenced us to do such a late harvest? You just have to taste their wines which, each year, gain in softness and maturity. And there is not one reason, or reasons to question the success of this property which, in a short time, was able to be classified (even if the Saint Emilion classification is being held-up by a few bad players – “IMO”). And especially if you look at the favorable comments from almost all the wine critics in the world, except maybe the Wine Spectator and Le Point. And why not give credit to Robert parker who listed this property as one of the 50 best Bordeaux. I must also ad that Jean-Marc Quarin was way ahead of every critics as he was aware of the work done before the current owners Florence and Dominique Decoster, by the previous one, Mr Asso. He often complemented me on Murielle’s involvement in our neighboring property which was then called Bel Air Ouÿ and that we changed in 1999 into Château Valandraud. This late sector in Saint Emilion on Clayey limestone terroirs already includes a few well known crus in addition to ours: Rol Valentin (in part), Faugères and Peby Faugères, Pressac, etc…

Last night for cocktails at l’Essentiel, we drank a Hacienda Monasterio 2001 (Sapin) and especially a great Montepeloso Eneo 2000 (Italy).

For lunch, we drank a Côte de Baleau 1999 which could have questioned us on the date of the harvest. Grandes Murailles 2001, perfect and the rare Clos Saint Martin 2000 which tasted like a privilege, if you consider the nice group of people assembled by Sophie Fourcade in the Château Côte de Baleau for the end of the harvest, with her colleagues, negociants, brokers and friends.

Sentimental blog

Wednesday, October 10

Did you have a chance to read the English, Japanese and Chinese translations of this blog ? Is it easy for my translators to retranscribe the emotions you get from the comments of Jérome Perez and Marie Calvet’s response? It’s a pity that non-speaking French readers miss comments posted in Dégustateurs.com, La Passion du Vin, as they are quite different (in my opinion) from the ones posted on Mark Squire’s BB, for they feature more than just talking about wine.
The poetic, love or historical dimension of ones achievements, innate and sometimes excessive, hysterical, dishonest, is in general human and often very sentimental.


Ah, the French! Always romantic, despite globalization, eager for esthetic, gastronomy, capable of seducing as well Americans, Chinese, Japanese who idealize France. I am now starting to understand, each time I travel around the world and rediscover my story, that the roots I chose give a true meaning to my life.

Murielle prepared 2 meals for 3 sommeliers from the restaurant Martin Berasategui (3 stars Michelin) located in the Basque region of Spain, in Lasarte-Oria, who participated in the harvest with us. We drank:
Rabaja 2000 from Bruno Rocca (Barbaresco Italy) very original, silky, tight
Compassant 2004, decanted for more than one hour
Valandraud Blanc N° 1 2005
Valandraud 2002 decanted for more than 2 hours
And to finish, with a home-made apple tart, we served a Pacherenc du Vic Bilh from our friend Alain Brumont. Le Frimaire (December) 1996, with curious aromas of asparagus. Great pairing with the tart.

The next day, we drank a Clos Badon 2003 and especially one of Murielle’s favorite wine : Flor de Pingus 2003 to celebrate the visit of the Spanish sommeliers, recognizing that sommeliers have played a major role in our success. I am especially thinking of our early days, where La Tour d’Argent, or today’s sommeliers as well as the Conrad in Tokyo, etc.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Les 3 Marie

La Passion du Vin selected Les 3 Marie from Domaine Calvet Thunevin as “bottle of the week”.
This is what Jérôme Pérez wrote :

« Up to now, how many wines have affected me in a way that I will remember them for a long time, keep the souvenir if not precise, at least faithful of having greater pleasure than usual? Which wine I’ve tasted have seduced me to the point of wanting to taste them again or introduce them to others? How many have enough depth, personality, beyond their obvious quality to mark me with their imprint?
In the end, wines are like people. I am mostly interested, by far, by the ones generating controversy than popular ones, which have nothing to say.

And if the quality of this wine doesn’t generate controversy, his price will certainly do.

How much should a wine cost? What is the price of happiness? Is there a price for happiness? Is it reserved for just a few? How many of us who will buy this wine will be able to appreciate it at its right value (we’ll come back to the right value!)? How many wine lovers will appreciate it as it should and will never taste it because they cannot afford it or even not wanting to spend this kind of money for a bottle of wine?

I asked myself other questions: I met Jean-Luc Thunevin, I was seduced by the man, attracted by his acute view about everything, his vivacity, his way to destabilize you, wanting to know who he is dealing with (does business with). I was totally impressed by his knowledge of the business and his capacity to evaluate a wine, including its price. I brought a few bottles: Limbardié tradition 2001 and Lo Vielh 2000. The rascal, even if he liked them, he guessed almost exactly the price! (he only made a mistake on Rotier 2002, but who else wouldn’t?)

So, if this wine has been released into the marketplace for over one hundred Euros, it is for a reason.

But still…

2500 bottles of Grenache Noir made from 80 to 100 years old vines on a 2 hectare plot of schist and limestone, with ridiculously low yields, and aged for 18 months in new barrels of 300 and 600 liters. Is that a recipe for success? Is this wine beautiful because it was made with a specific process? Was it designed before even being produced in order to enter in this “niche” category from its first vintage (this one)? I dare not believe it and still: I bow like I bowed in front of the cuvée Charles Dupuy from Mas Amiel or the cuvée Jean Sirven from Domaine Bertrand Bergé. Few wines left this feeling of fullness, few wines have given me this delicate taste of ecstasy. Me, who likes wines from the South, I got my answer…. And if my reservations about this wine is bit stupid, my initial reservation still stands… But I loved it fully, totally, so I let go, I let my guards down for a moment and talk about my paradox.
I just wanted to comment it but instead it brought many questions up, which describe well the debates found on the forum of “La Passion du Vin”; a recurring discussion which seems to linger with no end in site.

Tasting notes :

Very dark robe, violet, very dense.

Grenache nose which reminds a vintage Maury: Raspberry, blackberry, cacao and pepper. Nice olfactory harmony. A thick and profound nose.

The mouth has great volume, roundness with enormous fruit set on a tight texture. The middle palate explodes with smoothness, filled with exact fruit, mixed with spices (especially pepper).
The finish lingers on notes of cacao and fruit where a touch of noticeable heat doesn’t spoil this unique flavor. Soft tannins lift this sublime and baroque ensemble.

In the end, this is a wine out of the ordinary recalling a vintage neither a fortified wine nor containing residual sugar, still with a quintessence of Grenache. Out of the norm, big, but not too-much. This is where the tour-de-force resides. Sensation of strength or strong sensations, however you see it ! »

Jérome Perez

And what can I ad to Marie Calvet’s response?

« Monsieur Perez,
This is the first time I participate to this forum, because I am touched by your comments on Les Trois Marie (you might guess that I am one of them…). I regularly visit the site and my husband and I are very attentive to the critics and opinion from the contributors on the forum (we noted the comments on Constance 2005;-))

In all modesty and from the depth of our Roussillon, we try hard to express the best qualities our terroir can offer. Your interest and comments are great encouragements for us to carry on.

I have a special spot for Les Trois Marie because it gives me emotions. I can recall every step which brought this wine to life. Sharing these emotions with you gives me great pride.

Therefore, I would like to thank you and reaffirm that your recognition and the one from other passionate or enthusiast are an essential drive for us to always do better. I would also like to welcome you in Maury and if by any chance you visit us, we will welcome you with great pleasure. (and maybe taste the 2007, very promising).
Best regards,

Marie Calvet
Domaine Calvet-Thunevin

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Recognition

“Watch out for the old lady at the bottom of the well” : I think this comes from a local saying intended to warn children from falling in a well and drown.
Bordeaux has many sayings with common sense, and unfortunately some a bit silly too: “to drown in a glass of water” makes me think of “watch-out for over-ripeness”. How many wines affected by over-ripeness can be named?


When you think that under-ripeness can always sneak up on us in every vintage.
When you think that so many professionals are still afraid by over-ripeness, it is normal that Michel Roland is seen as an alien! I finally decided to listen and, this year, Jean-Philippe Fort (one of Michel Roland’s collaborators) has the full control over the date of the harvest (with Rémi Dalmasso and Christophe Lardière). This is why we are harvesting so late. Results expected in the bottom of the glass in March…

In the Saturday, October 6 issue of the Sud Ouest, an article called: “an insatiable builder” was published in the local section. Here are a few excerpts:
“These past years, the name of Jean-Luc Thunevin comes up frequently in conversations about wine. Of course, especially in the Libourne region where his success is attributed to the creation of “garage wine”, but also elsewhere. In the whole of Bordeaux as well as the Roussillon where he and others have given great encouragement for motivated winemakers from this area.”…
… “Since his beginning, the garagist has become a reference for many and the subject of criticism for others. He is indeed a builder who understands that wine is a profession focused on performance, not kindness”.

It is nice to get a bit of recognition. The media has not been kind with me a few years ago… It is worth not losing faith.

Saturday we had a business lunch with one of our most faithful friends, and who had a major part in our success : Michel Rolland. We talked shop, vinification, evolution, while sipping a very good Ruinart Blanc de Blanc, the Cuvée du Papet 2005 du Mont Olivet from Chateauneuf du Pape (ripe fruit, sun, and always pleasure) and Valandraud 2005.

Every time we see Michel Rolland, we feel rejuvenated by his passion and the pleasure he gets from his job in the wine world. It is not surprising why he is one of the most sought after consultant in the world today.

For dinner, with the Mauss and the Droulers and their daughter, we drank: La Bernardine 1972 from Chapoutier in Chateauneuf du Pape, incredibly good, Blanc de Valandraud N° 1 2005 , Valandraud 1999, Hugo 2004 and Maury 2004. And unfortunately 2 corked bottles of : Palazzi 1999 and Oratoire 1971 in a magnum. Michel Bettane, in a provocative way, during a tasting where too many bottles were corked, asked that the death penalty (commercially speaking) be reinstated for cork manufacturer. Fortunately, some progress has been made in that area and we will have less problems… Well I hope.

In the meantime, the harvest goes on.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Everywhere, the harvest is going full speed ahead

Thursday for Lunch, Thanos Fakorellis, Murielle and I tasted a Clos del Rey 2003. This wine is produced under the supervision of an œnologue who didn’t take in consideration our obligation to create wines appealing to our consumers… Luckily, Jacques Montagné preferred listening to me and understands my expectations!

Talking about delicacies, we also drank a Chateauneuf du Pape Clos du Mont Olivet (Sabon), cuvée du Papet 2003. Such elegance, finesse, spices, cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate! We greatly enjoyed this bottle served a bit cold. I can’t wait to taste 2004 which was a less eccentric vintage.
I thank the owners of their elegance and generosity, a rarity today. They were able to surprise me, which is not an easy thing to do.

Thursday, harvest of 2 hectares (4.94 acres) of Saint Emilion AOC which belongs to a classified property. Having no independent cellar, this wine will be vinified in the cellar of Prieuré Lescours for our “Bel Air Lescours”, a Saint Emilion at a very sweet price!
The afternoon was spent with a journalist and photographer from the Libourne section of the Sud Ouest for a report of our harvest.

A nice article was published in the Los Angeles Times featured our partnership in the Roussillon:

There's red -- and then there is Roussillon

Intense and unusual, old-vine wines from this Catalan region in the French Pyrénées are fresh, focused and amazingly affordable.

By Patrick Comiskey

…..”Other French winemakers have put down roots in Roussillon. Prominent players from Bordeaux have new ventures there; perhaps the best known is garagiste Jean-Luc Thunevin, whose St. Emilion wines at Château Valendraud have garnered worldwide attention. Thunevin has teamed up with Roussillon native Jean-Roger Calvet to form Calvet-Thunevin. The pair is producing some lovely old-vine based blends including such wines as "Hugo" and "Les Dentelles," as well as one of the region's best bang-for-buck blends, Cuvée Constance, a quietly understated cuvée with succulent red fruit that sees no oak, so the wine's dark mineral core really shows through.”….

From the Los Angeles Times

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Clos del Rey & Mas del Rey

On the forum of La Passion du Vin, Jérôme Perez published his tasting notes on the wines of Jacques Montagné :"This dozen hectare (around 30 acres) winery located the town district of Maury.
Sandy soil and clayey limestone rich in iron at an altitude of 250/300 meters (820/984 feet).
Carignan, Grenache, Syrah for the Côtes du Roussillon Village (Clos) and Carignan for his Vin de Pays (Mas).
The wines are of a very high quality.

Clos del Rey 2004
An inky robe.
The nose is closed, locked shut and only opens after being opened for a few days. It then shows a harmonious pleasure: earthy notes/garrigue and dark fruit, a touch of animal.
The mouth is brutal when opened and evolves perfectly over the period (three days). It melts admirably and gives a great deal of power, while staying fresh. The tannins are still firm and need to soften, but they are in no way astringent. I predict this impressive wine will evolve beautifully!


Mas del Rey 2004
Along the same line as the previous wine, but with an easier initial approach.
I found the same frankness, the wild side, the power and balance. The aging is a bit more noticeable , but certainly not overwhelming, quite to the contrary.
The Body is marked, the structure is tight and the fruit attractive. The finish is long with strong tannins and a prefect maturity. Here the balance is also perfect.
This wine will give a different view to anyone who thinks that the wine from the South are tiring. Certainly powerful and robust but well balanced.
Jérôme Pérez"


The owners of these wines can be proud of the comments. It would be ideal if Jérome Perez visits Jacques Montagné to better understand what makes the character of his wines: Jacques charisma (and culture), the kindness of his wife and children, the incredible beauty of his terroirs (especially the ones in the Coume du Roy)… All of that explains the personality of his wines, its quality and defects, in other words far from formatted wines.
The 2002 are too much, 2003 average, 2004 and 2005 futures top level.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Harvest

Meeting last Tuesday at 9am at the boutique-wine bar L’Essentiel to review the sales activities for the last 4 months. They were disappointing (this the least we can say). Is the concept too hip, too new? Should we accept to be economically underperforming and just be satisfied by the positive image this shop brings to the product sold and the human quality of the service? Answer in 3 months.

Yesterday, harvest lunch with 20 people at Croix de Labrie. The conversation was focused on harvest techniques, evolution of the wine world and especially the developments of “brand” types of product in Bordeaux.

At 2:30 pm I had a conversation with Joan, one of my employees in the vineyards and the representative of the staff. Seeing the difficulties of being the representative of the staff in a small company, it was a good idea for him to reach out to me. Our ambitious plan to get the ISO certification forces us to be rigorous, including in human relations.

Following, Dominique and Florence Decoster and I visited several properties in the middle of the harvest to check out the techniques used - in our property in Pomerol, in La Dominique, in Laroze where they use an original system of selection (grape selection?), in Angelus where they use Mistral. Everywhere the objective is to only harvest the ripest and purest fruit, without any stems, nor any sorts of debris. In any case, this vintage looks promising here.


The harvest is beginning in our properties, with the Merlots from Prieuré Lescours in Saint Sulpice de Faleyrens. End of the Merlots in La Dominique, end at Clos du Beau Père and Domaine des Sabines. Beginning in Pomerol for Domaine Fayat-Thunevin (ex Vieux Chateau Bourgneuf), Clément Pichon goes on, Commanderie de Mazeyres finished, Haut Mazeris starts Friday, etc…

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Meal, rugby and classification

Friday evening, interview for a new internet site selling wine created by a group of young and passionate people. We promptly invited them for dinner in our house as well as a friend of ours, who owns a property in Pomerol, Joëlle. We made her change her plans and instead of going to her place, as originally planned, we asked her to join us for dinner. All in all, we were 11 for dinner which Murielle prepared in 2 hours!

Well, people who know us already know that Murielle cooks very well, and especially with ease and quickly, and always with pleasure. So, we had a fun meal, joyous, good served with a few wines, for work: Bel Air Ouÿ 2000, Virginie de Valandraud 2001, Valandraud 1999, a Egly-Ouriet Champagne, a Malbec produced by J.N Boidron (Bonbec), a very good Montviel 2000 (the Pomerol from our friend), and to please this group of young people, 2 wines older than them: Château Rouget 1962, OK for its age and a good Balestard La Tonelle 1959; a Amontillado from Spain, served with the chocolate desert to surprise everyone (and it worked).

Saturday evening, we were invited by one of our banks (Société Générale) to a meal at the Chamber of Commerce of Bordeaux. 300 people attended this quality meal. Afterwards, we all went by bus escorted by the motorcycles from the police to the Chaban-Delmas stadium to attend, with 33500 other spectators, the match Australia-Canada, for the Rugby World Cup, which Australia won easily. It was the first time I attended a game and I was astonished to see so many people so in tune with the players on the field, and all of this in a friendly atmosphere, without any aggressiveness. Bravo for rugby!

Murielle and I ran into a good number of colleagues including important ones. This is proof that this sport has a real local values.
Sunday, we had lunch with my parents in-law and drank a delicious Calandray 2004. In the evening, we had dinner at Haut-Carles with a few friends and pulled the big guns: Puligny-Montrachet Prieurs 2001, Pavie 1999 (delicious, refined), Haut-Carles 1999, Lynch Bages 1998 (delicious), Rauzan Segla 1998, Lafleur 1989 (very very good), Léoville Las Cases 1989 and an old Port, 1981 from Croft (I believe).

The Sud-Ouest published a whole page by a local critic on the last Saint Emilion classification and its cancellation. I didn’t think much of it. In my opinion, Sud-Ouest should have asked these questions to a personality outside the Bordeaux microcosm. I am part of the group that thinks that this classification was not so bad ( even though I wasn’t selected) and I am surprised that the ones who are contesting the results and the rules didn’t contest them before registering. Bizarre, as they didn’t even have to pay to participate… It is a bit silly to contest when the decision is not going our way, especially when you get a bad note, but I know many people who only approve the publi-reports, and in wine like in other places, there won’t be a lack of supporters for the oppressed… Still I believe that it would be hard to prove why the bad note was not deserved and I think that nothing stops you from presenting again in 10 years: We’re not talking about the 1855 classification! (check out the comments made by François Mauss on the site of the Grand Jury European)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Entrepreneur of the year

Yesterday evening, I attended an event for “Entrepreneur of the Year” organized by the magazine L'Entreprise and Ernst &Young at Château Clément Pichon, where Clément Fayat was president of the jury.
The cream of the crop of innovative, productive, in other words successful companies, were attending. This year, the winner was CEVA-animal health, from Libourne.
No matter how much I am happy with my accomplishments since I leaving my sales job at the Crédit Agricole of Montpon, this kind of event puts my “success” in perspective.

The end of the harvest of our white Semillon will be on Monday and Wednesday, October 3, we will begin the harvest of our Merlots in Saint Sulpice de Faleyrens. It will be our latest harvest and our most astonishing for we should have started on September 20, based on the flowering!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Le Clos du Beau Père

Beginning of the harvest in Pomerol for our little property, already the second harvest…Time flies!
We kept the same name for our 2 hectares in Pomerol and 1 in Lalande de Pomerol: Domaine des Sabines.
This Pomerol close to Clos René, Bellegrave, Prieurs de la Commanderie has already astonished us in 2006 with its quality. I hope this year will be at least as good, for it looks that there is a renewed interested in Pomerol by American and Japanese enthusiasts. Maybe there will be a place for us by Petrus, le Pin, La Conseillante…


Earlier this week, with Michel Puzio (Croix de Labrie), we visited the harvest being done at La Commanderie de Mazeyres, grapes perfectly ripe, then our neighbor Jean-Marie Bouldy from Château Bellegrave and his new blowing sorting table. Visit of Le Gay and La Violette owned by my friend Catherine Péré-Vergé where they almost use tweezers to pick the most beautiful grapes from these top terroirs. We were quite proud Puzio and I, to be the initiators of this respect and selection now done in Bordeaux and around the world, without even realizing what we were doing in 1991/1992… Like Monsieur Jourdain in the “Bourgeois Gentilhomme”, from Molière, we are using prose without being aware of it, looking for perfection without knowing it. It’s only now that we are finally realizing all we thought was strange at that time.

Meal at “Lard et Bouchon”: delicious flank steak served with a Bergerac and Cahors which I liked. This restaurant is located in a cave dug in the rock, with charming owner. I should go there more often.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Soon the harvest

When you sell wine, be it as an owner or a wholesaler, you regularly receive requests for price lists from imaginary companies who would then swindle some suppliers posing as real customers. Some even contact you using the name of serious companies and get product delivered to a bogus address.
Only this week, we received 2 requests of this sort, and I don’t even count the crazy ones from Africa!


The tasting in Leclerc in Saint Magne de Castillon was very well attended with real wine buyers, with of course, as would Frédéric Gautier say, a beautiful selection of the best Côtes de Castillon. Too bad that there is not a Monsieur Coustou in Fronsac…

Monday, visit of Haut Mazeris, lunch with Capucine, Yves and his wife and Aymar.
The afternoon was spent at Clément Pichon where the harvest started.
The harvest is late for the maturity of the grapes seems to be blocked, stress, cold, in certain cases the difficulty to assimilate magnesia which causes the stems to dry out and therefore the grapes to also dry out (also called in French passerillage). Still, you need eyes to see these symptoms. It is not normal that with all the independent consultants we hire or paid by the sales reps of pharmaceutical companies, etc… I have to be the one noticing it at Haut-Mazeris, or even more astonishing, that Mr Fayat notices it, like he doesn’t have anything else to do…
This doesn’t put in question the harvest in these 2 properties as this will represent, in the worst case, 7 to 8% of the entire surface of the vineyards and the selection process will eliminate the bad grapes.

I read on Parker’s site Neal Martin’s tasting of 12 top vintages of Château Trotanoy, one of our favorite wines in Bordeaux (and we are not the only ones, having friends from the Medoc who regularly drink 1989).