Friday, December 28, 2007


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


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.


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


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,

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,

Monday, December 10, 2007


(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.


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


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


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)
.....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?