Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vinexpo, suite

On several occasion during the gala dinners I attended and had to introduce myself, I heard the following reactions: “is that you?” or “of course” or ”I should have recognized you”. When these kinds of comments come from charming guests, it provides the conversation with a touch of humor.
Bankers I shared the meal with at Ducru Beaucaillou as well as Issan, where simply happy to be attending, for it was a welcome change to their environment. The wine world can be pleasant and not as closed as being said.

In Le Monde – June 30th 2009 supplement, 4 pages on Saint Emilion, the unclassifiable as per Mister JP Gené, with true comments on the classification (again). He also talks a bit about my story.

Haut Carles 2006 seemed to have been well positioned during the last tasting of Bordeaux 2006 by the Grand Jury Européen. Finally Fronsac will not only be known for wine with a good quality price ratio but also to for great Bordeaux, simply on the same level to great Saint Emilion or Pomerol.

Monday, June 29, 2009


During Vinexpo, we drank the following wines at home paired with Mumu’s cooking :

Blanc de Valandraud N°1 2008 (barrel sample)
Calvet Thunevin Maury 2004, always good
Quintessence de la Coume del Mas 2001 Banyuls, delicious
Tenuta Di Trinoro 2007, power in a velvet glove
Syrah 2007 Enira, Bulgarian wine which will certainly stand out in blind tastings. Marc Dworkin told me to wait some time before opening this bottle. I couldn’t as my curiosity couldn’t wait (and why wait?).
Corton Charlemagne 1994 from domaines Leroy, bottle n° 766 out of 1152 ! Still a bit young, goes to show the level of this wine !
Trotanoy 1989 in magnum, the last in my cellar, one of our favorite wines in a successful vintage in the « Right Bank ».
This shows how – pleasantly - dangerous it is to follow a great bottle by a better one, it was the case with this magnum of Petrus 1989, simply the greatest Pomerol. We shared it with true wine lovers used to drink the best wines in the world. Too bad it was my last one but it is true that wine taste better in magnums!
Valandraud 2005 of course very good, but hard to taste afterwards.

Staglin Chardonnay 2006, good wine
Marcassin 2003 California Chardonnay, I prefer « lighter » wines with more « minerality »
Y from Yquem 2006, so different than any wines produced in Bordeaux or elsewhere.
Fleur Cardinale 2005 which, of course, was more than good
Valandraud 2005 again – it was the 2005 series.
Staglin Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Californian but not too much, almost in a Bordeaux style.
Pétrus 1971, I was waiting for an opportunity to drink this bottle, a total success in this great vintage. A great Pétrus at top maturity. This bottle – with Pétrus 1955, are the 2 wines which proved, after now more than 30 years, that there is THE wine and great wines (it’s a long story).
A Porto, Quinta do Infatado 1995, still a good wine sold at an attractive price.

The other meals were those of the Jurade in Saint Emilion, and Ducru Beaucaillou where superb 1961 and 2008 were served, and the Fête de la Fleur in Château d’Issan.

During Vinexpo, I saw with pleasure many friends or old relationships like Gilles du Pontavice, Jacques Salée and Jo Gryn. Many press articles on our wines and many contacts with old and new customers.
This week, I have a lot to catch up following this week in Vinexpo as well as the release of Pingus, Flor de Pingus and Psi.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fête de la Fleur at château d'Issan in Margaux

Wednesday and Thursday had less attendance in Vinexpo.
More came to our stand – Vinexpo 2009 was the first one we did solo and therefore we prepared seriously for several months.
We made good contacts with clients already listed and especially good prospects.

Wednesday, we went to bed after 2 am. Thursday was a bit hard but I get so much pleasure doing this job. Especially when the night before, I was able to tell Alain Chamfort (who was also invited at Château Ducru Beaucaillou) that I am, we are, his “groupies”.

Thursday evening, La Commanderie was receiving Sophie Marceau and Christophe Lambert, ministers and other politicians, journalists from all over the world, wholesalers and Bordeaux property owners, importers and the best sommeliers in the world. More than 1500 people shared this traditional event to close Vinexpo with a flourish.
At my table, 3 bankers (I need at least that many), the Japanese journalist from Yomiuri Shinbun based in Paris, Karl-Axel Svensson (Swedish journalist), Barbara Engerer, Murielle and I.
We drank Haut Bailly, Lagrange, Mouton Rothschild, Issan, Climens (after whites from Graves before dinner).
The atmosphere was very friendly, probably the setting, the place and its owners. I wore my smoking (still being fitted). I am happy to be (finally…) part of this nice family, even if Right Bank and Left Bank can still oppose each other in a new location. In any case, we went to bed late, way too late.
It was tough to be on top at the office.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Still Vinexpo

This is our 3rd participation at Vinexpo and this one seems to be the best so far.

Our stand was well attended and placed in Hall 3, where we avoided getting too many “tourists”.
Vinexpo is so big, with so many stands, all more beautiful than the other, that visitors who stopped at our booth were really there to work!
Many articles were published before and during Vinexpo on the wines I am responsible for, or even on me, and Vitisphere even wrote about the smoking I wore the other night…
Long is the time when I had 4 pages in “Point de Vue”!

Pingus has finally been released and we will offer it after Vinexpo: we already received plenty of demand, and people will still have to wait for a couple more days!

Keep up the pace

This week was Vinexpo week, were it was the opportunity for us to meet our friends clients visiting our booth, and evening dinner at our house.
I won’t give you the list of wines we served yesterday otherwise the requests for people to eat at our house will explode!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vinexpo 2009 is on its way

We invite you to stop at our booth X 324 in Hall 3 - near K entrance.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Americans are landing...

....at the house... and at Vinexpo

This morning, visit of Garen and Shari Staglin

This afternoon, phone meeting with Eric Solomon

This evening : Jeff Leve is a bit hungry! (that's good as Jean Paul is bringing ceps he found in the woods in front of his house)

On the blog of the Grand Jury Européen, I read a very good comment (as usual) on Haut Carles 2006, tasted blind, next to "top wines".

Yesterday I went to Clément Pichon to receive Philippe Maurange to taste a series of Medoc wines to inlude in his guide of wines at attractive price (sold in France for less than 12 Euros). Organized by the trade, it is serious and usuful work for the consumer: not everyone can drink Rothschild!

Also, very importand : Peter Sisseck will be attending Vinexpo for 3 days and will release Pingus 2008 next week ?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nice weather

Thousands of tourists are starting to come to Saint Emilion, store owners are beginning to smile and the hot sun makes you want to drink rose.
Murielle and I had lunch with 4 American friends on the terrace of Bistrot Le Clocher from my friend Christophe. The had the opportunity to see how lucky we are to live in Saint Emilion, hospitality and an air of holidays. we drank a bottle of Bordeaux rose from Grand Bireau and Compassant 2004 red served cool and especially a plate of fresh chanterelles picked this morning in a very secret place.
Table d’hotes at La Cadene, probably in other restaurants in the village but I don’t go to all of them.
Today, atmosphere is part of the main criteria for a restaurant, like the pleasure for wine is a good motive!
3 stars, in addition to higher end wines, miss a bit too often this human warmth essential for good feeling.

During Vinexpo, I am sure it will be difficult to get a table at L’Envers du Decor, an unavoidable place in our town. I go to very few restaurants in Saint Emilion – being so used to host guests at our house and lucky to have Murielle as the best reason to eat at home.

What are the restaurant I go to in Saint Emilion? Le Tertre, Le Clocher, La Cadène, L’Envers du Décor, Chai Pascal, Lard and Bouchon. And in the area : La Poudette in Pujols.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Gault et Millau released its Bordeaux 2008 special issue, with a true in-depth article. Another media finding great qualities in this vintage.

Ras la bouteille”, Stéphane Toutoundji’s blog (it’s not because he is « pied-noir » or a bank employee but because he likes me)

A real interview in l’Amateur de Bordeaux : Bernard Magrez gives frank answer, with a few sayings in Audiard’s style:
“the tough one passes, the fake-tough one passes-away”
“Success is to live standing up”
Still in l’Amateur, a great portrait of Denis Dubourdieu
For Bernard Burtschy and according to him, successful 2008 wines made by many of my friends (Fleur Cardinale and Haut Carles)

Jacques Berthomeau’s blog

Vinexpo expects 45 000 visitors ! It’s something.

Time to get a smoking, otherwise nothing.

Despite all the times I tried to avoid buying one, despite all the times I stood out by not wearing the imposed suit, I finally bought a smoking.
Therefore, I will be like everyone else (on the outside).
It is of course, not bad to make an effort to adapt to “codes”, but for me, it is only with age that I accepted, and still, I am doing it for fun, looking to be…
What will I look like with this thing on me? That’s another story. When I was a bank employee, I saw so many people wear this outfit enable to hid their origins: workers, peasants, bad boys or lawyers!
Bordeaux likes elegance, I have nothing against it, everybody being dressed the same way seemed to have a form of esthetic and equality (from the top!) that I can understand.

What about our clients? They probably find this a bit “exotic”. Do Burgundy, Champagne, Napa use the same dressing codes ?
I don’t know.

Barbara was in Monaco to present our wines to the FT Business of Luxury summit and had the great honor to share Château La Dominique 2003 last night at the Sporting of Monte-Carlo with his highness Albert II of Monaco.

This event was part of the Luxury Summit organized by the Financial Times which we sponsored with wines from Saint-Emilion and Fronsac: Virginie de Valandraud 2005, Fleur Cardinale 2006, Haut-Carles 2005 and of course La Dominique 2003.

His Highness seemed to like La Dominique and express his enthusiasm for the invitation to the Jurade of Saint Emilion at the end of the week…

Did we win a new ambassador of Bordeaux wine and particularly the right bank?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jeff Leve’s visit

Jeff Leve posted on Mark Squire’s BB, pics and comments on his tastings and 2 meals he had at our house.
Saturday with Paul Marie Morillon, Barbara, and Sunday with Guillaume Quéron, Michel Gracia, Jeff Leve, Murielle and I.
The first day, we tasted a series of good wine and blind, Haut Brion 1989. It lost its incredible flavors of great young Bordeaux and evolved into a more classic taste.

Sunday, we drank a sake produced in a cremant style. Surprising, especially when tasted blind. It made you think of a bubbly made with grapes. Murielle surprised us by guessing it was a sake!
Blanc N° 1 2007 from Valandraud which is really a great wine, except that no critics mentions it…
Poker face 2004 from Sine Qua Non : an anthological Syrah, +100 points in my opinion and this despite its 15.5% alcohol (according to the label)… it makes me want to experiment in Maury…
Still good, still no phase of aging for one of our favorite wines: Beau Séjour Duffau Lagarosse 1990, a miracle of harmony, power, modernity.
We don’t get tired of it.

Pavie 1989, I liked it, even if it was hard to follow the 2 last “stars”. However, if this wine was drank alone, it would have greatly made this evening a great one, certainly classical in style, but this great 1989 vintage is able to even seduce “modern” wine lovers.
Our Maury 2004, of course, and our Fine Bordeaux, still aging, and to finish, a drop of Fine Champagne from Mr Halley. I had to take a nap until 6pm, plus a walk for an hour with Max and friends to recover.

The picture Jeff took with Michel Gracia thanking God needs no comments!

To Thomas, the non-believer

I had written this little note before reading all this weekend’s comments, among which some a bit "Hard":
I am dreaming for Roussillon, and as for Hervé Bizeul and others, this dream is coming true.
Instead of buying in Napa, some Americans invest in the valley of Maury because of the tremendous potential of this old, very old wine region, still under-exploited.
I definitely noticed Peter Sisseck’s (Pingus) eyes pop-out at the sight of these very old vines of Grenache or Carignan planted on these slopes so difficult to farm, at the sight of these terroir of schist, granite, clayey-limestone, all, of course, so appropriate for vine culture!
How not to be shocked when you have to fight against friends, family, for this beautiful country.
How not scream « Come and see! » and afterwards, you will be able to say nothing more, incredulous that you are!

No this is not made only to produce big plunk reds, this is not only made for medicine wines. Yes they produce too much alcohol, sun, and then?!
I’ll be damned if these terroirs will never make a great red wine and even if for Michel Bettane, Maury is the obvious wine and if the comment he wrote on our Maury on 2004 in the supplement of Le Monde brought tears to the eyes of Mary and Jean Roger, I want one day that La Passion du Vin, Le Grand Jury Européen, or even the Devil, organize a tasting of the best red wines of Chateauneuf or elsewhere against some of the crus from this beautiful region.
Will “Terre de Vin” be the media which will help change the mentalities?
Will the Roussillon, like Fronsac in Bordeaux, be the eternal forgotten – stuck to quality price ratio?
Since 2000, our “Thunevin-Calvet” project is not a wild dream, and I believe strongly that we will succeed, with Herve and the others.
It is certain
I believe it.

Following this weekend’s comments, I would like to ad :
Why, Hervé and I, even if I seem less “tense”, are so “wound-up” against what we consider as unfair (or even contemptuous): comments made by some journalists, who we actually also respect.
We expect, probably too much, from Michel Bettane who, it is true, does not hide his skepticism of creating a great red wines in the Roussillon, nor his skepticism on the qualities of Carignan. And it is true that no one has written a declaration of love on Maury as he has done.
As for me, Michel was so important for Valandraud that, thanks to his credibility, Valandraud was able, at last, to seduce other critics and convince a great part of the establishment.
All of us in the Roussillon would love for critics, journalists, leaders of opinion come and take the time to taste and fall in love with the terroirs, varietals, the people and their cultures. All the private wine cellars, natives as well as foreigners, cooperatives, all hope to seduce amateurs of good and great wines. No need to go to Chili, Argentina to discover such a wild wine growing region: garrigue, mountains and hillsides, close to the Mediterranean, the Pyrenees and the Cathares fortresses.

May “Terre des Vins” the next big French magazine on wine and way of life be the pretext to rediscover, and for Michel Bettane, the catalyst of a curiosity for this beautiful Roussillon.
Why not a "heavyweight" dedicated on the Roussillon in RVF? Actually, why so few articles in RVF than in Decanter where Jancis and the others have already written seriously on this Roussillon?
Why not give a small sign of encouragement to Hervé and his friends for the different trends, bio, environmentalist, classic (if, yes), modernist, small and big projects, new or old?
Why not answer there, if I simply believe the 24 comments on my blog: interesting subject, no?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The bottles’ heavyweights

Comments posted Thursday by Dreling :
AND THE CLAPTRAP of the so-called bottles’ heavyweights make me laugh: a great wine is an alliance between a great terroir and the northern boundary of a varietal’s plantation. How long has it been since the northern limits of Bordeaux’s varietals, for example, has been pushed? How many wines in this region in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008 are below 14% or 14.5% and even soon to 15 (there are thuvenin’s wines in the Roussillon at 15.5). They are our Algerian wines from the 50s, bordeaux wines today with the added taste of oak to make them richer! wines taste sweeter and lack nobility.

It is true that many Bordeaux wines have gone in 20 years from 12% - including 1 or 2 due to Chaptal - to 14%, due to various causes including global warming (for real) and more or less effective techniques of viticulture searching for optimum ripeness (cover-crop in the vineyard, deleafing, and especially the height of foliage).
Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing?
Everyone has the right to their own opinion

Having no culture, including in regards to wine, like those poor Chinese or American, I like rich wine, full today, even in a vintage like 2007 and I prefer their quality than those I tasted when I started.
In the elegant and noble style of the great classic Bordeaux vintages produced to the limit, to the very northern limit of ripeness of our beautiful noble varietals, you can include: 1972, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1984 or the very successful (for that time): 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1983.
Fortunately there are a few in 1970 (and not all), and some in 1971 and 1982 to justify. Actually, justify what? Except that the ripe grapes from the romantic era of "it was better before," seem to me a lack of adaptation to times to come. The neighbor’s grass is always greener ... I know plenty of incompetents in France who made their fortune elsewhere and returned with the sorts of comments like “it is not the right time”, “it should have been done before”, “before it was easier” and bla bla bla and bla bla bla.

Yes, our wines are probably too rich if intended to be served as thirst quenchers, but to drink 2 glasses with a meal, where is the problem ?
There are perhaps flavors of new oak. In the past old barrels provided other kinds of pleasure.
Probably some volatile is missing, as well as sourness.
Probably thinness is missing. Without any doubt for a great wine (and what wine !), how many bad and dead bottles existed? How many have I not tasted and poured in the sink?
I am exaggerating, but even if I understand, dear Dreling, your commitment to great classic Bordeaux - which I enjoyed as well, don’t deny this current evolution which will probably be followed by others.
Here, in Bordeaux, many try to produce wines less rich in alcohol and are seeking ways to get there - especially if that damn climate keeps on warming, it will not be easy. For me, it's not a problem, because, I repeat, I like this "kind of wine."
Nobility is a point of view.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Comments are often more interesting than my posts !
Regarding my post « Terroirs » :

« Dear Jean Luc
New and possibly great terroirs are rare, but it doesn’t mean that there are none. I travel around France and the world and I know that good wine can be produced anywhere, but great wine is another story. As for Saint Emilion, you forget that the entire area is an AOC with incredible potential not yet fully developed. However, if you can produce a wine as good as Valandraud on the best hillsides of Entre deux Mers or Roussillon, drinks are on me! And if Mouton or Ausone are recognized unanimously or even Pontet-Canet or La Dominique, the reason is that they are located in great terroirs and that they had to wake up and roll-up their sleeves due to your work, and the garagists. Stop dreaming or make others dream. However, don’t miss any opportunity to discover a great one when it exists and where it exists!»
Michel Bettane

« Great terroirs would then have had the wisdom to be born on major routes of communication. In this, we should recognize there genius !

The qualitative permanence of terroirs which are highlighted today has only been in existence for a little more than three centuries. What happened to Falerne and Chanturgue, who remembers that the great Pétrus was only second in its village in the early part of the 20th Century. That the original size of La Tâche was 6 times less than today?... anyway, the world changes because the earth goes round and people change.

Dézaley, le Rochegrès and Sibérie will perhaps be as great as Caillerets in Volnay was in the 15th Century. Who knows what a high density plantation would produce in altitude in certain areas of the Castelet? What has become of the wines from the vineyards of Tokaj which were the first one to be classified and for a long time the most in demand?

And if simply history would teach us that it is mainly man who project certainty on their plots?»
Patrick Essa

Well, I leave it to my friends to provide me with great wines still unknown, with the pleasure to taste them together, blind with Michel Bettane and Patrick Essa, and also to win or lose this friendly bet!

Vinexpo is approaching. From June 21 to 25, almost all of us will be in our stand X 324 in Hall 3, to promote our wines and forge new partnerships.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cult wine

I read on the site of the Grand Jury Européen, an article about « cult wines »

Cult wine – icon.... so much possibilities and so few unanimity… For everyone or myself?
Price, rarity, emotion, the privilege to know the son of the cousin of the father-in-law of the cellar master?
To be the only one having drank it?
The one that’s been shared?
That of a happy memory, love, sad, melancholy?
That is reserved for rich people?
That’s reserved to those who know?
Anyone who has a dream in him?
Those who have not yet been drunk?

A cru or the vintage of a cru ? For me, cult is often the vintage of a cru.
Some examples :
Beau Séjour Duffau Lagarosse is not a cult wine, but for Murielle, myself and the harvesters who could have bought it for peanuts in 93-94, the 1990 vintage was probably a cult wine.
Ausone 1849 so rare and 1964 which I drank by the case with pleasure.
This bottle of Pétrus 1955 – The cause of everything 1950 drank for a friend’s birthday and the last 1962, and… and ….. (the cru is cult for me)
This La Tache 1990 drank in Panafiel with Peter Sisseck
Pingus 1995 and all the others, I am such a fan of wine and its creator (for me, the vintage is cult)
Mouton Rothschild 1945 in magnum, drank with Jean Philippe, Christophe, Denis, René and the others in meals hosted by Hardy Rodenstock.
Cheval Blanc 1947 drank, all different and 1990, I must have drank more than a barrel.
The first bottle of Petite Sibérie, for what it represents of ambition, courage against anyone who doesn’t want to dream.
Those 1928 and 1929 drank with Jaques Luxey, I’ve forgotten most of the names but were also cult by the memory- a bit vague – from this time.
Harlan, Sine Qua Non and all those who make you dream – I am a good audience.
Cult wine perhaps also as it is presented to me as contrarian, Rayas which I have never been able to like, even after a dozen bottles, still waiting for an emotion.
Other examples for, against. Is all this serious, next to the first wine produced by any wine grower, the first wine made by him in his cellar, so important, so vital to his life. I think of all these first wines that I have seen born here and there: Gracia, Croix de Labrie, Villhardy, those of Jean-Roger Calvet and Mary - all of these first wines which, although not perfect, are cult in their eyes and mine.
As can be cult the fries and beef rib from L’Ami Louis, the coconut cake from Belle-Maman (mother-in-law), the Pata Negra frokm Patrick Lelièvre, the cognac from Mr Halley, Mumu’s cooking, the first cherries from Ceret ...

Everything, everything can be cult in our heart, as long as it is alive, and that we have the time to listen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Michel Bettane and François Mauss commented on my blog in respond to my (sad) mood post "politically incorrect". They are not the only ones reading my blog and as I returned from Japan, in much better shape - physically - and mentally, I will try to refine and explain my point.
Again, I will disappoint Patrick Essa or some of my other friends, but unfortunately (or too bad), journalists and I have a beautiful love story.
In fact, I would be nothing without them.

Who made me a “kinglet” in the wine microcosm, if not Michel Bettane who was the first with his special selections repeatedly given to me in the 90s in the en primeur section of the Revue du Vin de France. Then Robert Parker and even Jean Marc Quarin when he started. The Japanese newspaper Brutus had a considerable influence shortly after and along journalists – critics and other media created a buzz around Valandraud and garage wine. The magazine L'Express had skyrocketed the notoriety of my story, and television with TFI, France 2 and even M6 listed Valandraud as an "unavoidable" wine, equal or even above well established icons, that, at the time, were a bit asleep at the wheel (or even a lot).

Having said that knowing that one does not bite the hand that feeds him, that recognition is the least I can do and the feelings of gratitude that I can and must have to those who “made” me. Don’t I also have the right (me, who is so often judged) to give my opinion on my judges, even if I fell depressed?

When the new critics of RVF ignore our wines from the Roussillon this year, when still in the RVF, I read "easy to approach" to describe Valandraud and when I see the evolution of Dupont’s taste who, despite his knowledge of Valandraud wrote in the magazine Le Point "powerful wine that no one knows how it will evolve" (he tasted my wines blind over several vintages). It is certain that everyone’s tastes may not be the same and that all have preconceived judgment like "you belong to this family of upstarts I do not like ..." "you're an historical wine and I like your class and elegance ...!
Of course Michel, I was letting off steam by writing about critics. But Michel, I can not accept as a fact, and thereby deny who I am, when you write "there are no new great terroirs: Didn’t you see the geological map – certainly a bit unknown - of Saint-Emilion, where the area of Saint Etienne de Lisse is rather spoiled, and in much better position than some of the first growths from 1855!
How can you not believe in the Roussillon where a group of young talents with different styles, is blowing up the reputation of this region. I am eagerly waiting for the next special selections from the Wine Advocate (we’ll still call it Parker!)

How not to think that in Greece, Turkey, Chile or Spain, where, for example, such Torro is currently blowing up, etc ... I will always be “young” and curious and always ready to believe in a world not frozen (and you too ...) There are undoubtedly a multitude of terroirs to work, to discover ...
Why did you not read my real questions? Why so few visits in the properties? Why so few controls and blind tasting (or not) of wines 5/10/15 years old as our customers do?
Why give wine to critics only to receive bad notes every year?
Why so many journalists are consensual? Just look at Bertrand Le Guern’s grids!
Of course, nothing beats a good note from Parker and the fieldwork carried out by motivated merchants.

I was looking for a conclusion on my way back to the office, Ludo Martin writes about my blog and particularly this topic. He said, why wine doesn’t use the same Michelin system as restaurants? Customers, distributors who find a good wines, inform "Michelin wine". It gets samples of the wine to taste and visit the property for a 2nd verification and we obtain what is so difficult to get today: a reference media for great wines (3 stars) and others (BIB?). The work done for free by wine lovers for the benefit of most through the verification of paid and independent professionals.
Meanwhile, Jeff Leve is in Bordeaux and is visiting many properties (and their tables!)

Monday, June 8, 2009


Château Bel Air Ouÿ
Château La Dominique
Château Valandraud
Clos Badon Thunevin
Virginie de Valandraud
Château Mont Pérat
Blanc de Valandraud n° 1
Château Mont Pérat Blanc
Château Clerc Milon
Château d’Armailhac
Château Gruaud Larose
Château Chasse Spleen
Domaine de Chevalier blanc
Domaine de Chevalier rouge
Château Haut Bages Liberal
Château Camensac
Château Ferriere
Château Guiraud
Château Lascombes
Château Rauzan Segla
Château Beychevelle
Château Sociando Mallet
Château Le Boscq
Château La Garde blanc
Château La Garde rouge
Château Belgrave
Château Smith Haut Lafitte blanc
Château Smith Haut Lafitte rouge
Château Cantelys blanc
Château Cantelys rouge
Château Lafon Rochet
Château Grand Barrail Lamarazelle Figeac

Here is the list of wines from 2008 futures tasted in Osaka and Tokyo, along with 2 colleagues wholesalers from Bordeaux trade.
The whole trip was organized for the 3rd time by our important friend-importer, following my proposal more than 3 years ago, when I noticed that Japan is a real market, mature, far away. So why not suggest to do what we do successfully in Bordeaux? This 3rd event has become very professional and is running well and could be the perfect example of what we could do here.

2 conferences in Osaka and Tokyo moderated by a journalist-writer Mr Yamamoto, who wrote a book about the speculative bubble in Bordeaux prices (SIC), each time 40 professional attend and it is followed by an open tasting for 150 more open to 200 (sommeliers, wine stores, journalists, including Mr Tanaka Wine from Art and Ms. Ebisawa from Enoteca)
Sales are even taking place during these presentations and, if I understood correctly, our importer has increased his sales of futures by 40% this year.
Visiting some wine stores and restaurants belonging to our importer, allowed me to understand better all the work done to sell our Bordeaux, which have a lot to do to fight against the competition from Spanish and Chilean wines! The importance of Parker is just as dominant here as elsewhere, also with the manga series "The Drops of God" that has propelled Mount Perat in the category of unavoidable wines(and which also talked about Bad Boy?)
Quality meals, especially the one hosted at the house of our partner where beef stew and Kobe beef were worth at least 2 Michelin stars.
An incredible Evangile 1989, a delicious Champagne Cattier cuvee Renaissance 1999, a 2000 Présidial which I’ll taste again at how as I was pleasantly surprised by its youth, a 1988 Mouton Rothschild austere style and a very nice German Riesling Otts 2006, all the wines served in beautiful Riedel glasses and at the right temperature!
During these futures tastings, I was surprised by the high quality of Gruaud Larose 2008, which its opulent and modern style (which I like) without losing the finesse of this true Saint Julien, and of course very good Lascombes and Domaine de Chevalier. La Dominique, which has been making its comeback, and Valandraud, still famous (…said in all modesty )

Otherwise, of course, hotels and clean and comfortable rooms, the Shikansen train always as fast and above all, clean, even in the station used by thousands of travelers, you could almost eat on the ground.
Vive Japan where I have to return before the end of the year to meet my other clients.

Thank you to the whole team of our importer, the translators, the sales reps and managers, who, this year, have done more and better to improve our business and personal relationships. In any case, I got the message that our 2 houses rediscovered our ambitions!

To continue on the trip to Japan, Château Lafont Fourcat is the favorite wine of the French brasserie "Viron" in Shibuya where portions are almost as big as those of the Ami Louis in Paris. Matsusaka beef had the texture of beef cheek used to make a successful stew (the price must not be allowed to serve the same size than at home!) En primeur tastings with knowledge of selling prices are a really good way to continue to promote our sales.

Otherwise, and on another subject, Obama ate at a brasserie in Paris we enjoy doing business with (La Fontaine de Mars) I have to go to Brazil with Air France and Murielle did not decide if she will join me ... Perpignan is French champion in rugby, after Bordeaux for football. These good will certainly have a positive impact on our sales of wine:

I tasted Jean-Rosé, Jean-Roger’s rosé produced in our beautiful property. Good wine (sold directly on the premises).

The Clos del Rey 2002, drank with dinner to celebrate Perpignan’s victory, was simply appropriate for the occasion!

Many, many comments on my blog during my trip to Japan. Thanks Caramba and the others, I will take the time to go deeper in my topic "politically incorrect" to explain the criticism and what can bother me, I who besides has been so spoiled...
spare the rod and spoil the child!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Notes, according to Bertrand Le Guern

On Bertrand Le Guern’s grid, which compiles the notes from every journalists for the 2008 vintages for 402 wines :
Château Fleur Cardinale and Château La Dominique have an average note of 90/100 and are listed in 85th position – taking in account every wine (red, white, micro-cuvees and other garage wine included) – and it is a good result
Haut Carles, with 89/100 is positioned at 129th place and should still make us forget Fronsac appellation.
Virginie de Valandraud must still suffer from its name which seems to still be considered a second wine when it has not been for more than 10 years !

Clos Badon with 88/100 and the 191st place is in line with a good Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe. That’s good as the price falls in line with the category!
Is the Saint Emilion classification still credible these days?

Fayat-Thunevin and La Commanderie de Mazeyres with 87/100 in 264th place, Clément Pichon 86/100 in 334th place still have a lot of work to do to reach Bordeaux bigwigs.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Politically incorrect

Should one bad mouth or not wine critics ?
They don’t hesitate to say what they think of the wines they analyse, good or bad, as well as the qualities and defects, possible or real of the wines, property owners or consultants.
I understand that a journalist, a critic must do his job, but often (not always), his decision is influenced by his opinions and it can lead to:
Red wine black: good note
Red wine black: bad grade
New wood: good note
New wood: bad Note
Concentrated wine: good note
Concentrated wine: bad Note

Each critic tends to classify only the lesser known or controversial wines (i.e. Pavie)
Take the 1855 1st growths for example: no need to read reviews, because all except the Grand Jury Européen, give the highest marks ...
In the early years of Valandraud all the journalists, except for Parker and Bettane, tended to put the best scores to 1st growths and the likes, even if they had missed the vintage or the wines were insufficient good. In difficult vintages like 91 - 92 - 93 -94. Their noted should be brought back and have them taste the wines blind next to a good challenger.

I organized at my place such event and besides a few knowledgeable perverts able to recognize a good wine and gave it a bad note, everyone else was able to restore successful wines from failures, even if after the "debriefing" (as François Mauss does), the same critics find excuses to icons they are used to give good ratings. Indeed it is difficult for them to change their judgment, their minds, especially if the well-known chateau can take away their access. (as has happened to Jean Marc Quarin or perhaps Michel Bettane).
So everyone starts to use the Bordeaux language politically correct such as "that's interesting" to "terroir" and "elegance" “fruit" or even "tense” "mineral" (as commonly used today).
It is true that all, except 2 or 3, try to do their job well, with their honest rules and that some have become credible by the amount of work done. They also have their clients who agree with their judgments, year after year (even if they are not mine).

Should we, as a friend of mine says, with "humor", about journalists who like his wine and give the highest rating, "they have a good palate, they are competent"
(like the Bordeaux wholesaler who drinks his "margin")
Should we continue to show wine to critics who routinely give you bad ratings? Do I stop, when so many believed would be at least what I see as a bad note?
Why so few journalists go on the field, visit vineyards, the cellar, meet people? While they always go re-visit these 15 to 30 brands – chateaux - icons.

Why so little interest? As if all the vineyards look alike (Philippe Maurange can see when the vines are weeded, Quarin see if the vines are young or old), as if all the wine cellars were clean and smelt good ... As if all aging cellars were without the smell of mold, old barrels, mushrooms! As if bottling was done in the same way, etc ...

Why so few blind tasting? control? Lack of money, time, not useful?
How not to want to check the organic language, expected speeches. Isn’t it their job to seek, to question again and again?
Watch-out, what you’ve said, written. Like with our bottles, there may be someone to check!

Whenever I have the feeling of having to make a false or unfair criticism, I used to say that if I bought or made a bad wine, I would take a financial risk for my business and I would go bankrupt. A journalist or critic that was wrong could also lose its readers. It may take longer and be less serious, but ultimately the credibility of the critic would suffer the same attacks as those of a 1855 cru!
The truth is in the glass.

The real question is above all: is it necessary to taste a wine when we know that we will put a bad note and is it normal to keep on showing our wine to a wine taster who we known in advance he won’t like it, for real or even politically.
Thanks to Bertrand Le Guern for his statistical work which highlights “erratic” notes.
This doesn’t prevent such or such critic who doesn’t like concentrated wine, to be serious and listened to by its readers who share his beliefs and tastes.
I miss Jacques Luxey, the Grand Jury Européen has a similar sense of ethics but doesn’t have the power it deserves.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Valandraud 2008

Question asked by Dominique Lombard a few days ago :
Bonjour M. Thunevin – are you going to release Valandraud en primeur this year and why? Thank you

I already wrote about it on this blog

Valandraud 2008 is going to be sold in a more traditional way – directly to importers, no longer through the “free market” system of Bordeaux marketplace.
Sales have already started in many countries including Japan, South Korea, China, Spain, Hong Kong, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Lebanon, Quebec, the Czech Republic France (parts), USA (1 state).
5491 bottles have already been sold out of 12000 planned to be produced (like in 1995, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003)
Pending: England, Singapore, Brazil and the rest of the world!

Fleur Cardinale

Since 2006 château Fleur Cardinale has been classified – de-classified – classified – then de-classified and finally classified, at least until 2011. Maybe the incidents, which have been so much talked about, and the polemics generated by the demoted, with this classification reviewed every 10 years will be over.
Classified or not, Fleur Cardinale, which is owned by Florence and Dominique Decoster since 2001 has been consistently making fine wines every year and since the first vintage has always ended in the top 100 Bordeaux.
This is not by chance. Without beating around the bush, the Decosters have tried every year to make the best wine possible, and this without skimping on time and money. I am proud to be working as their consultant. Murielle, our daughter and I have become such good friends of this chateaux and the Decosters. Whatever the success, or half-success, our objective is to try to make the best wine possible to satisfy our customers who are the only real judges.

Each year I believe we do the maximum, and every year we fix ourselves a more ambitious goal and fine tune the little detail helping us improve the wines of this beautiful property. This property is next to Valandraud, and is perhaps located in one of the best wine areas from Saint Emilion. Lots is happening in this area, thanks to motivated owners (Faugères, Pressac, Rol Valentin, Fombrauge, Mangot, etc ...)
Like every year, I'm in Japan this week attending tastings of some Bordeaux 2008 en primeur with 2 Bordeaux colleagues.
This taking place in Osaka until June 3 and then in Tokyo from June 4 to 6
Before leaving, lots of visitors for Valandraud and La Dominique during the weekend, and many meals, of course: drunk among others an incredible Pétrus 1962 simply superb (original cork). When myth meets reality!
Also, I did an interview, a bit late, with Jean Paul Gené, journalist for Monde2.

The flower is appearing on the vines, we will see better in a few days days the real damage due to the hailstorm.

Bordeaux champion – vive football !