Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lunch with Jeff Leve, Michel Gracia, Catherine Père-Vergès (La Violette, Le Gay, etc..), Barbara and us.

During the meal, Jeff asked us about punching over the cap: why, how... hard to answer if we do not see the work done directly in a cellar. I tried to explain that today, in my opinion, such choice could be a good psychoanalytic argument.
I suffer and its tough. I touch this matter in a carnal way: contact and pain increase the impact caused by the act of creating, but it doesn’t prevent the fact that punching over the cap should only be done with ripe grapes, otherwise the results can be quite damaging: where bad tannins and vegetal flavors would be amplified!

We started with small live gray shrimp from the Gironde estuary, sautéed in olive oil, and paired with a Blanc de Valandraud n°1 2007.

Following, blind, with Pata Négra, Le Gay 2003 and Clos du Mont Olivet 2003 Cuvée du Papet.
Preferred wines : 4 votes for Le Gay and 2 votes (Jeff and I) for this very good Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. Catherine didn’t even recognize her own wine.
Blind tastings should be forbidden…

Then, with beef steaks, fries like at L’Ami Louis and fresh ceps from Corrèze, Gracia 1998 and Latour 1998.
This time, 3 votes for Gracia (modern and silky), 3 for Latour, a bit austere, old style for me.

Still with meat and a great sheep milk cheese, La Dominique 1989 and Troplong Mondot 1989. 5 votes for La Dominique (really amazing) – which I bought in England a few months ago for 70 Euros. Murielle said: Pomerol ? Pétrus ? Goes to show !
Troplong Mondot 1989, firmer. The terroir forces you to wait for more than 10 years before showing well. Terroir, terroir, of course… hard to fight.

Jeff followed with Weinert 1977, tasted blind, which I didn’t like (volatile, acid). Probably a defect, or the bottle, or hard to follow La Domnique 1989. I did enjoy this wine and had bought a case from my friend Adi Werner in Saint Christophe in Alberg (Austria).
The Argentinean wine was, probably, one the best in 1977, made to celebrate birthdays (Virginie)

Not a stupid dog!

Max loves grapes ripe grapes and never eats the stems... He plucks the grain with his teeth.

When you think that in Bordeaux some of the wine producers still question whether to destem some or all their grapes to make better wines!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Following your happy comments.

This object is not a UFO, not a proper tool used in viticulture, but a trap for wasps, which, attracted by the sugar, come and eat our grapes damaging them.
There is no other choice but these traps, sugar water (even beer) attracting them and where they drown, otherwise, we would need to use nets or insecticide, or have little or no healthy harvest.

Relax, François. Relax.
I did, in fact, glanced through the text; like you, I don’t like pseudo (jerks) as Michel Bettane would say, however, I am a bit more relaxed regarding content and form, me the quintessential anxious person, and the importance to give to these comments, which, by the way, have given the Grand Jury a remarkable boost in readership. Why not include in your blind tasting Romanée Conti from Burgundy, icons are like idols made to be burned. I hope, one day, that my dear Valandraud will also be bashed. Who loves well, chastises well (or spare the rod and spoil the child), is it Catholic? Leave Mrs. Michou out of this, we are in the middle of Foire aux Vins (wine promotions), tonight at Leclerc and Libourne and Saint Magne de Castillon.
Ceps from Corrèze are good, there will be no or just a few truffles, these are important issues.

I am not a lawyer, but ...

As you know, I regularly read the blog of François Mauss, where I find many interesting articles and I also read the forums from or La Passion du Vin or even the literary blog from Hervé Bizeul.

The last post I read, in the blog of the Grand Jury, before leaving for Hong Kong, talks about me, noticed by Bettane then Parker and especially about Reignac and Pétrus.
My point is that I don’t always agree with my friend François Mauss especially when he includes Madame Michu in his battles. What has Madame Michu done to be included in these stories? Everyone knows that she shops at the supermarket Leclerc (or other places).
Furthermore, with Valandraud, I have benefited from the attention of journalists, critics, blind tastings where Valandraud often ended up well placed against 1st growths, even by professionals and journalists who are known to be “anti-garage”, “Anti-Bettane” or “anti-Parker”. Unlike François or some of my colleagues, I never bashed any of these icons, being so happy to be included in their realm, for I just wanted to persuade, convince myself that Valandraud deserved a place amongst them.

I've just attacked bad wines which had serious technical defects: T.C.A. (a fixation for Murielle and I), and the thinness of acidic and vegetal wines.
I am not against wines a bit light or not modern, I got into it because of some of these icons which will always remain high in my book.
Petrus 1955 is from that period, La Conseillante, La Violette, old Latour (1958!), Mission Haut Brion 1955, etc ... (which were so modern for that time!)
Why the hell François Mauss is so fixated on Pétrus? This reminds me a colleague who spent a good part of his professional life to prove that his wines were better than Pétrus, while all the guests leaving his tastings, only had memories of those decried Petrus!

Reignac, Valandraud can exist without being opposed to these wines, being different is the interesting part of our wines. How lucky to have a chance to exist, right?
The interest of these tastings is to attract the attention of journalists, consumers and winemakers on competition, this is not bad, but necessary.
Is it worth all the controversy? This kind of blind tasting certainly displeases often icons. It reminds me of Jacques Luxey and his grand jury which had a lot of problems with the big Champagne houses who did not like these sorts of tastings.
For more than 20 years, Jacques Luxey’s grand jury triggered plenty of controversy, but there was no internet and blogs. It is true that these tastings were well organized and they helped, at that time, boost the reputation of Haut Marbuzet, Sociando Mallet, even Le Pin.
Pétrus does not need to be defended, I just think that that trying to prove too much, you end up proving nothing. Time is necessary to build a brand, time is one of the most important components. This is what I’ve been trying to do for my wines, it's good to want to do better, but I often say that just because Ferrari wins all the races, I must have or buy a Ferrari. I dream of having a Mercedes ML with the comfort of a S class.

All that to say that yes, you can honestly win a blind tasting.
So why try to prove that the one we beat is bad? I prefer to win by competing with good ones!

Friday, September 25, 2009

We're starting on Monday

Murielle is keeping a close watch on our vineyards and is thinking of starting with some of the parcels en Monday.

What the day owes to the night

The good thing about traveling is that I have time to read a book or two waiting in airports or in the planes, as soon we’re airborne, I (easily) try to sleep.

During my recent trip to Brazil with Air France, which had no problem, and I even found the service more attentive, I had the pleasure of reading this novel (but is it a novel?) by Yasmina Khadra. The real name of this uncommon writer is Mohammed Moulessehoul, Algerian, born on January 10, 1955.
This book whose story takes place in Oran before and just after the independence of Algeria reminded me of my childhood in Sidi Chami (near Oran and Rio Salado). This novel is based on love, friendship, the difficulty of being mixed race, has made me shed a few tears, "Nostalgérie" defining the atmosphere of this beautiful novel that all “pieds noirs” (black feet – French people living in Algeria during the colonies) should read.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hard work

Last week, Olivier Boutros-Toni wanted to introduce me to a plowman using a horse but unfortunately I wasn’t able to meet him because I was busy with a group of Ukrainian friends I joined at L’Envers du Décor (it was so packed that I ate for the first time on the 1st floor).
Then, we visited Chateau Angelus and really liked the 2006 vintage. Following, we went to L’Essentiel so they could purchase and drink some Croix de Labrie 2000 and Valandraud 1999.

To return to the farmer’s story, Olivier doesn’t seem to know that my partner in the Roussillon has already used a mule for an inaccessible plot and that we even had an article published with pictures in a local newspaper ...

i TV

Last Thursday, September 17, the live broadcast at 9:25 pm, went well. Better than I expected.
The title: « Les échos de l’éco » (play on words meaning “the echo’s feedback”), presented by Capucine Graby, with a journalist from Les Echos and David Barroux, Editor in Chief of a high-tech media and especially, or I would say fortunately, interested in people and wine.
I still like as much empathy from journalists who all seem (or almost) to think I am a genius, interesting.
It’s good for my ego, I can’t help it, I like to be loved!
I was asked more questions and got more time than I expected, it was fast, and a bit "candid" when asked about Robert Parker. In any case, time went by fast, and again, I found it was too short.
I was invited by Capucine Graby, thanks to a young “intern" Darfeuille Alice, whose father is the owner of MitSiu Group with whom I get along well and where I store wine sold by my wholesale business, because my warehouse in Saint Magne is too small.
When I left the plateau, I was stopped by Sylvain, who no one ever see on i TV (a technician?). He is a great wine lover, and misses the time when he had the means of buy Valandraud. He told me he loves Bettane, but not Parker (?), and, and ...
I could have spent the evening with them but, unfortunately, I had had to take an early morning TGV to Libourne.

I plan to participate to the Grand Tasting organized by Bettane and Desseauve at the Carousel du Louvre, December 4th & 5th in Paris!

Upcoming trips: Hong Kong - Guangzhou this week
From October 16 to 20: Kiev, Ukraine
From October 21 to 31: Japan - Hong Kong
Air France and KLM need our help ... Hopefully, I will be able to get upgraded

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In season

The blog of the Grand Jury Européen, published a great story, with photos, on one of the most professional hypermarket styles retailer, which I just visited.
As François Mauss says so well, I like to see these wooden case of Clément Pichon 2005, and I even prefer when this store sells-out and orders the 2007 and 2008 vintages.

The harvest is starting almost everywhere. It is beautiful and good.
Will Cheval Blanc produce another cuvee like in 1947 ?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No time to take a breather...

.... that already the 2009 harvest began in Pomerol, and we have not yet installed thermoregulation in some of our tanks in Clos du Beau Père.
Everyone is on deck, the whites will be done by next week and the reds should start around the 25th? Anyway, it's not up to me!

I spent the morning working for the Vignobles Fayat and then had lunch with a banker friend (if it exists) and Mr Dufrenoy, the painter who paints with wine: he’s not an idiot, he uses a glass for his canvas and drinks the rest to help his creativity.
I should have thought of it before, except that I have no talent, which is not the case for Mr Dufrenoy.

This evening, I plan to have a good meal with my friend José Ruiz, the caves of Ferrand with Max. Talking about eating, with lunch at Les Marronniers (in Montagne) we drank a good Reclos La Couronne 2003 (Montagne Saint Emilion)

Everything must be done...

Monday, the day's work began with Guillaume announcing his departure from my company to become an independent wine consultant.
Following, I had a short meeting with Jenifer to prepare a major meeting next month in Hong Kong, which is becoming one of the key region for my business.
At noon, I attended a reception for a VIP client at Chateau La Dominique with Clément, Jean Claude and Laurent Fayat.

In the afternoon, I had a meeting with a friend expert in real estate and in the evening I went to the 1st Foire aux Vins (wine promotion) at Carrefour Market Caudéran Ferry where I represented, with Jean Claude Fayat, Château Clément Pichon 2005 and La Dominique 2006 the store bought from one of the best negotiant in Bordeaux (and that doesn’t come from me).
Nice turn out, with shopping carts full of wine and few wine traders looking for good deals to resell, but with real customers who taste and buy wines to drink. Also, the notable presence of the local club of La Passion du Vin who doesn’t miss an opportunity to taste wines presented that day, either by owners or by managers (did they like our wines? I will read what they say on the site). I didn’t hangout and was able to be home in Saint Emilion at around 11pm.
On September 28, it will be the turn of Leclerc in Saint Magne de Castillon and in Libourne to launch the foire aux vins where one of the members of my family will attend.

Thursday, 17, I am going to Paris by TGV to be interviewed by Capucine Graby on iTélé and a reporter from Les Echos for a live broadcast at 9:15pm.
Jose Ruiz? Is coming on Wednesday for his radio station to talk about the caves of Ferrand, as if I was a specialist.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Busy weekend

Friday, there were so many people attending the inauguration of the Comptoir de Saint Genès de Castillon, that we decided, Murielle, the photographer Jon Wyand and myself to have lunch in Montagne (St. Emilion) in the restaurant Les Maronniers where the steak is worth a visit and where the wine list offers a nice selection of wines at regular price, plus a beautiful terrace and attentive and friendly service. What more do you want?

When we returned to the Comptoir de Saint Genès after our meal, there were as many people as before, but at this stage the guests still present were not as hungry and thirsty. It gave us the opportunity to see many friends winemakers or involved in the wine world. I finally was able to meet for the first time the English sponsor of this clever place in Genès, the famous Tony Laithwaite, and who has been buying, among other things, our cuvee Hugo from Domaine Calvet-Thunevin 2003. Saturday, we attended a big wedding in Fronsac. Again, it gave us the opportunity to see some of our acquaintances, buddies and friends. Many people were dressed very chic and there was a fun atmosphere, thanks to young friends of the married party. The meal was incredible considering it was served for almost 400 people. The wines served were all of great quality, including our Calvet-Thunevin Maury 2004 which was in perfect harmony with dessert prepared for this occasion by Mr. Alain Dutournier, famous for his Paris restaurant Le Carré Feuillant, with its 2 stars, which are worth 3, and offers one of the best value in France (lunch at 58 euros - 85 with wine!)

Sunday, we participated in the Jurade of Saint Emilion which included a fine group of guests including: Ministers, MPs, senators and even the President of the Senate (2nd most important political figure in the French state). Other VIPs included an actor from Hong Kong and the usual festive atmosphere. In addition, the quality of this year’s vintage put a smile on my fellow growers’ faces.

At home, we did a serious tasting of our whites, then visited our vineyards with 2 friends attending the wedding in Fronsac. The good thing with wine is that it's never over, tasting requires further work in order to improve: never satisfied, should the name for on of our wines!
We drank all weekend organic wine and had a few disappointments.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Futur prospect

The first juices of Sauvignon Blanc and Gris are delicious to drink as is: these varietal of grapes usually produces a very good fruit juice, prior to making it into wine.

If prohibition ever comes to France, a solution I could imagine right now for my practicing Muslim friends who cannot buy my wine (being inconsistent with the current religious practice), is to buy Valandraud grape juice where the fruits have been selected by hand, even destemed manually. In fact a rare production which would be reviewed and noted in various media and by specialized journalists including the world famous Doctor X who, thanks to the Chinese language is now the recognized authority to the point where there is even talk of fruit juices produced to please his palate… As you understand well, this is like a déjà vu!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Chateau Valandraud’s other baby"

I recommend to read on Valandraud’s other baby (in French) Written by Emmanuel Tresmontant.

This other baby is in fact Virginie de Valandraud which was created in 1992 and is rather now a young lady, old enough to travel the world and go to night clubs!

Et dire que notre histoire dure toujours et parait toujours aussi étonnante ; c’est sûr, quelques pronostics faits par des médisants, des malfaisants de l’époque (comme dirait Audiard) se sont avérés très différents que ce qu’il avaient imaginé, puisque nous somme toujours là et bien décidés à le rester, alors que certains de ces oiseaux de mauvais augure ont, eux, soit disparus, soit été vendus, soit toujours aussi « en retard d’une guerre » !

When you think that our story still lasts and still seems so amazing; it’s sure that the predictions made by malicious people, the evil ones of that time (as Audiard would say) turned out very different than they had imagined for we are still here and determined to remain, while some of these doomsayers have either disappeared or were sold, or still “a war behind”!

Friday, September 11, 2009


This is the series of thanks ....

I would like to thank Pierre Lurton for inviting us to the inauguration of his cellar of Marjosse (red and white) in Tizac de Curton.

What a good turnout! We missed having a ribbon cutting ceremony at the winery, but with this September 2009 sun, for once, it would have been tough for our older colleagues who should not stay too long exposed, even under the pretext to take their place! It will undoubtedly bring us some happiness.

What a pleasure to listen to Professor Denis Dubourdieu compare grapes (and therefore wine) from 2009 to 2006 or 1996 with a balance similar to Meursault. I like to hear this sort of comparison for Murielle and I love fine white wines of Burgundy.
Actually, we had the chance to taste our White Valandraud No. 1 of 2006 at a friend‘s yesterday evening. The word Meursault was obvious and amongst the many red wines served, there was a very good Eglise Clinet 2004 and Tenuta Di Trinoro 2001 simply very good (tasted blind).

For dinner, we ate a beef sirloin grilled over a bunch of Merlot vine-canes (just kidding, I have no clue!) and hop in bed for Murielle started at 7:30 am picking the Sauvignon Gris and Sauvignon Blancs from vineyards perfectly lined up.

Thank you my friend who, despite my little paranoia, took the time to listen and to appease my anxieties. It's always the same story at the time of harvest, and it's getting worse every year.
And yet, I don’t take care much of the harvest anymore, leaving the full responsibility for my vineyards to Jean-Roger and Marie, in Maury, and Murielle and Christophe Lardière here and the managers of properties which I am a consultant.
I’m a funny consultant who, in fact, puts incredible pressure on managers who are responsible for an entire year. And it works. This shows by the quality of our 2007 and 2008. I had already taken a step back for 2006.

The new cellar in Faugères is almost finished: this morning, there was so many people on the site that I thought for a moment they the harvest had started!

The market seems to be recovering for our Bordeaux and our Japanese friend and distributor told us earlier that he is about to resume placing orders with us within the next 3 months. The few orders coming in give us a bit of energy while waiting for my upcoming trip to Hong Kong and Japan.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thank you Wikipedia...

Who helped me find my way in the manga series "The Drops of God" by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto, translated into French by Editions Glénat.

Some wines of my friends are cited in this collection Manga that had, for example, exploded the demand for Mont Perat 2001 (cited in Volume 1).
Also listed :
Lagrange 1996 (volume 2)
Yquem 1990 (volume 3)
Guiraud 1990 (volume 3)
Lynch Bages 1983 (volume 5)
Talbot 1990 et 1997 (volume 6)
Tenuta di Trinoro Palazzi 1990 (volume 6 – pictured on the cover)
Talbot 1986 (volume 7)
Haut Carles 2001 (volume 9)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Getting ready...

We quickly toured our vineyards in Pomerol with a Japanese journalist, then stopped at La Dominique and then walked around the vineyards of Fleur Cardinale and Valandraud ... a stroll through the vineyards is worth all the speeches, provided one has the ability to read these back roads.

Dominique invited us to the Comptoir de Saint Genès, always full of local business people: barrel vendors, consultants and owners. At our table was a well-known real estate agent which gave us the opportunity to speak about properties, buying, selling, prices, and that was good for my bankers from the BNP were also there. We drank a wine from Castillon, obviously, vinified by our friend Jean Michel: Chateau L’Estang 2005, double-locked (the wine ;-), not him)

Everywhere, cellars are getting ready to receive the harvest, Murielle, with a team of 20 people, did some finishing touches in our vineyards: deleafing here, thinning there, always, always to improve quality.

Meanwhile, the 2007 vintage is being bottles in Pomerol for Le Clos du Beau Père and Bad Boy: we're not early, it's the least I can say. We'll see if next year we’ve made up for all these delays.

Meeting of the Cercle Rive Droite this morning at the Chateau de Pressac, our neighbor in the town of Saint Etienne de Lisse where lost of things happen these days. The cellar in Faugères is almost finished, and is being noticed. In my opinion, it’s a good thing (which means that it is not the opinion of everyone!)

Thursday morning, the first harvest of our Sauvignon Gris.

Terre de Vins

1st issue of Terre de Vins (Land of Wine - in French), a general public magazine from Le Midi Libre and discovered by our regional newspaper Sud Ouest (written by Christian Seguin).
A magazine which was already of high quality with a simple objective: the south - Languedoc Roussillon.
With the arrival of 2 editorial advisers Thierry Desseauve and Michel Bettane, their goal is clear!
The first issue broaches, a bit too quickly - but it's probably voluntary because it targets readers who are pressed for time - Petrus, Foires Aux Vins – wine promotions (with a special selection for Château Clément Pichon 2007), wines from the South with an column on the region Fenouillèdes in the Roussillon (Maury), etc. ...
Nice magazine for 5 Euros. Though with not enough text to my taste but nice pictures.

Today, we received Tomoko Ebisawa, journalist for the Japanese magazine Vinothèque. She arrived just before the harvest to see and comment on the progress made with our techniques and sorting of the harvest.

After being one of the initiators of manual sorting and de-stemming since the 1st vintage of Valandraud, in 1991, the whole wine world considered that the purity of red grapes was equally important as sorting the harvest of white botrytised grapes used for our great Sauternes. Since then, many inventions arrived in our cellars, often coming and already being used in the food industry: prunes, peas, coffee, etc. ... must also be sorted.

After sorting tables, vibrating tables, double sorting tables, sorting by hand, we have 3 systems that compete with each other: one that sends an ultra strong blast of air (Mistral?), another that sorts by optical (Visio?) and the last one by densitometry (Tribaie) that I bought after having seen the progress made by a colleague and friend, Guy Meslin from Chateau Laroze, an incredible value for those who always complain about expensive wines !

In our place, in addition to all the attention given in the cellar to the harvest, we add - and this is not very common - sorting by the pickers where each cluster for our top red wines (Valandraud, Virginie, Clos Badon) and the whites, are sorted and cleaned before being put in their crates. This, of course, comes after all the prep work in the vineyards, starting with pruning, where the goal is to get a reasonable quantity of grapes to maturity.
The video of our harvest is here. (in French) says more than a thousand words.

The last days of Summer

With this wonderful weather, the grapes, which are the sort for making wine, are as good as table grapes.
The sun during the day and particularly cool nights bring out the taste of the varietals.

Saturday with a some of the Americans staying at our house, we tasted the 3 white varietals soon to be harvested. The Sauvignon Gris have an incredible powerful aroma, the Sauvignon Blancs are no exception: with a palette of exotic fruit, pineapple, mango, orange, honey, very complex aromas and only the Semillon are more austere, more "discreet" .
The Merlots with their red pulp already taste very good, even if the skin and seeds are far from being ripe. Some of the Pomerols will most likely begin harvesting as early as Friday?

Too bad Murielle and I have a bad cold that prevents us from taking full advantage of those beautiful days of late summer.

This weekend, with my step-parents, we looked for juicy blackberries, figs, hazelnuts, which already give a taste of the fall, especially with the first chanterelles and cold morning, we already feel the harvest.

With a good steak, pieces from the butcher in Lussac (Mr Bernard Simon), we drank 2 fine wines, a Andreas and Griffe de Cap d'Or 1999 at their apogee and ready to drink now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hachette Wine Guide 2010


Always on top of its appellation, Haut-Carles gets its 7th special selection. This cuvee, produced from the best parcels in the property, is now part of the finest wines of Bordeaux. The 2006 vintage has a beautiful black robe. Black fruits, coconut, liquorice, vanilla, toasted wood: the aromatics are complexe and intense. It’s powerful and well extracted tannins support a concentrated mouth, fat and soft. It is certainly a wine to cellar (five to ten years). The second wine from Ch. de Carles (8 to 11 Euros), ads another two stars to the impressive collection of this cru. It barely misses the special selection for its harmonious bouquet of spices, toast and ripe fruit, as well as for its velvety tannins.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Before changing subject

Explanation on my posts, “Common sense, sequel”, “Common sense?” and “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing”.

I am not anymore a spring chicken, but I still remain a bit rebellious, but not indifferent. I feel I have to express my anger and anguishes, which is good for my health, instead of keeping it inside. Thanks to this blog, I can share the sadness felt by my friends when they loose confidence in the system and that their patience is waning waiting for the recognition they feel their wine deserves!
I am only affected by these notes because of my friends in the Roussillon and the position emerging in some French media concerning Bordeaux as well as anti Parker, anti Bettane, and Burtschy, as if “it was better before” (before what?) and start defending wine which, if they had tasted them blind (I believed it already happened), would be totally rejected.

It is still possible to defend these wines, and I can easily admit, they are under the charm and emotion of the words and charisma of the owners. But instead, they should write: I like the owner, I like his words, I like his influence on the evolution of organic winegrowers, I like when he makes miracles with grapes picked one month before his neighbors, I like when his dying vine stocks produced their last breath to create posthumous work… please, should our reasoning about wine be false in order to justify some passionate love?
Should everything be sacrificed to poetry and crucify wines too sexy, too whore, wine people like, parkerized, just to be different? Except if I am a bit, a lot, idiot, blind and deaf.

What I see today emerging is true, they are true feelings, real points of view, real opinion well thought through, real declaration of love, true evolution which, perhaps, will follow those of modern wine initiated by Emile Peynaud, Michel Rolland, with the help of the media, Luxey, Parker, RVF during Bettane.
A return of pendulum?
A just return towards a civilized, intellectualized taste?
True change, same as for food, where today people want less fat, less sugar and more aspartame, even glutamate?
Growing older longer, thin and sulking or living a disorderly life, fat and happy, is it a choice? Undoubtedly the truth is in the middle.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Common sense, sequel

Following my post from Wednesday:
“Some of the points you make are valid, if not exactly original by any stretch of the imagination or in any language; others, simply tendentious and/or aggravating in that they make all journalists sound like luxury-loving, freebie=hunting, know-nothing parasites. Most ungenerous of you and very untrue. Life is not long enough for me to respond to this characterization or to express just how frustrating it can be for serious, hard-working, ill-(and un-) paid journalists to get information from winemakers. Nevertheless, have a good day and a good 2009 vintage. “
Jacqueline Friedrich, the

Jacqueline is part of a group of critics, journalists, writers who deeply like their jobs and she is not the only one, of course.
My words, often a bit exaggerated, tend to trigger some reactions. But in fact, my thoughts are based on what takes place in the Roussillon – which she knows for having been there a few years ago – without also forgetting Bordeaux. I always expect that people who affect our lives have some seriousness. The few erring ways I see pop up in some French media make me react. It is one of the rare luxuries we still have in our democratic country.
Making us believe that the moon is made of green cheese, at least try to be exact. It wouldn’t hurt to do a bit of checking, blind, like the Grand Jury Européen, or a bit with Bertrand Le Guern, or with lab analysis to see if they detected any bretts, TCA, methoxypyrazines (every time I use this word, I think about Jean Marc Quarin)… If the nose of our critics doesn’t work properly, try to check with a few so-called “normal” clients, women or men, gourmands and not sectarian.

Of course, there are all sorts of opinion or taste in the world, a friend of mine tells me when I get carried away. But when it concerns individuals who write for general readers publications, such as Terre de Vins or Revue du Vin de France, some precision should be imposed for, in the same publication, some journalist might like modern wines full of ripe fruits while others prefer unripened fruit and acidity.

There should not be only one voice to defined taste, the minimum should be to agree in common on what a good wine is and a well tended vineyard.

Last Wednesday, we tasted at the Comptoir de Genès (in Belvès de Castillon), a very good : Poupille Atypique (2003 ?) with no sulfite, produced in Castillon, A proof that the choice of being organic and sulfite free, can also make good wine with talent and more.
Also tasted: Presbytère from Château La Clarière Laithwaite, very good.
The meal was delicious, and the fact that the place was busy shows the quality of the establishment. The wine proposed at the price of the producer as well as a 6 Euros corkage fee gave us the opportunity to taste the best wines of Castillon along with a 14 Euros menu.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hachette Wine Guide

I bought the Hachette wine guide in Saint Emilion in "le magazin" while waiting for the Gault et Millau guide.
So many guides, books… I am lost. In any case, the Hachette guide is a reference, and that’s good considering our troubled times where critics and certain media are all over the place.
The Hachette guide rewarded all my wines from the Roussillon, Clément Pichon and Fayat’s wines, Haut Carles with a 7th special selection, Valandraud etc, Fleur Cardinale, and even Bellevue de Tayac.

In the meantime, work in the vineyards and the cellar is going on, Tuesday, September 1st, we bottled the 2008 Blanc de Valandraud N° 1. It will be ready to drink and taste next Summer. Our whites are being produced to be aged and cellared.

Common sense ?

A thought I heard several time from friends from the Roussillon, Hervé Bizeul, Claude Gros or my partners Marie and Jean-Roger Calvet: How come so many professionals, self-proclaimed critics, well known journalists, wine enthusiasts, buyers, are so sensitive to some of today’s common speeches, trends, preventing self judgment, and that so few have had the curiosity to visit vineyards, at least during or before the harvest.

We’re constantly being talked about terroir, without the curiosity to come and visit, walk around, experience the life of the vineyard and the people working in it. Of course, it is not easy work, nor quick, nor comfortable. Outside, there could be too much wind, sun, even rain. And I am not even talking about insects, brambles and fear being felt when confronted by these wild or well tended sceneries, but so far from the comfort of beautiful chateaux, nice tasting rooms, attentive trade unions, or even the pleasure of being buttered up for a blurb in the local newspaper.

In fact, in my area, their area, they have little interest in terroir, vineyards and grapes which can provide more than claptrap, but, for who is able to read, a way to learn the truth concerning owners or consultant who claim being organic with a tremolo in their voice and weed-killer all over their fields, or those who claim to respect recycling and pour their waste in ditches, or the bio dynamic producers who doesn’t provide adequate working conditions to his employees and who will complain, without even blinking an eye, that he is not understood when his cellar stinks with TCA and other junk. I don’t even talk about those who can make delicious wines, clean and transparent with rotten grapes, vineyards where odium and missing vines (dead and not replaced) are signs of failure.
Why mistake real organic wines, good bio dynamic, and good and easy drinking wine sold at attractive price, with wine full of brett, often acid or good valued easy drinking wine (what does it mean 30 Euros?) where time is their enemy – 5 minutes in the glass and they’re gone.

Why this trend for anything being anti Parker, against wine being too produced, a trend which implies that wine is of divine origin.
Is this trend in response to the current crisis in our society and its comportment? A response to existentialist anguishes? A good excuse to drink wine with alcohol in this world so hard to live in, or is cautiousness taking over and preventing us from having common sense.

About common sense, 2009 seems to be a great vintage. Jean Marc Quarin is already comparing it to 2005. We will know in a month.
In the meantime, Tuesday, I visited the vineyards in Pomerol and Saint Emilion and I can say that I rarely saw such beauty.
La Commanderie de Mazeyres and Prieurs de la Commanderie look so beautiful, which these 2 properties hadn’t seen for a very long time. Seeing such beautiful vineyards and grapes is a real pleasure. These properties will definitely count in Pomerol.
Vive the Right Bank and its grapes, dark like blackberries and already tasting so sweet.

In Maury, Marie and Jean Roger Calvet started the harvest with the first cuvees of white and rose, picked to produced “thirst” wines for stores (which means not too expensive).
Drinking a good bottle of Hugo 2005, still way too young, during dinner the other evening was our way to participate.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One more star

Denis Hervier from Bettane & Desseauve told me that this great guide gave 1 more star – so 2 stars – to La Dominique.
The work done for the last 3 vintages and the investments done on the property show where La Dominique should stand.
A quick visit in the vineyards before this 2009 vintage say more than a long speach.I am looking forward to receiving the Bettane & Desseauve guide to see if there are more good news.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Express trip to Korea

I just came back from a quick trip to Korea with Philippe Porcheron (owner and creator of Marojallia) and Pascale, at the request of our distributor. We flew out on Air France from Bordeaux on Saturday, August 25th at 10:35 am via Paris, and returned on August 29th, departing Seoul at 9:20 am for Paris, then Bordeaux.
Quick, short, but intense.

The organization was perfect, Philippe was not used to such an amount of attention and for my part, I am still not blasé by it, which feels more like being a rock-star than the promotional trip of a wine-merchant. We really enjoyed the kindness and availability of our Korean friends.
We attended all sorts of meals: Korean, Italian, French; shows, and met a great numbers of journalists and media. Already, many articles on me were published following my previous trip. We finished with a reception dinner and a show to announce our partnership, for 80 VIPs in the magnificent private salons of the Sheraton Walkerhill where we had nice rooms.

The pairing of Korean tradition and Bordeaux wines garagistes/nouvelle vague style worked perfectly.
I already saw the results with my wines, including Blanc de Valandraud, Bad Boy, Virginie and Valandraud, listed in many fine restaurants. Thanks to the efficient work done by our importer and his sales and marketing team.
This comfortable welcome made the 7 hours jet-lag, compounded with the 5 hours (the other way) from the Brazil trip, cancel out each other.

In the meantime, work goes on here with the preparation for the harvest. The vintage seems to be good, but it is not yet in our cellars.

I found, by chance, on the site of the NouvelObs magazine, a nice picture of l’Essentiel which was included in one of their articles (in French).