Thursday, April 30, 2009

Parker : The notes

Lots of good news making 2008 a good vintage, even very good. If prices stay reasonable, our customers, and ourselves, will not lose money during this en primeur campaign.
Wait and see…

Valandraud 92-94+
La Dominique 90-93
Fleur Cardinale 91-93
Bellevue de Tayac 81-83 (?)
Virginie de Valandraud 89-91
Prieurs de la Commanderie 87-88
La Violette 96-98
Clément Pichon 83-85
Pétrus 98-100
Pape Clément 94-96
Marojallia 88-90+
Magrez Fombrauge 92-94+
Lagrange 90-92
Gracia 94-97
La Gomerie 93-95
Les Gravières 91-93
Le Gay 95-98
Franc Maillet Jean Baptiste 90-93
Fleur Morange 92-94
Fieuzal 90-93
Fleur de Gay 93-95+
La Dauphine 88-90
La Croix Figac 89-91
La Clotte 91-93
La Conseillante 92-94+
Clos Badon 89-91
Cheval Blanc 95-97
Haut Carles de Château de Carles 90-91+

Parker and Bordeaux 2008

The stress is at its maximum.

Parker’s notes are announced (for us) for today early.
100 wines still haven’t yet been released including a few which will be the stars of this vintage. I think that Pomerol and the Right Bank will get good notes, like most tasters have already reported and written.

Parker is still important for the world market. Will he give the right boost to business?
Will French mass merchant finally buy?
We will know in the next days… (if at least the prices stay reasonable!)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Controversial subjects

If you have time, interest in these subjects and can read French, you will find 2 threads started by Jean Michel Comme (Pontet Canet) on the forum La Passion du Vin, with the heading: “de la terre au verre” (from earth to glass) :

The 1st : what is a terroir wine ?
The 2nd, up to what amount of alcohol a wine still remains a wine?

There’s plenty to read and reflect on. Why not give your opinion even though everything has been said. Still, the benefit, compared to a magazine, is being live, fast, incorrect, even sometimes aggressive, but it’s true that these subjects can easily be controversial.
You can also find a compilation of notes in the column “on primeur”. Written by Bertand Le Guern (the futures grid), this big work of compiling and analysis statistics to see if, for example, the notes given by some journalist as somewhat “bizarre”, or if a merchant has given a note to increase his sales or for friendship, or if Rolland’s wines are better rated by Parker than the wines from another “star”, etc…

There could be a consensus regarding great brands and 1st growths, but rarely on a new brand, even though for this year, you can find on top of the grid wines like Le Gay, Clinet and many Pomerols!

This confirms that 2008 is the year of Pomerol, with high notes, reflecting the quality of the vintage, even if very mixed.
But this is another story… Jean Michel Comme could write about it: what is a great year?

We drank an Argentinean wine: Val de Flores 2004, near Mendoza, owned by Rolland, 100% Malbec with vines more than 50 years old, balanced, not as extreme as Yacochuva. This makes me want to plant some Malbec in Maury.
Why not, when you get so much pleasure paired with a beef sirloin grilled in the fireplace on oak, with Peter Sisseck (Pingus) and my parents in-law.
Peter is often in Bordeaux working on the future Arsac 2009. It gives us the opportunity to see him more often.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wines we recently drank

Yacochuya 2004, well known Argentinean wine produced by Michel Rolland from old vines of Malbec grown at an altitude of more than 2000 m (6500 ft). This wine has incredible power: ripe grapes, even over-ripe, and this is rare, despite Bordeaux fantasy with over-ripeness. I never drank a bottle of Bordeaux made from over-ripe grapes! This bottle drank with Joëlle put us in a good mood. True that this wine is quite rich!

Château Balestard 1997 drank with the in-laws was totally worth being tasted and compared with 1st growths or similar Bordeaux. It could even easily overshadow them as it had no vegetal flavor: ripe fruit, still vibrant with its dark robe and the true taste of great Merlot grown on clayey-limestone soil. It reminded me the time when curious consumers would pay more for a good Bordeaux than a bad cru from the 1855 classification.

For Catherine Péré-Vergé’s 70th birthday (I thought she was 60), we drank : La Violette 2007, remarkable, following Angélus 2000 (magnificent) loved by every guests at the table, despite its young age, and preferred to the famous Château Lafite Rothschild 1995 (which should have been served before ?) . Yquem 1988 was a “pre” desert, drank alone. It did convinced us of the importance to drink a Sauterne with such a fine dinner where it is never too much to pour a great sweet Bordeaux. We ended with an Armagnac from Laberdolive. Luckily, we spent the night there.

Are we seeing the end of the financial crisis ?
While Europe is in full recession, the road between Bayonne and Bordeaux was loaded with trucks from Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic, France, etc…
Monday, the road was saturated by this tide of big trucks. When will they be transported by train?

Already 100 wine futures were released, less than 30 which have sold well. We have now put together a list of 50 crus, including 50 sold by us. We certainly really miss a bit less than 20 references (some 1st growths, of course, and a few seconds – like Carruades, and Angelus, Léoville Barton, Pichon Lalande, Lynch Bages, Carbonnieux blanc, Arums de Lagrange etc..)

Bad Boy 2006 : at least, we sold a bottle, thanks to Zapata. I am waiting for the response from my colleagues in Saint Emilion, to the point of wanting to taste this wine next Sunday…

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chateau La Dominique 2008

In the last issue of Revue du Vin de France and in the article concerning the Primeurs 2008, was listed in the “great successes” category:

Château La Dominique

Deep robe and fresh aromas of black fruits reminding us of blackcurrant, blueberries and juicy cherries. This cru keeps on improving and is becoming one of the references of the appellation; thanks to its beautiful and elegant structure, silky matter and great depth in the palate. Under the supervision of Jean-Luc Thunevin, it is gaining in depth and purity and could become one of the greatest successes of this chateau for the past 20 years. Great quality/price ratio.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Valandraud 2008

In the meantime, Valandraud and all our portfolio are finding exclusive and direct distributors. It is serious work done calmly, taking our time to chose and be chosen by our distributors, with no pressure and this seems to work even in this (difficult) year. It is a good omen for the future.
We now have exclusive distributors in the following countries and regions:
The Czech Republic
South Korea
Pending : the rest of the world.

Notes TAST – Bettane et Desseauve :
Château La Dominique 17/20
Château Fleur Cardinale 17/20
Château Bel Air Ouÿ 14/20
Clos Badon-Thunevin 15.5 /20
Château Valandraud 17.5 /20
Virginie de Valandraud 16.5 /20
Domaine Fayat-Thunevin Pomerol 15/20
Clos du Beau Père 14.5/ 20
Château La Commanderie de Mazeyres 14.5/ 20

Oh dear, oh dear... Caramba !

I read on the forum of La Passion du Vin : “…Bad Boy de Thunevin is for me the archetype of a vulgar Bordeaux…”. Who is this bad boy claiming to be the master of elegance? What will, or is, he doing, with his life?

On the same forum, a young amateur (“duckling”) speaks well of Bad Boy 2006 (he has a good palate) and gets a slap on the wrist for his comment, and also for speaking well of Gloria 1999 which he put in the same category as “fine wines”.
Of course, words like “fine wine” are only reserved to an elite and this new wine amateur cannot write such comments before acquiring more experience.
Culture is only reserved to cultured people, like passing a judgment is only reserved to judges and the ability to taste the terroir only those worthy to use this term.

Gloria, owned by a friend, doesn’t need me to defend the property, but Bad Boy 2006 does.
This Bordeaux is produced by one of my employees, Guillaume Queron, from properties I have as tenant farming, blended from 3 different terroirs including 2 great ones located on the Right Bank. But it is true that I don’t know anything: one in Génissac, the other in Fronsac (old vines planted on clayey limestone soil), and a bit from Pomerol.
Perhaps this wine is not meant to please everyone, however, it is not a reason to bash this young client-amateur who will certainly become more demanding and critical with experience by buying quality wine from good winemakers who respect their vineyards and are able to give an identity to their product!

I am quite afraid of these harsh judgments concerning wine, wine-lovers and producers. Fortunately, these comments were soften by “at least, in my opinion”, otherwise, how could I carry on? me, who is such a bad producer? Winemaker? Wine merchant? Alchemist ? Phony ?... who pollutes the palate of young uneducated amateurs and provoked such angry response (and who writes plenty of comments and not just stupid ones)!

It is true that I sign this Bad Boy 2006, with my name, and have no intend to make an unquestionable wine. Still, I try to do the best I can for a consumer price around 15 Euros (including VAT), with a certain amount of volume (2005 : 40 000 bottles, 2006 : 60 000 bottles, 2007 and 2008 still aging : 100 000 bottles).
It is true that many people like it for it is selling well, in wine-stores, mail order catalogues and even in supermarkets.
It is true that it also sells well in France, in the US, Japan, etc…
It is true that this wine gets good comments and ratings from well-known critics like Thierry Desseauve, the Wine Spectator (91/100) or the Wine Advocate (88/100).
It is true that this wine is 100% Merlot, ripe, black, concentrated, aged in new French barrels, with yields to low to be elegant for cultivated palates able to appreciate only one style of wine. As if drinking Cheval Blanc doesn’t allow you to drink Valandraud or liking Angélus doesn’t allow you to like La Conseillante.

The flaw of internet is to simplify, shorten opinions, but it shouldn’t prevent accepting opposite opinions. Bordeaux, which was always considered to be difficult to integrate, was able to accept many immigrants: from Spain, England, even from Corrèze, Ariège or even Pieds-noir from North Africa, like me.

So, why reduce wine to one taste, or only one elite?
Viva la libertad!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Still waiting

The 2008 futures campaign still carries on slowly and we are still waiting for… Parker’s notes. They are scheduled for April 28/29 ( ?)
In the meantime, the vines are growing quickly and the 2009 vintage will be in the barrels in 6 months!
The 2007 are in deficit and a few 2008 will be considered in the future as good deals. For instance, La Conseillante was released today and seems to me that it will be the top brand from the Right Bank, and especially Pomerol, sold at an attractive price. It will perhaps be one of the wines we don’t get enough allocations (in addition with the 1st growths), like for Léoville Barton, Pichon Lalande and Lynch Bages.

More notes

Today Jean Marc Quarin published his notes on Margaux and Pessac Léognan :
Château Bellevue de Tayac, Margaux 2008 15

2008 recap from Decanter
Château Clément Pichon, Haut Médoc 15.5 ***
Château Bellevue de Tayac, Margaux 16 ***
Château Fleur Cardinale, Saint Emilion Grand Cru 17 ****
Château La Dominique, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé 16.5 ****
Château La Commanderie de Mazeyres, Pomerol 15 ***
Clos du Beau Père, Pomerol 16 ***
Domaine Fayat-Thunevin, Pomerol 15 ***
Domaine Fayat-Thunevin, Lalande de Pomerol 16 ***
Haut – Carles, Fronsac 16.5 ****
Château Valandraud, Saint Emilion Grand Cru 17.5 ****
Virginie de Valandraud, Saint Emilion Grand Cru 17 ****

Also just published, Izak Litwar's notes :
Bad Boy 88
Château Bellevue de Tayac 87
Clos Badon 89-90
Domaine Fayat – Thunevin, Lalande de Pomerol 87
Domaine Fayat – Thunevin, Pomerol 87
Domaine des Sabines 88
Château La Dominique 88-89
Château Fleur Cardinale 90-91
Château Valandraud 94-95
Virginie de Valandraud 90

Monday, April 20, 2009


Decanter published its notes :
Valandraud 2008 17.5 / ****
Virginie de Valandraud 2008 17 / ****

More notes

Jean Marc Quarin :
Haut Carles 15
Domaine des Sabines 15
Château Haut Mazeris 14.5

Reception at Château Pape Clément, Friday at noon, hosted by Mr Bernard Magrez to present all his wines sold to Bordeaux wholesalers and brokers.
The ones I found very good are: Clémentin, Pape Clément and Magrez-Fombrauge 2008 which will certainly be part of the successes of this vintage.

In the evening, I attended a charity auction at Château Beauséjour Bécot for « Nid de Meknès », an orphanage in Morocco which has, in Saint Emilion very pro-active patrons. Even in these times of financial crisis, the auction raised around 40,000 Euros, which will entirely be given to the orphanage. This nice result was reached in a warm and friendly atmosphere. I would have loved to see Morocco’s consul in Bordeaux, but maybe it will be for another time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Thursday, I started to write a “note” concerning allocations of 1st growths from the Left Bank which my company still hasn’t been able to get. The fact that I am getting requests for some prompted me to write this note.
Yet, after talking to one of my employees, I shouldn’t complain for if I don’t get offers from 1st growths, I receive plenty of offers from other crus – hard to sell, even less or not requested these days.
I have to do the work!

It’s already been 20 years since I started my wholesale business and my company is probably one of the rare ones listed F3 by the Banque de France (3 being one of the highest ranking, just behind 3+ and 3++ in 12 categories existing: 4, 5, etc.).
And still, I don’t get any allocations from 1st growths from the Lest Bank (except for 36 bottles of Mouton in 2008!)… Perhaps my attitude as a Bordeaux wholesaler is not appropriate, maybe Valandraud had been a “thorn in their side”?

This doesn’t prevent me to do like my English, American and Japanese colleagues, buy and sell these crus on the open market, from Bordeaux to the rest of the world.
In addition, my company is busy enough with our own production to sell, including Valandraud and our wines from the Roussillon, Margaux and Pomerol. Then again, I still have the priviledge with the Right Bank , in addition to Pingus!

And Neal Marting published his notes :
Valandraud 91/93
Fleur Cardinale 89/91
Virginie de Valandraud 87/89

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Today, Jancis Robinson published her notes for the Left Bank :
Marojallia 17
Clos Margalaine 16.5

Corbin 2008

The same usual “mistakes” take place during this current En Primeur campaign as before: either the price is too low, or the volumes proposed reduced and even more… All the anguishes felt by my friends wholesalers, brokers and clients concerning prices forget that the market tastes better than the “margin” and that a chateau sells its production, but also its image, its relationships, the respect of its customers and even more during this time of crisis. Tough to stay serene!

Fortunately, some owners are pleasant, for instance last Wednesday mid day, Annabelle Cruse-Bardinet and her husband were hosting a group of Bordeaux brokers and wholesalers, customers and friends of their beautiful château Corbin, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé, located in the district of Pomerol and close to Cheval Blanc.

The wines are “classic”, the gravel terroir makes it difficult to make “blockbusters”, but instead, elegant and balanced wines, with bright fruits, appreciated by their faithful clientele. Prices are attractive and the young female owner – manager – enologist has been involved for a long time in producing this cru with her family and does good work.
We are far from the power games and this is the reason why so many wholesalers and important brokers were present, obviously happy to be there!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jancis Robinson

Ladies Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding, along with 2 Masters of Wine Jeannie Cho Lee and Fiona Morrison gave me my first 17?/20.
Jancis preferred Virginie (noted 16+) and Fiona pointed out that we have never done better with Valandraud (as we also thought) (better than 2005- 1995 – 1998).

Tough to get a higher note as opposed to the Grand Jury Europeen where notes are given collectively.
In any case, she put a correct note and a question mark.
As for my other wines :
Bel Air Ouÿ 15.5
Clos Badon Thunevin 16
La Dominique 17 (well deserved)
Fleur Cardinale 17 (goes to show how good her palate is)
Le Clos du Beau Père 16
La Commanderie de Mazeyres 16
Fayat-Thunevin à Pomerol 15.5

The start ?

The release of a 1st growth finally took place Tuesday morning, and my office has already been getting request in the afternoon for Château Latour, which I don’t get 1st hand allocations. I would have easily sold 100 cases (which I don’t have)…
Is it the right price, the quality, the right time, the right brand or the right comment by Robert Parker on Mark Squire’s Bulletin Board?
Is it the start of the campaign today, or only the release of 2 good brands: Haut Marbuzet and Léoville Barton ?
The 2008 en primeur show is starting and could last until Vinexpo which will be held in Bordeaux from June 21 till 25. Our stand will be X 324 (Hall 3) to showcase our wines and those I handle either as a consultant or manager.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

First notes and releases

Jean Philippe Fort from Rolland’s enologist lab, Rémi Dalmasso, the cellar master for my wines in Saint Emilion, and myself went through the final blending of 2007 batches before bottling in the Spring. Rémi’s property, Clos Dalmasso in Saint Emilion, received its first and good comment from Jean Marc Quarin.

It is encouraging considering it is the first note rewarding all the work done. It is a big responsibility to launch a new cru, when starting with almost nothing, planting new vines or buying tired ones, old due to the lack of care.
Lots of work, and here are the first results:

CLOS DALMASSO Saint-Emilion 15
This is the second vintage of Mr. Dalmasso, who happens to be the oenologist at Mr. Thunevin's operations. Made from young vines of 100% merlot, the production of this wine is a mere 600 bottles.
Showing a dark color with a truffled nose and a fine woody character, this wine appears softly pulpy from entry to the mid-palate. It then develops aromatic, melting and precise in its tannic texture, finishing quite persistent. This is good and difficult not to swallow.
(Jean Marc Quarin)

Many employees in Saint Emilion have their own vineyards, encouraged by the desire to produce, to undertake for themselves the production of their own cru. What a nice challenge!
In my company, 6 employees have taken the step and now own a vineyard.

FYI: Latour 2008 was released this morning.

Friday, April 10, 2009

When China will drink our Bordeaux

La Dauphine and Chinese cuisine.
Thursday evening, the owners of Château La Dauphine, in Fronsac, invited a few friends and distributors for a dinner prepared by the owners of Bordeaux Chinese restaurant: “Au plaisir du palais” (the pleasure of the palate), to see how Chinese cuisine from Sichuan (with its famous pepper) and the magnificent wines from this property would work together.
Without a doubt, it was a treat.
I already knew that the menu was up to the level of this challenge, as every time I go to Asia to promote my wines, I always enjoy the delicious meals. In any case, the message was received loud and clear for La Dauphine.

At the end, very – very late, we drank a Château Doisy Daëne 2005. It would have convinced even the toughest anti-sweet wine; it was so different, so light, so pure, so seductive and was a great delight, even at the end of a meal. It’s the least you can expect from a fine wine.
The same day, I received the 1st Bordeaux wine guide in Chinese, published by Class Media (Claude Lada). It fills the void and will give, once available in China, some good recommendations to Chinese professionals.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Answer to Antoine

My reaction to Antoine’s comment on my previous thread :


First of all, it is the first time I comment on your blog. Bravo for your courage and stating where you stand – even though, I don’t always agree, I appreciate your frankness and openness. Regarding the terms of sale of the current campaign, would you say that if prices offered by our clients for a Classified Growth vary drastically between
wine merchants, then the “appropriate conditions” are not met to “attract customers”???

Antoine, I am not so frank and open… and I certainly don’t have the innate knowledge of everything taking place in Bordeaux microcosm, or the world.
In any case, a fast campaign was announced and it is starting on the wrong foot!

The release of Angelus 2008 which is, for me, one of the 15 best wines in Bordeaux, didn’t start any buzz. Is the small world of wine merchants still under the surprise created by the quality of many 2008 in Bordeaux?
Is it due to available stocks of 2006/2007, the lack of money, waiting for the 1st growths to be released? They usually set the tone as far as prices are concerned – acceptable or not to our clients?!
Is it the way prices are proposed in Bordeaux? It is the same price whether you buy 1 case or 100.
Is it the recommended price for various distribution segments?
So many questions, so few answers. As usual, offer and demand, as well as trust will be judged at the end of the campaign.
For the rest… please consult Irma.

A word to the wise is enough!

A big brokerage firm from Bordeaux marketplace wrote the following comments on the offers of 2008 futures: If your choice is made to be released as futures, it will be important (for the chateau) to provide appropriate condition to attract customers. The current environment doesn’t give any margin of error.

Personal comment :
Saying it is good, but writing it is better !
I am telling you, we are going towards a “new order”!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Waiting for the notes

For a few days, the house becomes a guest house – nothing Spanish – for Murielle prepared 99 % of the meals and my cellar supplied the wines – except those 2 bottles we drank at the house during the en primeur campaign. I said drank, for they were not intended to be tasted, but drank:
Screaming Eagle 2002, ripe Cabernet Sauvignon. I have rarely the opportunity to drink some in Bordeaux.
Le Pin 2000, the nose had a rare power. Merlot, there’s nothing like it !

For the rest, below the list (thanks Catherine). Some great bottles only waiting for the right opportunity to be drank:

SUNDAY EVENING « amongst us »


MONDAY EVENING with clients

CHAT LASCOMBE 06 great, great bottle
PAPE CLEMENT 06 still needs time, powerful !

TUESDAY EVENING with clients

HAUT CARLES 05 a true challenger
VALANDRAUD 98 (1 corked, the other very good)


ROMANEE CONTI 1974 a nice moment with this mythical wine


CLOS BADON 2000 (corked… Serge, do you read me ?)
LAFITE 1928 RECONDITIONNED IN 1990, still full of life
PETRUS 1978 very good bottle
YQUEM 2002

FRIDAY EVENING with clients

MEURSAULT "TESSONS" 2006 BUISSON CHARLES (Could have been a success after Corton !)
PICHON 1982 delicious, a fine wine

Miracle !

In Rue de la République (formerly known as Rue de l’Abbé Bergey), next to our town hall, there is a public (or council) housing project, which also faces Rue Guadet.
This housing project, in itself, is already a bit surprising that every time I pass in front of it with clients, visitors, journalists… I point out to the beautiful stone building with gothic windows and say: “look, this is our housing project!”
However, a detail I noticed bothered me every time I passed in front: a rusted statue of Virgin Marie standing on the roof, abandoned. She must have been beautiful, with colors, maybe with fine gold. Hard to believe considering that Saint Emilion owes a lot to our religion. Think about all the properties like Angelus, Le Prieuré (Priory), Couvent (Convent), Grace Dieu (Grace God) and all the saints, actually, the same as in other wine producing regions. Wine has been closely associated to our Christian culture.
In any case, this statue is being repainted by the housing project; it would be great if Sud Ouest wrote a piece on it.

As for me, I think I will have a glass of Champagne to celebrate with my neighbor, the owner of Couvent des Jacobins. For a long time, she looked at this rusted Virgin Marie and suggested that something must be done. She is now happy to see that she is being rehabilitated (without a petition, nor grants).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


The notes from David Schildknecht’s last trip in the Roussillon should be published in the next issue of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, available at the end of April.
The vintage being rated is 2005 Roussillon with sweet prices, except for 3 or 4 famous crus from that region. It is one of the rare places in the world able to produce incredible wines at such attractive prices to a point where a good number of foreigners are buying land around Maury, and particularly 2 Americans who will create a buzz about the area. Their presence is already giving hope and a positive sign for the morale of young and not so young locals.

I believe Parker and Schildknecht will note the Roussillon on its own, like the Guide de la Revue du Vin de France did some time ago, without tying it to the Languedoc. There is so much to say about this beautiful Roussillon! Who would have in their minds to link Cahors with Bordeaux!!


Château Lynch Bages has the pleasure to announce the (re)birth of Echo de Lynch Bages. This second wine was previously called Château Haut Bages Averous. “Echo” clearly says more.

Before lunch, we did a Cabernet Franc tasting with the journalist and critic for the American magazine the Wine Enthusiast, Mr. Roger Voss. We tasted separate batches of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from the valley (gravel and sandy soil) and the plateau (clay). It was obvious that ripe fruit from the great terroirs of the plateau really stand out and came out as the winners.
For the meal, we ate asparagus omelet, roast pork with lentils and soup of strawberries and raspberries. We drank Fleur Cardinale 2004 (20 % Cabernet Franc, 10 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 70% Merlot), just decanted and already delicious. We followed with L’Eglise Clinet 1996 made with a large amount of Cabernet Franc. It showed what the Right Bank can best offer even for this difficult vintage, and Valandraud 1998 (50% Cabernet Franc et 50% Merlot) which was, as Jean-Marc Quarin said “a great bottle” (with a beautiful cork).


I compiled a few "notes" for 2008 released so far :

Jean Marc Quarin :
Fleur Cardinale 16.25
La Dominique 15

Fleur Cardinale 17 (****)
La Dominique 16.5 (****)
Clos du Beau Père 16 (***)
Domaine Fayat-Thunevin Pomerol 15 (***)
Commande de Mazeyres 15 (***)
Domaine Fayat-Thunevin Lalande de Pomerol 15.5 (***)
Haut Carles 16.5 (****)

Wine Spectator
Valandraud 89-92
Virginie de Valandraud 87-90
La Dominique 88-91
Bad Boy 87-90
Fleur Cardinale 88-91
Clos Margalaine 87-90
Marojallia 86-89
Clos Badon Thunevin 83-86 (hard to understand)

Monday, April 6, 2009


Now that that things are a bit more calm, I can think about this last week which was particularely quite intense for me this year.

I would first like to thank the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc who presented their wines at Château Clément Pichon and had a friendly organization. Atmosphere is part of the little things that makes a difference with the other options. The attendance, the number of journalists present, as well as national TV stations and newspapers who covered the event during these 2 days gave a bit of good visibility this year to all the Crus Bourgeois and, of course, to Château Clément Pichon.

The work done by Frédérique de Lamothe and her team was of the quality of the event. Thank you.

As for Château La Dominique: the presentation of this wine in the Chateau, with the UGC in Château Figeac and at the Association des Grands Crus Classés at La Tour Figeac. The most important being, of course, is that it belongs to the UGC who organized this week of primeur. Being the neighbour of Château La Conseillante in Pomerol, also members of UGC, only made the Cercle Rive Droite event, taking plance at Grand Barrail, even more interesting. Being close to eachother made it easier for our clients to visit.

The news pieces on tv, including the France 2 piece broadcasted at 1 pm and taped at L’Essentiel with Carlos, helped and the first notes are starting to come out on the internet and wesites of media:

Wine Enthusiast (USA) :

Valandraud 93-95 (very well placed considering that the 8 first received better notes)

La Dominique 88-90

On Mark Squire´s Bulletin Board (on Robert Parker´s site)

Izak Litwar wrote a some nice commetns of my wines

Gil Lempert-Schwartz writes about Virginie de Valandraud as a good value and gives Valandraud 94-95 (which is a high note for him)

Jean Marc Quarin

Valandraud 16.75-17


Commanderie de Mazeyres ***

Friday, April 3, 2009

It’s finally over

The crazy week presenting Bordeaux 2008 futures is finally over, phew. I gained 2 kilos (almost 9 lbs) and I am exhausted, but I feel that this event went very well. We mainly saw real customers instead speculators. The current period and the direction Bordeaux history is taking, some would say “the direction of the wind”, are changing Bordeaux, hard to believe; it is even becoming sensible! Why not!
Are dreams created by years of history, quality and adapted prices contradictory?
I have already spent a lot of time giving my opinion, which I could simplify as:
Bordeaux is a market place, producers and negociants are merchants, to begin with. They must listen to their customers. We already have been through many crisis and each time, Bordeaux comes out stronger! so what if mistakes were committed with the pricing of 06 and 07?
Why lament over the past? Did no one make money? Or got any pleasure?
Is there still a lot of inventory of 1998, 2000 and 2003?
Futures campaigns are not win-win events, or we would win every time.
No. Are professional whiners needed to feel bad about some poor speculators? The wine was sold as futures hoping to create some profit. It hasn’t always been the case.
The 2008 vintage will probably be released soon and will offer great deals, I believe it. Will the Bordeaux market place follow the same trend?
We will have the answer soon.

I had many conversation which will, with no doubt, be misinterpreted, concerning the return of power to merchants over journalists.
In fact, the wine market, long dominated by merchants, was, since the 90s, lead by the opinion of journalists, ratings, and particularly Parker, who was, himself surprised by the power they developed. His notes, in particular, had the to power to influence the price set by merchants and property owners who, in turn, only bought what they could afford. This, against his wish, as he always positioned himself as a consumer advocate.
Ratings will return to their initial intent: give an idea, an indication on successes and failures.
Property owners and winemakers who will only base their prices on this criteria will suffer, especially if merchants don’t agree with the price.
Like for Michelin, some top chefs have refused their stars (I don’t understand why): as stars are considered like a reward for work done and not an obligation to put gold taps in the restrooms or increase prices to scare customers away.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Various thoughts

Yesterday, the national TV channel France 2 taped a piece at L’Essentiel. The theme was about the price of Bordeaux fine wines going down due to the financial crisis. It will be broadcasted this week but I don’t have the date and time.

The newspaper Sud Ouest is giving great support to our region by providing good coverage on the current campaign: including a great article published on Alliance des Crus Bourgeois which is showcasing their members’ wines at Château Clément Pichon.

Did you say bizarre?
The police department is going around on mopeds positioning itself outside tasting events controlling alcohol levels during this period of campaign… It is true that there is no crisis in the wine industry!!!!

The reason not to drink a wine blind:
Every evening during this week, we open and drink a good number of bottles, some with historical ones. Yesterday evening, it was a Romanée Conti 1974 given to Murielle by Roger at the beginning of 1990 following a promise he made.
This wine, drank blind, would have lost its magic. Despite the difficulties of this vintage (1974!), pale pink color and translucence texture, we really enjoyed it. Un true moment of pleasure with this wine which reminded me Ausone 1849. Goes to show the power of a dream a mystical wine carries. We followed with Cheval Blanc 1999 youthful and with incredible density. The diversity increased our enjoyment. A good lesson on “wine”.

Another good reason to enjoy this job!
The pretty lady who was our guest at our house talked about wine with class, drank with pleasure and can even sell Maury… in Alsace!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Primeurs 2008

I don’t have much time to comment the week, but things are actually going better than the doomsters’ predicted! The atmosphere is from good to very good, the weather beautiful and we’re having good surprises with the quality of some of our wines. Prices are still predicted to be lower.
As far as we’re concerned, we’re getting some good press coverage: Château Clément Pichon is hosting the wines from Alliance des Crus Bourgeois with very good attendance (more than 500 people) and several journalists, including a nice headline in the newspaper Sud Ouest and even a 45 second piece on primetime news on national TV (TF1).
At La Dominique, besides the wines which are showing well, we’re having great lunches.

As for business, it is the first time that we are getting firm orders so early for product sold exclusively en primeur.