Monday, February 26, 2007

Fancy tasting!!!

On February 13, I had a meal with Caro, Leo and their friend who is a great wine collector and amateur in a famous restaurant called Chez Inno. Great French cuisine has been prepared in this place for quite a long time. Chic environment (Art Deco), friendly service, cuisine level of a 2 stars Michelin.
Our host had us taste blindly 2 American wines and 2 French. Almost everyone guest correctly (as for me, I mixed-up between Harlan 1991 and Valandraud 1995 – I will point out that I am consistent as I rarely recognize my wine) and everyone guest the origin of Le Pin 1993 and Siné Qua Non 2002.
These 4 great wines are rarely opened during the same meal, the difference between the vintages was in my opinion barely noticeable except for Le Pin 1993. Siné Qua Non 2002 was my favorite, me who likes young wines. The group chose Valandraud 1995 as number 1 (even chosen last would have not been a fault). The bottle of Calvet-Thunevin Hugo 2002 offered by our host to the cooks didn’t last long, the visit of the cellar of this great restaurant full of great wines which were sold at tables: Champagne, Burgundies and even the very rare Clos Léo served for 2 beautiful women at the table next to ours confirmed one more time that sommeliers are our best friends, capable of promoting a “favorite choice” wine without being a “historical” cru or with high ratings!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Viva Présidial !

Jacques Dupont recently tasted generic Bordeaux for the magazine Le Point, and wrote an article titled «Generic Bordeaux : finally pleasure !»…..
… And our 2005 Présidial, was one of the front runners:

15.5 - PRESIDIAL 2005 (Jean Luc Thunevin)
Explosive fruits, raspberry, blackberry, hints of roses, full palate, soft, smooth tannins, with live and fresh finish, little touch of astringency.
Today, in the latest issue of the Revue du Vin de France (March 2007), Présidial won the second place:
16/20 THUNEVIN Bordeaux rouge Présidial 2005
Jean-Luc Thunevin (Château Valandraud) created his generic brand in 2000. The total production is still limited (46000 bottles), but it is a great success in terms of vinification and choice of batches. Undeniably, this vintage is a success for Présidial. Overall it is rich and full, with plenty of fruit. We were seduced by this wine and its attractive price.

Not bad, isn’t it?

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Yesterday for lunch with Athanase Fakorellis, we drank a bottle of Pavie Macquin 1999 followed by Barde Haut 2000 which we greatly enjoyed. Murielle mentioned Pomerol…. Thanos helped himself for more,
and me too;-)
It is strange that this property was not classified…Well, it will be for the next time !

Tomorrow, I leave for London with Catherine and Laurent to promote Château La Dominique and Château Clément Pichon on Saturday at the Landmark Hotel during an event organized by Decanter : « Decanter Great French Wines Encounter ».

Other trip coming up in the USA (February 28 until March 5), with Xavier, Laurent and Christian. On the agenda, 2 days in Florida with our local distributor, then a quick trip to New York for a tasting event at Sherry Lehmann and to finish, a day in Chicago.
On his end, Xavier will be joined by Laurent and they will carry on together visiting our Canadian contacts.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Japan, the sequel and the end

On the 9, Osaka-Tokyo by plane, flying within Japan is incredibly easy and relaxed. Even though the security measures are also thoroughly applied, it is done quickly.

We stayed 2 nights at the Conrad Hotel followed by a 10 days seminar in the Château Mercian, which started with a tasting of a few wines, a surprising Kôshu 2006 which benefited, I think, from the advise of Mr Denis Dubourdieu, and a few reds, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, including one interesting 2005 (I was told that Mr. Paul Pontalier was consultant). The theme of my little speech for Japanese winemakers was “no limits”.
On February 11-12-13 and 14, we visited a sake factory (Kobori) with friends of Léo and Caro,

We stayed in a beautiful environment with traditional baths and had astonishing meals. We met with our Japanese former interns who helped us vinify Marojallia 1999: Yukie Wako who now works for a good distributor, Stefano Kikuchi who works for Xex in Osaka and especially Yoshimuri Watanabe who owns a vineyard and produces a very good Japanese wine: Nasu Wine (rare and very expensive).

A lot of field work with Léo and caro, their distributors, a few memorable meals with their friend and the return trip to Bordeaux on KLM via Amstedam.
I still feel the effect of jetlag and already I will be leaving on Friday for London with Catherine and Laurent for a presentation of the vins Fayat during an event organized by Decanter at the Landmark Hotel.
Yesterday morning, general assembly of my company with Annie and our accountant, our auditor, our attorney Joëlle Bordy and our notaire (solicitor).
In the afternoon, tasting of the 2006 Fleur Cardinale and la Dominique. For dinner, we drank a bottle of Tertre Roteboeuf 1999 and ate a fresh truffle from Saint Alvère brought by our friend Michel Puzio from Château Croix de Labrie, a perfectly ripe truffle at the end of this season.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Still current!

I borrowed a very pertinent article from Michel Bettane, published in 2005 on his blog – « Carnet de Route » :

Filed under: Carnet de route: Michel Bettane — bettane @ 4:08 pm
I got back from Japan just as the debate over European integration reached an unsuspected level of mediocrity. I have the feeling that the world of this new century will be made far away from us and without us. We are left with the comfort, less enviable that it seems, to imagine that if we no longer are part of building history at least we will survive as keepers of our own museum. And for lack of truly significant intellectuals or artists, we will fill our museums with first growths. For in this area, we are still being admired and our product is surrounded with the kind of care hard to imaging in our country. Thus, in all the luxury or traditional restaurants I ate in Tokyo, our wines were served with the same attention and perfection which characterizes the cuisine prepared in front of our eyes. The glasses were unbelievably clean and well proportioned, without any taste of chlorine, limestone or rag that even our three star restaurants cannot avoid occasionally, and were filled with such an sense of relationship between container and content which would be beyond the IQ of many young sommeliers. The nose reaches then a level of precision that I probably forgot, especially as the serving temperature is beyond reproach.

Fresh and net
I take the opportunity of this occasion to recall a few rules. For the whites, the greater the wine, the closer it must be to the temperature of a fresh cellar: 14° to 15° Celsius (57° to 59° Fahrenheit) after 10 minutes in the glass (in other words served at 12° C - 53° F) which will give a fuller expression of the vast nuances from the terroir, than the 10° C - 50° F (and often less) from our cold rooms! For the reds, the sense of purity and freshness will be reinforced if the difference with the room temperature is at least 4 to 5 degrees C. Therefore, it is not the temperature of the wine that counts but its relation to the temperature of the room. Japanese professionals instinctively understand this kind of refinement for their cuisine plays with the same virtuosity between cooked properly and the proper temperature of food.

Clear and precise
However, the greatest surprise came from the place of wine, of its economy as well as its culture, in the press, be it mainstream or specialized, maintained by rigorous and independent journalists miles away from the childish bias or deep ignorance found at home on the same subjects. For instance, on several occasions I was asked the right questions about my job as a wine taster, which is how can I reconcile the number of samples tasted with the precision of my judgment, or how did I define the criteria which allow me to judge work that I would be incapable of doing! It is certainly more pleasant than having to answer to the usual accusations I get in my own country, including from a few colleagues, regarding the arrogance, incompetence or corruption of the so-called gurus, especially when they are Americans! And what a comfort not having to fight to convince people that regarding the production of great wines, the terroir without the man is nothing else than dust and that we are born from dust and will return to dust! Back in Paris, I started again to read forums of amateurs where the feeling that great art is when a winemaker fades behind his terroir. At least I understand now what it means to have to force myself to laugh.
Michel Bettane

Monday, February 19, 2007

Japan, February 5 to 8

We spent a few nights in the Conrad Hotel in Tokyo, one of the newest boutique hotel, with superb and spacious rooms and busy restaurants where everything is perfect: luxury Japanese style, attentive and professional with, of course, talented sommeliers, wines served at the good temperature and in proper glasses, and all of that with a smile. I was happy that meals in Japan are served very early (7 pm) and end early (10 pm) to allow everyone to go home on the subway (which I think stops at midnight).
Taxis are everywhere, with incredible respect for customer (and often white gloves), which allows you not to worry about getting home. I must point out that over there “tolerance zero” is enforced for drivers, they are not allowed to drink a drop of alcohol.

As soon as we arrived on February 5, a reception was organized by our important Japanese client, Tokuoka (who translates my blog in Japanese), with around 20 journalists at the Okura Hotel. Tasting of Présidial 2005, Blanc de Valandraud N°2 2004, Bel Air Ouÿ 2003, Clos Badon 2003 and Valandraud 2003. Then, during the meal Blanc de Valandraud N°1 2004, Bel Air Ouÿ 2002, Clos Badon 2000 and Valandraud 2000.

Already a few articles were published: Yomiuri on the internet and I was able to get a copy of a very nice article in Créa.

February 6, great VIP meal at the Xex Atayo Green Hills

February 7, 2 wine seminars with sommeliers and distributors: 2 times 120 people at the Pastral Hotel and departure for Osaka and the Royal Hotel.
We had a meal at Chambord with one of our friends, all around truffles.
Amuse-Bouche « Truffe en Surprise »
Galette de Langouste et Noix de Saint Jacques Marinées
Oeuf poché continental
Risotto à la Truffe
Ragoût de truffes en cocotte
Blanc de Turbot Enroulé de pommes gaufrettes et de truffe
Granité de mimosa à la truffe
Canard Challandais en croute au foie gras et à la truffe
Fromage de France
Pré dessert
Fausse truffe de desserts
Café et mignardises
And an amazing tasting: Latour 1970, Ausone 1970, Blanc de Valandraud N°1 2004, Axelle de Valandraud 2000, Interdit de Valandraud, Clos Badon Thunevin 2000, Bellevue de Tayac 2004, Griffe de Cap d'Or 2000, Bernat 2000, Haut Mazeris Canon Fronsac 2003, Haut Mazeris Fronsac 2003, La Dauphine 2001, Clos del Rey 2004, Yacochuya 2000, Tour de Mirambeau 2004

On the 8, in the superb Ritz Carlton in Osaka: Wine seminar with 130 sommeliers and distributors, followed by a gala dinner in the French restaurant La Baie, where we also had a meal of great quality. During the meal a charming lady told us that she saw a piece on Japanese TV which mentioned Virginie de Valandraud as the wine you had to drink at least one time in your life. Vive le Japon!

Mind opening

I am back from a 15 days trip to Singapore and Japan, and this after 24 hours of taxi, waiting room, flight (14 hrs!).

During my trip to Japan, and with the team of a small chain of gourmet stores specialized in wine, I promoted a wine I don’t speak much about: Château Jacques Blanc L’Apogée 2000 and 2001. This wine was, for 2 vintages, my foray into the world of biodynamic and in Bordeaux, with our oceanic wet climate, it is a challenge.

To make my point clear, I said that these wines were 100% biodynamic.
In fact, this property was for a long time organic before becoming biodynamic and the people running it were quite serious about it. In addition, we were able to chose a neutral room for cellar which had never been used for wine, and put our full attention into cleanliness, purity of the grapes, 100% new barrels, vinification without adding sulphure dioxide (natural yeast, malo in barrels), no filtration, no fining… all of that allowed us to say with a bit provocation that it was 105%, for in our society of performance, we always need more! And as I was answering a question which implied that often organic and biodynamic wines were deceiving despite (or more because of) being made by “fundamentalist” winemakers, the manager assured me that he chose this wine not for the label Demeter but simply because he liked the wine. Bravo to distributors capable, still today, to function without needing a lower price or an established notoriety to buy and sell well our wines. This same distributor also carries: Valandraud, Virginie de Valandraud, 3 de Valandraud, Clos Léo 2004 and Caroline de Clos Léo 2004.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valandraud 1996, according to René Gabriel

In the last issue of Weinwisser (January), Valandraud 1996 is part of the best wines from this vintage with 18/20 ;-))

Friday, February 9, 2007

Entre Deux Mers

Roger Morris, from the magazine SAVEUR, was in Bordeaux to cover a story on the renewal of the Entre Deux Mers. Here is a copy of his article.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Haut Carles

Below, the results from a tasting which took place in Italy and which made Constance and Stéphane Droulers happy....

- MASSETO 2001 (Tenuta dell'Ornellaia): 97/100
- HAUT CARLES 2000: 97/100
- AMARONE DAL FORNO 2000 (Romano Dal Forno): 96,5/100
- SASSICAIA 2001 (Tenuta San Guido): 96/100
- BAROLO CASCINA FRANCIA 2001 (Giacomo Conterno); 96/100
- REDIGAFFI 2001 (Tua Rita): 94/100
- HAUT CARLES 2001: 94/100
- VIGNA L'APPARITA 2001 (Castello di Ama): 93/100
- BAROLO PERCRISTINA 2000 (Clerico): 91/100
- GALATRONA 2001 (Petrolo): 91/100
- SOLAIA 2001 (Antinori); 90,5/100
- SAN LEONARDO 2001 (Tenuta San Leonardo): 90/100

As a bonus, the comment from the organizer: "Your HAUT CARLES is E-X-T-R-A-O-R-D-I-N-A-R-Y!!!"

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

News from Denmark

Our Danish importer just let us know that the magazine Penge & Privatokonomi (a Danish business magazine) selected Domaine Calvet Thunevin “Les Dentelles” 2003 as one of the 10 most “prestigious” wines of today out of 24 wines tasted blind by a panel of consumers and experts (sommeliers, journalists).

Here is the list of the 10 most “prestigious”

1)Baileyana Grand Fire Peak Pinot Noir 2004
2)Cannubi Boschis Barolo 2001
3)Mar. di Villamarina 2000
4)Veenwouden Merlot 2000
5)Fess Parker Rodneys Vineyard Syrah 2002
6)Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Binomio 2002
7)Domaine de Charbonnière 2003
8)Domaine Calvet Thunevin Les Dentelles 2003
9)Via Manent 2003
10)St. Andrews Wakefield 2001

In addition from being tasted blind, each member of the panel had to give a price for each wine (price they are ready to pay) and a price of $70 was given to the Cuvée Les Dentelles. One of the member of the panel even quoted $110 per bottle!
Our importer is, of course quite pleased, so as we!

Monday, February 5, 2007

A nos amours !

Valentines day is upon us !
It is the opportunity for us to introduce you to the prestige cuvée of Château Lafont Fourcat: “A nos amours… », Bordeaux dry white 2005.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Présidial weaves its web...

After spending two weeks in the USA, Xavier is back in the office and took this nice photo of Présidial 2003 by the beach… Thanks to Bruno and Kathy Barnagaud, owners of this nice restaurant « Chez André » feet in the water on the beaches of Hollywood, not California but near Boca Raton in Florida!

3 de Valandraud 2003 and Chapelle Ségur 2003 are now available in Florida, thanks to our new importer.

Equally, we have now new perspectives with new distributors in Georgia, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio.

Moving right along setting up our distribution in the land of our American cousins.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

On my way to Asia

I am leaving later today for Singapore where I will attend the 80th birthday fund rasing celebration event of NK Hong with many of their friends (See list below).

1. Serena Sutcliffe Sotheby’s
2. David Peppercorn

1. Salomon Undhof, Krems. Berthold Salomon

1. Château Angelus Hubert & Corinne de Bouard
2. Château Cos D’Estournel Jean-Guillaume Prats
3. Château D’Issan Emmanuel Cruse
4. Château Figeac Eric d’Aramon
5. Château Figeac Thierry & Marie-France Manoncourt
6. Château Lagrange Marcel & Michele Ducasse
7. Château La Lagune Marina Mendez
8. Château Lynch Bages Jean-Charles Cazes
9. Château Ormes de Pez Jean-Charles Cazes
10. Château Palmer Bernard de Laage de Meux
Château Palmer Thomas Duroux
11. Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande May Eliane de Lencquesaing
12. Château Bernadotte May-Eliane de Lencquesaing
Gildas d’Ollone
13. Château Le Pin Jacques Thienpont & Fiona
14. Vieux Château Certan Jacques & Fiona Thienpont
15. Château Valandraud Jean-Luc & Murielle Thunevin
16. Château Leoville Barton Anthony & Eva Barton
17. Château Lascombes Dominique Befve

Contributing but unable to attend:
1. Château Smith Haut-Lafitte Daniel & Florence Cathiard
2. Château Haut Bailly Veronique Sanders
3. Château Doisy-Vedrines Pierre-Antoine Casteja
4. Château Rauzan Segla John Kolasa

1. Domaine Dujac Jacques & Rosalind Seysses
2. Domaine Bonneau du Martray Jean-Charles le Bault de la Moriniere
3. Maison Joseph Faiveley Erwan Faiveley
4. Maison Joseph Drouhin Gerard Uhlen
5. Domaine Michel Gros Michel Gros
Georgia Tsouti
6. Domaine Comte de Vogue Jean-Luc Pepin
7. Maison Louis Jadot Jacques Lardiere
8. Domaine Ponsot Laurent Ponsot

Contributing but unable to attend:
1. Domaine Leflaive Anne-Claude Leflaive
2. Domaine J F Mugnier Frederic Mugnier
3. Domaine des Comtes Lafon Dominique Lafon

1. Maison Hugel Etienne Hugel

Contributing but unable to attend:
1. F.E. Trimbach Hubert Trimbach

1. Laurent Perrier Ludovic Lageard
2. Jacquesson Michael MacKenzie
3. Champagne Deutz Fabrice Rosset
4. Delamotte Champagne Didier Depond

Contributing but unable to attend:
1. Champagne Pol Roger Christian Pol Roger

1. Paul Jaboulet Nicolas Jaboulet
2. Delas et Freres Fabrice Rosset

1. Chryseia Bruno and France Prats

1. Tenuta Fontodi Giovanni Manetti
2. Castello di Brolio Francesco Ricasoli
3. Tenuta Fonterutoli Francesco Mazzei
4. Tenuta Trinoro Andrea Franchetti
5. Tenuta Isole e Olena Paolo di Marchi
6. Castello di Ama Marco Pallenti & Lorenza Sebasti
7. Tenuta Argiano Stephane Schaeffer
8. Pio Cesare Pio Boffa
9. Campo di Sasso Marchese Lodovico Antinori
10. Marchese Antinori Alessia Antinori
11. Stanza Peter & Susan Vinding-Diers
12. Due Normanni Marchese Giuseppe Paterno Castello
di San Giuliano
13. Azienda Agricola Luciano Sandrone Barbara Sandrone
14. Sassicaia Marchese Nicolo Incisa della
Rochetta Sebastiano Rosa
15. Tenuta Ornellaia Axel Heinz

Contributing but unable to attend:
1. Marchesi de Frescobaldi

1. Weingut Egon Muller-Scharzhof Egon Muller Jr.
2. Weingut J J Prum Katharina Prum
Amei Prum
3. Weingut Fritz Haag Wilhelm & Ilse Haag
4. Weingut Schlossgut Diel Armin & Monika Diel
5. Weingut Valckenburg Wilhelm Steifensand
6. Weingut Donnhoff Gaby & Helmut Donnhoff

1. Vega Sicilia Pablo Alvarez
2. Pingus Peter Sisseck
3. Alvaro Palacios Alvaro and Cristina Palacios
4. Clos Figueres Christopher & Charlotte Cannan
5. Clos Figueres Rod Hull
6. Torres S.A. Juan Maria Torres

1. Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River Denis Horgan

Contributing but unable to attend:
1. Torbreck David Powell

1. Bodega Noemia Patagonia Hans Vinding-Diers

This list shows you that I will also have the pleasure to drink some great wines.

Monday, we will leave Singapore for Japan, Tokyo, Osaka and other places and many events, tastings, interviews… back in Bordeaux on February 16.
Caroline et Léo Shinohara are already there and organized a busy schedule as I don’t like to do such long and expensive trips only to give me «good conscience». They should actually be done as promotional tours. Which will be the case.