Friday, November 30, 2007

Is it serious doctor?

François Mauss from the Grand Jury Européen, Mr. Hugues Touton, architect, Eric Fauchon from the BNP who is financing this large restoration work, my in-laws, Murielle and I, had a simple lunch in preparation for the holidays feasts that we will celebrate with a few couples in our new Château Valandraud, with its 5 guest rooms, dinning room, semi-professional kitchen, living room with view on the valley. It will be fully air-conditioned and the work will be completed by January 1st 2008.
Back to our simple lunch, Pata Negra, roast beef, mash potatoes, fruits.

I decided to serve Burgundies - go figure – some offered by a friend (thanks Patrick) and others from my wholesale stock.

The bottle of Domaine Humbert Frères, Gevrey-Chambertin 2005, 1er cru Estournelles Saint Jacques was a real delicacy with flavors of pure and fresh grapes and was swallowed with no comments except for glasses emptied in no time (probably due to thirst).
The second bottle of Gevrey Chambertin (Villages) 2005 from Domaine Rossignol-Trapet was a bit closed, not as easy, more on the power of the terroir than of the fruit, not as much a delicacy. It tasted more like a Bordeaux. One glass each for lunch. Murielle and I had the 2 last glasses for dinner, and appreciated it more. It showed the potential of this cru which I had the chance to visit with interest, as they are seriously committed to biodynamic.
The 3rd bottle, as opposed to the 2 others, was opened, decanted and served blind to test the knowledge of our guests, and particularly the president of the Grand Jury Européen.
Everyone agreed that it was a great wine, at the level of a 1st growth Bordeaux. François Mauss easily guessed the vintage (2001), but only Murielle said that it was a “great Burgundy” (she only likes great wines!). Everyone else, including François Mauss, said: Saint Emilion – Pomerol. Names like Petrus, Eglise Clinet, even Ausone were given, but this time, it was a Burgundy. François Mauss should have guessed it for it was from Mr. Denis Mortet, 1st cru Aux Beaux Bruns 2001, in the beautiful appellation of Chambolles-Musigny. Now I believe that I like Burgundy, not because François didn’t recognize it, but because, finally, in one meal, I liked 3 wines from Burgundy, and especially thanks to Denis Mortet’s wine I want to buy some more… Is it serious doctor?

Oh, I forgot to ad! While driving back home Monday evening (around 7pm), I ran into 2 pilgrims chilled to the bone and famished wandering through the streets of Saint Emilion: Jean-Pierre Xiradakis from La Tupina and one of his friends who just walked 70 kms in 2 days from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion via the Entre Deux Mers. The dinner Murielle prepared for the 2 of us was shared between the 4 of us. There too, we drank 2 bottles of Gevery Chambertin… I believe this getting contagious! (We had a delicious meal… Just ask Jean-Pierre what he thinks of Murielle’s French fries and roast chicken!)

I will be at the Carrousel du Louvre for the Grand Tasting with the Cercle des Grands Vins de la Rive Droite, Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm and will be presenting Château La Commanderie de Mazeyres (and see friends!).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sad day

Our mascot, our beautiful black rooster who was a mix between a Nègre-Soie and a Bantam de Pékin died.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Decanter, the magazine where all the opinions can openly be expressed!

Will Panos Kakaviatos be able to write the opposite point of view expressed by Steven Spurrier on April 19, 2007 ?

Yesterday, a tasting was organized for Panos Kakaviatos in our wine bar l’Essentiel: He is supposed to write an article for Decanter on (if I understood correctly) the various categories of Bordeaux: modern/classic.
In any case, we tasted:
Gracia 2004
Croix de Labrie 2003, 2005
Petit Labrie 2005
Petite Chapelle 2005
Fleur Cardinale 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005
Balthus 2003
Bon Pasteur 2001
And Valandraud 1992 et 1995

Were attending : Jeffrey Davies, Dominique Decoster, Michel Gracia, Ghislaine and Michel Puzio, and our colleague Emmanuel Emonot from the restaurant – wine bar « Lard et Bouchon ».What did Panos Kakaviatos think about the wines he tasted? The answer in his future article. I am convinced that he noticed the passion shown by the producers attending, how different each wine he tasted were, this due to the vintage, the terroirs or the style of each winemaker, and this, despite the fact that the same oenologist (Jean-Philippe Fort from Michel Rolland’s lab) takes care of Valandraud, Fleur Cardinale, Croix de Labrie and Gracia.

So, to answer all the nonsense written here and there about wines tasting all the same, I am certain that Panos, despite his classic taste, will write about his experience. The other clarification I need to make is regarding the aging of my wines.
Jeffrey Davis presence gave me the opportunity to open (a rare occasion) a bottle of Valandraud 1995, and especially one charged with history, Valandraud 1992.

These bottles, served in the right conditions, could rival, in blind tastings, the wines from all the property owners who predicted a short life span for my wines: 10 years for them seemed unthinkable; It is rare today to read these kinds of nonsense on my wines, except when a bottle was not properly stored and/or due to a defective cork (don’t forget this maxim from Jean-Marc Quarin: There are no great wine, only great bottles).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 26

Visit of the warehouse for my wholesale business in Saint Magne de Castillon for the departure of Christelle who helped us during the time we were looking for a replacement for Annie who is away on a training program in the South. Welcome Jeannine Chauvin.

At 11 am, tasting at the Château de Carles in Fronsac of a few samples of 2007 and 2006 of both cuvees (Haut Carles and de Carles). Were participating: the whole technical team of Mr Dosso, the cellar master, Mr Bouëtz, in charge of the vineyards and the cellar, Mr. Fort, our Oenologist from Michel Roland’s lab, Doctor Alain Raynaud, our consultant and I, in charge of the overall strategy of this beautiful property to try to get it out of the infernal circle of the Bordeaux caste system. If it is possible! The 2007 batches were good to very good, a batch of Haut-Carles 2007 was simply fantastic, the marriage between wine and barrel worked perfectly.

At 2 pm, meeting with our accountant to review the 2007 numbers. Our revenues of 10 million Euros are down 30% from 2006: The volume and price of the 2004 futures compared to 2003 explains this drop. Results being divided by 3. Already we have indications that the results for our next statement, thanks to 2005, will most likely increase by 50% and our profit multiply by at least 5.

Our activities must be considered in mid term: the difference in price and demand for each vintage prevents any reliable projection and explain such variations in our numbers. It is therefore important to work with bankers who understand the specificities of Bordeaux wholesalers (and just for a your information, labor cost: 1.6 million Euros ).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Biocons, the sequel...

This word “Bio-cons” (organic worshippers), invented by Michel Bettane, like the word “garagiste” he also invented, is able to get plenty of attention. A word which brings up so many questions, comments and opinion, is a bit like Nossiter. I don’t agree with his point of view but find it useful.

I have to justify myself (probably due to my catholic upbringing), so I would like to make it clear that I was mainly giving my opinion on Nossiter – who I got to know a little having the pleasure of being included in his film “Mondovino” and where I was not too much made into a caricature.

I am only interested, and people who know my hypochondriac side will agree, in “good” organic winemakers who make an effort to produce good wines from grapes grown with no or minimal use of chemical product as opposed to the rest of the so-called “normal” production. I was sufficiently influenced by Maryse Barre when she was in charge of Pavie Macquin. I even tried biodynamic agriculture 2 years in a row in my vineyards with the help of Cyril Chancelier or a consultant in the Roussillon. I still carry inventory of biodynamic wines produced for me (Jacques Blanc, cuvée l’Apogée). These wines are good, even delicious to drink and I only regret not having continued on creating them.

If Didier Michaud understood in this word “biocons” (organic asshole), I believe that he didn’t quite understand Michel Bettane. It’s his right, but apparently, my understanding is different from my colleague. This term “bio-con”, it seems to me, concerns grains and granolas or producers of bad wines for they are too sectarian. It doesn’t concern winemakers who have mastered the technique and produce wines I drink with pleasure like the wines of Anne Leflaive or Pontet Canet. Like “garagiste”, the word “biocon” is only intended to the winemakers it concerns.

Sunday, I received a journalist who likes old style wines, a bit of red pepper, not too dark. It is good that some people think differently, even if I prefer the opposite.

Friday, November 23, 2007

No hard feelings…

Following a post found on the Château Loisel site regarding Latour de France in the Roussillon and called "18 hectares escape from the hands of the cooperators": I personally feel that it is best that a vineyard be sold to a foreigner than being up-rooted, even if it means that the cooperative loses a member. The county, the appellation get a positive boost of energy (and in this specific case Nicolas and Miren de Lorgeril). A winning proposition for them of course, and for the wine: this repeat of a new acquisition proves the interest of this wine region.

So, no hard feelings. The private wineries and cooperatives are complementary: we can see it here in Saint Emilion where the Union des Producteurs shows that it is a leader, not a follower. Men, always men, in whatever system, are the key to success.

I recommend you to read a nice text written by Michel Bettane on

I believe it is not worth giving so much attention to Nossiter’s book. Even if it is useful to reaffirm our strong belief concerning the “small French sect” of worshippers bio-cons, voluntarily taken hostage (I know…) for having thoughts contrary to the so-called simple unique thinking, and so vulgar: good wines are made from good grapes.

On the Dutch side, David Bolomey writes about Clos Badon on his blog :

No hard feelings…

Following a post found on the Château Loisel site regarding Latour de France in the Roussillon and called "18 hectares escape from the hands of the cooperators": I personally feel that it is best that a vineyard be sold to a foreigner than being up-rooted, even if it means that the cooperative loses a member. The county, the appellation get a positive boost of energy (and in this specific case Nicolas and Miren de Lorgeril). A winning proposition for them of course, and for the wine: this repeat of a new acquisition proves the interest of this wine region.

So, no hard feelings. The private wineries and cooperatives are complementary: we can see it here in Saint Emilion where the Union des Producteurs shows that it is a leader, not a follower. Men, always men, in whatever system, are the key to success.

I recommend you to read a nice text written by Michel Bettane on

I believe it is not worth giving so much attention to Nossiter’s book. Even if it is useful to reaffirm our strong belief concerning the “small French sect” of worshippers bio-cons, voluntarily taken hostage (I know…) for having thoughts contrary to the so-called simple unique thinking, and so vulgar: good wines are made from good grapes.

On the Dutch side, David Bolomey writes about Clos Badon on his blog :

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Little overview of what you can find in various guides, magazines and surfing the web…

Clos Badon Thunevin was selected by the Gault et Millau 2008 wine guide (included in a selection of 1200 wines from France).

Valandraud and Virginie are included in the insert from the Wine Spectator on the 2004 tasting.
Big article written by James Lawther (4 pages in the latest issue of Decanter about the garagistes) as well as another article written by James in Flavours from France ( on the wines from Languedoc and the Roussillon with the title: « Investing in the Languedoc-Roussillon »

I also read a thesis published in September 2006 and written by Pierre Marie Chauvin , titled: « AOC, typicity and conspicuous production: the case of two “atypical” winemakers from Saint-Emilion »

I also recommend to read Andrew Jefford’s blog

Without forgetting Mark Squires’ Bulletin Board, with a beautiful comment from Robert Parker himself on Fleur Cardinale and François Mauss comments on Haut Carles.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


A full page of the results from the Grand Jury Européen tasting of the 2004 vintage just came out in the Wine Spectator. When will the same page appear in Marianne?

Friday, November 16, we harvested a few rows of Merlot in Pomerol to make a barrel. The red grapes reach 30% of noble rot, the rest sort of "passerillé". It will certainly be a wine made for our own consumption, if it is good....

Monday, November 19, 2007

Weekend receptions and planning

The 1st meal Saturday took place at Château La Dominique and was organized for a small group of cardiologist from Bordeaux wine lovers and friends of Laurent Fayat. Visit of the property, tasting of the right bank wines from Clément Fayat: Prieurs de la Commanderie2001, Commanderie de Mazeyres 2003, La Dominique 2003, 2005 and 1998. Nice moment taken in my busy schedule. The quality and interest in wine of this group made the 5 hours spent fly.

All the wines tasted showed well and of course La Dominique 2005 equaled the best vintages of La Dominique like 1989. The dinning room is not yet finished but will be quite useful to showcase the Vignobles Fayat and particularly La Dominique which, considering its location and its prestigious neighbors is the best publicity than you can get from any ad campaigns to show the full potential of this cru.

Friday, we had lunch with our biggest and most loyal customer as well as a good friend, who distributes 75% of our wines in Japan, our 1st export market in terms of volume and revenue. This year, the USA are just starting to pass Japan, thanks to the work done by 3 of my collaborators and my frequent visits (4 trips this year, against 2 in Japan).

A little overview of my program in the next few weeks:
Tuesday 20: Tasting at Château de Carles
Wednesday 21: Meeting of the Alliance of the Crus Bourgeois in Château Clément Pichon
Tuesday 27: “Garagist” tasting organized by Panos Kakaviatos
Saturday, December 1st: Grand Tasting in the Carrousel du Louvre for La Commanderie de Mazeyres and the Cercle des Grands Vins de la Rive Droite
From 9 till 11: Sweden and Finland
Thursday 13: All day at Clément Pichon for VIPs from the Group Fayat
Saturday 15: Paris for a nice party

Saturday, November 17, 2007


For several years a blind tasting of all the great Bordeaux takes place in England where some of the biggest English buyers (in other words in the world), a few English journalists participate. This year for the 2003 tasting, were included: Andrew Jefford, Sebastian Payne, Steven Spurrier and even the courageous Neal Martin.

I never participated as a taster, but I always read, with interest, the tasting notes, for this group has a pretty good palate and can especially identify wines with defects (corks, TCA).
Yes, it is a blind tasting!

Each wine is tasted within its own appellation which could be seen as an advantage. In fact, in 2003 it is not difficult to overate Saint Estèphe and Pauillac and underrate Pomerol, or the category Médoc-Haut Médoc-Moulis. Well, we are in the kind of tastings similar to those organized by Jacques Luxey and of course (even if I don’t totally agree), the 1st growths are all tasted together.

In the end, the successes and failures are identified.

I looked closely at these last notes, and noticed that what was already known is being confirmed. For instance, the high standing of Pape Clément in the Graves, which would have been more useful to taste side-by-side with Haut-Brion, better rated for it is noted with its peers. The nice success of Sociando Mallet, Lascombes in Margaux (even though it is not the “English” style). The nice notes of Ducru Beaucaillou, Pontet Canet, Léoville Barton, Las Cases and Poyferré, as well as those of Pichon Baron and Comtesse. The well known success of Cos, Montrose and the nice success of my wine which was rated right after Ausone and Cheval Blanc (both tasted with the 1st). All the 1st growths were, of course, well rated, with Latour and Ausone in front of all the others.

I checked out the sites of English wholesalers, and especially my friends’ (who rarely give me good notes during the primeur) where the notes are posted.

In any case, Valandraud had better luck here than during the last tastings of the Grand Jury Européen where my 2001 vintage played yoyo between the 3 different classifications…

Friday, November 16, 2007


We hosted a group of Americans from Las Vegas, including the sommeliers from the restaurants Fleur de Lys in the Mandalay Bay and Craft Steak in the MGM. At the same time, we had the visit from a German couple (an architect and his wife who works in the textile industry) who won a trip to our place during our last visit in Austria after guessing our wines in a blind tasting.

We visited our vineyards in Saint Etienne de Lisse, our cellars, we talked about the classification, our neighbors (Fleur Cardinale, Faugères, Rol Valentin, Fombrauge), had a relaxed conversation about our wine, our history (appreciated by Americans) and had lunch at our house with 10 guests. Fortunately, I was able to take a 15 minute nap before meeting a journalist from the RVF who is writing a piece on blogs.

We talked about everything: the Saint Emilion classification (currently in the news), Bertrand Le Guern’s statistics, the evolutions of communications, etc…

It is hard to find time to deal with tractor issues, accounting, customers, comments from Colin Ferenbach (Château La Vieille Cure in Fronsac) who reacted in his Franglais to the statistics of Bertrand… And this is my answer to Michel Puzio (Croix de Labrie) on working until 100 years old (if I can) and then retire…

Bertrand Le Guern

Bertrand Le Guern posted statistics in la passion du vin:

He made some interesting discoveries following the release of the last books on the « world of wine » where he noticed that Rolland, Raynaud, Moueix didn’t get the best ratings from Robert Parker and that my clients and I somewhat well noted by la Revue du Vin de France and not as well by Robert Parker. I must particularly thank Alan Duran, Didier Romieux, Gault et Millau, Gavin Quinney, le Grand Jury Européen, Jean Luc Pouteau, Michel Pronay, Neal Martin (few!), Roger Levy, Tom Cannavan. And I must convince better, if possible, Dieter Mittler, Gute Weine, Lea & Sandeman, Mayfair Cellars, Panos Kakaviatos (I knew it ! good he is visiting soon), Peter Moser and the Wine Journal.
This is a good lesson for people who spend their time always criticizing and are never close to Parkers ratings, English wholesalers, even friends, who still don’t like my wines. The proof is there…

In the latest issue of Decanter, James Lawther, MW wrote a 4 pages article on garage wines with a nice picture of Michel Gracia and an overview on the garagist movement seen by English merchants (price, Parker, etc…)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Saint Emilion classification

We celebrated the Saint Emilion classification with a series of good wines, while still waiting for other ups and downs!
Corton Charlemagne 1994 from Bonneau de Martray, good
Volany Santenots 1er Cru 2004 from Buisson Charles, good, refined (a bit too much for me), but several Bordeaux owners liked it, just goes to show!
½ bottle of a great 1998, corked, and a very good 2002
A bottle of Le Gay 2004, rich wine, concentrated, ripe, maybe a bit too ripe, which is rare for this vintage and rare as I am known to like wines which are “more” than not enough!

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Saint Emilion classification

It looks like the new classification has been validated!

Parker notes

While we are regularly using the ratings from Robert Parker for my wholesale business, it is sometimes difficult to know which one to use: the one from the internet site we have a subscription for ( or the one published in the last books?

For instance, Valandraud 1994 is noted 94 on the site, but 92+ in the book Robert Parker wrote about the 155 most beautiful wines of the world (published on October 2006 by Solar Edition). And especially Petrus 1982: which note should be used today, and should we give the notes without comments nor history on these comments and notes?

Friday, November 9, 2007

La Dominique 2006

La Dominique 2006 will be a great wine. It surprises everyone at each tasting and even better, they want to buy it every time for their personal cellar or wholesale business. The quality-price-notoriety ratio of the brand reaffirms this impulse buying decision. I have no doubt that Robert Parker’s good notes for the 1971 1989, 1990, 1982 and 1998 vintages play a role in this professional decision, but I can be proud that the 2006 vintage has sold well despite the lack of notes (everyone here thinks it is only temporary).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

La Pointe has been sold

I read on the site of Mario ( Lots of changes are taking place in Pomerol! Changes in ownership taking place now or later like at La Violette, La Pointe, Vieux Château Bourgneuf (by Fayat and me), Ratouin, Vieux Maillet, etc… All these crus from this tiny appellation (less than 800 hectares) are able to fetch star prices, like Pétrus. The price of real-estate is way more expensive than the ratio profitability, price of bottle; the average value for one hectare is 1 million Euros, one hectare undervalued around 500,000 Euros and a well known Chateau 2 to 3 millions! There is no chance to see the price of wine from this appellation go down. In my opinion we are even lucky to drink good wine at a “normal” price.

La Commanderie de Mazeyres, which is sold between US$45 and US$50 at retail is positioned in the mid category of fine wines. The new label and our partner Cordier should help make it available around the world.

Jeff Leve’s birthday

To celebrate Jeff’s birthday, we had 11 guest for dinner plus 2 friends to taste wine. However, before dinner we tasted around fifteen wines I am involved in from 2005 and 2006, including a great La Dominique 2006.

Champagne (magnum) Piper Heidsieck brut
Foie gras de canard maison, jambon pata negra
Eglise Clinet 2005
Côte Rôtie Chapoutier non vintage (probably a blend from 1969/1970/1971)
Seavey 1991 Napa Valley
Sine Qua Non 2002 Napa Valley
Rack of lamb with flageolets
Certan de May 1975, Latour 1959, Mouton Rothschild 1953
Chocolate cake from Mr Lopez
Calvet Thunevin Maury
Vouvray 1990 Goutte d’Or from Foreau

Only great, only top! The American wines were a pleasant gift from Jeff. The Certan de May was opened for Denis Durantou and we drank Latour with a thought for Hervé Bizeul… Mouton Rothschild 1952 for the 2 Jeffs and the Vouvray and Maury for Noëlle!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Useless for some, this mean of communication where I write about my life as a owner-negociant-consultant-wine lover, received 631 hits on October 31. Reading what I wrote that day, I see a little piece about the fire that broke-out above the macaroon shop in Saint Emilion, and more seriously about the ratings published in the Wine Advocate and given by David Schildnecht on the wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon. My project with Marie and Jean-Roger Calvet in the Roussillon was included in this review. I am very happy that some of the wines I produce and distribute were part of this article, even if our Maury and the wines from Jacques Montagné (Clos and Mas del Rey) were not included. I had this thought.

One of the paradoxes from the ratings of the Wine Advocate is often to help their readership to easily discover good wine, thanks to the credibility of Mr. Robert Parker and his associates, but unfortunately, also encourage owners or wholesalers to increase their price when receiving a good rating. In the Roussillon, it’s not like this; a well noted wine should not and will note increase in price, for there are no speculating collectors interested, only the confirmation for wine lovers for choosing the right wine or to confirm their opinion if they disagree, and to encourage true wine lovers to taste some of these wines. The rating has reached its objective: give information on a region still unknown without affecting the price. The proof is that the notes given to Calvet-Thunevin will not increase the price, and this is good news considering Bordeaux, Chateauneuf du Pape, Priorat and others. Constance, being well rated, confirms its good quality-price-ratio for the 2nd time, after 2004 and 2005, I have no doubt that the quality for 2006 will be close to 2002/2003/2004.

These notes won’t, of course, change the face of the wine world, it won’t prevent to acknowledge that Gauby and after him Bizeul, created a movement, open doors, create desire and especially help this beautiful region get rid of its complexes by their example and success. I am also in love with this region thanks to Jean Pla who introduced me to Marie and Jean-Roger Calvet and create my own story in this region. I should remind you that I was a student in woodcutting in the Ariège and that the closest beach is Argelès-sur-mer. I was 17/18 years old, with long or shaved hair (already a bit provocative!), full of dreams and cared more about women, partying, friends… Less by work. In any case, I feel the nostalgia of my youth for this region.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I stopped by the office then went to Clément Pichon to talk to Christine, Laetitia, David about the future reorganization plans. The changes requested in order to improve the good functioning of this chateau have been going through some problems causing everyone to overwork, especially when you include the amount of extra work brought by the harvest, shipping of orders from the futures campaign and internal orders within the Groupe Fayat. Every time improvements need to be implemented, some human and financial factors need to be addressed and resolved. The investments in personnel and equipment are not always easy to implement, doubt being the reflex to changes.

Lunch at 1:30 pm at the Brasserie du Relais de Margaux, which is always full (I must point out that it is common in this area) with the nice settings of the golf course and not too expensive.

In the afternoon, meeting with our future partner to open stores in China. Our attorney, Joëlle was able to sort out our agreements, company, financing, etc…

We had dinner in a brasserie in Bordeaux, which I won’t name by charitable spirit (for the dishes were expensive and the food average).

Visit of Jeff and Noëlle

Noëlle and Jeff just arrived from the Villa d’Este in Italy where they participated at a big tasting event organized by the Grand Jury Européen. I took them around our vineyards and cellars, and tried to explain the challenges faced with our terroir when, on the same plot, the Autumn leaves could as well be pale yellow, golden yellow, green… This shows how the terroir affects the distribution of nutrients, water, etc.

We had a light meal for 4 and served Clos del Rey 2001 (with Pata Negra ham – sliced bread and olive oil), delicious and able to age harmoniously, Angelus 1959, nice wine with its original cork (not refurbished), good, classic for this great vintage that I often prefer to 1961, an astonishing Petrus 1974 full of youth and pleasant in this lesser vintage. The fresh temperature of my cellar (constant 14 to 16° Celcius) and preparing the bottles (decanting and swift serving at cool temperature) certainly helped these 2 bottles served with a beef sirloin grilled in the fireplace on live oak charcoal. A nice and comforting moment for our friends used to the heavenly weather of Los Angeles. A half bottle of d’Yquem 1997, delicious, served at the end of the meal with a sort of pear clafoutis Mumu style and “hop”, time for bed to recover from jetlag.

Today, big work day to finalize, with my attorney and partner, a project to develop a sales entity and store in China, as I really believe in the potential of this market, well aware of the challenges we face.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Sunday, October 21, we left the USA for Papeete, Tahiti where our exclusive distributor was expecting us. He took us to the quiet and comfortable Sheraton hotel conveniently located between the airport and the harbor. I know that it is not glamorous but we were really there to work.

Every day, we visited Champion and Carrefour supermarkets, quality restaurants where our wines were on the wine list: Virginie, the 3, La Dominique, etc… The beauty of these islands doesn’t prevent our wines from being distributed, especially as Bordeaux represents a big part of fine wine sales, even if the substantial VAT makes the wines quite expensive for consumers, tourists or locals. In addition to visiting clients, our importer organized a series of meetings with local media: newspapers, the local RFO television station. With its 220000 inhabitants, Tahiti doesn’t lack news and this year our visit was considered as an encouragement. Actually, our participation in 2 wine fairs must have attracted around 1000 people, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Here, no one seems blasé, and likes to get together and taste new wines, some being enthusiasts subscribing to the Revue du Vin de France or Parker, others looking for medals and recommendations from the Guide Hachette.
I recommend a good place to eat in Papeete: The restaurant café Koké, tasty cuisine with young and friendly owners.

We spent the whole day Wednesday doing in-stores in Carrefour. It is hard to sell a few bottles of Virginie, 3 de Valandraud, Bel Air Ouÿ or La Dominique when you get used to let this work done by our clients. Murielle was able to see Bernard and Jean-Pierre work. I was in another Carrefour admiring the work Marie-Claude was doing and how useful their catalogues was. In the evening, we went to a very chic cocktail party organized by our partner around Valandraud 2002 and a few Chilean wines. We then had dinner in a high-end restaurant where the wine list is put together by our importer who, with his knowledge, created an attractive and simple list including copies of the labels.
Thursday in Bora Bora, a striking island with it’s beautiful colors, blue, the sea, the lagoon… Superb. We visited our client, one of the latest palaces created in Tahiti: The Saint Regis. 100 bungalows on pillars with rooms costing from 1000 to 15000 Euros per night.
We had a guided tour of this palace, picture perfect scenery and especially Lionel Richard (who worked with Pierre Jochem at the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi) who acquired the franchise to open a “Jean-Georges” restaurant. We had the best meal of our trip, light and spicy cuisine (with an Asian influence)

We shared the trip to Papeete with our colleagues from the Grands Chais de France, Chateaux en Bordeaux, Casa Donoso from Chili, the owners of Fleur Vauzelle and Grand Moulinet.

The return trip was difficult but not so much due to the Air France strike. My insistence in not being included in the waiting list and the alliance with KLM allowed us to return to Bordeaux via Amsterdam with only a few hours of delay. I must note the quality of the service of KLM.

We are now back in France, tired, but as soon as we returned at 6pm, we had a tasting at 8pm with my team of more than 50 different batches of 2007 wines at the end of their fermentation, maceration and run off. I can say that the batches are good to very good. At least for Bellevue de Tayac, Clos du Beau Père, Valandraud. And I already know that Commanderie de Mazeyres, Clément Pichon and La Dominique will be successful wines in this vintage.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Live from Saint Emilion

A (little) fire above our favorite supplier of macaroons !


In the latest issue of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, David Schildknecht wrote a nice series of comments and gave good notes to our wines from the Roussillon. Of course, a good number of wines were not rated as they have not yet been imported in the USA, therefore, were not being presented… But this is only the beginning for this region which has been ignored for a long time by many critics and buyers. This region is becoming the best potential of all French wine regions: Top terroirs, old vines and the creation of many new boutique wineries.

Our friends have also been getting good notes, it makes a base to build on. I am certain that this region will keep getting underrated as long as it doesn’t become commercially successful. Success brings success. I would like to thank our private and business customers who believed in us. I am proud of the progress made with my partners since 2001 and I am certain that within 3 years, everyone will recognize that the Roussillon is capable of producing wines able to compete with the great wines of Spain or the Rhone, California…
For your information, here are the notes, for what its worth:

2005 Calvet Thunevin Constance 90
2004 Calvet Thunevin Dentelles 91
2004Calvet Thunevin Hugo ??
2004 Calvet Thunevin Les 3 Marie 94
(The Maury has not yet been tasted)

I don’t understand his comment on the cuvée Hugo. It was most likely a bad bottle or maybe that this wine, a bit excessive, is not to his taste. But it is not important, except if he was right. Lets see in 10 years (it reminds me the comments written on Garage wines stating that they would not age well. It was in fact a comment written by the old guard of anti-Parker always active with tasters used to the old Bordeaux or Burgundy styles, defended by Broadbent and his cohorts, but a bit surprising here).