Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
For anyone interested in the various episodes of this regrettable story: the people in charge of our unions, INAO (the French organization charged with regulating the appellations), and other concerned parties, classified, not classified, journalists, judges, etc…
It seems to me that the solution proposed by Jacques Berthomeau would resolve a lot of problems, wouldn’t it?
How far will they go to ridicule Saint Emilion and its classification?
Will the appeals court, which is supposed to give its judgment soon, be able to correct the injustice caused to these 7 crus?
Injustice which is now costing a lot of money.
In fact, will all the people responsible for this mess be liable for all the financial loss?
Can you believe that the tax service criticizes my company for being cautious by making contingencies to weather the effects caused by the disputes of this classification! I am starting to believe that I was not pessimistic enough!
If I had made contingencies for the financial mess caused directly, or indirectly, by the newly promoted, fortunately, I only bought a few cases of the wines demoted in 3006…
Shouldn’t the whole appellation make contingencies for the loss of its image, credibility, damage and interest they are entitled to by all the “jerks” who caused this dismal affair.
As the saying goes in Audiard’s film: “les Tontons Flingueurs” (known as Crooks in Clover or Monsieur Gangster): “les cons ça ose tout, c’est même à ça qu’on les reconnait ! ” (Idiots dare everything and can even be recognized because of that).
Monday, December 29, 2008
It is French wine’s turn to suffer from the crisis and it fears for 2009
AFP – dec 16, 2008
"Companies who don’t have a distribution network will suffer", Jean-Luc Thunevin predicts, owner and merchant in Saint-Emilion ...
FRANCE: Bordeaux 'en primeur' wine sale under threat - merchants
just-drinks.com (subscription) - 11 déc 2008
Another Bordeaux merchant, Jean-Luc Thunevin, said next year's campaign may only run for the top 30 wines, instead of the normal 100 to 140. ...
France Spurns Grape, Censors Wine Writing, Bans Ads: Elin McCoy
Bloomberg - 3 déc 2008
Bordeaux winemaker Jean-Luc Thunevin of St. Emilion’s Chateau Valandraud posted a totally black screen on his blog to dramatize the Internet plight for ...
Η μεσαιωνική πόλη του κρασιού
Η Καθημερινή - 20 déc 2008
Χαρακτηριστική φυσιογνωμία του Saint Emilion, o Jean Luc Thunevin του «Chateau Valandraud», ο κύριος vin de garage, που την περασμένη δεκαετία οργάνωσε την ...
香港新浪網 - 24 déc 2008
我在Saint-Emilion的第一站，就是前往拜訪Chateau de Valandraud的主人Jean-Luc Thunevin。這位先生並非釀酒出身，而是在當地經營一家小葡萄酒商店，專賣高級葡萄酒。 ...
Saturday, December 27, 2008
The Sapporo wine academy selected La Dominique 2004 as the best wine. What will they say when they taste 2006?
Bettane and Desseauve wrote a little piece in Sunday’s, December 25 wine section of Sud Ouest newspaper. What’s next?
For Christmas, we drank the first bottle of Pomerol from the property bought with Clément Fayat (ex Vieux Château Bourgneuf). The new Domaine Fayat-Thunevin 2006 is simply very good, too easy. Its soft texture, 100% Merlot, and hint of violet will certainly be challenged by traditionalists but appreciated by gourmands – Consumer price in France will be between 30 and 40 Euros, including VAT.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
These reserved where actually approved in my 2 last tax audits are now being challenged as the tax office wants to change the rules!
Funny sort of process, especially considering the current situation, for even if my company is solid and profitable, these rules benefit to the entire industry. This will force some companies who are not solid and won’t be able to use theses contingency to close.
In the meantime, our politicians are saying the opposite and announce that companies have to be helped and hire more employees.
Actually, yesterday I received my financial statement ending 08/31/2008. It was very positive and will allow me to weather these hard times.
It is no time to slow down, fire employees, actually on the contrary.
Everyday, we receive orders from every sector.
Yesterday, in the media, an article from Panos Kakaviatos was published in Decanter on the eternal debate on modern wine against classic and their aptitude to age.
In Bettane and Desseauve, Haut Carles got a special selection (out of 10 wines!), and I was included in the top 10 personalities of the year (for Bad Boy, the blog and my role as manager of Vignobles Fayat).
Later that day, between 6 and 6:30 pm, a television report will be broadcasted on LCI on the economic crisis and wine?
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The bonuses and salaries of these crooks are still registered in the all the accounting statements of countries called normal as well as in tax havens.
Why did all these organisms of control, certification and audits are still free? What’s the use to have an auditor (mandatory) if his role is only to report me when I won’t be able to pay him?
In any case, it is absurd… and when you think that it will be the same people who will tell us how to recreate a “different” economy. While waiting for 2009 and millions of unemployed, where is the police? Why so few cases brought to court? Does a person steeling a chicken risks harder punishment that Mr Madoff?
Monday, December 22, 2008
In fact, it’s full of humor, lots of common sense and useful even if I don’t agree with everything in it. In any case I highly recommend it (published by Timée – Editions and written by Roland Lecarpentier).
Also, “L’Amateur de Bordeaux”, new edition. It contains plenty of information. Thibaut Leclerc (Bottin Gourmand), director of publishing must have enjoyed having Michel Bettane, Bernard Burtschy, Laure Gasparotto and many more famous writers for this December issue.
Competition, who said competition?
In fact, with Bordeaux today and probably Terre de Vin , Gault et Millau, Revue du Vin de France, Carnets de dégustation from Jean Marc Quarin, Le Point, etc… It’s starting to be a lot!
Now that the 8 Saint Emilion properties were finally reinstated, lets not forget the tax deduction system for risk (D.P.A.), in this time when the Tax service wants to do the opposite!
The news came this weekend: 8 chateaux in Saint Emilion were promoted, then demoted, finally promoted! Thanks to common sense… and probably our deputy Jean Paul Garraud who, along with Senator César, have lobbied to reach this agreement, which makes good sense.
However, it is not over for the legal procedure is still under way and Bordeaux appeal court will give “another” judgment on January 29, 2009.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Rodolphe Wartel wrote an article with plenty of humor and made our story look good, even if it was actually true!
The photos from Stéphane Klein are beautiful because Virginie, who usually never smiles (so she says), became a pro with “cheese”.
Yesterday evening – aperitif at L’Essentiel organized by Carlos to celebrate the end of the year, followed by dinner organized by a friend. Again, an evening with no diet.
Today, we had our annual lunch at La Puce with all the employees of Thunevin Wine Product (Thunevin WP), the entity in charge of the vineyards, production cellars of my Bordeaux, and, of course the employees of Ets Thunevin, the entity in charge of sales, logistic, accounting of my wholesale business. In all, 42 people.
This evening, Jean Edouard invited us for an aperitif at Château Mauvinon and his mother will prepare “tapas”.. Another Tanguy?
More notes: from Jean Marc Quarin on Bordeaux 2006, again, all the wines I am involved in received good notes except Marojallia.
La Dominique is starting to regain its rank in Saint Emilion, Fleur Cardinale confirming one more time its consistent level of quality, Haut Carles its status of fine wine and Valandraud did pretty well with 17 points!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I don’t have a crystal ball and thought that wine stores would be doomed because of mass merchants. Instead, new chains of stores are opening up, a few Lavinia are opening around the world, Nicolas, Le Repaire de Bacchus, V&B are all opening new stores and they are doing well.
On the internet, Chateauonline, Merlaut, Dubecq compete with cdiscount, vin-malin and others, one-day-one-wine, direct sales to consumers and many more. Just from your home, you can find everything: at a good price, with good information on the wine and delivered in 24 hours.
For example, I found a Pedro Jimenez 1927 for 24.5 Euros on vin-malin!
All of Bernard Magrez wines are available on cdiscount, etc…
Some of the wines are even sold for less than at the property. Buyers are sharp and able to buy a whole batch from an inheritance or bankruptcies. Competition has to be creative and this makes it hard for retailers asleep at the wheel.
As for me, I try to work seriously with every segment with no a priori, always responding to people who talk about “good” distribution. As Lapalisse would say, a good distributor is a distributor who sells!
Back to my meals
Yesterday evening, I had dinner with friends owners, négociants as well as Martine and Jean-Paul. The meal consisted of seasonal classics like truffles, beef rib grilled in the fireplace.
Clos du paradis 2003, a table wine from Luxemburg, good, and blind Quinault l’Enclos 2000 and Soutard 2000. Everyone guessed the appellation and gave 2001 as the vintage.
Soutard was a favorite for 6 out of 7 of our guests for the tannins are well integrated, pleasant, less show-off. It is in today’s trend. At least, both were good.
Following, Léoville Las Cases 2000 and l’Interdit de Clos Badon 2000. Everyone said 2003 or 2005 for both wines which changed categories! Well, the most surprising, even for me (yes), was that l’Interdit de Clos Badon was favored by 7 out of 7, thanks to its impression of sweetness and softness. Las Cases was so young, a bit in the style of a Pauillac, a bit austere.
Of course we drank everything and everyone guessed Right Bank and Left Bank.
We finished on the perfect pairing: egg custard and Doisy Daene 2003, simply sumptuous, a light bitterness of bitter almonds, mandarin peals, apricots and this purity and lightness missing in some more well known crus.
Life is rough when you’re a négociant!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
In Bordeaux, a new generation on wine sellers is already there. Every time I meet one of these young wolves hungry for work, performance and status that it makes me feel a bit to “cushy”, or even too established. I am lucky that they like me and accept to work with my wholesale business and properties. I am always paying attention to what’s going on here, you have to be; if not, you end up shrinking, and in Bordeaux, it is the kiss of death.
Just a few examples: Vinexpo used to be constantly put down when they started but since then they reinforced the image of Bordeaux, and no one is crying wolf! Another one is the privilege I have to sell Pingus (this Spanish cult wine) through my negoce, allows me also to sell some of the best Bordeaux to clients who ask about Pingus and Flor de Pingus.
Again, another one, why let London or Geneva sell top Chateauneuf du Pape or Burgundies on the open market? Aren’t we professional enough to take care of it here in Bordeaux?
You got it, yesterday, I ate at home with 2 young representative from this new generation of wholesalers and brokers in Bordeaux. I won’t give names, only the menu and wines we drank!
Pata Negra ham, scallops, roast beef with truffled mash potatoes à la Hervé Bizeul and egg custard.
For the wines, the 1st bottle was corked – the cork maker was C.R.L. – and it was a Cheval Blanc 1999 (darn!), the 2nd one was between good and fair: Beauséjour Duffau 2005, in order to check if the bottle we drank in Maury was normal.
The wine was good, but not enough considering the potential of this property who produced a marvelous 1990!
Corton Charlemagne 2001 and Coche Dury a bit neutral for my taste, but I am not sure if the wines were properly stored.
Blanc de Valandraud N° 1 2006 was not better. So when are we going to enjoy a good bottle? Bad Boy 2006, bottled just 5 days ago. we’ll see in 2 to 3 months. Finally, Valandraud 1998, my favorite wine in my properties, really a great wine. We ended with Yquem 2005, remarkable in purity, pleasure and light, not customary in Sauterne.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Stéphane Klein, a photographer for Sud Ouest newspaper was able, for the 1st time, I think, to take a photo where we were relaxed and especially smiling. Virginie would have preferred to be with her horses than with our bottles of wine, but Virginie de Valandraud is going to be featured in a big article in this regional newspaper…
As long as newspapers will be able to write freely about wine, it won’t spoil our pleasure! I was even more pleased to see that when I searched in their archive for Valandraud or Thunevin this morning, I saw 52 articles written since 1991. When I think that I beleived they had not written enough about Valandraud, this is no small feat. It is true that I am never satisfied, always looking for more; again “jealous” people will, rightly, think that I am only interested in me, me, me, only me!
Well, back to the Sud Ouest newspaper, one of the best articles written about Valandraud and me, was from Christian Seguin published on July 30, 2001. The one published in L’Express magazine by Mr. Dupuy triggered a series on TV reports in TF1, M6, Arte, etc… Hurrah for the media!
We are now in full holiday season with Christmas and the birthdays of Karl and Axelle, and in addition, dinners this evening, tomorrow evening an even Thursday evening, with nice truffles already bought by Jérôme… Hard to stay slim.
Monday, December 15, 2008
The trip was very important: in fact, David Schildknecht from Wine Advocate came to taste our 2005/2006/2007 vintages in our new cellar in Maury. I believe he was travelling throughout the Languedoc and Roussillon for 2 weeks, and this counts when you think about the importance around the world of the notes in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.
We had already received good ratings for the past vintages and could expect better ones, especially considering the known quality of 2005 and especially 2007 – 2006 is still a bit “tight”.
It gave Murielle, Marie and Jean-Roger and I the opportunity to properly taste 3 of our vintages with David in 3 categories, Dentelles, Hugo, 3 Marie and even Constance 2007. I am proud of the progress we’ve done since 2001. The purchase of vineyards in the town of Lesquerde provide us, in 2007, some high quality Syrah, thanks to granitic soil and elevation, higher than the ones in the Maury Valley.
Quick lunch in the in the 1 star Michelin restaurant Maison des Terroirs with its great entry menu for 28 Euros. It helped Marie and Jean-Roger distress (and who has no more nails to bite) !
The cellar is almost finished and provides a place to receive and sell directly to clients and tourists visiting the area, with very attractive prices for people who make the effort to come and visit or call (+33 4 68 51 05 57) to receive offers “directly from the property”. We are just missing plants to color the gardens around the cellar and a few billboards indicating that it is in fact a cellar and not a local government office or even crazier ideas, as it doesn’t look like any buildings currently built in this area.
We had the opportunity to taste plenty of wines : for instance a disappointing series of Côte Rotie 2005 which I won’t name to be kind: corked wines – it happens, but it also had certain vegetal flavors, thin, with bretts smelling like stables. My good they were bad!
Fortunately, we had a Porte du Ciel 2004 – Coteaux du Languedoc was delicious and helped us forget the previous wines. We also drank a Saint Emilion 2005 1st Grand Cru Classé B which was also defective (despite the good comments from Jean Marx Quarin). I will taste it again rapidly to see if it was a defective bottles of actually the batch?
Every time we are in this region, we shop in Saint Paul de Fenouillèdes in Brosseau’s cookie shop where the owner is still working despite being 79 years old and always greets us with kindness.
While I think about it, it would be sensible for the press to cover the village of Maury which have attracted new winemakers from around the world, despite the crisis, in a few years and thanks to a dynamic mayor who has guided this village for its esthetical choices or Maison du Terroir which attracts more and more customers. The millions of Euros which have been invested in the past few years privately or by local governments are now visible when one takes the time to amble down the streets with trompe-l’œil paintings, its colorful facades and the nice vineyards surrounding it.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Still made with 100 % Merlot, but this time we blended this Bordeaux from 3 different properties I take care of from Bordeaux, Fronsac and Pomerol.
This wine will be more civilized, a bit less powerful but more elegant: the characteristics of blending…
I can’t wait to taste my first bottle, and as it will soon be bottled, the wines will be on time for Christmas.
I hope that the 70,000 bottles produced will be as successful as the 40,000 of 2005 which were sold faster than we expected.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Pressure to manage cost and the administrators should still allow for us to carry on improving our quality.
Still, we need to go through the world financial crisis and I am afraid that I totally agree with the article published in the Nouvel Ops magazine where the journalist was able to do a rare interview with Mr. Jean François Moueix. My constant anguish comes from the renewal of my credit lines, loans, rates and choice of investments.
The 2008 vintage, even if it is of great quality, won’t be easy to sell if the world economy doesn’t improve by the month of June.
The magazine Objetif Aquitaine released his list of 2008 “talents” and I was included and even received a special selection. Lets hope that this promotion won’t bring another tax audit or more solicitations from companies offering accounting services…
Back to the office for “normal” work, the harvest of our 4 rows of Cabernet Sauvignons picked like an “ice-wine” put Murielle in the spotlight: Article in Sud Ouest newspaper (2 times) and even an interview on local radio France Bleue Gironde.
I would also like to answer to a few comments recently published on this blog.
To Fil who writes “I noticed that you often invite journalists… This seems to be an excellent investment ”: Of course it is an excellent investment and it helps me – us to save time. Don’t see it as a negative point, but these journalists who come to see me usually already have the intention to write a good article on me or my company. If not, they wouldn’t accept my invitations for a meal.
To Bernard Ordonnac who wrote “ What an exciting life you have. A real star. You should start a literary carrier with your sharp sense of observation. And all your cultural references. Finally, you are the Paris Hilton of the bacchic world, going from interviews to hair salons. But tell us something, dear Jean-Luc, what’s your secret to stay so modest?”. My dear Bernard, I am not “so modest”, just a bit of self mockery… but still you have to know me more than through my blog… and it doesn’t hurt to like oneself, doesn’t it? I read – with a bit of difficulty – a book from Abraham Maslow on my last flight, he has the advantage to believe that man is naturally good, what’s your opinion?
Other than that, Max didn’t take well being compared to Tinkerbell… As for me, I finally like Paris, especially since she called to vote for Obama.
I hope that Objectif Aquitaine is right to give special selections and other 2008 talents. I remember the story of this very big and famous negociant in the 80s who, after having just gotten a full story in Sud Ouest during Vinexpo (I think) went bankrupted, despite his talent. I always have this story in my head even if I am happy to be nominated.
The comment is actually not wrong as it starts the following way:
“it is the story of a man who constantly doubts…” the funny part is the conclusion of their article: “… a character which allows him to claim with Murielle, that he would be able to start from scratch in case of failure. He is a star, not a diva, you can trust his word”.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Once a year, a meal at Chateau La Couspaude is organized by the members of this very exclusive club. The goal is to share a great meal, to say the least, foie gras, thrush and woodcock roasted in the fireplace, truffles served on slices of bread, in egg cups with soft boiled eggs, in mash potatoes, in salad and brie… oysters, desert,… all this under the pretext of drinking good wine and have a good meal as it was done in the 19th Century.
Almost all the wines were served in magnums:
The best cuvees from Deutz and Ruinart,
La Couspaude 2001: a pure delight with truffles,
Grand Pontet 1986 astonishingly young,
Canon La Gaffelière 1988, one of the successes in the right bank for this forgotten vintage
Ausone 1989, great wine with a classical balance and delightful
Montrose 1986 probably drank too young
La Landonne 2003: the new style of these great wines from Guigal, who formed my taste for southern wines.
The magnificient and great wine of this day dedicated to Bacchus – nobody will be surprised – was: Mouton Rothschild 2003, a real success for this false great vintage, which had some great but also “dry” wine.
Armagnac, Calvados, eau de vie de prune… We stayed at the table from 1 to 6pm.
Friendship and sharing this day were up to par with the quality of the meal and time went too fast, especially when it was time to leave. The comedians who made us laugh deserved a standing ovation!
We did this again at home for dinner: Philippe and his family came to our house to share a nice piece of beef grilled in the fireplace and served with fresh cepes from Bordeaux picked in woods from the area. It is the first time in our life that we ate some so late in the season. Croix de Labrie 2001 and Gracia 1998 were the proper wines to serve with this great meal, especially for Murielle who loves cepes.
Saturday, we had lunch at home with a few guests from Israel, wine lovers and friends and the sons of the owner from Margalit: Valandraud kosher 2002 and non kosher served blind, as well as Nigl 2005 Riesling, delicious.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
What a chance to be the “star” of garage wines, the Bad Boy wine icon; my distributor hired a room for an afternoon nap in this 6 star hotel and responded to any of my needs and wishes with kindness, all this attention for me to be in top form for the image and professionalism required from me.
I decided to get my hair cut only during my trips to Asia! The last time I was in Hong Kong, it made me feel like I should open a chain of hair salons for men, Chinese style. This would be a good change from the hair salon in the shopping center in Libourne.
This place is beautiful and very chic, with house and garage music, proper attire required, the Parisian chic is surpassed by the chic style of Korean women in Seoul… The Seoul touch!
My hair was impeccable, the silk pocket handkerchief added to my jeans/blazer outfit is chick, without being too formal for this country for a press conference with a dozen journalist (dailies, living, leisure, internet) and tasting of a few wines. The questions were for the most part very professional, the garage movement is well, even very well, understood here and a movie star like photo session followed, then a gala dinner organized for more than 50 people, some important to develop a good relationship with our partner who are greatly solicited…
More journalists and especially the sweet and radiant Korean TV star Ida Daussy who signed her last book the success story of this French woman in the land of peaceful mornings (and that I read cover to cover in the plane).
The meal was one of the best I experienced in my French life for so many people; the harmony with the wines, the Blanc de Valandraud N°1 2006 which impressed everyone. Virginie, 3 de Valandraud and Valandraud 2004, opened more than 6 hours before, were perfect and of course the 99 vintage. The 2006 vintage was too young, and still closed.
Time passed too fast with a fund raising event organized, drawing lots of presents and the traditional photo op given to guests.
All there is to do is organize the next trip in Spring for the 2008 en primeur campaign?
Yesterday, the trip back from Seoul to Bordeaux was long, a big day; in addition, I had to deal with jetlag. The trip was good, our minister Bernard Kouchner was travelling in the same plane, which shows that even ministers don’t always take private jets.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
We also visited SK’s show room dedicated to the group’s future telecom technologies.
Today is the big day, with a gala lunch. Surprisingly, the UGC (l’Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux) is just arriving in Seoul to attend the same kind of event.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Following, we did a presentation for more than 30 people including journalists, sommeliers and wine collectors, and talked about Garage, Micro-Cuvées, Parker, Terroirists, etc… The event took place in a building complex completely dedicated to wine: the PODO PLAZA, in Seoul.
The organization was good for this first event with our importer and it’s team.
We then had dinner at VIN GA, the restaurant of this incredible center with a nice young crowd, music, fancy atmosphere, quality food, nice SPIEGELAU glasses and for wine: BAD BOY 2005 and VIRGINIE 2006, then blind, a remarkable LASCOMBES 2005 and even a Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé 1997, a bit tight in my opinion.
Following, we drank a surprising wine from Napa, still unknown: ONDA D’ORO 2005, made with ripe Cabernet Sauvignon which almost made you think it made from Syrah.
Finally, a good night sleep.
Monday, December 1, 2008
While waiting for next Monday to cure my sore throat, I went to a Korean, or Chinese, doctor – acupuncture and ginseng + massage - and business meetings with our importer.
The hotel is OK with big rooms and TV5 to help me fight jetlag.
« Vive les voyages qui forment la jeunesse » (travelling makes you young)… as the French saying goes. In my case, travelling has been getting the best of my youth.
Once more, the journey via Helsinki on FINNAIR was more than an hour late.
Murphy’s law I suppose.
2nd day (Sunday): very good business meeting. Many good Korean employees work on Sunday to catch-up and prepare the coming week.
The 35 hour week is more like the 50 hour week.
Friday, November 28, 2008
As usual, we had a good meal and for wine, an excellent Virginie 2005, very voluptuous, the classic (maybe too much?) Virginie 2001 and our favorite today, Valandraud 1998.
We spoke about Virginie, wine, my daughter, my story – I know… but I can’t help it that journalists always ask the “same” questions instead of reading what has already been written about our story. It is true that I always ad something more.
I must say that today, every journalist brings me some sort of psychoanalysis and I enjoy it. I am even starting to believe in my story, go figures!
Back to my meal – we mainly spoke about me. I understand that some good things are going to be appearing in the media around wine, but I don’t know if it is still a secret?
In any case, it is going to shake the mammoth, as Allègre would say!
This morning, I am leaving early for Korea with my negociant from Bordeaux and will be back next Thursday.
In the meantime, yesterday, Murielle finished picking our experimental “Cabernet Sauvignon ice red wine” and is starting to prune.
I am leaving for my trip with a nice throat infection. In what state will I return?...
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
2008 VINTAGE :
A late vintage with a beautiful indian summer :
Perfect for superbly classic wines
SURPRISING WEATHER CONDITIONS
You have to go back to 1988, engraved in the mind of fine wine lovers, to find similar climatic conditions (average temperature, exposure to the sun, pluviometry), phenological stages, date for the harvest and yield projections.
The weather in 2008 was very changeable until the end of August. 2 climatic accidents took place: frost on April 7 and hail on July 28 which affected a small part of the appellations. It was only by carrying out continuous, expensive, yet very necessary work in their vineyards that the winegrowers of Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac were able to take advantage of the exceptional weather conditions of September and October:
- 2008 was quite dry with total rainfall lower than the 30-year average.
- Flowering took place early from mid-May (see the curve below generated from
statistics obtained from the pollen sampler of the Winegrowers’ Union) and phenological stages increasing in increments.
- Ripening was slow, thus preserving the aromas, freshness and balance of the fruit. Ripening evolved depending on the way the vineyard was planted, its state and the soil’s characteristics
- Natural low yields
- The wide temperature differences between day and night in September and October encouraged the synthesis of anthocyanins,
- Harvesting was spread out from 25 September to 25 October in exceptional
conditions: dry weather, fresh at night and warm day, sunny and light wind.
The Merlot grape variety, which accounts for more than 70% of the vines in the Saint-
Emilion – Pomerol - Fronsac appellations, naturally ripens early and therefore benefited greatly from these weather conditions.
THE WINEGROWERS’ SKILL AND HARD WORK
2008 was a vintage for which the Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac winegrowers had
to work extra hard in the vines, (thinning out, removing leaves with certain restraint,
etc.) in order to improve grape ripening and produce fruit in optimal condition for the
harvest. This hard work ended up being greatly rewarded.
A significant fact: The harvest took place over an exceptionally long period from 25 September to the end of October. The winegrowers were able to choose plot by plot which
grapes to pick depending on the different stages of ripeness of each grape variety and
Wine making techniques that were finely tuned to the precise conditions of the vintage
and pure know-how made sure that the fine potential of the fruit was optimally
A SUBTLE BALANCE OF FRUIT, FRESHNESS AND ELEGANT TANNINS -
As always in difficult years, the great Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac terroirs have
revealed all the complexity of this vintage.
During the harvest, the grapes, in relatively low quantity, were delicious, crunchy, fruity and vivid. The grapes were beautiful with thick skin, rich color and tannins (phenolic potential close to 2006 and 2005).
The Merlot wines after alcoholic fermentation demonstrate this quality with:
- Good levels of level of alcohol between 12.5 and 14% volume,
- Good acidity promising nice balance
- Impressive colour showing that the vines thrived during the summer
- Superb aromatic complexity of fresh, red and black fruit
- Subtle, round mellowed tannins
The Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, picked in the second half of October have benefited from this long period of fine weather and will add quality and elegance to the round fruitiness of the Merlots.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I presented a few crus from my own properties but principally wines I consult for as the theme of their PR trip was about consultants, famous or not!
Some subjects are just about the current trend but this one is not. However, this trip was about famous, or up-coming, consultants in Bordeaux.
What are the differences between Dubourdieu, Derenoncourt, Rolland, Dauga, Pauquet, myself, etc… ?
As for me, I have a limited number of clients for my properties and negoce business keep me quite busy. We discussed this subject matter during the dinner organized at our host where a few wines tasted very good (in my opinion)!
Fonroque 2003 (biodynamic)
Clos Fourtet 2002
And other wines, some better than others. Still, I am certain that our journalists liked them. Fortunately, the world has all different types of tastes.
At l’Essentiel, I tasted many Crémants de Bordeaux Lionel Lateyron is working on for us for our next challenge.
Below, a picture of Murielle with Claude Lelouche at la Paulée in Meursault.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I was disappointed by the 2006 event (it was the first one), but this one was great! Full of people, friends, or exhibitor friends and especially many professionals from the industry, journalists, internet media, distributors and of course plenty of wine lovers.
There was so many people that we had to get 3 bottles of Valandraud 2004 at our friend’s wine shop La Maison des Millésimes, Boulevard Saint Germain. Fortunately, Thomas Noël had bottles available. Still we were short 1 or 2 bottles of La Dominique which is a well known brand. As for the Decosters, a friend of theirs brought additional bottles.
In fact, one can see what visitors are interested in: Access to the most well known wines, especially as they can be tasted for almost nothing. The cost of the ticket gives access to all the wines presented and believe me, there was plenty of choice between great Champaign houses (Dom Perignon), Burgundies, and event La Petite Sibérie, goes to say. So, more than 300 people stopped by our stand to taste our wines.
I had the pleasure to see Journalists from El Mundo and El Pais stop by our stand to talk a bit about my wines but of course of Pingus (Thanks Peter Sisseck).
I was able to buy a few books and especially Riedel glasses.
We had dinner at Tan Dinh at the Vifians and tasted half-blind famous Chateauneuf du Pape (vive the Roussillon). If Parker ( and his colleagues) took care of the Roussillon the way they did with Chateauneuf du Pape, the Roussillon would become the Eldorado of the wines from Southern Europe, regardless of any crisis!
In any case, why should I complain?
I read in an issue of TAST that, my dear friend, I complained on my blog about the difficult times to come for my wholesale business, and rated my blog 2 out of 5 at the same token! After the star rating system, or 20 or 100, now it is 5… easier when more cultured and intellectual! However, my dear friend buys wine from poor winemakers and in my company, I have a few employees who wouldn’t want to loose their jobs. Each person have their own worries, no?!
Vive Pierre Arditi and thanks for Mr. Raffarin for his interest in the world of wine.
Friday, November 21, 2008
The owners of a “normal” cru would not be able too afford it. Fortunately, we are often invited, even hotels paid for, however, the cost for flights, car rental, taxis, restaurants even with no excess, grows quite fast and can reach 700 to 1000 Dollars per day.
If you ad the expenses our clients take care of, especially renting spaces, our meals in nice restaurants, brochures, sales reps and travel costs, it comes to quite a bit of money. It is therefore important that we have a proper margin.
Winemakers often forget this point…
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Paired with roasted veal and oyster mushrooms, we had the rare, even very rare (300 bottles?) and very good Clos Dalmasso 2006, a delicacy, light, with violets, in the style of a Saint Emilion Grand Cru (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot). It is produced by my cellar master!
Following, Valandraud 1998 which is our favorite vintage to date.
A wine which works well with rice pudding flavored with Tahitian vanilla: Cuvee Zenith 1997 from Bonnezeaux (sweet), the former director of INAO René Renou. Despite signing the document declassifying the parcel of Valandraud 2000, I developed good relationship with him.
Yesterday I had lunch at home with one of the most important negociant in Bordeaux and the broker who introduced us.
In the evening, I had dinner at La Dominique with the Groupe Fayat.
Today, I had lunch with my bank Société Générale and following I am leaving for Paris to attend the Grand Tasting at the Carrousel du Louvre taking place Friday and Saturday.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
On November 17, we tasted over 100 at La Paulée in Meursault, where the lunch started at 1:30 pm and ended at 7 pm. I drank and tasted as many whites and reds from Burgundy in one day than the whole year… In other words maybe between 80 and 100 different wines.
From average to good wine, and of course some gems (Chambertin Rossignol Trapet 99, and from Ramonet 2001 and Drouhin 2007 Montrachet)
In any case, the Burgundians are not sectarian as they are able to open a few jewels from the whole world and even from Bordeaux (Mouton, Pétrus and even Valandraud).
The wine from our host and his family was very good. The surprise came from the ability to age of their high-end Burgundy whites (Buisson Charles).
The atmosphere, the meal, the songs everyone sang, confirmed that we were in Burgundy. In addition, Murielle was even able to give kisses 6 times to Claude Lelouch (I need to watch this closely… Will Murielle get a part in one of his film?)
We spent the 2 preceding days visiting and meeting property owners, and tasting wine from Italy, Switzerland, Côte Rôtie and even Bordeaux (a delicious Haut Marbuzet 1990).
Below and few wines I noted and intend to buy at some point :
Culdrie 2007 and Sassi grossi 2007 for Merlots from the Swiss region of Tessin, exceptional
Latricières chambertin Rossignol Trapet 2005
La Landonne 2001 (from Guigal)
Costa del Vento 1999 White
Simon Maye Swiss Syrah. I forgot the vintage.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
“Jean-Luc Thunevin, the pioneer of garage wine.
He created one of the first “garage wine” in 1991 with Chateau Valandraud. Jean-Luc Thunevin was not suspecting that he was going to disturb Bordeaux establishment. His concept? Give the same amount of attention to a lesser known vineyard than a rose bush, reduce drastically the yields, pick very ripe grapes and provide luxurious aging to the wine. He is less provocative even though he just released a Bad Boy cuvee, Jean-Luc Thunevin comments the world of wine in his blog http://thunevin.blogspot.com/. With humour.”
Monday, November 17, 2008
Highly recommended ****
Château Clément Pichon 2005
Grillote, cherry. Very good expression of fruit, lots of red fruits. Fresh, elegant, modern. Lovele wine with sexy tannins !
Decanter Award *****
Chateau Valandraud 2005
Savoury, integrated perfume. Real attack and confidence. Lots of tannins but it’s ripe and hidden, with enough freshness. Dry finish.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Doctor Olivier Ameisen wrote this book based on his experience with alcoholism and the difficulties to get out of it.
Tough book, without any compromise but especially without demonizing this disease, and how he was able to get cured.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
We did an express trip to Rome with our friends to meet a few wine professionals, famous restaurants, wine shops and especially important wine lovers and influential people. This is not new but it is difficult to sell Bordeaux wine in Italy, except for Sauternes and 1st growths… Champaign is also selling well, but it is obvious that selling red wine in this country which produces excellent ones, is difficult.
What’s certain is that this beautiful city has a lot of very good restaurants. Every street and every corner has a museum; it is perhaps the most beautiful city in the world.
As far as restaurants are concerned: we were very received at the 3 stars La Pergola and especially Tullio (via S. Nicola da Tolentino), a very good brasserie – we liked so much that we ate there twice!
The Italian wine I enjoyed most was: Guado Al Tasso 2004.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
What about Le Pin ? The collector from Thailand or Hong Kong ?
Did Hardy Rodenstock make Eglise Clinet or Lafite Rothschild famous ?
Do the 1855 classification or Robert Parker make a wine successful ?
As for Valandraud and its garage, is it Parker, Bettane or the Japanese ?
Go figure how a wine becomes an icon, keeps or loses this status. Some have an idea why, some the reason, but if it was so simple, it would be largely reproduced, imitated, copied. Each time a success was copied, it only increased the credibility of the original and not always brought success to the “replica”, except for a few films or books. The declination of an initial success is rarely followed by a second one.
Why do I write about this? The reason is that I read a long comment, often funny and certainly true, on the site of La Passion du Vin concerning Le Pin in Pomerol.
Why this question? Not asking would be surprising…
What makes a success? Quality? Not enough. Commercial talent ? Not sure.
In wine, it would be known.
So what does?
I am interested in this point for our “high-end” cuvee Les 3 Marie I produce in Maury with my partners in the Roussillon. I would like this cru created in 2004 to be successful and which, for now, has not yet seriously reached the stars from the south in France, even in the Roussillon!
The 2004 vintage being a bit too cerebral could be an explanation. However, 2005 is explosive, smooth and already so good and easy to drink? It is as my employees and us, the owners, became shy, anxious by the ones already established, waiting for I don’t know who (Parker?) or what, a signal, a push in the right direction.
It is like our Maury: the incredible comment from Michel Bettane made us just begin to realize the quality of this Maury. To the extend of my knowledge, beside Christian Dalbavie who thinks of presenting it in the USA instead of (let me say in passing) our importer who fell in love with it during his last visit in Maury with his employees, but who thinks about selling it, or buying it?
Even the cakes from Lopez don’t make the stock disappear, so what? Too many wines, too many good wine?
It would be a good title: Too many good wine by Thunevin… This would certainly help the stock disappear.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
“Maybe you are aware that I have started a master in wine and spirit management. For the marketing course, I was requested to ask 3 persons to participate in a subject called “Wine stories”: Each person must tell us about someone they met, an anecdote, a feeling they had, an emotion, in other words, a particular moment around “wine”.
This story should be relatively short (half a page only) and should give us the possibility to analyze, within the documents received, “unspoken” things about wine. Furthermore, this work can be anonymous or not.
My in-laws suggested to contact you as you know this subject, and as you publish this blog, you would have stories…
I have to give my essay back in a month. Let me know if you are not interested in responding to this project. Otherwise, I would be happy to receive your story.”
As you can see, things are off to a good start for this school where students can get a master in wine and spirits management.
In fact, the student must ask someone to do his (or her) homework… This is better than to do research or copy from someone who already did it. Have your homework done by someone else.
Nobody thought of asking me during my “little” studies.
Well now, what or which sort of story should I choose?
In our story, Murielle and I, the most incredible event what this bottle of Pétrus 1955 we drank in 1982 or 1983, in the bar restaurant Le Petit Prince in Montpon Menestrol to celebrate the sale of the bar and Murielle’s birthday.
This bottle, offered by Mr and Mrs Lisoir on the behalf of their boss (Jean-Pierre Moueix) was in response to my request as a beginner wine enthusiast. At that time I was a bank employee at the Credit Agricole taking care of their savings. In order to pad their retirement plan as bakers, they worked for this famous negociant-owner.
Up to that time, we only drank “wine”.
Wine from more or lesser known appellations, Bergerac, of course, Pécharmant, Bordeaux, Pomerol, Saint Emilion, Châteauneuf du Pape, Fronsac, etc… Some were already known at that time. However, this bottle (opened without knowing much about its quality nor its price) was served with a dish which I don’t remember, but with our friends – Friends from the bar, normal people, who usually drink beer, Ricard, rosé from Provence – We were all “flabbergasted”, surprised by this wine, probably drank in normal glasses. We all felt that we were drinking something different… was the wine responsible for this feeling? Was it this luxury and privilege bottle? Was it the fact that this bottle was a gift?
I don’t remember anymore, but what I can say is that it was very good, a delight, a delicacy. It was not a wine, it was a revelation.
We all signed and dated this bottle but I am not sure if we took a picture. I still have the empty bottle, the ink from the signature disappeared and the label is fading slowly.
Since then, we had the opportunity and the chance to drink it again, never as good, but always with some emotion. When you think that this bottle made us discover what a great wine is…
So, this story is in response to Caroline’s request, but I still have many: tastings with Philippe, Michel and Jacques Luxey, the tasting in Paris where I gave a bottle of Pétrus 1961 to have the right to participate in this tasting of 1961 vintage where I ranked Haut Brion 1961, in front of La Mission and Petrus, once more, etc…
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Just before lunch, my friend Jean-Pierre L. called me to see if he and his friends could visit Chateau La Dominique. As he usually tends to give and not ask, it was a pleasure to grant his request, and even take him around to Valandraud.
In the evening, after work, I ran into an old friend of mine, Alain Paillard, and one of his friends, in front of my office. I used to work with him in my youth in the famous night-club Le Takouk, in Pizou (Dordogne) where I was the DJ and he the barman. What a great period! What fun times in my youth! I kept some fond memories.
Alain was responsible for me moving to Saint Emilion: He had moved here 2 years before me and was the owner of a successful grocery store, while I was still wondering what to do with my life. The first years I was saying that it was his “fault”, or “thanks” to him, for me to be in Saint Emilion, depending on my financial situation.
At that time, our meeting place was either at Julien’s café or Chez Goulée where Francis or Annie always offered us a dish and a glass of wine…
I invited them to have dinner with us. Our last meal was for Edmond Broux’s birthday in Montignac. After drinking Virginie 2005, Valandraud 1997 and Bel Air Ouÿ 2003, we went to the cellar to taste batches of 2008 vintage with all our interns, enologists, managers, etc…
These nice batches of 2008 are being tasted to know if we need more heat, colder, rack… and take all the decision necessary to make the best wine possible.
I am sure that it doesn’t interest anyone now, but our 2008 looks to be good to very good. This is not hot air!
Friday, November 7, 2008
Blanc de Valandraud N° 1, 2007 vintage : a real fruit bomb
Vegetable soup as served during the harvest (pumpkin, etc…)
Fleur Cardinale 2003, not decanted and served in beautiful and large Riedel glasses: rich, powerful, ripe, a total success in this odd vintage. A wine made for long cellaring.
Roast beef, haricots verts (green beans) and Gratin Dauphinois (potato gratin)
Château La Clotte 2001, soft, with finesse, very feminine, very good (I can’t wait to taste 2008 which will be one of the successes of the vintage).
Brie with Truffles
Château Valandraud 1998 : It is certainly one of the best vintages of the Right Bank and this wine was especially complex and spicy. A great bottle. But I am the one saying this.
Pear cake, they are in season, served with a few alcohols including a Japanese and a Fine Bordeaux.
A nice meal, unpretentious where our pretty Korean guests enjoyed Murielle’s cooking as well as the wines made by these women fully committed to their properties, and not only for PR purpose.
Are wines produced by women different?
I don’t know, for Murielle’s taste for powerful wines is so different than Florence, Nelly or others. Same as for men, terroir, vintage; taste influences how wines are made, and this is a good thing.
As I said during dinner, the chance with Bordeaux is to be able to offer different sorts of quality wines which are able to please different people and instead of being against one another could be complementary.
I should ad that Florence was busy with work and forgot about our meeting and had already eaten. Still, she was able to eat a second time!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
It includes all the activities: wholesale, properties, exclusivities and consulting. Despite growth, I am always chasing after cash flow, in order to reimburse my investments and growth in sales therefore impacts our current stock and customers also paying attention to their cash flow.
1999 : 7 000 000 € (delivery of 1996 vintage)
2000 : 6 500 000 € (delivery of 1997)
2001 : 10 000 000 € (delivery of 1998)
2002 : 12 000 000 € (delivery of 1999)
2003 : 17 000 000 € (delivery of 2000)
2004 : 10 000 000 € (delivery of 2001)
2005 : 7 500 000 € (delivery of 2002)
2006 : 13 000 000 € (delivery of 2003 )
2007 : 10 000 000 € (delivery of 2004)
2008 : 17 000 000 € (delivery of 2005)
Estimation 2009 between 13 and 15 000 000 € (delivery of 2006)
Will my bankers be able to lend me the necessary funds? I never thought I would ask myself such a question!
Should I stop investing, create jobs, wanting to grow more? If I can give my opinion, certainly not. It is during difficult time that a serious entrepreneur must create new bases, develop new markets.
I would prefer not delay my investments, but I do depend on the willingness of my bankers and the world economy.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday morning, in L’Essentiel, a blind tasting was organized for our Austrian friends. They are used to this type of fine wine tasting, done half-blind. At the same time, Jean Edouard Tribaudeau had the visit of one of his teacher from the Purpan school, who found me a bit excited… which is usually true and even more these days with all the various jetlags I still have to recover from.
The same Wednesday morning, we also had he visit from a photographer from Objectif Aquitaine, a nice person, and especially Pascal Rabillet, who had a few questions for me, some usual, others a bit more personal. I am always “touched” by the capacity of some journalists and surprised by my ability to still answer with “truth”.
In the afternoon, I had a meeting to discuss the new “ad” for La Dominique. For the first time, we called a professional photographer, Pierre Grenet from Astoria Studio in Bordeaux. The goal being to improve and at least be more visible in the press. The picture will take more space than the text for there is already so much information around: paper, net, radio, etc…
Just as a little joke, a journalist from France Culture wanted to invite me to participate to a program broadcasted live in Paris to confront 2 different generations on the same subject. She didn’t know if I was the “young” or the “old” one she needed for her program. I found it amusing.
I forgot to mention that we drank, with Pascal, a bottle of 3 Marie 2005: totally seductive, rich, of course, very rich, which is at least what should be expected from an expensive wine, but, in addition with more complexity, long, tannins and wood barely noticeable. A great bottle which will do well in blind tastings against its more expensive peers from Australia, the US, Spain, etc… Pascal sent us a telling picture after the tasting but I will keep it for us. The picture even looks blur!
The next day at noon, I stopped by the Clos du Roy to meet up with Jennifer and her guests who were having lunch, and just had a coffee. The 28 Euros menu looked good and creative, and the wine had a nice label… Well, you might think that I just spend my time drinking and eating, but even this time with coffee and a glass of wine, I was working. There is nothing against joigning work and pleasure.
The evening was also work and play. I attended the 50th birthday of a friend. More than 80 people were invited to share the buffet of this fun party. One of the guests mentioned the book of Pierre-Marie Doutrelant “Les bons vins et les autres” – the good wines and others (published by Seuil in 1976 and still available on eBay and in a few good bookstore specialized in ancient books). I was surprised that he knew this book which is still one the good books on wine and particularly on Saint Emilion (it features the top of the town, the bottom, the church, etc…)
While on my way home, not too late, I could almost have stopped by the truck stop La Puce in Bigaroux, where our gerbebaude was organized by Christophe for all the people who participated in the harvest of this late 2008 vintage.
The harvest is late for our team of full time pickers is currently harvesting the Cabernets Sauvignons from the plateau of Bel Air, near Fleur Cardinale who are also still not finished.
The rules for this game is to be the last one… logically, our Carmeneres are holding up and improve day after day, and should be the last one. But who knows!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
“The 3rd book from Dupont helped understand better (probably voluntarily) this great critic from the magazine Le Point. It is now understandable why he likes so much women winemaker, why he likes “little crus”, I realized that he will never like Valandraud (the wood) and that our success is a bit of a handicap for him, for us…?
It doesn’t matter, he’s coherent, competent, and his book, which I still didn’t finish, reads like a novel.”
Since then I finished it and Jacques Dupont, who received from one of his friends the (complete?) comments from my blog, remembered this point “I believe that he will never like Valandraud” and seemed surprised. Perhaps, he didn’t read the entire comment, I wrote about Valandraud and not Virginie de Valandraud which is more to his “taste”, as it is concerning his taste. I rarely criticized good, or not so good, notes from critics, always thinking that it was not my place to discuss their opinion as I chose to present my wine.
It’s like the Saint Emilion classification: once you accept to participate, one has to accept the judgment. Otherwise, it is simpler not to participate.
In any case, lots of people attended this signing event, which showed, if it was needed, the importance of Jacques Dupont and a good bookstore. When will a similar signing event take place for the next books of Bettane or Parker?
At the same moment, in the Crillon Hotel in Paris, L’amateur de Bordeaux and the Bottin Gourmand were organizing their annual grand tasting event, and the internet was full of articles regarding the French position on advertising wine on the internet: even the former minister Evin, with the current minister Roselyne Bachelot, understand that evolution doesn’t mean laxity, even if some leaders are for the others scary “father strictness” camp recalling the worst hours of the American prohibition.
Thursday 30, will be a black screen day for many internet medias, including me. It’s not much but symbolic.
And to conclude on a light note, a picture taken during the harvest where Karl, my grand son, seems to take things in his own hands, and another picture of Murielle, taken by a very good local photographer who was visiting with German journalists.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This trip lasted more than 15 days and finished in the cities of Boston and Portland: our main distributor was, for us, the crowning piece and the promises made to Christian were up to his hopes!
As usual, we had meals with customers, visited retailers, restaurants and fine hotels. In our last days of travel, we were received warmly in these states where few stars in the wine world spend time visiting. Therefore, our clients are not as blasé like in New York…
Our wines were well received and most person we met told me so and confirmed by sizeable orders!
I spoke about the new wave in Bordeaux, of course, I also spoke about garage and the Roussillon. As I did my presentations with humor, fun, I am, as well as our wines, perceived differently than my traditional colleagues: I added to the words heritage, terroir, finesse, the words creation, work and gourmandise!
In Portland, we were received like royalty in the grand hotel where a dinner was prepared by the chef. He achieved a fine paring between food and wine with great talent. Thank you.
Sunday, for lunch, I had a lobster roll and Christian a big and bright red lobster in a local restaurant recommended by the double of Aymar. We regretted to leave so soon (fresh lobster is sold for 4 Dollar a pound in local stores)…
Murielle and I will be back next year and will be introducing “Bad Girl”!
Spending each day in planes or airports isn’t very exciting, but during each trip I make, I feel that there is great improvement in regards to promoting our wines and the Chateaux I consult for. This time, we spoke about La Dominique, Clément Pichon, Commanderie de Mazeyres, Marojallia, Fleur Cardinale, Carles and Haut Mazeris. We also had the opportunity to present our wines from the Roussillon and even our Maury which was very well received, when one takes the time to present it!
In conclusion, as soon as we got back, several serious orders were received and we didn’t encounter any problems caused by the financial crisis as our prices and our wines are not meant for investments (including Valandraud) but instead enjoyed with a group of friends during a meal, or a lover or even for a business lunch!
Sales reps I met told me that they had a good time representing the wines I sell. I can say that it was a great pleasure for me to meet them and felt their enthusiasm. It gives me great confidence in the future, especially if we succeed with the 2008 harvest!
Speaking about the harvest…
The leaves held up and the grapes are tasty (I tasted some last night for dinner). Too bad for pessimists, 2008 will be good for us!
The Merlots from Bel Air Ouÿ (north side) were finished yesterday and the Cabernets Sauvignons from Haut Mazeris (Fronsac) as well.
In Valandraud, we still have the Cabernets Sauvignons from the plateau, as well as the Carmeneres.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I tasted an astonishing ripe and rich cabernet sauvignon from Washington state, DeLille Cellars 2005 “Grand Ciel” which costs 110 dollars per bottle (wholesale price). This wine could compete with any top wine from Napa or Australia, and of course very (Too?) different from any of our wines from Bordeaux. It is actually closer to a Hugo than a Margaux (for the rhyme). I enjoyed the buffet; the Chinese restaurant hosting the event served excellent dim sums, shrimp rolls, etc.
One of our importer’s sales reps told me that he never had a white wine as good as the Blanc de Valandraud N° 1. What is Sopexa doing? Many clients, already buying our wines, who visited us in Saint Emilion and ate at our house are promoting Murielle’s cooking. It feels good that, despite the many invitations and meals they get invited too, ours stand out in their minds. Sometimes, I wonder if our wines are responsible for our sales or Murielle’s cooking!
Our New York trip ended with a fine dinner in the 3 stars restaurant Jean-George organized by our distributor for a groupe of top sommeliers. The menu:
Japanese Snapper Carpaccio,
Vinegar Gele with Ginger, White Radish and Olive Oil
Blanc de Valandraud N° 1 2005
Foie Gras Bruee, Spiced Fig Jam and Toasted Brioche
Bad Boy 2005
Domaine des Sabines 2005
Smoked Squab a l’Orange, Asian Pear and Candied Tamarind
La Dominique 2006
Prieuré Lescours 2001
Slowly Cooked Beef Tenderloin,
Miso Butter and Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Virginie de Valandraud 2004
The harvest will be finished on Tuesday at Haut Mazeris, following with Virginie’s property in Lalande de Fronsac.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Wine brings cultures together in a friendly atmosphere and the roots of vines remind us of the terroir, the country. Wine facilitates human contact, conversation and friendship.
Monday, we drove to Washington DC. A change from the countryside. We attended a lunch function at Michel Richard’s Central Bistro. This place is up to par with the best brasseries in Paris or Bordeaux.
Tuna and salmon Carpaccio served with an incredible seasoning, steak with unbelievable fries and vanilla crème brulée, served for a selection of Didier’s best customers. The choice of place and guests was top, sommeliers, restaurateurs or owners of wine shops. Even the famous wine critic of the Washington Post, Ben Giliberti attended. And especially our (Murielle and I) best ambassador, the 1st and very famous Mark Salter, from the restaurant Citronelle, who gives the tone concerning the credibility of any wine, as much in Washington DC than in Texas. Mark is part of the tasting comity for the magazine Tasted, along with Andreas Larsson.
In the evening, we attended a very fancy event (suit and tie mandatory) in the very old Metropolitan Club (1863), where Christian and I stayed and where my wines were served during a meal prepared by a French chef for only 50 guests (20 more were on the waiting list).
This time our Calvet-Thunevin Hugo and Maury were included as well as Commanderie de Mazeyres and de Carles. At 7pm, we did a little show for 50 people in a salon where several stars winemakers had already been. I was in good spirit and entertained the crowd with jokes making them laugh. Our guests were of the highest standing including lawyers, lobbyists, wealthy entrepreneurs, etc. I always meet one or two who tell me that they are friends of Jean-Michel Caze and Lynch Bages. I still have a long way before being at his level, and if Bordeaux could line up 50 Jean-Michel Cazes, it would certainly benefit all of us!
The organization and meal, which followed at 8 pm in this very exclusive Metropolitan Club, was made possible thanks to l’Essentiel in Saint Emilion where Carlos developed a good relationship with our host who was seduced by our Calvet-Thunevin 2001 or 2002 he tasted in Aspen. The wines of Roussillon opened the door to Bordeaux. This is an additional and positive sign for people who prefer openness instead of staying in their little world as well as for our distributor Eric Solomon who helped making these wines available.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Wine stores are profitable Aladdin’s caves. All my friends’ wines are sold here and some of my wines, in addition to the ones sold by Didier, are already present: Cambon la Pelouse, Rollan de By, La Vieille Cure, Les Grands Maréchaux, Lalande Borie, Ducru Beaucaillou, Fleur de Boüard as well as Chapelle Ségur, la cuvée Viva, Tour de Guiet, Peyfol, Fombrauge with Fleur Cardinale, Clément Pichon, Sabines, Bad Boy and even Flor de Pingus, tenuta de Trinoro ! Lots and lots of choice. And I don’t mention the various beers.
We visited Tastings and had a good time with the owner, he looks like an artist and has a great sense of humor, and enjoyed a delicious crab cake. We then drove to Richmond to participate to a wine tasting organized by Emerson. It was very well attended, and properly organized by this beautiful and large store. Their customers had the opportunity to taste Blanc de Valandraud N° 2 2006, Lalande Couturier 2005, Fonguillon l’Enclos 2005, Bad Boy 2005, which I often autographed, the 3 de Valandraud 2003 and Clément Pichon 2001. The involvement of the owner made this tasting one of the best I participated in the USA in a long time.
A good number of Francophiles attended including Bob Talcott, the stylish and sparkling, boss of Can Can brasserie where Fleur Mongiron 2005 is already served by the glass. Thank you for globalization and Guy who bought this wine which I saw in this corner of Virginia.
We had dinner at our friend’s home then went to bed early after spending a good day talking and visiting retailers which expressed the personalities of their owners. The impersonal atmosphere of our hotel is depressing despite being correct.
A final thought: If every distributors I work with did the same job Didier on Bad Boy, I would need to produce 100 times more!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Since then, he used the word French Connection. I don’t know if the word is appropriate, but so what. Every French person greeted us with passion, took the time and each time planned to order several wines, including Valandraud.
In addition to the wine stores we visited, we went to an astonishing wine bar, where 80% of the customers are women (lucky guy), then another, where the Russian owner had an incredible eyes and a sure palate, an Armenian, fan of Ausone and Saint Emilion, professional with his large gourmet store filled with Mediterranean aromas. The great surprise was meeting 2 Frenchmen each owning 2 restaurants. The first, Bistro Provence and Don Camillo, where we had a good lunch, had as brother-in-law, Christophe Paul from Café Rabelais.
Christophe Paul is neighbor of Pascal Andraud, Murielle’s brother and my parents-in-law in Brantirat (township of Sablons de Guitres). That was a surprise for me as I had already heard about him through Pascal, his “American” friend. Christophe, a passionate wine enthusiast, visited Valandraud to taste the 2005 vintage.
We had dinner in his restaurant Café Rabelais (full of customers) with a friend if his from Burgundy (life can be rough, but, fortunately, I am used to it…). We spent the evening talking and talking, cracking jokes like kids. Nicolas, the Burgundy “rabbit” with his jokes and humor of attorney and Christophe, with his passion for wine helped me to recover from the jetlag. I went to bed just before midnight. I hope that the rest of the trip will be at the level of Texas, where I will certainly be back. This time, without jetlag to be able to be in better form!
Friday, we made a presentation to the sales staff of our distributor in Houston, then flew to Washington via Chicago where Didier is expecting us, one of our efficient importer of Bad Boy and more.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
In any case, I still had a hard time with jetlag. I still didn’t recover from my trip to China.
I must point out to the professionalism of our prospects, who tasted our wines with open minds, able to be part of the Grand Jury Europeen, and chose wine without asking about the classification, the notes from Parker or the Wine Spectator. I even saw in the store of a French person who was a student of Emile Peynaud, an old Ferret and the 2007 and 2008 Hachette guides!
Their only questions: can we get the wines immediately?! When will you be back? Can you help us with our competition for Best Sommelier of Texas (of course we can, again, where are Sopexa and various institutions supposed to promote our wines?).
Another plane to catch to fly to Houston, no time to get bored, nor to spend to much time watching TV, although Sarkozy seemed to address the right issues regarding this crisis (rating agencies, balance sheets, remuneration, etc…).
Unfortunately, between my trip to China and the USA, I didn’t have much time to respond to comments posted on my blog.
I will try to answer to a few:
To Charles Traonouëz ( who is in charge of Château Malromé): indeed, in my opinion, it was wise to use the Tribaie machine this year… while waiting for a new one which will make this one obsolete. This is how it goes for the “latest” equipment, the next one will be better. It is no point to use it on the whites, our traditional way being most likely the best way, but only with red grapes where it works well, indeed.
We will see when we taste this wine compared to others.
To Patrick Essa: All the grapes don’t have this beautiful golden color, many being more “normal”. In any case, too bad that the harvest takes place during the same period… I would have certainly hired you as a consultant for a real-condition test… In addition, people would talk about it ;-)
Friday, October 17, 2008
In 1984, the second hand car I bought, very old second hand, a Renault 10, cost me 150 Euros, less than the watch I’m wearing which I bought when I was a bank employee. When I see what’s happening with banks and the stock exchange today, I say to myself that the world is upside down, countries, prisoners of speculators, having to pay for their mistakes, while our “little” Mexicans have to work like slaves to pay for their debts. Bizarre no? Don’t we take the risk of making democratic and moral rules incomprehensible? Hope for a new world?
Thursday, October 16, 2008
As soon as we arrived, we had a serious tasting with our good…very good distributor for Texas. They carry a wide range of wines from our portfolio including Calvet-Thunevin Constance and Hugo, Baby del Rey, Cazal de Roque, the wines from Fezas Chiroulet with the whites, the Vin de Bob from Bergerac, Haut Carles and Château de Carles, Lalande Couturier, Bel Air Ouÿ, Valandraud red and white, Franc Maillet and Commanderie de Mazeyres from Pomerol.
The tasting organized for their sales team went well and no one mentioned the financial crisis. Instead they were looking forward to placing these wines in the best restaurant, wine stores, etc.
Texas is wealthy, but the passion and eagerness of the employees of this distributor with such positive attitude are what is often missing in Bordeaux, at least in the world of the wine.
We had dinner in a steakhouse which served quality meat. Their wine list were as impressive as La Tour d’Argent in Paris with wines like Ausone 1900, Cheval Blanc 1900 1947, Mouton Rotschild 1945, etc… And they sell more than 30,000 bottles per year! 3 vintages of Valandraud and Calvet-Thunevin are already listed and probably Commanderie de Mazeyres and Haut Carles will be added. My American hosts had sympathy for me and I was able to go to bed at 10 pm, and by 10:05 I was sleeping like a baby.
One more thing, we drank a Dominus 99, all in finesse and very Bordeaux like and a Cluzel Roche Grande Place 2005, shut tight?
Nous sommes à Dallas dans le Texas avec pour moi un gros décalage horaire, l’accumulation de celui de la France avec celui de la Chine. Je ne sais plus très bien quelle heure il est ?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
It was an amazing privilege for us to be invites, especially for Murielle who seemed more happy than me. Is that possible?
What a consecration for us to be included in such a illustrious group of fine guest, for most being characters, creative minds, entrepreneurs, top fashion designers or owners for famous chateaux or negoce business.
What a great opportunity to be able to drink La Dominique 1989, one of the successes of this property, as well as seeing our Blanc de Valandraud as opener.
We finished picking the Merlots this week in the Fayat vineyards, and now it is the turn of the Cabernets. Again, we’re experiencing a vintage is again made with unexpected nice weather.
The team was very professional and will most likely produce and very nice film. Hopefully, it will help increase the visibility and notoriety of my wines and customers (La Dominique, Fleur Cardinale, Haut Carles…)
In the meantime, we drank for lunch:
Valandraud Blanc N°1 2004, really good
Valandraud 1998, excellent, in its peak, almost with a decadent palate, as some classic integrists would say, too sexy… (a swear word exists in French starting with p…). In anycase, a real pleasure.
Valandraud 2000, corked (thanks to Amorin), poured it down the drain.
It wasn’t much to drink for 7 people, so I got a bottle of Petrus 1998 from my cellar. It wasn’t meant to compare but to please and honor my guests. Petrus is always a winner! The wine was beautiful, holding back and an insolent youthfulness. This wine was produced with a specific objective : duration and restrain.
Murielle, “our” Russians and I drank this wine to the last drop and the bottle was properly filmed during 10 minutes! Vive Petrus!
In the evening, after a long day of shooting, harvest, cellar, fall landscape, a wine with an evocative name was served. Only one wine, but in a double magnum. It was La Petite Sibérie 2001. One the favorite wines of our translator and friend. Here too, the bottle was easily finished, with pleasure and certainly too young… well, it was for an appropriate occasion…