Thursday, January 31, 2008

Relativity... and Cristal Roederer

I am a negociant, a wine merchant, and mainly sell expensive wine. As for cheaper wine, I cannot compete with established groups (Castel, Grands Chais de France, etc…), even if I wanted too.

In the world of luxury wine, Cristal, Salon, Dom Perignon and other premium cuvees seem to me less expensive than other great wines in the world including 1st growths in Bordeaux and top Burgundies – even if they are somewhat expensive. This is, of course, a question of semantics for wealthy people.

But I would like to remind you that this blog is written by a negociant – owner (and consultant) who’s main vocation is to find the best quality-price-image ratio. My starting point for retail price is 5 Euros, which seems expensive considering that 90% of wines sold are under 3 Euros. However, I should stress that I am not in the business, nor my company, of selling cheap wine.

Yesterday, Mr Thierry Desseauve tasted several of our wines at l’Essentiel. It is always a mix of pleasure and a bit of fear, that I go through tastings done by professional or journalists. Especially as the purpose is to know if “he (or she)” will like it or not… This does have implications. Well, several wines were good and even the 98 vintage was still very good.

During dinner, with Alain, Joseph, Murielle and I, we talked about branding, the négoce, personal stories, the evolution of our business… Me, with my small wholesale company, and Joseph with his very large one.

I love this job where you have your feet on the ground as well as your head in the stars.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Discretion and secrets

Yesterday, I had lunch with the broker from a fine brokerage firms in Bordeaux who is also a client as he placed the 3 de Valandraud 2004 in the wine list of the business class of a major airline.

Also present were Cécile and Gilles, two of my employees, as well as Aymar du Vivier, a character and personality in Bordeaux. His presence made this meal more convivial. Aymar is a sort of free spirit in the world of wine, which explains our friendship.
We had a fun time with plenty of humor and jokes, and witty conversation which made time go by quickly.

Everyone ate and drank well, despite being a bit on “diets”. We tasted:
Blanc de Valandraud N°1 2004
3 de Valandraud 2003-2004-2005
Virginie de Valandraud 2003-2004-2005
Château Valandraud 2003 -2004-2005
And Haut Carles 2005
All the wines were good, enhanced by the nice weather and good company!
Murielle cooked a simple meal: omelet with fresh truffles from Riberac (in the Dordogne region), roast beef and mash potatoes made with the rest of a big truffle, floating island and coffee.
You will think that these meal are only pretexts. Well, you are right, but I must ad that it was also a way to thank our client, who sold 24000 bottles of 3 de Valandraud 2004 and will most likely propose some of our other wines.

As I stated many time, you know that the system in Bordeaux with its myriad of brokers, negociants, colleagues and competitors is a unique system to sell our wines. To prove my point: this afternoon, back at the office, another big brokerage firm confirmed the purchase of 40 000 bottles of Saint Paul de Dominique 2006 from the Vignobles Fayat by a large Bordeaux negociant which had been following this wine. This is the sign of a real “win-win” relationship (as Ségolène Royal would say).

Right after lunch, we tasted 30 samples from batches of our 2007 Saint Emilion: We already have to think about the March tastings as well as preparing the cellar to begin the bottling of the 2006 as well as racking the 2007 which just ended its malolactic (at last!).

For dinner, we finished the bottles opened for lunch. The 2005 were delicious. We drank with Michel and Ghislaine (Château Croix de Labrie), a bottle of Cristal 1995 to celebrate this new year. This made me think that these luxury Champaign are the best rapport in quality-cost-image.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chateau La Dominique

For lunch, on Friday, February 1st, Mr Clément Fayat and I will received all the brokers and négociants in Bordeaux who buy and sell the wines from Vignobles Clément Fayat:
Château Clément Pichon Haut Médoc Cru Bourgeois
Château Prieurs de la Commanderie Pomerol
Commanderie de Mazeyres Pomerol
Château La Dominique, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé which has the clear objective set by the Fayat family to get the status of 1st Grand Cru Classé B in the next revision of the classification.
The reason for this reception is to show the determination of the Fayat family to catch-up on lost time and the ambitious program implemented to make each of these properties successful: The investments done in the past acquiring these vineyards as well as the current ones to provide the proper resources in personnel and equipment to reach these goals.
The beautiful reception and professional tasting rooms are a proof.

This will also be the opportunity to taste samples of the 2007 vintage where our properties will some of the best, as well as the 2006 which is ready for bottling. This will also give us the opportunity the thank every one who believed in us in 2006, and for some for 40 years! (I wasn’t involved at that time!)

La Dominique was bought in 1969, and it is a great opportunity for me to run this beautiful cru which shares almost 1 km of land with Cheval Blanc and has also other prestigious neighbors such as: La Conseillante and L’Evangile à Pomerol, and Jean Faure in Saint Emilion.

"The million dollar nose"

The magazine Tasted and the best sommeliers in the world… This beautiful publication with a large print run and sold for less than 12 Dollars includes beautiful pictures, English and even Russian texts! Why not also include French? Perhaps, not enough customers and the market is too small.

Parker’s membership site published the complete article written by William Langewiesche for the very chic and influential Boston publication “The Atlantic Monthly” with the well known title “The million Dollar nose” about Robert Parker. It includes a piece on the Garagiste, Valandraud, Thunevin and especially Marojallia and Murielle Andraud.

This article was published in December 2000. For me, this was a long time ago. When you think that Marojallia was created in 1999 and Valandraud in 1991. We are looking with anxiety at newcomers who don’t respect the established order, or the established disorder…

Life is an eternal new beginning… Nothing is acquired, you have to deserve your place!

Thursday evening, January 24, lots of friends gathered around the Aubert family to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Château La Couspaude. In fact, it is in 1908 that Jean Prosper Robin acquired this 7 ha property for 43750 Francs!

On Friday morning, January 25, Alain Duran organized a tasting of the 2005 vintage with Cécile and Rémy. As for me, I was invited by Mr Clément Fayat at Château Clément Pichon to attend the announcement of the good results of the Groupe Fayat.

The results for the Vineyards were not good this year again, fortunately not due to me. Next year, I know that the sales will help finance the investments done in equipment and personnel necessary to reach the objectives set by the family and myself (already a lot of work has been done).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thank you the UGC !

The Union des Grands Crus is travelling through the USA where Xavier Serin is presenting La Dominique 2005. On Mark Squire’s BB (on Parker’s site), La Dominique is mentioned and commented many times by participants from several cities where the tasting took place.
Lots of PR is needed to maintain the notoriety of a cru. The Union des Grands Crus is one of the best tools to communicate in the world and in Bordeaux as it represents a large percentage of top Grands crus…

Château Angélus
Château Balestard
La Tonnelle
Château Bastor-Lamontagne
Château Batailley
Château Beaumont
Château Beauregard
Château Beau-Séjour Bécot
Château Belair
Château Belgrave
Château Berliquet
Château Beychevelle
Château Branaire-Ducru
Château Brane-Cantenac
Château Camensac
Château Canon
Château Canon-La-Gaffelière
Château Cantemerle
Château Cantenac-Brown
Château Cap de Mourlin
Château Carbonnieux
Château Chasse-Spleen
Château Citran
Château Clarke
Château Clerc Milon
Château Climens
Château Clinet
Clos Fourtet
Château Cos Labory
Château Coufran
Château Coutet
Château Croizet-Bages
Château d’Angludet
Château d’Armailhac
Château Dassault
Château Dauzac
Château de Chantegrive
Domaine de Chevalier
Château de Fargues
Château de Fieuzal
Château de France
Château de Lamarque
Château de Rayne Vigneau
Château Doisy Daëne
Château Doisy-Védrines
Château du Tertre
Château Ferrande
Château Ferrière
Château Figeac
Château Fonréaud
Château Fourcas-Dupré
Château Fourcas-Hosten
Château Franc Mayne
Château Gazin
Château Giscours
Château Grand-Mayne
Château Grand-Puy Ducasse
Château Greysac
Château Gruaud Larose
Château Guiraud
Château Haut-Bages Libéral
Château Haut-Bailly
Château Haut-Bergey
Château Kirwan
Château La Cabanne
Château La Conseillante
Château La Dominique
Château La Lagune
Château La Louvière
Château La Pointe
Château La Tour Blanche
Château La Tour Carnet
Château La Tour de By
Château La Tour Figeac
Château Labégorce
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey
Château Lafon-Rochet
Château Lagrange
Château Langoa Barton
Château Larcis Ducasse
Château Larmande
Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion
Château Lascombes
Château Latour-Martillac
Château Léoville Barton
Château Léoville Poyferré
Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion
Château Lynch-Bages
Château Lynch-Moussas
Château Malartic-Lagravière
Château Malescasse
Château Marquis de Terme
Château Maucaillou
Château Monbrison
Château Nairac
Château Olivier
Château Ormes De Pez
Château Pape Clément
Château Pavie Macquin
Château Petit-Village
Château Phélan Ségur
Château Pichon-Longueville
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
Château Picque Caillou
Château Pontet Canet
Château Poujeaux
Château Prieuré-Lichine
Château Rahoul
Château Rauzan Gassies
Château Rauzan-Ségla
Château Sigalas-Rabaud
Château Siran
Château Smith Haut-Lafitte
Château Suduiraut
Château Talbot
Château Troplong Mondot
Château Trottevieille

Méli Mélo

Constellation Brands, the world’s N°1 wine company had revenues of 1 billion Dollars with close to 120 million Dollars in profit.
The combined revenues from our large wholesalers such as Castel Frères and Grand Chais de France, are probably not far from that.

I received the No 54 issue of Jean-Marc Quarin’s barrel tasting notes of Bordeaux 2005. It is good, I can’t wait to see the report of the bottled wines which Jean-Marc is currently working on.
In any case, the No 54 issue confirms the success of my friends in the Right Bank (including Ausone noted 20 and Cheval Blanc 19.5) as well as the Left Bank:
Trolong Mondot with 20/20
Beauséjour Duffau with 19/20
Angélus 18/20
Ducru Beaucaillou 18.5/20 once more at the top
Noted 18 : La Conseillante, Léoville Poyferré, Pape Clément, Pontet Canet, Valandraud, etc…

This is really a top vintage, and considering the prices, one question remains : will the château provide samples to taste, even to journalists ?

Last Friday, I had an appointment with my main bank, the Credit Lyonnais. Where attending, the person in charge of the local branch in Saint Emilion and his boss to discuss the current loans of my company. The sums borrowed are necessary to run the company and make the proper investments needed to expend and in construction in an industry where revenues can experience wide swings. Particularly in my business where one year revenues can increase by 50% and the next drop by the same amount.

It is therefore crucial to deal with banks who understand this business model and our balance sheets.

The Credit Lyonnais represents 70% of our financing, BNP 25% and Société Générale 5%. The size of our debt seems considerable compared to our revenues, but our the production and wholesale sectors of our industry require a great amount of capital. The reimbursement for our mortgages are done in 20 or 30 years and the cash flow needed to finance our customers payment terms represent around 3% of our revenues. Only for the 2008/2009 period, we will probably need 1 million for production and promotion and 1.5 for cash flow. For your information, our 10 million Euros in revenues for 2007 will increase to 15 this year (due to the delivery of 2005).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Visits and tastings

Last Saturday and Sunday, we received several groups of visitors which also means that we had several lunches, dinners and tastings.
Jeffrey Davis organized a blind tasting for a group of winemakers from Napa Valley. Several crus from Saint Emilion as well as Napa from an exceptional vintage were served.
The 2005 were very good, and as usual some Bordeaux were mistaken for American wines and vise versa. Valandraud tasted good. At least the group seemed to like it, which is a good sign.
Murielle and I had lunch at home instead of the restaurant, and drank the perfect match to a fresh river bass cooked to perfection. This Meursault Les Cras 2005 1er cru from Domaine Buisson Charles was ripe, extravagant, with the kind of ripe fruit I would love to equal with our wine. It was so good that the two of us finished the bottle. We took a mandatory nap!

Saturday evening and the next day, Béatrice Decout was in Saint Emilion to show and sell her collections of books, post cards, etc… To her surprise, she ended up in our home with Chloé, Léa, Fabienne and Fabrice. It was great to have the children and grand-children of our late friend from Montpon (Daniel Decout).

Our friendship held-up despite taking separate roads and we don’t have to see each other often to have a good time when we get together. Their world is education and ours wine, but we are bonded by our memories.

For dinner, Manu and Linda gave us again the opportunity to discover this young and passionate couple. Restaurateurs like we were, they are full of energy and ambition despite their demanding job, as we experienced when we arrived in Saint Emilion. A great and rare bottle of Grand Echezeaux 1992 from René Engel made this a Burgundy weekend, and our Valandraud 1992 was opened in great company.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The grass in greener in the neighbor's field

The Revue du Vin de France published a beautiful article with several pages on Hervé Bizeul and his Clos des Fées in the Roussillon. When I tell you that this region is full of promises, where a similar path than the Priorat in Spain is taking place… The popularity of these wines in the world, while waiting for France to react, looks more like the movement René Barbier created with Clos Mogador. Here, Hervé Bizeul and Gauby, with a few others, are the drivers for this great wine region.

The RVF published a great article on blogs, some developed by some of my friends. Hopefully, the RVF will create their own like the Wine Advocate or the Wine Spectator.

I read a surprising interview of Jean Dominique Perrin who criticizes Bordeaux 1st growths and especially Ausone. It is quite amazing that this person cannot understand the difference between the limited production of the 7 hectares of Château Ausone, which cannot go above 2000 cases, and the industrial-hand crafted production of watches or jewelry. The freedom of expression for this sort of cant is fine, but it should not be driven by bitterness, jealousy, and a populist view. Here in Saint Emilion, people who made such “out-of-place” statements have now sold their family properties. If one thinks that it is still possible to go back to 1st growths under 100 Euros is, at least for me, inconceivable, nor desirable. It is in our interest, we producers, to produce wines which offer credible alternatives to these icons which have no problems to find their way into the cellars of some rich wine-lovers who, no matter what people say, open plenty of bottles and contribute to increase the rarity of available high-end wines.

We each have our own limitations regarding expenses. While my childhood friends drink occasionally 10 Euros bottles, but most of the time water, and can even afford to take a chartered holiday in Senegal, others can only travel by helicopter and private jets. Each have their own values and means.

Asking questions doesn’t force anyone to give answers. I have 2 additional comments about this article (which actually shows its interest).
In Bordeaux, 1st growths are drivers. What would Pomerol be without Petrus, Margaux without Château Margaux? In Cahors, the special cuvees seemed to me as important for the whole appellation…
In France and in Bordeaux, the 2007 vintage will most likely not be the vintage of the century, so what? To go as far and saying that all 1st growths are mediocre, is like saying that all the managers are incompetent imbeciles, which is not the case. Actually, even in my properties, I have already bought very good batches for my Bordeaux négoce business where the quality as nothing to envy to 2006, I didn’t even need to buy them.

We will have the response from the media quite soon (March), and maybe with a bit of irony, we might have to bring out statements, worthy of Marianne or Nossiter, but this is surprising coming from this colleague who could have taken the time to checked with critics who spend time in vineyards, like Jean Marc Quarin, James Lawther or Michel Bettane, before making such peremptory remarks based on unfounded facts!

Bordeaux 2007 deserves better that these allegations!

Friday, January 18, 2008


Yesterday, we tasted a whole series of wines from our domain sent by Marie and Jean-Roger Calvet.

First, Les 3 Marie 2005 (before bottling), yes 2005. This area has most likely not seen such aging à la Guigal! 100% Black Grenache (and really black), 2005 is better than 2004, this shows the level.

A beautiful batch of Grenache 2006 as well as Les Dentelles 2006, reaching a level superior to what has been produced so far. The work in the vineyards and the vintage helped take away the Maury flavor you could find in our wines.

A few batches of Grenache and Syrah 2007, in the same style. Our terroirs in Lesquerdes bring this freshness, the altitude of 300 to 400 meters increases the range of temperature and often the freshness and acidity of the fruits.

Nice work. Thanks to Claude Gros, the team helping Marie and Jean-Roger and their 3 associates in Saint Emilion it gets better each year.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Search engines

While searching on Google, I found out that Valandraud was searched for various vintages including :
1990 ...This goes to show. Too bad I waited before creating this wine!
In 2004, Valandraud was the 9th brand most sought after in Japan, after Pétrus, Mouton Rothschild, Roumier, Romanée Conti, Miani, Le Pin, Yquem, Lafleur, devant Latour, Dom Pérignon, Cristal, Margaux, etc…

That’s true, it was the only time: for the other countries and other years, I am far behind…
In 2006 and on one search engine, Valandraud was inquired 27761 times… Pétrus 447322 times!
Calvet Thunevin 1437 times, Thunevin 2481, Marojallia 2198, Carles 3588, Fleur Cardinale 5458, La Dominique 12106, Ducru Beaucaillou 92556, Talbot 104297…
Betrand should do a classification per region !

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The price of wine... hard workers

Today’s comments on Hervé Bizeul’s blog or even James Suckling (Wine Spectator) could be of interest (or not) for proponents of blind tasting and point out the problems with half blind tastings such as ones based on categories: Classified growth from the Medoc, 1st cru, Right Bank, Pomerol, Fronsac, French-American Wines…
As soon as our brain receives information, what ever sort, it analyses it and draws conclusions.
How many time has a wine served at the end of the meal seemed better for it is supposed to be served in an ascending curve, the carafe, a little smile, our suggested means… Convinced by the validity of this information, many winery owners have artificially created expensive wines. However, the end consumer is not so stupid. Will survive only the ones who offer a real range of qualities.

Actually… I participated in a blind tasting on Monday 14… I drank during lunch with an important wine broker and the staff of one the nicest négociant in Bordeaux:
Doisy Daene rosé 2005 (delicious)
Château Les Grands Chênes 2003 (very good QPR, top)
Pavillon Rouge 2001 (classic)
Château Beauséjour Bécot 1990 (already 18 years old! And still very good!)
Château d’Aiguilhe 2003 (incredible QPR)
And especially, the exceptional QPR and class (it deserved its promotion) of Château Bellefont Belcier 2003.

Hurrah for blind tasting ! I didn’t guess anything (except the clayey limestone soil of Château l’Aiguilhe)
In this euphoric atmosphere, I even offered to open and drink at my home or at La Dominique, Pingus and Harlan! Damn! ;-))

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

When I was a bank employee, the Crédit Agricole provided us with training courses to improve our sales, sell better and more. At that time (1970-1983), these sales practices seemed to me dangerous. I was a bit (even a lot), reticent (always opposed to being formatted). In retrospect, I have no regrets for I would have become a good bank employee. I would have climbed the ladder and would have stayed until my retirement, which would have been now! How dreadful!

In any case, I did accept this Maslow's hierarchy of needs to better understand others, at least, people who succeed socially.
I wonder if a similar theory exists for bitter or jealous individuals, people who always know-it-all, so I can better understand them…

First shovel in Maury!

The work on the new cellar in Maury has just begun. Below, the message and few pictures sent by Marie Calvet:
“I would have never imagined that the sight of an excavator could give me so much pleasure!.
Jean-Roger and myself were getting ready to experience an adventure with this project, but we are starting to realize that it is more like a battle. One can believe that pro-activeness and success aggravate the pettiness of some mediocre minds. Even though we were warned, we didn’t imagine that some would attack our project. However, and despite these issues, it is with happiness and perseverance that the Calvet from Calvet-Thunevin, armed with optimism, will carry on with the construction.
In a couple of weeks, the stone walls will start to go up, if weather doesn’t prevent us (at least, it wouldn’t be done maliciously)!”

Monday, January 14, 2008


These past days we drank :
Gevrey Chambertin Aux Etelois 2005 from Rossignol-Trapet. The owners of Château de Carles really liked it. In my opinion, it was shut tight. I will taste again the next bottle in 3 to 4 years ?
Eglise Clinet 2002, delicious, a gourmet wine, a real pleasure with such balance. The glasses were quickly emptied.
Balestard 2000, probably the best Bordeaux in this vintage, powerful with contained softness. Such purity and youth will help this wine age for many more years. Too bad we drank it by itself with no famous opponent to compare it with.

I recently read 2 good books:
“Birmane” (Burmese) from Christophe Ono also called Biot, (Plon éditions). Easy and very digestible!
And especially a book by the Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. I couldn’t put this book down. I had to finish it for the story is so surprising: “ Men who didn’t like women” (1st opus from a series of 3), published by Acte Sud.

As for the Roussillon: I read a very good (and useful) translation of David Schildnecht’s article (Wine Advocate), done by Eric Monné on the site of Clot de l’Oum

Back to Bertrand Le Guern’s statistics (average of wine ratings)
If you take Jancis Robinson, vintages 2000 to 2004: Valandraud reaches the110th position. However, I think there is a mistake for the 2003 note, which Jancis really liked (for it got the highest note in the Right Bank with Ausone).

Robert Parker , 1998 to 2004 Valandraud reaches 19th
Stephen Tanzer, 1998 to 2004 Valandraud reaches 18th
Grand Jury Européen, 1998 to 2004 Valandraud reaches 5th
Wine Spectator, 2000 to 2004 Valandraud reaches 34th

The problem with averages is that if you get one bad note then you drop to the 38th place!
When I tell you that my Valandraud deserves better!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Bertrand Le Guern worked on a statistical study for all Bordeaux wines from 1997 to 2007 taking based on the notes of the Grand Jury Européen, Jancis Robinson, Robert Parker, Stephen Tanzer and the Wine Spectator.

To bad that a similar statistical study was not made for each critic… This would give Parker his own classification and the opportunity for the reader to check if it corresponds to his own!
This could also be instructive to do the same within a specific time frame.

On the 462 wines (or so) rated, Yquem arrived first, Valandraud 38th (Still I beleive to deserve better), Marojallia 67th, Croix de Labrie 93rd, Franc Maillet Jean Baptiste 95th, Gracia 103rd, Haut Carles 181st, Virginie de Valandraud 191st, Clos Margalaine 209th, Clos Badon-Thunevin 229th, Compassant 259th, La Dominique 274th and Commanderie de Mazeyres 355th.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Going South

“It was not so bad”, as Nino Ferrer’s song goes…
On the site Dé, I read tasting notes on 2 wines I like :
Philippe Gard’s wines from Collioure: Quadratur, etc… and especially the ones Jeffrey Davis produced at la Clape: La Négly Porte du Ciel which grabbed the top spot from the best wines from Languedoc, Roussillon and Chateauneuf du Pape in 2001.
To bad our wines were not included.

On Parker’s site I read the results from a tasting of reasonably priced Bordeaux between 60 and 80 Dollars, where Monbousquet 2003, Quinault L’Enclos 2001 were featured. There again, I wished that Clos Badon or Virginie, even Haut Carles or Fleur Cardinal were included.
Well, as long as wine is being talked about and that this blind tasting features wines that are not so well known, I am fine with this.

Today, Mister Michel Rolland visited La Dominique to review the good, or bad, work done by his “students”, as well as give us his views on what needs to be done to reach the top 20 Saint Emilion!
A work lunch with the technical staff followed a tasting of the last vintages of La Dominique, including our latest one, 2007, which we have put great expectations.
During the meal, we will taste 2 successful vintages from this property: 1998 and 1989 (incredible).
Following, I will taste, at home, with Jean Philippe Fort, Rémi Dalmasso the final blends of 2006 before bottling.

Watch-out! Danger!... Already, yesterday, I had lunch at the “Lard et Bouchon ” with Alain and one of my friends who was just put in charge of the Grands Crus department of one of Bordeaux largest négociant.
I am trying not to eat or drink too much for lunch because I have been attending business lunches every day this week.
There is both the good and bad side in our industry… If you don’t pay attention, you can easily gain weight and even become a social alcoholic.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The story goes on...

Damn, the story keeps going on... even in the movies!
Tomorrow, January 9, the Irish film "Garage" from Lenny Abrahamson is being released (nothing to do with wine though).

Monday, January 7, 2008

Harlan, typicity, Mondovino DVD

In response to Jean Bouteille’s comment on our French blog :

« Following your recommendation (RE Mondovino extended version), I tasted Harlan Estate 2002 (100/100 RP), 2003 (95/100 RP) and 1997 (100/100). The 2002 vintage, with intense and incomparable fruit largely deserved the maximum note; 2003, powerful and stimulating, but lacked acidity. And the legendary 1997 was closer to the 2003 vintage than 2002.
I will have a great souvenir of the 2002 but I feel that Harlan Estate tastes more like certain Châteauneuf Du Pape as well as some Amarone or Port than Bordeaux. »

In fact, in blind tasting with a series of great Bordeaux, Harlan Estate didn’t seem so different. But are great Bordeaux closer to Châteauneuf du Pape in ripe vintages? I won’t go as far as comparing them to Amarone or Port. Still some British journalists have not missed the opportunity to say it…
In any case, for your taste, you don’t spare any expense! In a future film, I promise to chose cheaper wines!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy new year 2008, work-prosperity

I would like for my friends’ wines to become successful, that my famous colleagues chateau owners realize that our wholesale company can help their distribution and that I also need their strategic allocations. That brokerage firms do not fear defending me, where it is possible, and that they keep on the good work with the wines of Clément Fayat (La Dominique, Clément Pichon, Prieurs de la Commanderie and La Commanderie de Mazeyres), Florence and Dominique Decoster (Fleur Cardinale), as well as Philippe Porcheron (Marojallia), without forgetting the wines of Constance and Stéphane Droulers (Haut Carles and Château de Carles).

I would like the media to keep on supporting me and my friends in 2008 as much as they did in 2007. Last year even ended with a nice article on James Suckling’s blog (Wine Spectator) regarding garage wine.

I wish that the Wine Enthusiast help promote my wines in the American market, that our new investment in China holds all its promises, that future travels for Vinexpo Hong Kong and the 2007 tasting in Osaka and Tokyo be successful, that the Revue du Vin de France show (May 17 and 18) be also a success, that the Roussillon attracts new investors, American journalists, that the Union des Grands Crus still attracts a lot of people, that the Cercle Rive Droite continues on its momentum… As for me and my sales team, every 15 days one of us will be travelling in France or abroad to sell and communicate on us and our friends.

Happy New Year!

For us it was January 1st, but for the CHinese, it will be February 7th.
After 2007, the year of the pig
2008 will be the year of the rat.
I was born cat (or rabbit, or hare), and "metal". Murielle is goat (or buck or sheep) and "wood". As for Virginie, she is snake and fire.

We wish you a very happy new year 2008!

Thursday, January 3, 2008


On December 28, we had dinner with Kimberly and David Shiverick, An American importer who also owns a vineyard in Maury (for they are also lovers of the Roussillon): Blanc n° 1 2004 which tastes better and better, even opened after two days for lunch and dinner, the wine was good, with a sweetness due to a perfect ripeness. Valandraud 2003, also tasted for lunch on December 30 had the characteristic of the ripeness of 2003 (a bit of caramel) and a bottle of 3 Marie 2004 which deserved the notes it received.

Saturday, we had lunch with Kimberly and David as well as our friends Michel and Dany Rolland who are, with a famous owner, the first who helped us when we were doubtful or guided us when we needed to make technical decisions (like not fining following a comment made by Michel). They also helped us with press by including our wine in tasting organized in their lab for wines signed “Rolland” (I remember that Gault et Millau or Dupont preferred Virginie to Valandraud), etc…

Blanc de Valandraud N°1 2004, Meursault Bouches Chères 1999 1er cru from Domaine Buisson Charles, again, wines produced with ripe fruit as well as complex and soft flavors after 8 years of maturity… Difficult to spit. We actually didn’t spit anything especially as the Iranian caviar and scallops were such a great complements. With the roast – Truffle mach potatoes, we drank a wine our American guests brought: The Prisoner 2006 from Napa Valley, a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, produced with mature grapes, soft and great QPR for it is sold at retail in the US for 35 Dollars.
We followed with a bottle of Ausone 1959. Bordeaux built its reputation on these vintages: modern, ripe grapes. I found this bottle fantastic, even though it was not very powerful. This wine was easy to drink. It was the time when Ausone was compared to great burgundies: lacy and, as Manu would say, was “pinoting” well. We then drank a very different wine, powerful, typical of a Left Bank, Pauillac to the last drop: Latour 1959, which, while not as ripe as Ausone, had this incredible energy of a wine needing the proper aging to reach its apogee. This goes to say!
We served the Maury from Calvet-Thunevin 2004 with the famous chocolate cake from Lopez to finish this pre holiday meal with our friends.

For the meal with family and childhood friends, we drank:
Charles Heidsieck 1995
Puligny Montrachet Leflaive 2000 Clavoillon
Branon 2000
Valandraud 2000
Trotanoy 2000 (top)
Porto Quinta do Infantado 1995
Puligny Montrachet 1er cru Les Folatières from Vincent Girardin 2004, corked
Tante Berthe 2002 Beaune 1er cru, Château de Chorey
Nigl 2005
Victor de Diel 2004
Vosnes Romanée 1er cru en Orveaux 2002 from château de Marsannay
Porto Martinez 1991

Well, for now Evian, Vittel and Badoit.