Sunday, October 19, 2008

Houston - Texas

Another busy day, as soon as we landed in Houston, we visited clients with Steve, the sales rep of Lebanese origin, with 9 wines to introduce to his customers. Steve has been in this business for a long time and has a portfolio of 40 clients, including 30 serious ones he visits 2 to 3 times a month. For us, he made a selection of a few clients he thought would be interested in our wines. His choice surpassed his expectations for all his clients were seduced and vaccinated. I use this word when I leave a strong impression. So, why vaccinated? Simple; before his first client, Steve didn’t know who I was and if just another wine merchant like so many others. In our first meeting, with the French owner, and his brother, of a popular restaurant in Houston, Le Mistral. These Frenchmen, Sylvain and David Denis (the chef) already had Valandraud 2001 on their wine-list. The price (quite reasonable) was already high. Steve started to take us seriously. The tastings, where he was able to discover the wines finally convinced him.
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.

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