Friday, November 28, 2008

On my way to Korea

Yesterday I ate at home with Virginie, Murielle, Marc and a journalist.
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

Late harvest

While waiting to pick our 4 rows of Cabernet Sauvignons on Thursday, November 27, I posted below the press release sent by our Union of Saint Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac

2008 VINTAGE :
A late vintage with a beautiful indian summer :
Perfect for superbly classic wines

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.

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


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


Yesterday Monday, I received a group of 6 journalists from Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, England for a tasting.
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)
Trottevielle 2000
Clos Fourtet 2002
L’Arrosée 2004
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

The Carrousel du Louvre

Friday and Saturday, we went to Paris with the Decosters from Fleur Cardinale, to participate to Bettane and Desseauve’s Grand Tasting at the Carrousel du Louvre. We brought Fleur Cardinale 2006, Valandraud 2006, La Dominique 2006, Haut Carles 2006, Bad Boy 2005, Thunevin-Calvet Constance 2006 (VDP des Côtes Catalanes) and Thunevin-Calvet Les Dentelles 2005 from the Roussillon.

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

USA : thoughts

Following the request from my accountant regarding the expenses incurred by Christian and I during our last trip in the USA, I asked myself again the same question I expressed to Christian during the trip : Who could spend 700 and 1000 Dollars per day promoting (good selling) wines sold between 3 and 15 Euros ?!

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

Meals and wine

Paired with nice woodcock, we drank a Pomerol Clos l’Eglise 2001 always very good (it’s definitely a great wine) and Monbousquet 1995.
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

Remedial class

Meal for 650/700 people with more than 3000 bottles !

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


Revue du Vin de France listed me 33rd in “the 100 personalities in wine”. Here is what they wrote :

“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 With humour.”

Monday, November 17, 2008


Amongst the « Wines of the year » awarded in the December 2008 issue :

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

The last glass by Olivier Ameisen

Following an article (in French) I read on Jacques Berthomeau’s blog, I ordered (and received) a book at the Saint Emilion bookstore, which I recommend to everyone interested in the serious subject of alcoholism.
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

What a great job !

I received a really nice bottle of Fine Champagne 1858 because I mentioned that the same bottle already offered by this person, was very good, and that my friends liked very much. Unfortunately, I finished it. This kind gesture will be properly rewarded. Again, how lucky we are to do a job where relations are so cordial, if not friendly.

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

When the myth surpasses reality.

What made the success of Pétrus ? Kennedy or Queen Elisabeth ?
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.
Novelty ?
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.

The Grand tasting, November 21 & 22, 2008

We will be there to present Valandraud, La Dominique, Fleur Cardinale, Haut Carles, but also Bad Boy or Calvet-Thunevin.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Caroline Decoster

Caroline Decoster asked me the following :

“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

Salut les copains (Hi buddys)

In the same day Thursday, I had a visit from a talented photographer who was taking pictures for an article about blending to be published in the magazine of Saint Emilion’s trade organization and following, 2 bankers from the BNP, sure partners even in these difficult times. We drank a bottle of Bel Air Ouÿ 2003 and La Dominique 2003 with my parents-in-law.
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

Korea and women in wine

Wednesday evening, Murielle organized a dinner for a Korean journalist and her (Korean) photographer and their translator who was an art student in Bordeaux. Were also present: Patricia who represented Château Franc Mayne, Nelly for Château la Clotte, Florence for Château Fleur Cardinale, and me to open the bottles.

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!

To Aymar

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bordeaux 2005

The classification from the last tasting of the Grand Jury Europeen is posted on this site.

Hurrah for the USA!

Hope for a better world - It is everyone's wishe.
Now back to work!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4, 2008

Today, the Carmeneres are being harvested:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Evolution of our turnover

While waiting for the results of the American elections, the end of the recession, good weather and payments from my “friends” (?) for their unpaid invoices dating 2 or 3 years, here are numbers which make me happy: the turnover of Ets Thunevin for the last 10 years.

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.