Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wine we drank for Christmas

Of the wines drank during the Christmas holidays, some were astonishingly good, others disappointing, sad,… Was it us? The atmospheric pressure? A bad cork ? the wine ?

Offered by the owners, Château de la Charrière 2007 from Yves Girardin, appellation Santenay (under the roc), good wine, but especially this Corton Charlemagne 2006 with peach flavors, pear, licorice, a touch of anis, and fat as a great Sauterne. Certainly astonishing, but so good. Vive Burgundy, I will plant Chardonnay thanks to Burgundies from Buisson Charles, Girardin, etc…

Andreas 2001, Saint Emilion made by us at that time and which is evolving well. The limestone terroir was showing too much at the beginning but now is well integrated. Monday, Valandraud 2007, not decanted – an error – Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde 2005, silent. For aperitif and during the meal with Murielle and Guy, we enjoyed a wine made in the Roussillon by Chapoutier in La Tour de France: 2006 VIT (or Visitare Interiore Terrae) produced in Bila-Haut (complicated name, but what a bottle!), superb wine, black; dense, soft, sexy, rated 93 by Parker, this wine shows exactly why we – Jean Roger Calvet and I, are trying to produce in this winemaking paradise that the Roussillon is. I suppose that Hervé Bizeul will have the same opinion when he tastes the wine, next time we have a meal together. There is so much to say about critics opinion concerning the Roussillon.

I had bought in 2003 (?), a vineyard planted with Syrah from Chapoutier on the commune of La Tour de France: at that time, we were missing some “noble” varietals to be able to get the Côtes du Roussillon appellation granted. It’s a shame considering the quality of our vines planted on the hillside, with 100 years old Grenache and Carignan. But that’s another story.

Best wishes of success

The 2010 Gault et Millau wine guide is now available in bookstores and even added a selection of the best cognacs and Armagnac.

I will often refer to this guide and its comments as I believe that the new owner will provide considerable means to create more synergies between the paper and internet versions.

The strength of a media is, of course, due to talent and the people making it possible – as Arnaud Lagardère properly said on Canal + on December 17 regarding his media group – but I would like to ad that without a great leader, the strength and talent of a team would have a hard time being successful.

In the meantime, I am happy for Bordeaux that my friend Pierre Guigui is in charge of our region and I am certain that Antoine Petrus will specially highlight wines produced today in the Roussillon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The garage

Or, when myth becomes reality :

My neighbor in Saint Emilion decided to sell me his garage.
There will finally be a real vin de garage, and a big parking lot for visiting clients and journalists during the en primeur tasting in 2010.

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah and Happy New Year 2010 to all.

Chateau de Carles

I can’t predict the future but I can imagine that with all the efforts made by the team in place, the investments made by the family, the miracle of the 2009 vintage, we will finally see the reward of seeing Haut-Carles recognized as one of Bordeaux finest wine and not as one of those good Fronsac with what it presupposes, in other words a good little value!

When one, in Bordeaux, doesn’t have the chance to be born in Margaux, Pomerol and Saint Emilion, it’s hard to come out of the pack.
The qualities of Girolate, Reignac Haut Condissas, Carles will always be questioned because of their birthplace.
During this current period in France when we get asked: “what does it mean to be French?”, the question of national identity in parallel with the world of wine from Bordeaux came to my mind: the rights of the land acquired by birth has always been opposed to the wines called satellite.

As for me, after having looked for the best talent to help us make the best of the best possible in Carles, including the arrival of Jean Philippe Fort, Alain Raynaud, my company, responsible for selling the wine, we are in the process of succeeding in placing this wine in many networks, countries, and this, thanks to the 2 cuvees of Chateau de Carles and Haut Carles which have been at the top Bordeaux wines in their categories for a few years now and already recognized by many critics, “special selection” in the Guide Hachette, Michel Bettane, the Grand Jury Européen, etc. ...

That’s it : he has his doctorate !

Since December 16, 2009, I read this theses : « Le marché des réputations » (the market of reputation)

Even if I find it difficult to read a theses written for a doctorate, this one is a bit more accessible to me as it is about the wine world. As I am not academic, reading (as always on Wikipedia) the definition of doctorate, I now understand why there are so many Doctors in Germany, even though they are not in the medical profession.

Doctors of soul, culture, etc… Too bad that this title is not used in France as I find it somewhat chic.
Baccalaureate +8… while for me, to rephrase other famous wine professionals: call it sand bac (box) or bac minus 3.
Be as it may, nice name for conformism, distinction, to stand out, etc… Or more currently, we can think of the 1855 classification or even 1955 for Saint Emilion.
To quote one of Bernard Ginestet’s quotes taken from his book written in 1975 “la bouteille Bordelaise” (Bordeaux bottle) and published by Flammarion (page 41):
“Woe who has the audacity to want to animate these historical statues mounted on the pedestal of old habits. He will be looked at with surprise and indignation as a maggot in a box of vermicelli”

This shows that you can enjoy reading a theses written for a doctorate (a little bit, once and a while).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekend meal

Thursday, we ate a good meal for lunch at L’Envers du Decor and drank, blind, a bottle of Montrose 2001, a classic Saint Estephe.
Friday, we had our company lunch at the Comptoir de Genes, Presidial white 2007, 3 de Valandraud 2004, Domaine des Sabines 2006 and Bad Boy 2006, as well as our “company” champagne Palmer brut.
Anne brought from her cellar 2 old bottles of Pontet Clauzure 1964 Saint Emilion Grand Cru, which her family used to own. One of the 2 bottles was really good: truffle, classic old wine. 1964 was a good vintage in the Right Bank where Merlots were picked ripe and in good quantity surpassing Medoc which picked following the rain, with a few exceptions including Beychevelle.

Friday evening, we ate a really good Paella, prepared by Murielle with great Moroccan spices Daniel gave us, including hot peppers and safran which gave such incredible aromas to this dish.
For Jose, our Spanish friend, Serge and their female friends, we served wines from the South and a great Pata Negra with Murielle’s Paella.
Ribera del Duero with Hacienda Monasterio 1995, followed by a top Regina Vides 2003 Sastre – phew, what a wine! – followed by the always brilliant Flor de Pingus 2003, and the wine of the week, the excellent Quinta Sardonia 2006 from Castillo & Leon
At the end, on the very good coconut cream cake, our Maury Calvet-Thunevin 2004, which is still so good and hard to sell.
The next day, to finish the Paella, we drank a Hugo 2005 Calvet-Thunevin served at 17/18º C (62/64° f). It rivaled the Spanish wines we drank the day before.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gallic diet (and not Cretan)

Yesterday evening, we had dinner in Libourne and drank some good wine :

2 Ruinart Blanc de Blanc always good

Then, blind :

1 Pape Clément 2004 delicious, perfect

1 Beauséjour Bécot 2006 totally closed

2 Figeac 2004 good, really, even if both bottles were different. It is, of course, hard to imagine drinking the same wine back to back.

1 Virginie 2004 very good, I found it very feminine, others found it powerful?

1 Yquem 2004 good, of course

Christmas time gives us plenty of opportunities to practice : End of the year lunch with my staff at Comptoir de Genès, and evening, dinner at home with a few friends with a Paella and a few Spanish wines.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Médoc visit

A Bordeaux broker organized a visit of a good Cru Bourgeois in Saint Estèphe in the Medoc to meet the owners, taste their wines and possibly develop a business relationship.
Medoc is far from Saint Emilion, and Saint Estèphe is the farthest of Medoc’s “noble” appellations when travelling from Saint Emilion, via Bordeaux. The cellar we visited was not top, but the wines tasted, 10 vintages, were good, pleasant and without this touch of austerity which is common in this area where wines are often closed and austere. For a few years, wines from Saint Estèphe are becoming sexier, perhaps due to global warming and the work of consultants oenologists, trade organizations, etc… In any case, the wines are good with a quality price ratio people are looking for.
We then had a family lunch with the parents and children and drank a nice bottle of 2003 and 1998. We will have the pleasure to present the wines from this chateau during the en primeur campaign in March 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An astonishing wine

I tasted at the Carrousel du Louvre an Italian wine made with an astonishing varietal and was nicely surprised. The varietal is called Lacrima di Morro d'Alba and is cultivated in the Marches region. The vintage: 2007 and the cuvee is Maria Sole produced by Lucchetti.

I would like to taste this wine again one day with a meal to see if I get the same sensations of aromas of rose, leather, violets, etc…

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

La Dominique en Suède

Nobel Banquet Menu 2009

MENU
TARTARE DE HOMARD, CRUSTACES ET OEUFS D´ABLETTE DE KALIXARROSE D´UN CONSOMME DE HOMARD
Lobster consommé with shellfish tartare, lobster and Kalix bleak roe

CAILLE FARCIE AUX TRUFFES ACCOMPAGNEE DE CHOUX DE BRUXELLES, DE RACINE DE PERSIL ET DE TERRINE DE POMMES DE TERRE « ALMOND « SAUCE PORTO
Truffle-stuffed quail with parsley root, Brussels sprouts and port wine gravy

MOUSSE DE FROMAGE FRAIS CITRONNEE ET SORBET AUXBAIES DE L´ARCHIPEL
Lemon and fresh cheese mousse with sea-buckthorn sorbet

VINS
JACQUART BRUT MILLESIME 2002
MAGNUM

CHATEAU LA DOMINIQUE 2001

SAINT EMILION GRAND CRU CLASSE

TSCHIDA BA SEEWINKEL 2006

NEUSIEDLERSEE

CAFE

REMY MARTIN VSOP
COINTREAU

MINERAL WATER RAMLÖSA

Thanks for the ability to see the Nobel Prize menus online since their creation, one can see that the organizers of the selection of wines for the meals of the Nobel Prize is rather Francophile. Each time, Champagne (from France), desert wines are often Sauternes or Banyuls, and for red wine Bordeaux and even Burgundy are regularly being served.

Going back in time, I saw beautiful names and fine brands: Dom Pérignon, Moët et Chandon, Krug, Yquem 1982, Angélus 1953, Guraud Larose 1950, Pontet Canet 1924, Palmer 1924, Lagrange 1924, Domaine de Chevlaier 1918, Paveil de Luze 1911, Smith Haut Lafitte 1905, Lafite 1900, Rauzan Segla…

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quinta Sardonia 2006

We drank a fine bottle, at home, which we really enjoyed. This great Spanish wine from Castille y Leon had everything to please: power, but not too much, softness and freshness, length and harmony. Spain can make great wine thanks to their fine terroir, varietals and the new wave of winemakers inspired by the success of Peter Sisseck.
And when a bottle available at retail is even better than what I tasted en primeur, then it’s pure pleasure! (RP 92 - $75 retail)

I am also very happy for Bordeaux soccer team which has been cruising on top of the French league, and what’s good for Bordeaux soccer is good for Bordeaux wine.

Blockbusters

Reading Terre de Vins and the article written by Jean Marc Quarin, I am beginning to believe that we are going to hear a lot about this 2009 vintage.
In fact, the skin of the grapes, the flesh and the seeds have, without any doubt, reached complete maturity, and this without loosing the flavors, the fruit and the aromas! How is that possible? Can it be repeated ? Can such miracle take place in future vintages ?
Even more astonishing: Isn’t there some connection between this 2009 and the recognized and accepted 2005, and especially for some 2008 Parker predicted against the market and many of his colleagues.
Isn’t strange to imagine that Michel Bettane and Robert Parker with Michel Rolland, were the rare professionals who predicted the 1982 vintage and 2008 which also seems to be criticized by the rest of the industry?

2009 has already convinced the whole industry… why shouldn’t I be happy with François Mauss comments, the president of the Grand Jury Europeen (I asked his permission to publish this) :

« Yesterday, with a couple of friends and a young man passionate with Burgundy, I had dinner at Robert Vifian and family’s Tan Dinh.
Of course, the conversation was about wine, tasters, tastings, Robert Vifian being such a demanding purist.
How this tall and skinny man knows so much? It’s unbelievable.
We open, blind, taste and at some point, Robert comes over the table with a small flask. He pours us black ink (pleonasm). We taste, we look at each other. My host, secretly states “right bank 2009”. Discreetly, he whispers that his wine is even better: you rascal! Go figure!
What are you saying? Malolactics were not even completed, we are experiencing a massive wine in every aspect : finesse, power, flavorful palette, density, elegance, length and many other unusual things.
A sort of concentrate of the best, unbelievable ripe grapes, out of control palate, a powerful monument.
I like the fact that few will believe me, so, I will be able to reserves some with no problems.
Valandraud 2009. I don’t know how it is going to evolve until the primeur, but 2009 is of that caliber, you’re gonna hear about it: you will even have to read the dictionary to find superlatives.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chateau La Dominique served at the 2009 Nobel prize dinner

Clément Fayat bought château La Dominique in 1969. This cru was already considered before 1900 as one of the best properties in Saint Emilion and promoted to Grand Cru Classé in the first classification in 1956.
The 1989 vintage is one of the best of the chateau and still considered one of the best wines in Bordeaux in this exceptional vintage.
The 2009 vintage, it’s not a secret, will be one of the best for the Right Bank, with the right quantity and quality produced, and this, thanks to an incredible terroir and a top technical team which is at the level of those of the top 30 wines in Bordeaux.

During the Gala dinner in Stockholm, with the Swedish Royal family attending as well as the all the 2009 Nobel Prize laureates, Chateau La Dominique 2001 was served to all the guests.
I don’t know if in Oslo (Norway), President Barack Obama and his wife Michele were offered the same wine, but it makes me think of Petrus which, in its time, was served at the table of Queen Elizabeth as well as at John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s.

Calvet-Thunevin "Constance" 05 Tasting Notes

Read on the net in Spirit of Wine blog, tasting notes for our little cuvee from the Roussillon: Calvet-Thunevin "Constance" 2005.

Banker

Definition : helpful person ready to lend you an umbrella when the weather is nice and take it back when it starts to rain.

End of year reviews are already starting. The revenues of my company, before tax, went from 16,270,000 to 15,207,000, in other words a decrease of 7%, considering I could have feared between 30 and 50%.
Profits are seriously down, so as margins and cash-flow. The coming year will also be tough, except that I can already see the end of the tunnel with the release of the 2009 vintage.

So, today, one of my bank directors gave me a beautiful and big golf umbrella (perhaps hiring a managing director made him believe that I will start playing golf), and introduced me to his successor. These days, banks tend to replace their old, experienced and costly employees by young graduates fresh out of school and costing much less.

La Tour d'Argent

The auction of a very small portion of the cellar of La Tour d’Argent brought in more than 1,500,000 Euros – 500,000 more than estimated.

18,000 bottles of wine sold in 2 days, for 1.5 million Euros. This sum of money will be quite useful for future investment for this venerable restaurant. But also create some space for buying more wine
Auction is an area which is becoming increasingly important to sell wine, as long as one has the notoriety of La Tour d’Argent or the city of Paris, which should organize these kinds of events on a regular basis. Even if the current mayor doesn’t drink, nothing prevents him from buying wine and sell them for charitable activities for the value of the Seal of Paris is included on each bottle.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Read in the newspaper Sud Ouest

Perrine Andries, (in French) who was a trainee enologist at Valandraud, moved to Agen where she gives wine classes at home. This could give some good ideas to other wine lovers who still don’t how to earn a living in this industry.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tan Dinh

Meal at Tan Dinh with the following wines :
Sancerre 2008 Bailly Reverdy, classic Sauvignon Blanc
Cotes de Blaye 2008 Raquenot, Sauvignon Blanc, malolactic completed, worth to be noted as it is rarely done
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Les chaumées 2004 Niellon delicious
Clos Vougeot grand cru 2000 Anne Gros powerful, too young
Clos Vougeot 2006 grand cru Domaine d'Eugénie
Château Vari Monbazillac 2003 and 2005 pure and light
And a sample of Valandraud 2009 before malolactic

The whites were used to provide as basic “reference point” for Murielle and the style of our Valandraud whites, Clos Vougeot 2000 for pleasure and Domaine Vari to confirm the incredible pairing of sweet and Asian food and incidentally talk about all the labels…
The quality of the dishes is paired with one of the best wine cellars in Paris. This includes La Tour d’Argent which organized, yesterday and today, in Paris, a superb auction of fine bottles.

Bordeaux, has-been ?

I regularly wrote about this subject on my blog, but I want to bring it up again for 2 or 3 reasons.

First: The tasting which took place at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris on Friday, December 5 and Saturday 5, 2009 attracted a lot of people and despite the presence of Champagne, Burgundies, Italians, etc… Bordeaux stands were very busy, and especially ours. We poured our Bordeaux (and Roussillon) to more than 400/500 people. Many amateurs attending were young, lots of students, women, lots of Asians… Actually nothing which looked like a product considered has-been.

Second: like for 2005, 2009 will be the center of the wine world, the interest for Bordeaux is and will be, I have no doubt about it, culminating with our next futures campaign.

Third: a blind tasting organized in Paris where Petrus 1998 arrived on top and Valandraud not far behind, proves that tradition and modern in Bordeaux can be noticed, even blind, in these top vintages which makes the difference between Bordeaux and the rest of the wine world.

The real reason for this title and subject is to answer Erika’s question for an article to be published in a magazine which will irritate its competition.

Also, I received an order of 6000 bottles of Virginie de Valandraud 2006 for a hotel chain, which shows that even our wine are not considered “has-been”.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Airline companies

Already 3 international airline companies serve our wines on their flights :
Virginie de Valandraud 2005 & 2006
3 de Valandraud 2004 & 2005
Domaine Fayat-Thunevin 2006

This could give ideas to wholesalers, agents and buyers for airlines who are not yet customers…

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ostentatious consumption

Reading an article written by J.C. Durbant (on a Canadian site), I learned more about Veblen goods or the snob effect where certain product having value as social status, the more their price increases, the more the demand too!
You can read about it in Wikipedia… I am now on my way to Paris for the Grand Tasting.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The 2009 Grand Tasting

I will be traveling to Paris with Murielle, Barbara, Jean-Roger, Marie and Matthieu to present our wines at the Carousel du Louvre at the Parisian event organized by Bettane et Desseauve December 4 and 5.

We will pour :

Château Valandraud 2007
Château Fleur Cardinale 2007
Château La Dominique 2007
Haut Carles 2007
Bad Boy 2006
Domaine Calvet Thunevin « Les Dentelles » 2006
Domaine Thunevin-Calvet Maury 2007

Where to invest money ?

Quick trip to Paris to present my wines to an investment fund in wine which has an original idea.
We will see very quickly if it is accepted. Also present were bankers and investors. These kinds of meetings already took place in Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, while waiting for London and Moscow.
It was an opportunity to see a few friends and exchange ideas with these new types of bankers. Can they make good deals and buy some of my wines and especially not stop at the highly expected 2009 vintage.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Haut-Carles 2006

Last November 24th, the Cercle Rive Droite hosted a group of twenty wine shops as part of the Bacchus France program. This training is designed for wine professionals wanting to perfect their tasting knowledge, understand better our appellations and find new suppliers.

During the blind tasting of around twenty prestigious wines from the Right Bank, they voted Haut-Carles 2006 on top of the wines presented, which included:

The wines from Cercle Rive Droite
Tasting, Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2006 Château Barrabaque Canon – Fronsac
« Cuvée Prestige »
2006 Château Cap de Faugères Côtes de Castillon
2006 Château Bonalgue Pomerol
2006 Château Côte Montpezat Côtes de Castillon
« Cuvée Compostelle »
2006 Château du Courlat « Cuvée JB » Lussac Saint Emilion
2006 Clos du Clocher Pomerol
2006 Château Faugères Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2006 Château Clos Chaumont Premières Côtes de Bordeaux
2006 Château Roc de Calon Montagne Saint Emilion
« Cuvée Prestige »
2006 Château Vieux Maillet Pomerol
2006 Clos de Jacobins Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé
2006 Haut Carles Fronsac
2006 Château Rouget Pomerol
2005 Château Hostens-Picant Sainte-Foy Bordeaux
2005 Château Moulin Pey-Labrie Canon-Fronsac
2005 Château Roland La Garde Premières Côtes de Blaye
2005 Château Taillefer Pomerol
2004 Château de Laussac Côtes de Castillon
2004 Château de Lussac Lussac Saint Emilion
2004 Château Hostens-Picant Sainte-Foy Bordeaux
« Cuvée d’Exception Lucullus »
2004 Reclos de la Couronne Montagne Saint Emilion
2004 Sanctus du Château La Bienfaisance Saint Emilion Grand Cru

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bellevue de Tayac

Last Thursday morning at the attorney’s office, I signed the purchase of 4 hectares in Belves de Castillon, next to Saint Etienne de Lisse. Great terroir with good potential.

I am selling my property in Margaux (if I find a client interested in investing in this prestigious appellation) and I buy the same amount of land in Cotes de Castillon, but at a quite different price!

At 11:30 am, I tasted with my partner Jean-Roger Calvet and our enologists Claude Gros and Jean-Michel Fort, Rémi Dalmasso, Christophe Lardière, Murielle and I, a few batches of wine from our 2 regions in order to create 2 new crus in the new Vin de France appellation.
The 2009 vintage in both regions (Bordeaux and Roussillon) is quite successful, but it is certain that our Bordeaux are quite different from the notion of classic Bordeaux: these wines are flamboyant.

Following work, pleasure with a meal prepared by Murielle. Puligny Montrachet 2006 Etienne Sauzet, lemony, hazenuts, length, light, airy, etc… A very good bottle
Pommard 1er cru les Arvelets, Domaine Cyrot Buthiau 2005 with an old taste, too classic, problem with the bottle, true, served with at the same time as a Volnay 1er cru Les Fremiets Joseph Voillot : fruit, net and elegant, even though so classic
Following, Tenuta di Trinoro 1999, good
Sassicaia 1994, unfortunately corked
La Chapelle de Jaboulet 1972 Hermitage which I found very good. Everyone else preferred younger wines. I would love to be able to make a Valandraud able to age for 40 years with this force and such finesse; As we were not able to finish with an old wine, we drank a Plus de la Fleur de Bouard 2000 Lalande de Pomerol which, if located in Margaux, Pomerol or Pauillac, would cost 10 times the price, at the same level of a cult wine.

As soon as we finished the meal, we talked to Frédéric Hernandez and his boss Bertrand Clavières, Managing Director of Gault et Millau who changed investors and seems to have the means to carry-out his ambitions for the group seems quite solid.
We will see which media deserves our money, as we will have to favor those good ones who like our wines. Friends of my friends will be our friends.
As simple as that.

Clos Badon and Japan

Wednesday evening, we hosted a group of journalists for dinner a our house. We served a beef stew after a soup and a custard made with Tahitian vanilla for desert (where Bad Boy sells well, thanks to our distributors) and macaroons from Nadia Fermigier: we cannot change such a good ambassador of this Saint Emilion delicacy – including wine. Also present was Jean-Roger Calvet, our partner in the Roussillon, Claude Gros, our consultant enologist in that region who is also working on a couple of projects here.
There was also a pretty journalist from Ontario, a couple of Dutch journalists and a Japanese group with an interpreter, cameraman and a journalist and the host of this TV show. Barbara, Murielle and I talked about our jobs of consultant, winemaker and garage wine, etc…
We started with Blanc n°1 de Valandraud 2006 which, drank not too cold, was simply delicious, followed by a series of Clos Badon Thunevin to show that I don’t transform one of my fine wine in a product with a standard taste and that each vintage is different, which is understandable when one knows the successful and less successful vintages in Bordeaux, where the climate is one of the crucial element in Bordeaux taste, unique and hard to copy!
We tasted flights of 2 glasses:
Clos Badon 2007 and 2006 / 2005 and 2004/ 2003 and 2000

You can taste the technical progress made in 2006 and 2007 when Murielle took over the reins. 2005 is good, a fine wine with an unbeatable quality/price ratio, 2003, which doesn’t have the defects of this vintage: thanks to 50% Cabernet Francs from this property (and 50% Merlot). And 2000 which is still too young.
As we were still thirsty, we served a 1999 Valandraud, and in honor of our Japanese friends, Bad Boy 2005 which is sold out and should get a nice spot-light (?) and famous manga.
At the end, with desert, we served a Thunevin-Calvet Maury 2007 which had a rare freshness and purity and was drunk with no problems.
Clos Badon-Thunevin was not chosen out of the blue. This wine which includes my name since 1998 with 15000 bottles produced is sold for a retail price of 30 to 50 Euros depending on the country and where 5000 bottles are imported each year by our Japanese importer.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Advertising

I allowed our French host, Over-blog, to include ads in the French version. It’s quite astonishing: I already have ads for Bouygues Telecom, Casino and Cdiscount: when will those from our clients or suppliers be included?

Monday and Tuesday, I was in Paris to meet friends, clients. Seeing all the wines available in Augé or Lavinia made my head spin. When will we be included and especially sell?

It was also the annual meeting with the Leclerc Supermarkets which had very good results for the 2009 Foire aux Vins (wine promotion campaign), and what is good for our customers is good for us. I hope that orders in 2010 will increase substantially.

Meetings

During my trips, I often run into friends or colleagues who do the same as me. The last ones I met are Michel Garat from vignobles du Crédit Foncier de France ( Château Beauregard in Pomerol and Bastor la Montagne in Sauternes) and Thibault Despagne (Mont Perat, Girolate) who I always have pleasure to see, so much I like the energy and the talent of this family.
As one of their wines is prominently cited in the manga “Drops from God”, this reminds me the influence of mangas today in Japan, Korea, as well as China and France, and sold by small street vendors in Hong Kong.

We drank in the restaurant Ambre in the Mandarin Landmark, an excellent wine made with old Australian Mourvèdre, planted in 1880 ( ?)
It was called Old Garden 2006 from Hewitson, in the Barossa Valley, and served in a screw-cap bottle.
A very good wine sold at a moderate price, at least in a restaurant where we ate well: modern cuisine but tasty, with an emphasis on texture made by a creative chef – from the Netherlands but who learned his craft with some of the best French chefs.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Letter to a friend

Last Friday evening on the 1st floor of Café de l’Orient in Libourne, our friend José Ruiz presented the book written by his father Carlos Ruiz Garcia, published by Pleine Page : « Lettre à un ami » (letter to a friend).
His father, a Spanish Republican refugee in France in 1939 after "retirada" (see Wikipedia - as usual), was imprisoned in a concentration camps and wrote about his journey.
His son, who presented the book in Libourne, could barely contain his emotions, easy to understand why, and difficult for us to hold our own.
This book is worth reading, especially for those "blind", who believe that man is naturally good, and for those who experienced directly, or not, being exiled.
While reading of this book, a somewhat odd question came up to me, but what would have happened to Spain if the Republicans had won the civil war? Wouldn't the Germans Nazis have invaded this Spain? And… with imagination, one can rebuild the world.

We drank, paired with a very good paella, a series of the wines from Clos del Rey/Mas del Rey 2002 2003 2004 (the 2002 was remarkable, 2003 still a little hard and the 2004 will be very good in a few years) and a fruity Spanish wine made with Grenache, and a bit (actually too much) Carbonic gas: Baltasar 2003 (Magon), made in Calatayud and not expensive (Wineandco)

Languedoc

I recommend to read Jacques Berthomeau’s post (in French) : « Le Languedoc Roussillon vu par les Québecois de la SAQ, ça décoiffe … » (“The Languedoc Roussillon according to the Quebecois from SAQ, it really takes your breath away…”). Did he expect the sorts of comments posted on his blog ?

In any case, I am happy to read Vincent Pousson’s comment, who I haven’t seen in ages, and is part of the people I had the pleasure meeting. He will know the reason why…

I liked the comment Michel Smith wrote, for I also believe that the lack of structure brought by negociants such as in Bordeaux, Champagne or Burgundy is the reason why this region is still like an unruly child waiting to get to task. We all know its talent still hasn’t shown…
Everybody is becoming impatient.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Journalists

Yesterday at lunch, we hosted, at Valandraud in Saint Etienne de Lisse, a group of Japanese, Danish and Russian journalists with a Couscous, which will become our “trademark”. I don’t forget my origins as Pied-Noir and love this simple cuisine which I enjoyed and my guests too.
Following a few pictures and a visit of the cellar, done with basic information as some of these journalists are only writing for “lifestyle” sections, we tasted 2 batches of 2009 from the barrel.
The Carmenere is simply stunning. Unfortunately, we only have one and half barrel, and the Merlot an anthology. Considering the malolactics have not yet been completed, goes to say.
In fact, it is rare to enjoy tasting wines at this stage. And yes, I know ... if it's too good, it's not normal ... But I leave that to the wine lovers. I have the impression that opinions created and advocated by 1982 are emerging this time around.
However, isn’t it normal to arouse suspicion when Bordeaux announces regularly the vintage of the century?
We need the Russian market, especially as this market, along with the USA, sales have been inexistent lately.

Otherwise, its always as much fun to receive Japanese, as they’re always so happy to visit Valandraud and just as curious about our fairy tale “Cinderella Wine”.

As for the Danes, Peter Sisseck is the golden key – Pingus is worth any titles in the world. Thanks Peter for helping me with your story, find some legitimacy within the “cult” wine competition.

After couscous, the macaroons from our neighbor Blanche-Fermigier are an indispensable part of Saint Emilion’s gastronomy and as soon as they are done, these journalist continue their tour of Bordeaux vineyards. Garage or not, we now have our place.

Sad Pain

I chose this title reading Robert Camuto’s book: “An American in the vineyards” (I am only half way), published in France by Michel Lafon. The author was signing his book at François and Isabelle Ligneris bookstore where Murielle bought me a signed copy.
This book makes no apology for pain or sadness, but it is what I felt half way through the book. It’s a good book. The writer, Mr. Robert Camuto has been living in France for a long time (still, he used a translator: Joseph Antoine?)
Pain, for it seems to me that the portraits correspond to a trend of thought in the 1980-1990, where the obvious liking for the real characters and empathy felt by Robert Camuto corresponds to a parallel projection (I understand better the expression “the other side of the picture”). Sad, because missing the France from before the great war, sad for this former time, bygone, of people a bit old – 50 years old? more? – where either making love makes them depressed or the weather is responsible for their sadness?

I made a parallel between Jacques Dupont’s book (which I also liked) and even Jacques Perrin (even if I didn’t understand it at all!) who wrote this thought on the Grand Jury Européen’s blog:
“What are you suffering from my friend?
I suffer from seeing the object of my passion deteriorate year after year, he answered”
Nice thought…

Like making sense of seeing the glass half empty, as if giving up on the human race, wine or love stories?!
We certainly miss Pierre Desprosges, but beware: not deluding ourselves, I believe would certainly makes us grow old.

Presentation found on the internet: An American in the vineyards
When Robert Camuto moved to France, he saw his taste change into an informed passion, Burgundy, Corsica, Alsace, Languedoc, Pyrenees, South West, Provence, Anjou, St-Emilion: this American investigates, takes notes, photographs and sketches humoristic portraits, real and amazing, of a new generation of winemakers who reject the standardization of flavors, gives pride to biodynamic production and highlights a renewed love for varietals long neglected. During his wanderings in our terroirs, Robert Camuto gives a tasty account of France and the French population: a beautiful tribute to our love of good living. “Far from large properties, this American journalist spends his time in the small vineyards worth visiting. Epicurean vagabond, trying each time to blend more into the scenery of the deep countryside, Robert Camuto loves to taste what is no longer produced”. Le Figaro


In any case, he doesn’t do too much anti Parker like Mondovino, even if it tickles the author, even though Parker's taste is clearly not his "cup of tea".

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Regarding the 2009 vintage

All the batches have finally been transferred either to barrels, or vats for the malolactic. For us in Saint Emilion, we have few problems with sugar having difficulties fermenting. Thank you temperature control, thank you Remi, other than that we’ve been experiencing some problems with remaining sugar in my other properties. It was to be expected given the richness of our grapes.

The best vat of Valandraud 1995 finished fermenting after the malolactic in July… Goes to show how patient you must be sometimes. We also had 2 barrels in 2008 which refused to finish fermenting the remaining sugar. We will use these for table wine to drink at home. After the angel’s part, is it the devil’s?
I can’t wait to taste the 2009 vintage in March to see if the dates for the harvest, early, late, show in the wine, as I read that it is good everywhere. Another wine mystery to be clarified.

Also, while still reflecting on wine, I increasingly hear and see strong opposition to new barrels and wood in general. Is this true? Is this cyclical? Is it because the price of barrels?

What is certain is that our top professionals don’t like to taste new barrel in our fine wines, this does not mean that they like the taste of the old barrel.

Grand Jury European

François Mauss organizes 2 tasting events on December 1st and 2nd in Restaurant Laurent in Paris.
The first will be a vertical blind tasting of only one cru; the other is the 1998 vintage: you can already see many pictures of the bottles on his site.
The latter tasting already took place at least twice: In April 2001 in Singapore and November 2003 in Villa D’Este in Italie.
Valandraud 98 was 13th in Singapore and 4th in Italy. Will it reach 1st place this time?

In any case, it was a great vintage in the Right Bank and one of the great successes for Valandraud which was produced with 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot from terroir from Fongaban and the Saint Emilion valley.
When you think that at that time I had negative, even insulting, comments about the quality of these terroir… It would actually be a euphemism to say that many wouldn’t have put their thune (money in slang) on my wine!
I must confess (pun due to my Christian upbringing, and probably also inspired by the Jesuits) that, for fun, I often do tastings with Valandraud 1998 against a Medoc 1998, and even though I win with little damage, there is no glory to be gained. Still, I enjoy seeing my guests so surprised by such difference. I am certain than in 50 years, the results will be different…

In London, Jancis Robinson, in semi-blind tastings organized by English wholesalers, also placed Valandraud in a top position ( 3rd best note). Considering that in the UK you don’t mix dishtowels with napkins, and that 1st growths are only tasted together, etc… This result is quite an accomplishment.
I can’t wait to see the results of this 3rd tasting.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Château Faugères

I was invited for a dinner and tasting by the owner of Chateau Faugères, Silvio Denz, for 14 of his friends including Franz Wermuth, Peter Sisseck, etc…
Old, very old wines were served to celebrate the opening of the new cellar and a promising 2009 vintage.

The meal was prepared by the caterer who also works for La Dominique :

Amuse-bouches and oysters (Papillon et N°4)
Champagne Dom Pérignon 1998
Champagne Dom Perignon 1996
***
Carpaccio « Loup de mer », caviar d’Aquitaine
Château Haut-Brion blanc 2000
Meursault « Goutte d’Or » (Morin) 1886
***
Spanish tapas with Pata Negra jamon « Blazquez Admiracion », pimentos padron, small foie gras
Rioja, Castello Ygay 1934
Rioja, Castello Ygay 1925
***
Small cassoulet with poached egg and black truffles from Périgord
Château Ausone 1920
Château Ausone 1947
***
Beef filet « Robespierre », pommes allumettes, small vegetables with black truffles
Château Haut-Brion 1920
Pétrus (very old, unknown age)
***
Cheese assortment (sheep and others)
Château Cos d’Estournel 1955
Château Cos d’Estournel 1928
Château Cos d’Estournel 1868
***

Young wines but as rare
***
Small deserts (including crème brûlée)
Château d’Yquem 1928
Château Coutet, Barsac 1924


Petrus was not old, 1979, but as we were drinking very old wines, our brain didn’t notice the trap, except to be astounded by the youthfulness of this Petrus, and none of us were able to guess the vintage of this 1979! I said 1929 or 1948, having never drank any of them and wondering what miracle kept this wine so young.
Well, bad joke, which was not premeditated, wasn’t it Franz?
Haut Brion blanc : good, but over-shadowed by the Meursault : grilled hazelnuts, walnuts, xeres, dry but fat.
Ygay 1925 average, 1934 volatile
Ausone 1920 : old, over the hill
Ausone 1947 : woody, mushroom, a bit old but improved with the eggs and truffles
Haut Brion 1920 oxidized
Cos 1955 bizarre, nice wine but corked ?
Pétrus 79 incredible youthfulness. I said 48, but thought 84… this mistake was due to the other wines offered with the menu
Cos 1928 old, thin
Cos 1868 old, dry
Coutet 1924 acid and light, very good
Yquem 1928 very good

In the batch of young and rare wines, 2 series were tasted blind :
1st series : Harlan, Pingus, Valandraud 1995. I guessed the origin and style of these 3 wines and even recognized Valandraud, which I really found good (phew!). However, I didn’t find the vintage and made it 10 years younger.
Perhaps tasting such old wines made young wines tasted after even younger, I will try this sort of exercise at home…
2nd series : Cheval Blanc, Eglise Clinet, Léoville Las Cases 1995. I liked Cheval Blanc, pur elegance. Following and at the same time, Pavie 2000 which I guessed. it was simply great even if it is not a typical Bordeaux, but is that a problem?
At the end, (again phew !) Nardo Montepeloso 2007 (very soft, pure grape, fat, finish) I still have some 2000 in stock and even Eneo made by Fabio Chiapelotto, who was also invited. This good and original wine ended this nice tasting of rare wines.

We missed our friend François Audouze, who could have helped us with his knowledge of old vintages. In any case, these wines all came from a good cellar. In my opinion, except for the obvious pleasure of having been invited to taste these antiquities, it is rare that old vintages are able to compete with Petrus 1950, 1955, Ausone 1949, 1959, even 1849, Cheval Blanc 1947 from different bottling, and especially this extraordinary magnum of Mouton Rothschild 1945 I drank during a meal organized by Mister Hardy Rodenstock, and which “floored” us as this wine was so good (tasted blind – these tastings of great wines stay etched in my memory as exceptional moments)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Antoine

We are pleased to announce the birth of Antoine, yesterday, November 12, 2009, and we we are particularly happy because the parents are Catherine Manuaud and Laurent Barbier Manuaud.
He is lucky of being born in 2009 as it won’t be difficult to set aside some great bottles to celebrate his twentieth!

Regarding "Management issues" and "Expats"

I read, on my blog, many comments (over 30) on an important subject: the appointment of a Managing Director for the wholesale part of my business. The production division is already in place with Christophe Lardière, Murielle Andraud and Rémi Dalmasso, each in their respective position and fulfilling my goals perfectly.

This director will, judging by the comments of some, have no problems fulfilling his role, whose main goal is to reduce my work load, control and manage the wholesale activity, and oversee the sales team in order to get better results everywhere.
In addition, their will be the creation of one or 2 retail stores and more focus on sales activities in restaurants and wine shops, initially in our region and later Paris and the rest of France.

He has his work cutout.

Some comments were very negative, even boarding defamatory.
In any event, I will have a better idea in a few months if I made the right choice by offering this position to Eric Talavet. I will know if the operation of my business has improved.
Doing nothing would have anyway been a mistake. It was time for me, spending more time travelling, to have someone in charge of operations.
I hope Eric Talavet is the right choice for me, my staff and my business.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Crus Bourgeois

The General Assembly from Medoc's Alliance de Crus Bourgeois took place at château Clément Pichon and voted with a large majority for a guidelines defining the crus bourgeois status.
Therefore, the rules are now clear for any properties applying for the status Medoc cru bourgeois. If I understand correctly, the office of Veritas is in charge of the application process and granting the approval.
If it works for bourgeois thought, why not the same thing in St. Emilion?

Anyway, thank you to the team of the Alliance to have completed this challenge, and its president for his effort in resolving this difficult issue, with consensus.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Germany

Vertical Tasting Château Valandraud
Starting at 10:30 am


- Ch. Valandraud 1995
- Ch. Valandraud 1996
- Ch. Valandraud 1997
- Ch. Valandraud 1998
- Ch. Valandraud 2003
- Ch. Valandraud 2004
- Ch. Valandraud 2005
- Ch. Valandraud 2006
- Ch. Valandraud 2008

Lunch (until 3:00 pm)

- Blanc de Valandraud # 1 2006
- Blanc de Valandraud # 1 2005
- Bad Boy 2006
- Virginie de Valandraud 2006
- Ch. Valandraud 1999
- Dom. Calvet-Thunevin Maury 2004

STEINHEUER Restaurant / Hotel
Landskroner Strasse 110
53474 Bad Neuenarh-Ahrweiler (Ortsteil Heppingen)
Tel : 49 2641 9 48 60

This is what I did Monday with our German distributor/importer, represented by Andrea (she’s a bit like a witch as I made it on time for my flight despite a big traffic jam) and Marcus.
Around 15 German restaurateurs and sommeliers from Michelin stars restaurants in Cologne’s region, attended. The bad weather didn’t prevent me from admiring the vineyards planted on steep hills. I also had the opportunity to taste an incredible wine made from Pinot Noir, with incredible ripeness and modernity: Jean Stodden 1999 Spät Burgunder JS Recher Herrenberg, Alte Reben Auslese Trocken Ahr (I wrote everything down but didn’t understand anything, however, it is very good ). Following, we drank a sparkling wine made with Pinot (?), a German Riesling, a thirst wine, a bit carbonated, low in alcohol, and sweet fruit. It is the first time I understand the meaning of “thirst wine”: easy to drink, like fruit juice.
The love of cooking, especially French cooking should make us, at least, a bit more grateful: these stories, love for French products: meat, fruits, wine, cheese, poultry, etc… All these Michelin stars, happy to do this job and take the time, from 10 am to 4 pm, to taste wines from a “garagist” and ready to share and be seduced.
Vive Alpina, our distributor, the one I had to have them in this country, me garagist and them, associated to the Alpina (BMW) group, luxury cars manufacturer as well as wine distributor.

Vive les femmes

In order to promote women winemakers, the meal-tasting organized at the Comptoir de Genès by Anne Marie Galineau last Friday, November 6 attracted more than 80 guests: a great success.
Goes to show that with energy to spare, you can make a event successful, even in Saint Genès de Castillon.
Thank you Anne Marie.

Today, I am near Cologne, Germany, to participate in a tasting dinner hosted by our German distributor.
We will be tasting a few vintages of Valandraud, red and white, and even our Maury.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Château La Dominique 2009

This Friday, I tasted every batch of Chateau La Dominique 2009 after fermentation and before the malolactic begins. Well, it's very good. Each tank, each batch is done to make a great wine, and not much second wine.
As already predicted, it will be at least the level of 1989 which was and is one of the great successes of the chateau. The fact that it is good is not a surprise, what is, is that all the vineyards, all the plots, and even the cabernet franc are very good. Quality and volume is what defines a truly great vintage.

By us, in Valandraud, we are also looking at a great wine, but we're just at the end of maceration and not yet before the malos. Unfortunately, the quantities will be lower: hail last Spring damaged some parcels on our property.
Fleur Cardinale is very good too. Doing better every year is becoming difficult. But the maceration are just now being completed.
In Carles, a incredible wine is being produced. Thank you Alain Raynaud, Jean Philippe Faure, and Sebastien who have exceeded the work any 1st growth in Bordeaux is able to do.
For sure, Bad Boy, will be good and Haut Mazeris will be outstanding.

Today, in the cellars of Bordeaux, before malolactic and before barreling, we undoubtedly have one of the best wines produced. The vintage effect that has often played tricks on Bordeaux can also bestow this 2009 vintage will be a reference.

Expats

The French expatriates I meet during all my travels put my story into perspective when I resigned from my job in a bank earning a comfortable salary for the time and sent me living into a low-rent housing in La Plante in Libourne and where the previous secure income made way to… none (thank you ... Murielle).

Each trip, and here once again, the French "on duty", sommelier, translator, reminded me my own story, except that I admire those who, in addition, leave their family, their roots, language, to soak up Chinese culture, Japanese, etc ... Finding the strength to leave everything, to start all over, accepting to go down in the social ladder and salary to live their dream.

This attraction and love they have for their adopted country does not prevent them from always being French - expatriate.

Every time, I am amazed and grateful because they do everything they can to facilitate my life, my work, my desires, they are happy to participate in my challenges, to convince me to sell my wines and those of my company, often having fun at my lack of English, Japanese, Chinese, and agreeing to translate my moments of happiness and softening my anger.

Long live this France helping us, we are lucky to have this diaspora helping our country, its culture and economy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Travels

During my travels, I often meet friends or colleagues who do the same thing. The last I met were Michel Garat from the vineyards of Credit Foncier de France (Château Beauregard in Pomerol and Bastor la Montagne in Sauternes) and Thibault Despagne (Mont Perat, Girolate) I always enjoy seeing, as I like the energy and talent of this family.
That reminds me, since one of his wines is widely quoted in the manga "The Drops of God", sold by small vendors in the streets of Hong Kong, the influence this manga has today, from Japan to Korea, China and France.

I drank in Amber Landmark Mandarin’s restaurant an excellent wine made from old Australian Mourvèdre planted in 1880 (?)
It was Old Garden 2006 Hewitson, from the Barossa Valley, served from a bottle closed with a screw cap.
A really good wine sold at a moderate price, in any case, in a restaurant where we ate very well: modern cuisine but tasty, where the inspired chef, originally from the Netherlands, worked on textures and who learned his craft with good French chefs.

Management question

Tuesday evenings, I had a meeting at my office with 2 students from Bordeaux business school (BEM) to talk about management issues in companies.
Amazing timing considering that I just hired Eric Talavet as CEO, to particularly oversee my company’s sales department. The goal is to ease my workload and have more professional control over this activity which is now the only commercial source for my product, having made the decision to pull Virginie de Valandraud and Valandraud from the efficient system of Bordeaux open market.
I think, I am not the best to talk about management, as I'm aware of my shortcomings, even if I have made progress since the beginning of my activities as business owner in the 1980s.
The crisis forced me to tighten the screws, to ask for more, and as opposed to what Sarkozy announced (earn more), and preserve at least what has already been acquired.
The year 2010 is without doubt the year of recovery for Bordeaux wines, thanks to the 2009 vintage, as long as a company is not in too bad of a shape to tackle it.

On television last night, I watched the football game won by Bordeaux against Bayern Munich on Canal +, and, on channel 5, following a report on Chinese in Paris and France, the film "Who would have thought" who spoke about St. Emilion’s classification, is it still relevant?

Female blogger

Cepes (Funghi porcini) grow in the Medoc, and while Murielle and her mentor try to find something to feed the whole village, I found these sites while browsing the blogs: Be nice and talk (in French) with a note dated October 28, 2009 with the title “enology for dummies”. I recommend to read it as soon as possible as it is fun and do not forget to check the incredible and many comments, it’s a change from Mark Squire’s BB!
They were together during their visit, there is also Jade From Paris who has also posted “an enological weekend in Bordeaux” (in French).

Japan

The world of great restaurants and night life, the goal: make Valandraud the favorite wine in nightclubs.

Sunday evening, we had dinner at the friendly Hotel Ginza with the wine merchant who organized this trip to Tokyo, with Champagne Moet & Chandon Brut, an organic wine from Sicily (not very good) and a rather good wine from Tuscany Val d'Orcia. A meal that my sensitive stomach had a hard time to digest. Fortunately, drugs are effective.

Monday and Tuesday, meeting at the office of our client, then in his very posh club, a blend of nightclub, American bar, frequented by a rich and classy clientele here to flirt, talk and especially drink.

These kinds of places exist nowhere else, and furthermore, customers drink great champagne, cognac and other spirits, fine wines white and red, including Petrus, Romanee Conti and already Valandraud. This new niche, untouched by the crisis, is actually in good shape, especially in regard to status wines like Valandraud - fortunately!
More than a dozen sommeliers had the opportunity to see my show and afterwards, they had intelligent questions, much better than those asked elsewhere!
The interviews with gastronomic journalists, either to write editorials, or for a “regular” article were very professional, as always in Japan. Mr Tanaka from Wine Art was the one who knew best about it and Valandraud, its terroir, evolution, and my contradictions!

"Lifestyle" journalists, I must have done 6 interviews, were all interested in Valandraud and many already knew it. Their biggest interest was the pairing of Japanese dishes and my wines, white and red.
The meals were organized in 3 Michelin starred restaurants were nice and good practical work sessions ... What a life ... Considering we were working.

The most amazing meal took place in this 2 star restaurant, where the chef will certainly get 3 stars, with such a beautiful setting it would convince a blind man, a service was impeccable where even an elegant sommelier spoke to me in French. The dishes were all creative, barely processed, retaining their original flavor, difficult to speak pairing dish-wine we were so absorbed, amazed by the beauty of our plates and what they contained:
1, Two kinds of clams and Mashed soybeans
2, Steamed abalone , Fried potato
3, Two kinds of Crabs with Apple vinegar jelly
4, Clear soup with only skin grilled Snapper and Matsutake mushroom
5, RyuGin assorted Sashimi ( Red snapper, Tuna and Japanese lobster)
6, Japanese fish foiegras
7, Grilled Sea Perch
8, IWATE Beef , Shitakes and Figs
9. Eel grilling on the rice , Miso soup and RyuGin style pickles
10, Orange and fragrant olive sorbet
11, Airy cake with 2kinds of tastes ( Soy bean flour and coconut )
12, Baked chest nut cake with two kinds of cream ( chest nut and sweet potato with lemon)

Intimate room for 20 people, with a beautiful clientele, businessmen, 3 couples, lovers, including a tall Japanese woman with the elegance of a Kenzo model.

The parties in clubs to be introduced to those who matter, cannot be accessed without the keys. It is not enough to want, but also to be accepted and desired.

Hong Kong paradox

We had a meals at the Royal Yacht Club on a private beach 20 minutes from Central. The menu cost 10/15 Euros (without wine)
We had a view of the hills, singing birds, a marvelous, tropical vegetation and mist - there is a lot of fog in Hong Kong - buildings and beautiful villas worth millions of Euros.
We tasted Blanc N° 2 2006, 3 de Valandraud 2006, Bad Boy 2006 and especially Constance 2006, served cool, is one of the best value for money in the world, whatever the French think. They’re never happy, too connoisseurs to enjoy a well-rated wine by Jancis Robinson, Decanter, Parker and appreciated by our clients Swiss, German, American ...
Difficult to please everybody, and anyway, is it necessary?

The night before, we did a tasting in offices in Central, organized for good customers of our distributor who has become our largest customer in the world in 2008.
We tasted Blanc N° 1 and N° 2 and Valandraud 2006-2004-2002 and 1998.
When I imagine that here, one customer can buy 300 bottles (a barrel of Valandraud) more than all the United States, Germany or Italy ...

I am more than happy and pleased to have found this customer through one of my wholesalers friend in Bordeaux. After Japan, Korea, this is probably the biggest and most important country for Valandraud and wines that I own or consult for.
All the magazines talk about wine and food: after work and bizness, it is the true passion of people in Hong Kong - Chinese or expatriates.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, all the hotel chains have « prestigious » restaurants: Michelin, Ducasse, Robuchon, Gagnaire, Jean George, etc…
For instant, the restaurant at the Four Seasons, Caprice, was hosting a 2 star chef from the south of France. We had a great meal.
I also went to the restaurant where I ate a few years ago during a tasting organized by our client for a few wine lovers interested in my wines: Luk Yu Tea House, 25-26 Stanley Street in Central. This old restaurant serves traditional cuisine from Hong Kong and the waiters seemed to have been there forever, some must be over 65 years old. The delicious cuisine has a taste of old times: pre-1940 .... what an atmosphere, with customers who all know each other. This place still seems to want to remain timeless for many more years. We were served, pigeon, chicken, fish and abalone, with Valandraud 2003.

Hong Kong is like a small town where, every day, I met in the streets or in hotels, people I know: for example my friend Marc Dworkin, here to sell wines, along with a well-known merchant of Bordeaux. I also ran into the couple responsible for PR for Château La Lagune visiting for an auction. Hong Kong is becoming an important place for auctions along with London and New York.
Gil's brother, transferred to a new bank in Hong Kong, was previously based in Japan: a sign of things to come?

I met French ex-pats, always ready to help visiting negociant-winemaker.

I should also point out that this city offers affordable services including taxis for 2/3 Euros, delicious meals in small restaurants for 5/8 Euros, but for the rest of the time, we went to trendy and expensive places where breakfast costs 20 Euros and meals cost around 150 to 200 Euros.
Will I find, this time, the right accounts? Will I finally be able to open the market in Hong Kong, and therefore China, despite the intense international competition, and have a special place like I have in Japan and Korea? I will know soon as the nextVinexpo will be held in Hong Kong in 2010.

Hong Kong is often covered by smog coming from the factories located in the industrial part of China, but this time, I was lucky to enjoy a few sunny days. Was that an omen?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bordeaux 2009

The 2009 vintage enters in the hall of fame: it is already announced as the vintage of the century, etc…

It's true ... because it is already written in Le Figaro, Le Monde, Le Point ... and even critics are beginning to write about it, such as Quarin or some members on Mark Squire’s BB, or the most famous consultants, including Denis Dubourdieu - usually the cautious type.

What is certain is that, already appointments are made with some U.S. importers, some Bordeaux merchants are already inquiring on wines that have not sold well in 2007 or 2008 "just in case" ...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coming up

On Tuesday, November 3, France 5, will air again Pascal Fauvel and Nicolas Jouvin’s documentary: « Saint Emilion, qui l’eût cru ? » (who would have believed it?)

Friday 6, the Comptoir de Genes, hosts a discovery-tasting dinner event on «Women winemakers » with a menu for around 40 Euros. Women winemakers from Castillon La Bataille will be participating :
- Gaëtane QUERRE, Château d'Aiguilhe Querre in St Philippe d'Aiguilhe
- Hélène THIBAUD, Château LA Peuronie in Gardegan and Tourtirac
- Alexandra ROBIN, Château de Laussac in St Magne de Castillon
- Catherine PAPON, Château Peyrou in Ste Colombe
- Elisabeth ROUSSEAU, Château La Rose Poncet in Gardegan and Tourtirac
- Christine DERENONCOURT, Domaine de l'A in Ste Colombe
- Murielle ANDRAUD-THUNEVIN, Le Blanc de Valandraud in St Genès de Castillon

The month of December will begin with Le Grand Tasting in the Carousel du Louvre in Paris December 4 and 5 (we still have a few invitations left)
We will be available at our stand N° 78 and will pour :
CHATEAU VALANDRAUD 2007
CHATEAU FLEUR CARDINALE 2007
CHATEAU LA DOMINIQUE 2007
HAUT CARLES 2007
BAD BOY 2006
DOMAINE THUNEVIN- CALVET "LES DENTELLES"2006
DOMAINE THUNEVIN-CALVET Maury 2007

Blind tasting, one more time...!

The site “Passion du Vin” has frequent visits thanks to the subject “In the heart of the Grand Jury Europeen”. Opinions, all the opinions, even those more committed, are useful to understand the interests and limits of blind tastings.
Like in a Spanish inn, one finds what he is looking for. Today, this wine seems to be the best… where will it be tomorrow?

Often, in my opinion, and Michel Rolland’s, a good wine today is not necessarily a bad wine tomorrow. Even though! Why does it matter if I drank it when it should?
Often, consumers need this specific information: When will this bottle give me the most pleasure, before which date should it be drank?

In fact, the limitation period should be indicated on the bottle, same as other consumer goods. How long must one wait for a wine to reach full potential, and justify (if it can) its price?

All of this seems laughable, but one cannot forget that comments made of specific wine will affect its value in the future.
The exclusivity of the 1855 classification is actually that it dates from 1855, still viable today for some and obsolete for others.
It’s known that Lynch Bages is above the classification, thanks to its high quality, and for sure, La Violette will regain its place in Pomerol. Even though it has no classification, it still has the same “aura” as classified growths.

Do Reignac, Haut Condissas and other Haut Carles type, have no right to be amongst the top, if they provide the means to do so? Why not? I don’t see the reason not!

When I travel to China, I think again about wanting to participate in the creation of one of these great Chinese wines, able to compete in blind tastings against some top California wines, which have already greatly competed against our top Bordeaux.

When will the Judgment of Paris be replaced by the Judgment of Hong-Kong? Just as a reminder, the Judgment of Paris (1976) gave the Grand Jury Européen the idea to organize the same event 30 years later.

2 American wines reached the 1st place and Valandraud 3rd in front of all Bordeaux 1855 Classified Growths (or not) and California wines.
The chosen vintage (1995) was one of the best for Chateau Valandraud
Valandraud 95, still very good, received good note on the RVF (Bettane version), Robert Parker and many more. Still, Valandraud will never be a 1st growth 1855 and will never claim to be.
So what?
This didn’t prevent Valandraud to be in the top 100 best wines in the world and inspired more than one owner around the world.

Vive blind tastings (at least for that!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chateau de Carles in Fronsac

Walking through the streets of Saint Emilion from my house to the office, I often have the opportunity to talk to various people. It’s true that there are many wine stores along my route.
One of these stores is crazy about Haut Carles. They believe that it has an unbeatable quality price ratio and are also very interested in Chateau de Carles.

To accompany my story, I included below a few pictures – taken by me on Saturday, October 2, during the visit of Carles by James Lawther for a forthcoming book he is writing on Bordeaux.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Valandraud tasting by Izak Litwar

We recently had the visit of Izak Litwar to taste the last 4 vintages of Valandraud. Here are the comments he posted on Mark Squire's Bulletin Board :

"On Monday the 12th October I took a train from Libourne to St.Emilion and my first stay was at the tasting room below the office of Jean-Luc Thunevin. But during my walk from the station a car stopped and Alain Vauthier from Ausone got out. I met him first time at Ausone in 1984!

He told me that he was extremely happy with 2009 vintage and that they will finish small parcel of C.S. next day. According to him there weren't any problems with fermentation at his other estates and that fermentation at Ausone will start very soon.

Since 2007 vintage is it Murielle who's responsible for the harvest at all estates. You can say woman touch. In 2009 vintage potential alcohol in grapes is about one degree higher than in 2005 vintage. Concerning pH - it's 3.6 and lower than in 2005. Jean-Luc thinks that 2009 is combination of 2005 richness and 1989 style. Harvest was at that time not finished for Cabernet.

I tasted Valandraud in vintages 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005.

2008 was as impressive as during primeur - perfectly ripe fruit, strong backbone, splendid concentration, depth, balance and length. Formidable wine.
2007 looked like a great success for the vintage with pretty nice fruit maturity, fine length and balance, quite intense with fine aromas of red berries on the nose.
2006 followed closely after 2008 with as strong attitude, chewy, complex and pretty well concentrated. Seemed to get out very well from the grip of oak and tannin. Another great success of the vintage.
2005 was quickly on the way to close totally down but let me just taste the fabulous richness and this outstanding maturity of wild black cherries. Exceptional stuff!"

Thanks Izak!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

2009 Vintage

According Murielle and Florence:

Harvest – the end

Monday and Tuesday, Cabernet Sauvignon in Valandraud and Haut Mazeris
Today, the Carmenère and the 2009 vintage will be produced the best way possible.
I'm leaving for a trip to Hong Kong, Japan and back through Hong Kong before returning.
No time to breathe!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

La Tour d'Argent

Part of La Tour d’Argent’s cellar will be put up for auction (in French).
It is true that their inventory is quite important and that the origin of some of these old wines will be “guaranteed” for buyers.
La Tour d’Argent was one of the first customers – well known restaurant – to buy Valandraud 1991, 1992…

I always had a special spot, a mix of nostalgia (Jacques Luxey), friendship (David Ridgway) and gratitude for this mythical restaurant in Paris.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ukraine : Igor, Vladimir, Helena, Tatiana and others...

Last Friday, we woke up at 4:30 pm and left at 5 o'clock in the morning from St. Emilion for Bordeaux Merignac airport where our plane to Paris was scheduled at 6:55 am.
We met with Daniel, the friend who is already doing business in Ukraine, and joined Helena, in Paris, our Ukrainian guide interpreter. Departure from Paris to Kiev nearly 2 hours late and, surprised at the arrival, My luggage was not there. It was delivered the next day, in good condition.

We left Kiev, where it was cold (2 / 3 degrees), for Simferopol in Crimea on the Black Sea, where the temperature was like in the Mediterranean (20/25 degrees and sunshine). Evening meal with friends Daniel and overnight stay.
The next day, we visited the company created by Daniel and the market in Yalta with his Ukrainian friends: spices, vegetables preserved in vinegar, pomegranates as big as melons, Muscat grapes, persimmons, all honey of all different colors… we wanted to taste everything, but we quickly had to go visit to the famous cellars of Massandra where the wine, intended for the table of the Russian Tsars, was as famous as our 1855 classified first growths.
Alas, the visit of the cellars was not technical enough for my taste. In these superb cellars, are stored incredible amounts of bottles (if I understood correctly, more than 20 million bottles) and especially stocks of old, very old vintages 1800/1900: there is nothing else in an underground span. We then tasted 9 wines from the current range that go from a sherry style to sweet Cahors, sweet Muscat with at least 3 or 4 good. At the end of the visit, our hosts offered us, Daniel and I were both born in 1951, a bottle of Muscat de Massandra 1951, probably the only 1951 drinkable, even very good. I will know when I drink it in 2011 to celebrate my 60th birthday thinking of my Ukrainian friends, considerate and caring, full of that Slavic spirit of joy and sadness.
In the evening, we left for Kiev, where my suitcase was waiting for me (complete with the bottle samples). We had a nice dinner hosted by one of our customers who we recently received in Saint Emilion and stayed overnight in the comfortable Natsionalny.
We saw plenty of wine from one of my colleagues in Bordeaux on planes and in supermarkets. Our responsibility to carve a place in this country.

Sunday we were invited for lunch at 40 km from Kiev, in the house under construction, of these friends wine lover: a 1200m² house with lots of small annexes buildings, guest house, garages and keeper's house, all this on 40 hectares overlooking the countryside. Romantic countryside engraving, trees with all the fall colors and river view. The traditional meal started around 1 pm and ended about 6 pm with lots of bottles of wine, vodka, cognac ... Here, it must be strong to withstand all the "health" ...

Monday, serious work with one of the necessary importers to be able to have our wines distributed, the best without a doubt: with a shop far more professional than many renowned wine stores in the world. It was almost a huge surprise to see, here, already many wines from my friends Garagists: La Gomerie, Magrez Fombrauge and also Valandraud 2002, all sold by a good and well known Bordeaux wholesaler. We tasted Bad Boy 2006, Clos Badon 2001 and Valandraud 1999.
We also met with the owner of an Italian restaurant who is also is a friend of Andrea Franchetti of Tenuta di Trinoro. We had our last meal in a good Chinese restaurant, a pre-taste of my trip to Hong Kong and we must already leave, again, get up early at 4 am. It is the least enjoyable part in my travels. In the bag this bottle of 1951 Massandra and a pretty nice box of top quality Russian caviar. It's amazing the attention we received by all the people we've met and friends. 2 beautiful prospects to sell wine to quickly conclude. What more to ask for? Return?

I had a terrible nightmare the last night before the phone woke me up, we could not find pickers, goes to show how bizarre dreams can be.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Horror !

The agricultural mutual insurance of Gironde sent me a letter, dated September 29, 2009:

“Subject: the trade fair prepare and live well your retirement, is being held on October 23 and 24.
Madam, Sir,,
You are approaching the retirement age, etc. ...

How horrible!

I asked nothing, and now ... I gave my date of birth and it becomes an excuse to send me in retirement.
I, who dream of working for more than 40 years, I am in a fine mess now!

Fan

I am a fan of the French comic book from F. Murr, Génie des Alpages (Genius of the Mountain Pastures), published by Dargaud (14 volumes).
It inspired me, without realizing, for the Bad Boy label.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Availability

Frederick B. wants to meet me, but hasn’t yet been able to: every time one of my employees tells him I am busy ...

Frederick B., who must read my blog regularly, should find that’s a bit much .... when he reads all the meals I do and the good bottles that I drink.
Frederick B., please call Cecile at my office to schedule an appointment or send an email.

PS : my office is right above the shop L’Essentiel, in Saint Emilion.

Blanc de Valandraud

Just for Murielle’s pleasure, below, the comments and notes published in Neal Martin’s Wine Journal :

BLANC DE VALANDRAUD N°1 2006

Wine Journal (April 2007) Neal Martin 93-95
Another very Burgundian nose, here reminding me of a fine Meursault from Dominique Lafon. Lime, citrus fruits,a touch of almond and white flowers. The palate is very polished, harmonious with well integrated creamy new oak. Fine acidity. Touch of oyster shell and green apples on the finish. A lovely wine: shame it produced in such small amounts ! Tasted April 2007.

BLANC DE VALANDRAUD N°2 2006

Wine Journal (April 2007) Neal Martin 90-92
A crisp, Sauvignon Blanc-scented nose with cut limes, citrus and passion fruit. The palate has very fine delineation, quite Burgundian with a touch of coconut towards the long finish. Impressive.
Tasted April 2007

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Friends

I had a meal of great quality with great friends: a little foie gras and caviar with Amour de Deutz double magnum, and to even enjoy more, egg casserole with truffles. It was divine.

Following, puree with truffles and thrushes with Valandraud 2007 (a success - I tell you but I am totally independent?) and La Couspaude 2007 remarkable (the price as well).

With the truffle brie, Mouton 2003 - very good, Haut Brion 1985 a little tired (?), La Mouline 2003 from Guigal, delicious.
Fruit dessert and coffee, whew!
It was only Wednesday lunch in Libourne, where fine wines are served to please friends.

Ah, these Americans !

This morning, an American friend asked me for the analysis of Valandraud 2009. We haven’t yet finished harvesting!
This shows the interest there is in this vintage. He will have to wait, because we still have to harvest next week: 2 vineyards of Merlot: the north side of Bel Air and Despagnet (in the valley), and, of course, the Cabernet Francs of Badon, Prieuré Lescours, Bel Air as well as the Cabernet Sauvignon of Prieuré Lescours and the Carmenère of Bel Air – late varietal.
Also, the Cabernets in Haut Mazeris and even a parcel of Merlot in Pomerol, in Clos du Beau Père.

If at the end of this I don’t have a stomach ulcer and one or two depressions after harvest, is that really, I'm tough.

I think that choosing to harvest super late was the right choice. Murielle, Christophe, Rémi and Jean Philippe have done the maximum not to miss the tremendous potential of this vintage.

Vignobles Clément Fayat

The Clément Fayat vineyards are expending with a nice property of 5 hectares adjacent to the Châteaux La Dominique, Jean Faure and Cheval Blanc : Château Vieux Fortin ;
This property was already producing very good wine for a long time. Our objective is to do better and try to integrate it, at some point, to Château La Dominique, where its original terroir (an unbelievable pocket of clay and limestone) would bring more.

With the purchase in 2006, in association with my company for 50% each, the vines of Mr. Larthomas, Fayat vineyards in Pomerol - La Commanderie de Mazeyres (10 hectares), Prieurs de la Commanderie (3 hectares) - were enriched with 2 hectares, called Domaine Fayat-Thunevin. This domain also existing in Lalande de Pomerol (3 hectares each) and will soon be available in a famous airline.
The expansion of Vignobles Clément Fayat shows, if proof were needed, how important these properties are to Clément Fayat and his family.

And to meet the challenges ahead, and following my proposal, a full-time Managing Director was appointed. He has the responsibility to sell and market all the wines to Bordeaux trade via brokers as well as sales within the group Fayat, which now has nearly 105 companies and 16,000 employees.
Yannick Evenou, has a strong experience with 20 years in Bordeaux trade (CVBG and Jean Michel Cazes properties). He will be the only person dealing with sales which I handled until now.
I keep for the coming years my role as an outside consultant, for the properties and the Fayat family, also with some marketing and communication responsibilities.
The rest of the team in place in the vineyards is under the responsibility of Peter Meylheuc, COO.

This appointment is a strong signal the family Fayat sends to our customers and suppliers, and confirms that all means are now available for the properties to be the best, and especially that everything will be implemented for Chateau La Dominique to finally reach the status of 1er Grand Cru Classé B
That is the goal Fayat Clement, his wife and children have given us.
It is our responsibility to deserve it.

Tastings

On October 13th in the evening, we drank at our friends ;
Champagne Moet et Chandon Brut
Domaine de Chevalier rouge 2004, simply delicious and astonishingly drinkable for a vintage usually a bit « too » austere.
Angélus 2004, drank a bit too cold which brought out its austerity. Warmed up in the glass, this wine found again its elegance.
A Pomerol 2006, produced with ambition as it was offered at a price of 120 Euros, hard, vegetal, a total miss. I forgot the name of this cuvee, but not the name of this wine which I didn’t know. I understand why!
At the end, we drank an excellent Pape Clément 2003 which everyone recognizes today that it is one of the best wines in Bordeaux. This reminds me that in our quality-price-ratio reports from the same owner, La Tour Carnet is also included.

For lunch at noon, I drank Montviel 2003 Pomerol from Catherine Péré-Vergé, simply good. It is one of the successes in this difficult vintage, especially in Pomerol.

Harvest, October 14 : Laroque, Plaisance, part of the southern side and in front of the château in Bel Air : only batches able to make Valandraud our 1st wine.

Quinté Sens Club de Bordeaux

Thank you Julien Alemant for forwarding this very good comment published on the their site (in French) :
Château de Valandraud, 1992 vintage, Appellation Saint-Emilion grand cru."The robe is sophisticated, with a mahogany color which reveals the age of the wine, but it retains a certain amount of freshness.

The nose is elegant, beguiling, with intensity and plenty of charm. We easily perceive aromas of cocoa, stone fruits and blond tobacco, married to an obvious and welcome freshness which gives this cru its youthfulness.

The wine offers a languid palate, with incredible softness and exquisite precision. Quite straight, void of austerity, on the contrary, the wine offers a panel of flavors, almost inseparable, forming a harmonious ensemble and very high standard. The fruit is preserved, mixed with a nice leather and subtle notes of humus. The tannins are superb, the length as well. A big wine that transcends the vintage. Congratulations to its creator!Rated 95/100 is a wine that is the pride of the vintage in Bordeaux. "

This 1992 was undoubtedly stored in good conditions, and caused a stir at the time and is probably one of the best Bordeaux wines in this difficult vintage.

With calm and serenity, Bernard Burtschy, one of the best critics in the world of wine has written a good paper (in French) for Figaro's October 8, 2009 edition, to defend a wine world which seems to have such a hard time defending itself.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Harvest 2009 : October 13 recap

In La Dominique, the harvest ended this afternoon. The Cabernet Franc are superb and the memorable Merlot will possibly produce more than 90% of fine wine. That's a great year.

In Haut Mazeris : The Merlots are done, a few Cabernets Francs and Cabernets Sauvignons still remain.

In Valandraud : tomorrow will begin with the Merlots de Bel Air, Laroque and Plaisance will perhaps follow.

China

Guangzhou, this city with many inhabitants is too close to Hong Kong to properly build a wine distribution network, as Hong Kong offers many advantages: quality network of professionals and ZERO duty!

Several meetings, some disappointing, with surprising questions like "why buy this wine, when I saw in the back, protected by the window of the rare wine display, one of these Second Grand Cru from Médoc that has not interested anyone for over 50 years, at least because it has consistently been mediocre. This definitely has to change. "
That’s the advantage of being at the bottom... we can only go up and that’s for the best. Congratulations to the new generation that will have this handicap and fortunately also the advantage of the 1855 classification!

Lack of retort, difficulty of communicating in a subtle way, I should have found arguments, but tired and a bit destabilized by this disconcerting professionalism, after the reception and the kindness I received in Hong Kong, which had organized 3 tastings :
- attentive sales team (almost too)
- one with a group of customers in one of their fine stores, more casual, young, optimistic,
- and above all, the meal at Chinese restaurant in the Peninsula, so classy where the unobtrusive service was able to bring out our wines with the meal, especially Bellevue de Tayac 2005 Clos du Beau Père-2006, and the Blanc de Valandraud n°2 2006.

Still in Guangzhou, I met a journalist writer, salesman, Chinese professor, who really seems to have fallen "in love" with the wine world. What will he do with the bottle Fayat Thunevin 2006 (Pomerol) sold at a price rather high for this industrial corner of China?

In the evening, we were taken care of by Loulou, a beautiful model who helped us with the harvest in 2007. This friend of Xin, took us around with her friends to good meals (and drink). Such hospitality is surprising, it is rarely offered in our country... Although, I think Murielle and I are rather good hosts!

Planes, trains, subways, services everywhere. For example: the subways are as clean as in Japan, it goes to be said..., complimentary mineral water offered in the trains ...

Everything would have been perfect if I hadn’t seen this bottle of red wine, when I returned to Guangzhou, which made me laugh but is a real problem in China: fakes and counterfeits.
On the same bottle, one could read “Vin de Table - Burgundy - and Cabernet Sauvignon”. I can’t imagine the number of fake Cognac or fake Lafite sold and drank ...

China again
Xiamen, beautiful city an hour away from Hong-Kong and facing the island of Taïwan, the nicely developed beaches could possibly a good place to spend a few days of vacation..
Our hotel, the "Seaside Hotel", looks like one of those buildings built after the war, huge, with the same impact on the landscape than the French buildings built in the 1960s at La Grand Motte.

Our contact, was full attention, delicious meal and a wine list with wines already imported and featuring wines from some of my friends, and it even had a wine shop openly inspired by my shop in Saint-Emilion : L’Essentiel.

I think I will be back to help distribute some of my wines. It’s a pity that the trip lasts 24 hours.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Parker

I understand that Parker would only have 55,000 subscribers.
However, how many clients, professionals, wine lovers, producers read his comments and how many times are his notes been used ?
Probably millions of times.

Press wine

For François Mauss : It’s already been 17 years (since 1992) that we put our press wine in the second wine, even in the 3rd wine.
The work done allows us to exclude it from the top cuvee which has already taken the best.
It’s a technique. Some, especially in Medoc, do the opposite.
Go figure François!

Ripeness

Wasps and other sorts of insects love red grapes, especially ours as we leave them longer on the vines and that, filled with sugar, are so attractive to these gourmands (along with wild boars and badgers).
This year, I believe that we’re experiencing a small miracle: the botrytis cinerea - which is always bad for our red grapes, seems to be the "noble" sort of the great Sauternes and whenever I taste one of these seeds, I find it delicious, I hope that it lasts.

Harvest

Roller coaster : Saturday, October 10, if Banton Lauret had 200 pickers, I would have hired them all to expedite the harvest.
Sunday, following a Saturday of terror, I intervened to calm things down and take a bit of time off. Fortunately, I don’t handle directly the harvest which gives me a more “detached” view.
This morning, we picked the Merlots from Badon and Prieuré Lescours. This afternoon, it will be the Merlots from Haut Mazeris (Fronsac)

Today, October 12 from 2:30 pm to 7 pm, an event is taking place at the Fouquet’s (99 avenue des Champs Elysées 75008 Paris). It is organized by the Amateur de Bordeaux and the Bottin Gourmand and is reserved to members of the industry!
La Dominique, Fleur Cardinale, Valandraud and Haut Carles will be represented by Barbara Engerer.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Update on the harvest

Friday, we harvested young vines of merlot in Fongaban, Laroque and Cateau.
We’ll start again on Monday and probably go on for the whole week. Some vineyards will be harvested more than 3 weeks after our neighbors, hail being partly responsible for the delay in ripening we expected, the drought this summer and our stubbornness to do better every year in order to remain in the top wines of the world - Bordeaux has long ceased being the center of the world.
We had lunch with a large group of Brazilian journalists (I’m starting to enjoy it), some I already met in Sao Paulo, accompanied by Mexican journalists.
This will be a harvest meal, with a single dish: couscous, and some wines from Bordeaux in the absence of Mascara, star wine of my native Algeria.

I read in the newspaper Sud Ouest:
Cadet Piola was sold to the insurance company La Mondiale. It constitutes a beautiful group of quality terroir and again is a strong signal about the great potential of wines from St. Emilion.

We attended the harvesters lunch at Croix de Labrie, Wednesday, October 7, 2009, in Michel and Ghislaine’s cellar for the pickers and table d’hôtes for friends. The opportunity to have fun and drink good bottles of wine made here.
Petite Chapelle 2005, Croix de Labrie 2007 hyper concentrated Merlot, Croix de Labrie 2006 of a quality level and texture of the best wines of Bordeaux and of course the excellent 2005;
What progress already made since 1991 Croix de Labrie, which has been given glorious titles like “garage wine”, “vin de salon” (Bettane) and “liquid Viagra” (Parker).