Friday, March 27, 2009

The calm before the storm

It is now calm before a busy week of meetings, events, tastings and good meals.

Little or no phone calls, usual orders waiting to be picked up. Prices are falling, the 2006 and 2007 vintages being dumped by the trade are affecting prices. In other words, the market is still strong, and it will be stronger for 2008 as prices will be very interesting (good luck to the few adventurers who will try to do the opposite!)

At the end of the crises, Bordeaux will come out stronger with good wines sold at attractive prices.

It looks like the campaign will start on April 6?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

UGC, premiere

Yesterday’s tasting gave me the opportunity to taste many of my colleagues’ wines. 2008 will certainly be a good year with probably more average wines than I thought.
Tough, a bigger gap exists between producers who worked hard and are showing high quality wines, close to 2005, and serious ones, who present wines superior to 2006-2004. Unfortunately, there are also those who picked again unripe and vegetal tasting grapes of Cabernet or Merlot.

I feel that Graves have done a great job with, again, a remarkable Pape Clément and especially Fieuzal who will, I hope, be finally recognized by critics!

Château La Dominique was well received by our usual clients and this is good news for me, who is certainly closely concerned. 2008 will certainly become as legendary as 1989.

I had lunch with a friend from Bordeaux in her usual place, the restaurant Aéro. Good place with a good atmosphere and hopefully a future trip to Hong Kong?

English tasting and "Chateau to rent"

The 1855 classification, « left bank », revised and price corrected by the British. The results: on top, Graves (red) forgotten in 1855 like Pape Clément or Mission Haut Brion.

Still across the Channel, Château Lascombes 2004 reached the top spot and was well received by the Executive Wine Seminar in front of other big names. However, a few wines, who could have also faired well in this sort of competition, were missing . Angélus, 2nd and 4th Ducru Beaucaillou. These results will please a few!

I received the 1st estimation for the cost of a eco friendly swimming pool for our chateau to rent in Château Valandraud (Saint Etienne de Lisse): it is twice the cost of a “classical” swimming pool. Tough to be a eco friendly hippy!
In the meantime, a few pictures of Chateau Valandraud – to rent as a guest house:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

En primeur tastings

The Alliance des Crus Bourgeois will present all its fine Médocs at Château Clément Pichon on Tuesday, March 31 and Wednesday, April 1 from 9 am to 6 pm.

The tasting for Cercle des Grands Vins de Rive Droite will take place at Château Grand Barrail from March 30th to April 2nd .

The Association des Crus Classés will be at Château Tour Figeac from Monday, March 30 to Friday, April 3 from 10 am to 6 pm to present the 2008 vintage.

En primeur tasting at La Dominique

Last minute details :
The tasting will take place from March 30 2009 to April 3 2009 (one more day). Below, the list of wines presented by Vignobles Magrez :
Passion d’une Vie
Mon Seul Rêve
Château Pape Clément
Château Les Grands Chênes
Château La Tour Carnet
Magrez Fombrauge
Château Fombrauge
Fombrauge Blanc

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2008 Bordeaux wines 2008 en primeur

UGC (Union des Grands Crus) presents its members’ wines to Bordeaux wine merchants and brokers on Wednesday 25. This will give us a good overview of what’s produced in Bordeaux and see who was successful (and who’s not) as well as which appellations have better results.

In the meantime, Jean Marc Quarin and journalists from Revue du Vin de France are tasting, so as Parker.

Astonishing vintage with a few beauties, the en primeur campaign will start early (so as I’m told), just after the UGC week organized for importers, journalists, etc…
So, for once we won’t wait for the notes, nor for the neighbor’s price. Prices should be able to attract customers. If I understand correctly, they will be close to 2004.
Will that be enough? Will we need to go down to the prices in 2002, or even 1997/ 1998/ 1999 ?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Revue du Vin de France, L’Amateur, Gault et Millau etc...

Instead of following the same old road, why not explore new editorial directions ?
Saturday, we hosted one of the first press tastings for Bordeaux 2008. I was responsible for organizing this event (guilty but not responsible, or the opposite!). A major critic and a beautiful female sommelier (and very professional), and working in a very good restaurant, Apicius, attended and I was wondering why not make a series of films on sommeliers, cook, horeca directors from all over the world and who defend cooking and often French wines?

Every time I travel around the world to promote our wines, I am so happy to get help from the motivated French Diaspora. From Osaka to Miami, from Tahiti to Paris, hurrah to our sommelier! Well, we could do the same for English, Swiss or Koreans who defend our wines with such passion (and in addition, it would give the opportunity for journalists to travel around the world! )

U.G.C. J-7

From Monday, March 30 to Thursday, April 2, we will be hosting our anual en primeur tasting :

Non exhaustive list of properties - Tasting at Château La Dominique in Saint Emilion

(Château La Dominique is located between Château Cheval Blanc, Château Jean Faure, Château Vieux Fortin, Château l’Evangile and Château La Conseillante)
Times : 9:30 am – 6:30 pm

Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle Andraud's properties
2008 Château Valandraud - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Virginie de Valandraud - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 3 de Valandraud - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Clos Badon-Thunevin - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Château Bel Air Ouÿ - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Château Prieuré Lescours - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Blanc de Valandraud N°1 - Bordeaux blanc
2008 Blanc de Valandraud N°2 - Bordeaux blanc
2008 Château Bellevue de Tayac - Margaux
2008 Le Clos du Beau Père - Pomerol
2008 Domaine des Sabines - Lalande de Pomerol
2008 Domaine Virginie Thunevin - Bordeaux
(Virginie Thunevin's personal property)

Partnership with Jean Roger and Marie Calvet :
2008 Domaine Thunevin-Calvet « Les Trois Marie » - Côtes du Roussillon Villages
2008 Domaine Thunevin-Calvet « Hugo » - Côtes du Roussillon Villages
2008 Domaine Thunevin-Calvet « Les Dentelles » - Côtes du Roussillon Villages
2008 Thunevin-Calvet “Constance” - Côtes du Roussillon
2008 Domaine Thunevin-Calvet - Maury

Partnership with Clément Fayat :
2008 Domaine Fayat-Thunevin (ex Vieux Chateau Bourgneuf) - Pomerol
2008 Domaine Fayat-Thunevin - Lalande de Pomerol

Wines selected and exclusively distributed by Ets. Thunevin
2008 Bad Boy - Mauvais Garçon - Bordeaux rouge
2008 Presidial Thunevin - Bordeaux blanc & rouge
2008 Château Franc Maillet- Cuvée Jean Baptiste - Pomerol
2008 Château Lafont Fourcat & A nos Amours - Bordeaux rouge et blanc
2008 Château Subilaux - Bordeaux rouge
2008 Clos del Rey - Côtes du Roussillon
2008 Baby del Rey - Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes

Jean-Luc Thunevin consultant or manager
2008 Château Fleur Cardinale - Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé
2008 Château La Dominique - Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé
2008 Château Clément Pichon - Haut Médoc Cru Bourgeois Supérieur
2008 Château Prieurs de La Commanderie - Pomerol
2008 Château La Commanderie de Mazeyres - Pomerol
2008 Marojallia et Clos Margalaine - Margaux
2008 Château de Carles et Haut Carles - Fronsac
2008 Château Haut Mazeris - Canon Fronsac and Fronsac

Our friends wines
2008 Château Croix de Labrie - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Gracia et Angelots de Garcia -Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Château Villhardy and Maro de Saint Amant - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Château La Croix Figeac - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Lynsolence et Chateau Les Gravières - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Château Petit Gravet Ainé et Clos Saint Julien - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Clos Dalmasso - Saint Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Château Beau Soleil - Pomerol
2008 Château Le Gay - Pomerol
2008 Le Plus de La Fleur de Boüard - Lalande de Pomerol
2008 Château La Dauphine - Fronsac
2008 Château Thénac - Bergerac rouge et blanc
2008 Le Grand A d’Arguti - Vin de Pays de Côtes Catalanes
2008 Domaine Eternel - Côtes du Roussillon Villages
2008 Domaine Chiroulet Grande Réserve - VDP de Gascogne
2008 La Regalona - Cabardes
2008 Domaine de l’Oustal Blanc - Minervois
2008 Domaine Buisson Charles - Bourgogne
2008 DiamAndes - Argentine

2008 Château Sénéjac - Haut Médoc
2008 Château Belle Vue - Haut Médoc
2008 Château de Gironville - Haut Médoc
2008 Château Paloumey - Haut Médoc
2008 Clos du Jaugueyron - Haut Médoc
2008 Château Mille Roses - Haut Médoc
2008 Château Cambon La Pelouse - Haut Médoc
2008 Château d’Agassac - Haut Médoc

Vignobles Bernard Magrez

2008 Pingus - Espagne
2008 Quinta Sardonia - Espagne
2008 Tenuta di Trinoro - Italie
2008 Moon Valley - Tokay

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chateau Fleur Cardinale

In response to yesterday’s comment :
"Fleur Cardinale still underpriced..." this sort of affirmation chokes me !!!

Cool, Stéphane ! I am talking about the relative price and simplifying my judgment.
The value of the real-estate: the vineyards in Saint Emilion are more expensive than in Fronsac.
The investments: the performance in the cellar, the equipment, everything is new and expensive, of course.
The low yields and labor is costlier here than in the Entre Deux Mers (though, Girolate must be too!).
All the work done: new barrels, weather, promotion, classification, etc…
Then, you have to take in account the effort made to keep the quality at the level of wines in the same category. Ratings from journalists, trying to be consistent (creating a viable brand like Lynch Bages or Haut Marbuzet costs money, no?)
And to conclude, I mentioned the price the property charges Bordeaux wholesalers and found in restaurants!
Otherwise, please, give names of wines better and cheaper than Fleur Cardinale in Saint Emilion, and I promise to think twice about before making statements which could possibly shock you!

Tough day

My day started well with 2 journalists – Swedish sommeliers, full of life, curiosity, attention, sensitivity and obvious empathy. Crazy about wine, limit romantic, time flew by much too quickly.
They left in the afternoon for Domaine de Chevalier, while I went to one of these unavoidable meeting for my wholesale business, in a famous chateau, but, shush… it is a bit confidential.
The meal was perfect, served with wines at the level of the occasion and the full nine yards for high class event. In this kind of environment, even if I am happy to be invited, it is difficult for me to be “natural”: maybe because of the tie, the blazer and maybe my insecurities for I am yet not fully sure of my place. Even if I believe in my job, my taste, my energy, I feel like a needle in a hay stack. It is true that during this period, my level of stress increases: journalists, the futures campaign, existing inventory, the ones to come, clients, the ones that pay, the nice ones, the others, salaries who depend on my company, my role as a consultant, banks, etc. Everything is taking serious proportions and I feel limit depressive!

In addition, at my table, where I was surrounded by nice brokers, directors of wholesale companies or representatives of the host château, one of my neighbors made a remark at the end of the meal: “will Valandraud still be around 100 years from now, and what is it worth compared to Lafite? Isn’t it one of these fleeting successes?”
Damn, I feel I could become nasty, me, who likes so much nice people, me, such a peace-loving person - I am nor a hunter nor courageous – I could change into a lion if one puts in doubt my determination, even for a second, and my serious will to carrying on my story, our story, to the end.
How can someone, still today, in Bordeaux and as a wine “professional” misinterpret my story that way? This puts my ego right in its place, but God, yesterday was not the place to hear these kinds of nonsense!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The classification is generating some reactions… Below are the comments posted by Frédéric Borliachon following my article “Unfair”:

“I have been following your blog for quite a while and your comments help better understand the wine world (producer, wine merchants, etc…)

I understand that the properties promoted are disappointed by another reversed court decision, but let’s not forget that their revenues won’t be affected as they haven’t been demoted from their last classification.
However, there are big price differences between grands crus, grands crus classes and first B, and the big losers would have been the demoted.
Think about the prejudice caused to the image of a demoted property, and how many vintages it would take to rebuild…?

You will say that being demoted is certainly deserved…
I would agree if the classification procedure was with “no” mistake, which wasn’t the case.

This comment doesn’t challenge the work done by the winemakers (or should I say the owners) nor the committee from the Saint Emilion trade union.

I am sorry that the procedure of classification was done so “lightly”… as much for the promoted than for the demoted, but also for the others who will “pay” for the damage done… at least in term of image.

Thank you Mr. THUNEVIN, for the work you are doing for the wines of Bordeaux and others, and offer a platform for us to express ourselves.”

Frédéric, thank you for your comments.
Of course it is more complicated for the demoted and ex-promoted. I am not a lawyer, but even if I understand that the demoted have the right to request equal treatment – and everybody knows that it wasn’t the case – then, why are the properties promoted – who are not responsible for this mess - are the only ones being punished?
You mention “no prejudice” for them. Go ask each of them to give you the financial (and moral) cost caused by this prejudice. You will be surprised by the number!
I repeat, I am closer to ex-promoted that the demoted for several reasons (at least two):
First: I also applied for Valandraud and Clos Badon Thunevin to be classified and I knew the rules and the names of the people on the commission. I did accept the rules even if I found them a bit hard to understand: Do you need to have 100/100 to all the questions or just reach the average? Are there elimination clauses?
Regarding Valandraud, if the average was sufficient, I would have been promoted!

Secondly: How can the previous classification be acceptable when the same methods were used? the methods used in 1996 are valid, but not in 2006… depending on how some are affected!
It is too hard for me to accept.
The subject is much more serious: will there still be a classification? Is it useful if it creates such a fiasco?
How and how fast can the damage be fixed? And who will profit from the “crime”?


The weather is beautiful the trees blooming, the birds singing and last night for dinner we drank a very good La Mondotte 2006.
It had everything you could expect: finesse, fruit, power, a touch of wood but barely noticeable… Too bad that this wine is “a bit” expensive otherwise I would drink it more often!

Saint Emilion’s classification : the press writes about it, but what is the ministry of Agriculture doing about this ?

The Figaro, AFP, France 2, 20 minutes, Sud Ouest, le Monde, etc… Will there be a new classification ? Nothing’s certain. Who will want to take responsibility ? While the most prestigious crus don’t need the classification to sell their wines, it is true that the classification can affect the price of a wine.
In the meantime, I hope that the Ministry of Agriculture will issue a ruling protecting the properties promoted in 2006, otherwise, we can expect a flurry of court actions in order to compensate the ex-promoted from this Saint Emilion soap!

The cercle rive droite des grands vins de Bordeaux
The 1st big meeting for wine merchants, brokers and colleagues took place in the Café Maritime, in Bordeaux to taste the 2008 cuvées of this club which includes 135 chateaux. It was very well attended, even though it is true that just taking in account the number of members of this club makes a lot of people. Doctor Alain Raynaud can be proud of the ground covered by the club and where many good to great wines are represented. besides a few problems with noticeable oak, which is normal at this point of aging, there was many good wines, ripe, full, and certain even reaching the best level of the past 10/15 years.

In addition to the wines I am involved in, I particularly liked: Fonroque, Grand Corbin Despagne , Saint Georges Pavie, La Clotte à Saint Emilion. In Fronsac : La Dauphine and La Vieille Cure and, of course, Moulin Haut Laroque. In Pomerol : La Fleur de Gay, Le Moulin, Feytit Clinet, Beau Soleil, Clos du Clocher and I am glad to see that Château Sainte Barbe d’Antoine Touton joined the Cercle. This is the proof that work can be rewarded.
(I would like to remind you that also included in the Cercle are : Haut Carles, Château La Commanderie de Mazeyres and Château Fleur Cardinale).

It seemed that brokers and wine merchants liked the wines they tasted, but this doesn’t take away the fact they are worried on the sale of the majority of the wines presented here.
Time is currently spent on figuring out the release price of the top brands, especially the 1st growths, from the 1855 classification, which are expected to take in consideration the current crisis and give a strong signal to the market. This doesn’t please my side as an owner, but I am looking forward as a wine merchant. The quality of the wine can help the campaign, if the prices reflect today’s financial crisis. My job as consultant pulls me in 2 directions: To do or not… That’s the question. This year will most likely be the year of all dangers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Friday 13th : 2008 tasting

Here we go : the Association of Saint Emilion classified growth’s tasting, organized for their members, gives the opportunity to set the standard for future official tastings: Fleur Cardinale and La Dominique seemed to have been well received, if I believe Rémi, Pierre, Guillaume and Jean Philippe. However, they are directly involved, so we will see in the next few days if Fleur Cardinale and La Dominique are fairing so well and get good notes.

During that time, I went to Chateau Carbonnieux to participate to the general assembly of the Commanderie du Bontemps du médoc, Graves and Sauternes. Along with the Union des Grands Crus, it is the best PR tool where I have been lucky to be included as the manager of Vignobles Fayat and Chateau Clément Pichon, our property Bellevue de Tayac and even Ets Thunevin, wine merchant. The opening of the Commanderie gives the opportunity to present the 3 facets of the wine industry: production, brokerage and wholesale.

In the Sud Ouest paper, I saw the place Sonia Dalmasso got during the last major contest where she represented the family property of our cellar master: Clos Dalmasso.
I also read that Haut Carles 2005 received a special mention in the February-March 2009 issue of Gault et Millau.


Will this new Saint Emilion classification be credible following the latest court decision which only took into account the properties demoted while omitting the ones promoted in the 2006 classification?
Will the properties demoted in 2006 be able to sell their wines better than the properties left out by the last court decision. Properties which are still recognized by all deserving their promotion? In fact, if it is known that more 1st growths or crus classes should have been demoted, nobody argued the validity of the promoted ones!
Goes to show that nothing is for sure in this lovely country of France. Form is more important than content.

Château Fleur Cardinale 2008 will most likely be one of the successes of this vintage in Bordeaux and its status of classified/declassified will never take anything away from the path taken by this property. It was already well-known before the Decoster family bought it in 2001. It’s been already 9 years since I started collaborating with Fleur Cardinale and every year, I remind myself that we’ve done the best we could, and every year we make one more little step towards excellence.
Fleur Cardinale has been underpriced and therefore won’t need to drastically drop its prices to find clients, but that’s another story.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Astoria :After a few pictures of our « château to rent » taken by a photographer Patricia sent on behalf of the rental company, I received the new press pictures for Château La Dominique from Vignobles Clément Fayat as well as a few others. They were made in the lab of Astoria Bordeaux. This young photographer is talented and proved it with a few of the photos we received.
Hurrah the CIVB:
Bellevue La Randée 2007 in China and Bad Boy 2005 were rewarded in the category “everyday wine” in Hong Kong.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Every year, brokers and Bordeaux wine merchants are invited by the owners to taste the last vintages produced as well as 3 or 4 older ones of Chateau Talbot, Le Connétable de Talbot and Caillou Blanc.

This year again, many people attended. Chateau Talbot is part of the 30 serious and unavoidable brands. The fact that the heads of Bordeaux negociants houses and brokerage firms attended was the proof!
In any case, this is a successful vintage for Talbot, with maybe a bit more fruit and precision, probably due to the same sorting machine we bought, as well as the new consultant. This is a proof that the owners want to improve: in fact, even a well respected crus can also challenge themselves.

In addition, as the meal is usually good, it gives Murielle and I the opportunity to thank our hosts who is been the starting point of the tastings of the 2008 en primeur campaign.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Larrivet Haut Brion hosts UGC

Last Friday, I attended the the general assembly for Union des Grands Crus, where I represented Chateau La Dominique. It took place at Château Larrivet Haut Brion in Graves. Most, if not all, the owners and representatives from all the chateaux belonging to this prestigious club were present. In addition to friendship and work, this event gave us the opportunity to talk, meet and learn about future events.

A bit of good news: the Bachelot law gives a bit of support for export, and the quality of the 2008 vintage, which is starting to be recognized.

Château Larrivet Haut Brion’s warm welcome gave me the opportunity to visit the property. The equipment was top notch and the cellar was so clean that you could almost eat off the floor. The investment for upgrading was not made to show-off but to produce high quality wine, and this is a good thing.
During the meal, we drank a dozen of wines including one that I particularly liked, Chateau Cos Labory 2004, delicious, modern in my opinion and with a great price compared to Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron 2001, which was very Medoc, subdued as opposed to Chateau Petit Village 2001, a very truffled Merlot from Pomerol.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Michelin star

I made a quick trip to Maury to check the final work on the last house in town which still doesn’t have electricity, nor working bathroom, nor…, nor…,
Actually, we would need an additional 6th months to complete these small (!?) works. When you take in consideration the work put into the cellar, fortunately finished, it seems to be a bit out of context!

We had a good lunch at Maison de Terroir (1 star Michelin given again this year): few customers for this Saturday lunch, but why stop the €28 menu and start with the more expensive one? Isn’t it better to refuse customers and slowly increase prices? I believe that thinking that weekend customers are wealthier is a bit out place these days! I am glad that I don’t manage a restaurant anymore!
The wine list includes good wines at an attractive price (i.e. Mas de Lavail Ego 2005 for €28).
The almond trees and their pink flowers, white and the yellow notes from the mimosas gave the landscapes of Maury and the Roussillon an air of Spring.

On our way back, we drove through the town of Carcassonne, already mobbed with tourists. The cassoulet we ate in a restaurant, I won’t mention, was not very fresh. Health checks and the health service are nor serious enough of with sufficient personnel to prevent tourists from the risk of getting the tourista – a well known disease in third world countries where cold chambers and hygiene are not available!
It is probably the same for this restaurant!

"In -Vino" in château de Carles and others

Sunday, March 15 at 11 am, Jean Marc Quarin’s program taped for Radio France Bleue Gironde will be broadcasted: He plans to talk about Château de Carles with Estelle Gentilleau.
In addition, Quarin seems to really like some of the 2008 he tasted during his visit. TBC…

In the March issue of Revue du Vin de France, which I had not yet read, a colleague I ran into during one of my trips told me that I was mentioned in one of the pieces… Page 27, and underlined in red: “Thunevin blocks his purchase of 2008 futures”. I would like to be me more specific: no stocking up except for a few exceptions (like my colleagues).

Tasting Bordeaux Right Bank 2008
Following Figeac and La Conseillante for the U.G.C., it is the turn of Tour Figeac for Saint Emilion’s classified growths.
The tasting for Cercle des Vins de la Rive Droite will take place at hotel Grand Barrail, Bon Pasteur will host Rolland and our little club will be at La Dominique . This will make the tastings easier to manage. Is the crisis making our nice organizers more intelligent?
In addition, tastings will be organized by colleagues, competitors and, of course, those from the trade unions of Saint Emilion, Pomerol, Fronsac.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A lesser known wine

Mr François Mauss feels that Château Croix de Labrie, is a bit too extracted. It is true that “historical” wine are not !!

Parker has been rating this wine since 1998 and given notes that would make other (well-known !) properties dream : 93/93/95/91/88/93/89/94/94 and for 2007 92-94 !
It is a lesser known property, but it was part of the 1st wave of “garagists” and it’s consistent level quality has made many well know crus envious.
When Revue du Vin de France published a big article on the first “salon wine”, it was again Croix de Labrie. It is true that the Wine Spectator as well as several others don’t note this wine, often because Michel Puzio doesn’t show it, or the production is too small. Its purpose is not to be approved by critics. In addition, it is produced by an introverted artist who, I believe, started in 1991.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bordeaux blanc 2006

Bordeaux blanc 2006 :

We gad a tasting with Athanase Fakorellis our enologist in charge of the Blanc de Valandraud and Rémi Dalmasso, Barbara Engerer (who is now in charge of marketing for Propriétaires Associés, which includes our vineyards, those of Clément Fayat, Fleur Cardinale, Haut Carles), Murielle and myself.

The intend is to taste, to review our procedures and in passing check Parkers notes.
Monbousquet Blanc 2003 (90), followed by a whole series of 2006 Larrivet Haut Brion (89), Floridène (unfortunately not noted), Malartic Lagravière (94), Smith Haut Lafite (93), Pape Clément (98) and Blanc de Valandraud N°1 (not noted), and at the end Reynon 2008.
The reason I am not giving our opinion is that all these wines confirmed our choice in Thanos as a consultant. I am happy by the high quality of our wine, but it’s another story to get good notes!

After Parker, I must thank the Wine Spectator:

For Valandraud, Thunevin Bad Boy (Mauvais garçon) with 91 points, Clos Badon, Commanderie de Mazeyres, Fleur Cardinale, Virginie de Valandraud, Clos du Beau Père, Haut Carles, Marojallia, Bellevue de Tayac, Prieurs de la Commanderie and unfortunately a bad note for La Dominique.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's not easy....

… but we will get there !Following a few (constructive) remarks I received, I am reviewing Thunevin Online: a few mistakes, crazy prices (some wholesale, some at cost). The prices are going to be reviewed and I hope that Thunevin Online will be back online next week.
I would like to point out again that this site is not meant to sell wine at a lower price than our clients, but allow consumers to find wines from our portfolio not available in their “little” corner of France!

Jean Marc Quarin is around here today : he is tasting a few vintages of Châteaux de Carles, Fleur Cardinale and Valandraud.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


1) Delisting (for Hugues)
No, for our site is not meant to be cheaper or the strongest, but instead just allow consumers to have access to the complete range of wines I have in stock. I am known to be consistent with my colleagues wine merchants. If some wines are a problem, I’ll take them off our price list. I have plenty of wines which my colleagues or my clients have never purchased, or have run out of stock! Doing nothing fearing that you will hurt someone is a “French sickness”. My dad was born in Paris and my mother in Dun on the Mosel river. They were smart enough to have me in Algeria, so my fear of doing nothing forces me to act.

2) En primeur campaign 2008
It will take place, tough, hard, so what ? Was it easy for the 2002 vintage following 9/11? Was it easy for 1991 after the frost? etc. With a good price, good wine and a bit of business sense, we will see.

3) Numbers – the reality of numbers !
The financial crisis is finally impacting our numbers for the last two months. For the first 6 months of the year, our sales reached 7.4 millions for a goal of 13 millions (instead of 16). We still need to do 5.6 millions in sales for the remainder of the year. It will be difficult, but not impossible if I look at existing orders, reservations and current offers.

4) Today, I attended the General Assembly of Saint Emilion’s Classified Growths Association where I represented Château La Dominique. Imagine the atmosphere following the recent events regarding the classification, still not resolved to date. Château La Dominique, still classified, is clearly looking at being promoted, so needs to have clear rules set.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happy !

....I am happy to announce the launch of Thunevin Online – created by Website Concept (thank you Arthur and Gérald) – Thanks to Valérie Hodent’s energy, sales are already starting in France.
This site is not intended to compete with other mail-order or online shops, nor mass merchants and wine shops, but to offer our entire range to consumers who cannot find them in their area.

Regarding online sales, château Malromé found itself in the middle of a ferocious “battle” between 2 good – even great – online shops.
Even if it is a bit far fetched, healthy competition was a bit stretched, to say the least!

Shanghai, the city of delights

Visits :
We were invited to Jean Georges Three On The Bund, where I will probably host a promotional tasting during my next visit, if Jacky Goergler is OK with it, and met good people in the nice restaurant of the Meridien Hotel.
We also visited the superb Park Hyatt in Pudong, and its restaurant. The restaurants are located on the 91st floor (it is very high). Again, the lively and ambitious city of Shanghai is well showcased by this incredible concept, unfortunately missing in our country. The place was very professional, and the word “service” looked down upon. Next time, I will stay and eat there, and if Jean-Marc Nolant is OK, I would like to do a tasting event during my next visit to promote my wines and FTI, where I hold a few shares.

FTI’s anniversary went well. The event was full and even if I don’t like such event, there was a good atmosphere, a good buffet and the wines served were not too bad; “A Nos Amours” (to our love), was very successful, maybe because Valentine’s Day was taking place just a few days away. It helped the perception of quality of this well crafted wine by my friend Paul-Marie Morillon.

The Hilton, where I stayed was offering attractive rates and restaurants where we ate had a high level of quality and where they made a killer Peking Duck (the skin being the best part) and even Serge Allegre’s raclette was delicious.

In Beijing, we stayed at the Peninsula (with its Rolls Royce’s parked in front) and attended two meals organized at Solana’s Maxim’s for the press, with the help of Nicolas Carré, and in the evening, we had a very good dinner organized for a small group of Franco-Chinese at Boulud. The event took place in an incredible place (the former US embassy!). The meal was probably very expensive but was well paired with our wines, which were drinking very well. We met clients of Vilhardy with my friend Stéphane Bedenc. Time spent on this trip to China seemed again to fly by. FTI is setting up an office and a boutique; I can’t wait to see this new place.

Following China and its incredible vitality and energy, India puts us back in Asia’s imaginative world, with its contrasts, where poverty is highly visible and wealth is a bit more discreet, even though it is still noticeable.

Magandeep Singh took care of us and we enjoyed a nice meal at the Imperial where our wines are still present on the wine list (thanks to Pierre and Nicole). They had no more Présidial or Fleur Cardinale, so I hope that the sommelier will order these wines that did pretty well, but that’s another story… India is not China. Time here is philosophical, and there are not the sorts of restaurants like Boulud, Daniel and Ducasse found in Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai and which help open doors.

The TAJ chain doesn’t yet have the sommeliers and wines meeting the minimum standards of other chains. And even if we were able to drink good wines like “Grover réserve 2006” signed Michel Roland in an Indian restaurant or the very good “Terrazas des Andes 2006”, an Argentinian Malbec which we drank in the Lake Palace in Udaïpur (great place and superb hotel), it won’t be enough to turn India into a real market for our wines. Here too, wine lists feature a few high priced 1st growths reserved for wealthy, even very wealthy customers. The alternative being to propose a negoce wine and nothing for the middle class and wine connoisseurs, at attractive prices, etc…

So, hurrah for China, Korea, Japan, the US, France, Switzerland ! Still, there are plenty of countries where it is still possible to sell wine despite this incredible financial crisis.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Answer to ZWAWIAK

It is easy to taste wine in many places during this period. Despite what is being said, there are few controls.
As for UGC, as well as us, it is preferable to ask for invitations to someone you buy your wine from. They will be able to include your name in guests lists. It is clear though that the goal for this tasting is to promote our wines so we can sell them, not to compete with the local wine bar and drink for free. I think you won’t have any problems to get invitations (especially this year!)

Sunday, March 1, 2009


In Roussillon’s independent newspaper, I read an article on the Thunevin-Calvet vinification cellar. The construction is finally finished and it is connected to EDF’s (French energy company) network to provide them with our photovoltaic energy produced on the roof our beautiful building.
Thanks to Pascal Carrère, our architect, and Crédit Lyonnais, who financed this very big project which has already outdone the one from an American colleague also created by Pascal Carrère! The journalist understood the stakes in our project, at least in terms of esthetics and ecology. You can visit us to see the results, the cellar works well. There is even a store where clients and tourists can buy wine. Our business clients can also be put up in the village in 2 old houses entirely renovated, near our first cellar.