Sunday, May 31, 2009

Caramba... bis.

As an answer to the comment posted by Caramba regarding my post yesterday :
This sort of post: "ah if I dared (if I had the balls) I would tell you things" or "hold me back, I am going towards catastrophe!!" exasperates me to say the least ; tell us the name of the Château or don’t mention it.

Ah… “My friend” Caramba, always intransigent with me.
Please, leave my “balls” alone, they don’t have anything to do with this blog. I’ve had no need, so far, to include some porn to be read.

When I complain, is like when I was young and jealous – often as I was often in love and wanted to be loved, so why say unforgivable words which would make reconciliation impossible?
An argument in a business relation is not a question of life and death!
Oh, in addition “Caramba”, the brave whose pseudonym is “ballsy”.

Not long ago, I was able to end, with elegance and respect, an argument with Zapata. Lets try to keep my blog going without having to bash the “moderator”, like some of my colleagues do.

Other than that, the 2 crus I mentioned are easily recognizable by the brokers and Bordeaux wholesalers. I must insist that despite a great communication tool, a blog is not a total space of freedom, especially when, like me, one wants to exercise this profession which I chose to practice for a long time. I should also ad that I am responsible for 50 to 100 people who are dependent on the good health of my company!

It’s low… very low … very low, even lower if at all possible

A famous cru I won’t mention (to be kind) does not communicate export analysis of its wine for Japan even though it is sold on the open market!
It's already tough to be denied such analysis for wine produced and sold with an exclusive distribution, nevertheless we were able to buy some from a merchant, private customers, at a private auction, and even on the open market. It is also hard to have to sacrifice one of these expensive bottles for tests that are intended to endorse a system of state protection, but when it is for a wine sold on the open market, it is a good reason to be angry, no?
These tests exist.
They are always made by chateaux exporting their wine - so why refuse and make it difficult to sell these wines whose reputation can only benefit from the free movement in the 2nd hand trade.
So this year when wine is particularly difficult to sell, I decided not offer this cru 2nd hand!

Equally surprising, the demands from some of the crus for information on places where their wines are being sold. With 36 bottles of their 1er cru 1855, sold in boxes of 6 bottles from our basic allocation plus 60 bottles purchased, we had to bother over 16 customers in 10 different countries.
This wine produces more than 100,000 bottles and makes sure to remind me each time a little more how low they think of me, even though I’ve been a loyal customer for over 20 years and even bought 240 bottles in 1998 (yes I did), but with successive harvests lower as well as its 1st and 2nd, 3rd, 4th sales installment the satellite crus don’t have enough wine for my small wholesale business. It’s certain that I am not enough of a threat for it doesn’t even give me a minimum of "respect".

One thing for sure though is that small streams feed into large rivers, but as I don’t play golf and have no second house in the Arcachon basin, my "privileges" are close to zero.

I jokingly say that I will be forced to sell wine of these Chateaux whose stocks are being depleted before being released and whose inventory is being sold to investment funds. It will lead to possible backlashes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I read on the Quebecois website Méchant Raisin, an article (in French) about the en primeur offers in Ontario and discovered the nice notes given by Nico Van Duyvenbode to Valandraud (94) and Virginie de Valandraud (92).
Thank you Nico !
I also read, this time, in the magazine from the Saint Emilion wine Council :
Yields in hectoliters/hectare for grand cru :
2008 : 35.9 (6.57 tons/acre)
2007 : 43.7 (7.99 tons/acre)
2006 : 42.5 (7.77 tons/acre)
2005 : 40.6 (7.43 tons/acre)
2004 : 45.8 (8.38 tons/acre)
2003 : 34.5 (6.31 tons/acre)
2002 : 36.1 (6.6 tons/acre)

These numbers are based on the general state of the vineyards (+6500 vines/hectare), the climatic conditions and the ceiling set by law which is between 46 and 55 hectoliters/hectare (8.4 & 10 tons/acre).
In Maury, with less than 3000 vines/hectare, the yield rarely goes over 28 hectoliters/hectare (5.1 tons/acres).

Tasting event today in Paris

The Association des Crus Classés (which Chateau La Dominique and Château Fleur Cardinale are members of) is organizing a tasting event in Paris in collaboration with Maison Baccarat on Tuesday, May 26 from 4:30 pm to 9 pm.

The event will take place in the beautiful private mansion where Marie-Laure de Noaille used to host her magical parties, dedicated to painters, writers and musicians, and which now is home to Maison Baccarat. This 3000 m² house has their boutique, restaurant as well as museum gallery, which showcases its legendary collection.
Maison Baccarat, with its image of cosmopolitan lifestyle in the great French tradition, is housed in a place of refinement and elegance. Authenticity mixed with modern style and audacity, Baccarat gave carte blanche to designer Philippe Stark to fit up this place as a crystal palace…

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Château La Dominique and Château Clément Pichon were just released to Bordeaux trade.
Bordeaux brokers sent offers to all the local wholesalers with terms of release. Within the next few days we will start receiving purchase orders from these wholesalers. They probably won’t buy any stock (do they want it and can they?) but only the number of cases needed to fulfill the request from their distribution networks.
Despite the quality of the wine and rather low prices, the economical context and atmosphere are not conducive.
Meanwhile, Chateau Sociando Mallet decided not to release its wine en primeur and Jean Gautreau sent a clear explanation. I also thought about it for Fayat’s properties, but as opposed to Sociando Mallet, we are applying and actively participating in 2 associations (Medoc Crus Bourgeois for Chateau Clément Pichon and Saint Emilion Crus Classés for Chateau La Dominique) and this forces us to a minimum of transparency and coherence with the market, our colleagues and/or the system, even if it has room for improvement, it has proven it can work in difficult vintages.
Still to be released (I believe), La Fleur, Le Pin and Petrus and for us, Pingus (if it ever gets released as future).

Otherwise, if you have a bit of money to spend to buy good wines at a reasonable price, you could consider bottles from the Cercle Rive Droite. The last confidential tasting of 05 from the Grand Jury Européen showed the incredible level of this vintage and how successful Commanderie de Mazeyres and Haut Carles were (included in the top 10).

I read a good article on Jacques Berthomeau’s blog (in French) asking 3 questions to Jacques Dupont. I liked one of the sentences Jacques Dupont wrote :
“The interpretation by a winemakers of a soil proper for growing vines defines the word terroir” (simple, no?)

I also received news from Claude Lada :
"the first interactive guide in China on Bordeaux wine was just born...
and you are included...
you will always amaze us with this delicious Valandraud 2006 TOP 50 BORDEAUX NEWS 2006...
I also have a blog..."

Monday, May 25, 2009

The great come back of a superb has-been, who could inspire budding idols

With the title "The come-back", sung by Alain Chamfort who, having worked with Jacques Dutronc, Claude François and even Serge Gainsbourg, was cataloged as a has-been, a little early.

Why an issue on "has-been"? :
"Through the launch of the new version of Fine Wine, the first free magazine for the general public dedicated to wine and spirits, launched simultaneously in France and the UK, we publish a special issue, to be launched during Vinexpo (100 000 copies distributed in Bordeaux from June 21 to 25 and then in France and England).

In this context, we are including an outstanding piece on the theme: "Is Bordeaux has-been?". Indeed, Bordeaux suffers not only from the economic crisis but also an image crisis. Is it too expensive? Is it timeless or outdated? Is it still fashionable or old-fashion? It is important for us to give a voice to everyone, ie specialists on one hand, including wine-growers, winemakers and sommeliers, but also personalities from the art world, sports and politics, and the general public, in short, consumers (or not!) of Bordeaux. "

A few years ago, I also had to answer journalists if garage wines were has-been. I remember a meal with some friends at the Clos du Roy where a journalist from a lifestyle magazine asked this question at the table and I believe I terrorized by repeating every 5 minutes the word has-been as I did not want to hear it anymore, and could not take it! For my part, I like Alain Chamfort who, at 60, still seems as stylish and attractive and above all who will never be has-been. The word has-been refers to someone whose fame has passed.
If you look closer, it would not be so bad to be treated has-been: it means at least at some point, you were someone "well-known". Actually, often those who treat others as has-been, have never had any success ...
The revenge of the creeps, the wicked, as Audiard used to say.

In any case, the garagist movement will never be has-been. Some garagistes may disappear, but not the movement that, even with the crisis, finds new followers in every countries where wine is produced (there will also be garagists in China!)
The word has-been was also given by James Suckling about Bordeaux in the film Mondovino, while he was interviewed in Italy!
That was before the 2005 vintage, where the whole world wanted the vintage from a region which suddenly was no longer has-been.
Even if it is tempting, during a period crisis, to consider Bordeaux as has-been, it will never hold - for Bordeaux is so "diverse." Even wines too classic for my taste are not and will never be has-been, as there will always be customers, or journalists who love them. If ever Bordeaux falls out of favor in a country, there would be another who finds its merits, which can be as diverse as quality or history.
Has-been is the one who said that he is! (a school saying)
In any case, being a has-been does not matter, because on a regular basis, nostalgia for the past, "true values", being bourgeois attracts many, from middle-class bohemian, to hipsters in the music world, restaurants, antiques as in wine.
Did you say has-been? How has-been!
Did you say bizarre? How bizarre!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The spirit is back

Well, my spirit is back. Better as, next week, I am hosting a meal at home with my friend Adi and a few brothers and sisters from the Saint Christophe brotherhood, then I have to do an interview for Radio Notre Dame on the 28 from 9 to 10 am (believe it or not…). The following week, I will be in Japan to present our 2008 futures. The trip is organized by one of our 2 exclusive distributors who is also a faithful client and good friend.

Almost all the 2008 ratings have been released. What’s certain is that René Gabriel and Jacques Dupont don’t like the wines I produce: Just look at Bertrand Le Guern’s grids (who’s been doing an incredible job since Jacques Luxey’s Grand Jury) regarding Valandraud, Fleur Cardinale, Haut Carles and Virginie de Valandraud
La Dominique fairs well and regains its status – this beautiful brand deserves to be “rediscovered”.
I am surprised that Jacques Dupont didn’t like Virginie de Valandraud, for even blind and during the great years of Gault et Millau, he preferred Virginie to Valandraud. It is astonishing for a professional.
As for René Gabriel, it’s another story.

Clément Pichon, Commanderie de Mazeyres are still underrated. It is so hard to change set lines. Still they are included within the 300 best Bordeaux, which is not bad for these wines sold at « normal » prices.

As simple as a phone call

I’ve been feeling a bit depressed, maybe due to the operation or post primeur campaign, or… who knows what else… in any case, I haven’t been in good form. I had several phone conversations with recent or older friends which gave me a bit of energy. Thanks

Hard to differentiate in our social jobs between deep friendships and those inspired by our so-called social status. Lots has been written about this subject. I am not even clear about my relationships, for I like and even need recognition, respect (and being told!). As work is so much part of me – perhaps it is due to a lack of depth of soul or serenity , empathy, compassion, time spent by my friends are more and more precious. I think I am becoming too old for the show taking place in Bordeaux during the futures releases. Maybe I am affected by Peter’s principle.

On another subject, although… blindness, deafness and loss of memory are symptoms felt by owners of Parkerised crus. Not so long ago, I was also affected by parkerite and it is hard to cure. There are lesser complications with suckling, quarine, and others. A bit of failure, less orders and everything gets back in line (if line exists)!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Only commits those who believe in them...


For anyone who wants to see the damage done last week by hail on a vineyard, click on the video link: Damage at Fleur Cardinale.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fleur Cardinale

Here are some information received from the château, one good and one bad:

CHATEAU FLEUR CARDINALE was reclassified in the rank of GRAND CRU CLASSE.
Therefore, the 2006, 2007 and 2008 will be sold as Grand Cru Classé.

CHATEAU FLEUR CARDINALE was greatly affected by the hail storm which hit the area in the night of Tuesday to Wednesday. The 2009 production is expected to be 50% less, if nothing else happens before the harvest…

The campaign is almost over

I was out of the office for a week due to an operation for 2 inguinal hernias which was done in the hospital in Libourne. It’s over with. I will hurt for another 5 days (I am very sensitive to pain) and in 3 weeks, I will be able to pick-up cases of wine!

The futures campaign is closing with Ausone, Cheval Blanc and a few latecomers. We still have a lot of wine available, despite good ratings from Parker and the good quality of this vintage. Their price is probably still too high to expect making a good profit, except if the economy picks-up and a limited availability of 2009 due to the hail storm, is being felt quickly… But that’s another story.
In any case, we should have a better idea during Vinexpo?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hail storm in Saint Emilion

Revue du Vin de France trade show

After 4 days spent in Corsica invited by a friend who works in the wine industry, it is back to work with the en primeur campaign still going on.


I believe that 30 wines still have to be released, including Château Clément Pichon and La Dominique, which will most likely be released after May 18.


I will not attend the show organized by Revue du Vin de France in Palais Brongniart (16 and 17 May). Murielle and I will be replaced by Marie and Jean-Roger Calvet, our partners in the Roussillon, as well as Dominique Decoster and maybe Stéphane Droulers.

The following wines will be presented:

Château Valandraud 2006

Château La Domnique 2006

Château Clément Pichon 2004

Château Fleur Cardinale 2006

Haut-Carles 2006

Bad Boy 2006

Thunevin-Calvet “Constance” 2006

Domaine Calvet –Thunevin “Les Dentelles” 2006

Monday, May 11, 2009

Notes Bad Boy 2008

Not sold as futures, only after bottling and sold in boxes of 6. I currently finished selling 2006 and 2007 is not yet bottled.


Bettane et Desseauve 15,5

Izak Litwar 88

Wine Spectator 87-90

Quarin 14


Several Bordeaux wines have not been sold as futures ; if you take the notes of Bertrand Le Guern, out of 400 wines rated, only 150 to 200 are being offered as futures this year and probably only 70 to 80 will actually sell meaningful quantities.


Gregor Drescher’s notes have been released, and he usually gives low numbers.

Valandraud  90-91 (equivalent to 94,4)

Bel Air Ouÿ  86-88

Virginie de Valandraud  86-88

Villhardy  87-88

Clos Badon  84-86

Cheval Blanc  91-93

La Dominique  85-87

Commanderie de Mazeyres  84-86

Petrus  90-92

Latour  89-91

Haut Carles  82-84

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Campo Eliséo 2003, Lurton Rolland partnership in Spain in the Toro appellation. Simply delicious, so different from the “ancient” and rustic Toro. Powerful, with incredible balance. I strongly recommend to taste it “blind”.

Quinault L’Enclos 2000, still good, even very good. We drank it during a meal in addition to La Gomerie 2006, which I also recommend to drink blind to prove the high quality of these wines inspired by the “garagist” movement.

Porto Quinta Do Infantado 1995 and Armagnac Castex 1985 with Virginie de Valandraud 2006 still too young.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Reds are not the only ones

Jean Marc Quarin, suite
Without waiting for the notes from other critics, Jean-Marc Quarin is carving his path as an independent wine critic and has finally been able to find place in this “corporation” which doesn’t only have talents – like in any jobs.

He rated the whites and gave a pretty nice note to our Blanc 2008 entirely produced by Murielle and her team.
He gave 16 with a nice comment:

This wine offers a fruity, pure, suave and vivid nose, and appears soft, subtlety creamy and very melting on the palate, It is a delicious and pleasant wine that finishes of good length. Just as a reminder, the vines are still young, once they grow older, this wine will gain much further density.

He also wrote nice comments on Malartic Lagravière, Clos Floridène, Fieuzal, Chevalier, Arums de Lagrange, Marjosse, Pape Clément and Smith Haut Lafitte.