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


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.


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)


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


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


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


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.


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


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).


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?