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

Lobster consommé with shellfish tartare, lobster and Kalix bleak roe

Truffle-stuffed quail with parsley root, Brussels sprouts and port wine gravy

Lemon and fresh cheese mousse with sea-buckthorn sorbet









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.


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.


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