Sunday, February 28, 2010


Last Friday 19, we had dinner at our home for the first time with a couple, owner of famous cru from Saint Emilion. We wanted to invite them for a long time but ended by rescheduling many times. We regretted not having invited them sooner; but that's the way it is, sometimes simples things are complicated. Strange, no?...

To fight every diseases, Doctor Servan-Schreiber recommends taking Vitamin D and human relationships around a meal and a good glass of wine: As for us, we do drink wine (sometimes too much), but we never have enough opportunities to speak, exchange ideas, sometimes saying stupid things or even serious things. We cure ourselves with love and friendship.

Saturday, 20th in the evening, we were invited in Entre Deux Mers by a friend who started making wine in 2007. He chose a good period and faced the hardest times and is part of these Bordeaux who hefty budgets. Jean Marc Quarin already liked his 2008 and 2009

Sunday at 11:30 am, the mid-Atlantic Porsche club came to visit the garage of Valandraud and taste Valandraud 2009, Bad Boy 2007 and Valandraud 1999. All their beautiful cars parked on the Garage Simon, we bought recently. Sometimes, it helps to be a garagist.

They just visited a 1st growth, with its history, terroir and wines. Our story is different but more appropriate for the Porsche club. Doesn't Valandraud have the power of a Carrera?

It was a large group, more than 40 and they were fun and all wine lovers. One of them was a fan of Valandraud and Virginie de Valandraud (bought in his Leclerc in Charente). The garage was used for the first time, and will be used for the en primeur tasting March 29 to April 2.

March issue of “Terre de Vin”: nice publication this month. We'll see what will happen in the next few months: nice paper, photos and a few in depth articles. Competition is good for these 2 publications, RVF and Terre de Vin: both are much better!

In this issue of Terre de Vin, a nice article on Bernard Magrez and his family, written by Seguin, a talented journalist from the newspaper Sud Ouest.

Also included a few pages on the hidden side of Saint Emilion as well as 1 page and a nice article on Murielle and her Blanc de Valandraud as well as her other activities, with a nice photo of her in our kitchen with empty bottles of Pingus and Petrus. Does it mean that we need to open some more?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thanks to Challenges

Issue number 200 of the famous magazine Challenges just came out. This financial magazine, focused on free market, had the following title, in this week’s issue : The 200 who make France !

Page 51, in the Aquitaine section, I am included as one out of the 10 selected from the region, with these 2 titles: Jean Luc Thunevin, winemaker-wine merchant and Saint Emilion trouble maker. The article speaks about my adventure, my consulting role with Vignobles Clément Fayat and of Bad Boy.

That's good, I like this magazine which I buy regularly, and it is undoubtedly outside traditional wine press that PR is the most effective today. Nevertheless, the RVF is unavoidable ... it should explore new angles for their articles with some imagination. I enjoyed the editorial by Denis Saverot entitled Corbières Amor.

The dinner last night was nice and friendly. It reminded me what a friend of mine said, a famous Belgian baron who came to my home on a Saturday and for who I opened one of my best bottles of Champagne Salon 1988, I believe; he said: "But what can the Thunevin drink on Sunday!? "
So, Thursday evening, in our corner, our hosts opened Roederer brut, Pommard from Château de Pommard 2002; hard to make up our mind, maybe that’s how a Pommard should looks like, pretty bottle with this smoky green glass.
Following, we had serious, even very serious things: no right bank, just left, Medoc – even here, we know that there are other wines than Pomerol and Saint Emilion.

1st wine: Lynch Bages 2001, a very young wine at the beginning of its carrier. I like this wine and its owners and one of the sure values in Bordeaux. Being consistent is not incompatible with pleasure.

2nd wine: Impossible to guess: we said Pomerol, great Pomerol, we looked in Graves, Margaux, but this ripness, exotic side… it was Cos d’Estournel 2001. It is the first time I taste Cos so sexy, easy and complex, soft as well as powerful. A real surprise. I have to visit the new cellar. My colleagues, famous owners, were ready to go immediately. Goes to show.

3rd wine: I guessed Pauillac (it happens), and in Pauillac, Pichon Baron who is run by a discreet manager who does miracles; this wine is for me a sure value and I am rarely disappointed. Less famous than others, but always full, with aromas of tobacco from Havana, a real elegant bottle from 2000 vintage.

Phew, the last wine, finally, I have to wake up early tomorrow, but at least a bit later than usual…

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 17, a day not like others

9 am : meeting with the boss of KPMG enterprises who came to present the result of his study, his thoughts on my company’s financial, its weaknesses, strengths, opportunities for assets revaluation, in fact, some of my company’s revenues, which is already over 20 years old, appearing on the balance sheets are either nil or at the level of the original purchase price, possible developments of owned brands; work that calls for more during our annual meeting with our business lawyer, my lawyer, financial adviser (who just started), the auditor, my chief accountant, Murielle and me.
We will again, but more seriously, bring up the idea of Holding or subsidiaries sharing on one side of the heritage aspect and the other the commercial and, of course, the tax implications.

11 am : meeting with a fellow wholesaler to praise the merits of Chateau La Dominique. The technical director amazed me by the evolution of his agricultural knowledge. We tasted La Dominique 2006-2007-2008 (incredible) and 2009
Meals at home - the truffles are good this year – with the opportunity to talk about the wholesale business, even time to tell old stories about friendship and failures, error on my part perhaps? Royal or Sarkozy are not the only ones who show repentance these days!

4pm : meeting with Richard Hardillier from H&A rentals, who is in charge of financing and buying my barrels. It’s known. Still 379 barrels this year of low yields. Last year, we purchased 654 barrels, new, of course and that were sold after 14 to 18 months.

When you finish these meetings, in addition to normal work, you have to start over.
Yesterday was a bit more relaxed: dinner at a friend’s house and in the morning, tasting of the 2007 vintage at Chateau Giscours, organized by UGC for Bordeaux wholesalers. Good, and not so good, they are still hard to sell… In any case, I really liked Troplong Mondo 2007, simply amazing. What will it be for 2008 and 2009!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


A piece is being written by a journalist and photographer, both Norwegian. They were surprised to be able to speak their own language: John Egeland, who is in charge of the trading branch of my wholesale business, is Norwegian, as his name suggests.
So, it was easier to understand and translated the questions and answers without using English.
It's amazing how I often enjoy more journalists from the general than the wine journalists who lack the freshness of innocence on the art of wine. I understand that the magazine they write for is the supplement of a highly recognized business paper. Norway is, I believe, one of the richest countries in Europe and its good for my company as I sell almost nothing in this country while we are doing well in Sweden and Finland.

Their piece was developped following research they made on the internet, the garagist movement and of course Robert Parker ! The English version of my blog helped them to make this piece (thanks Christian Dalbavie ).
Many questions, some were limit provocative, which I enjoy. The ecology, tradition, Michel Rolland, Parker, my influence, various ancient techniques, new strains of yeast, etc…
We ate at my house and tasted Valandraud 2009, 2008, 1999, then Bad Boy 2006, which well decanted, was for me an aromatic bomb, with luxurious oak, spices, fragrances of Cuban cigars… starting to be sexy. For those who follow, 2007 is ultra sexy, slutty some stuck-up would even say.
Bad Boy is a wonderful communicating tool which more and more of our clients like, some countries are even negotiating for large volume: 40,000 bottles here, 5 to 10,000 bottles there. This helps talk about Valandraud even Fleur Cardinal our my wholesale business.

During the day, I signed a commercial seasonal lease for a location on top of the town of Saint Emilion. This will make 3 retail stores for this season.
Yesterday, I would have liked to go with Murielle to listen to explanations on Sufism, a mystical and acetic spiritual movement in Islam (opposite attracts), but the stress of the futures campaign is draining me and takes over my entire mind. I am becoming increasingly weak, the experience is useless and I am not getting better.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nice ISO day

We already new… but we couldn’t communicate before receiving the certificates ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, dated January 28, 2010 for: Vineyards, vinification in Saint Emilion and wine wholesaler.

We drank a Margaux at home with our meal and a few friends
Marojallia 2000 powerful : complete wine, balance, the oak is starting to disappear. It is definitely a great wine (94 RP)
Clos Margalaine 2000 drank at the same time, largely superior, for a second wine, than many well known wines from this beautiful appellation, lighter, less concentrated than Marojallia, which was our goal.
These 2 wines, paired with a beef stew, were still too young. Who said that garage wines cannot age?

And Valandraud 1998, still on top.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Last week

Friday, February 12 at Château La Couspaude, a friend was celebrating the 35th anniversary of his cleaning company with clients and friends. Starting with nothing, he can be proud of his accomplishments. The emotions he expressed during his speech showed how happy he was to see all the people who came to honor him.
The very good meal was prepared by our pal Christophe: the Poule au Pot Henry IV (boiled hen Henry 4th style) was excellent, the magician (Grain de Folie from Artigues) impressed us with the tricks he did at our tables and the good wines of the Aubert family, Jean de Gué 2004, Lalande Pomerol and especially La Couspaude 2004, great Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé still little known.

It was the opportunity for me to see some of my old friends. We were like a 70s vintage table reminiscing on our memories of the Tackouk night club in Pizou where we used to all meet during our sweet 20s!
Last week, I hosted a group of French students (wine law), as well as Brazilians, Japanese, one Chinese and members of the wine industry, architects, a distributor and even a marketing specialist. This gives me the opportunity to talk about the nice piece written by Jacques Berthomeau (in French) on February 12: Stop all these constant tasting events. Good piece to mediate to (a bit).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bellefont Belcier

First official tasting of this new vintage : Château Bellefont Belcier is good, soft, powerful with harmonious elegance.
This is what our clients like therefore what we like.


A newcomer with a site name that set the tone: "love that Languedoc"
It includes stories in English and even videos attempting to mimic the eventful "seasickness" style of the film Mondovino, which was selected at Cannes.Thank you Ryan O 'Connell

I just checked the statistics of my blog (French version hosted by Over-blog). Since it was created, I wrote more than 1000 posts and got more than 520,092 visits with 1,747,185 pages read !

End of the crisis ?

Is the crisis over? I have several lunches and dinners booked with clients and wine enthusiasts. This busy schedule reminds me great years.

Drank with our meals :
Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru 2007 from Vincent Dancer (Tête du clos, 3000 bottles produced), quite astonishing, good, could even be called airy, a bit citrusy, really good.
Valandraud 1995 : Murielle said 2005, Xin 1998, our Chinese guest (future critic ?) said 1996. It was Valandraud 1995 , one of the nicest bottles drank at home, incredible youthful, with all sorts of spices, curry, cloves, pepper, blackberries with cinnamon, a bomb. AS Jean Marc Quarin regularly says, there is no great wine without a great bottle, and this one was superb.
It wasn’t a bottle left in my cellar since being bottled as at that time , I was so poor I had to sell everything… everything. So I bought these bottles either in Bordeaux, Switzerland or in Germany. I cannot verify how far the 132 bottle I bought travelled. They are now in my cellar.

Visit of Cheval Blanc where the work on the new cellar started and will be inaugurated in May 2011 ?
It will be superb , The talent of the architect Mr Christian de Portzamparc will be able to satisfy even the most demanding statements like “you should have done this, or that…”. Chic and simple. Classy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wines drank with our meal

Clos Dalmasso 2007, the rarest wine in Saint Emilion, produced in Rémi Dalmasso’s garden, our cellar manager who is in charge of Valandraud’s winemaking since 1998! Time flies… He has now the opportunity to buy an additional hectare, his garden is growing… it reminds me another story.
Good wine, obviously, much better than many well known crus sold for more money. With Clos Dalmasso 2007, I also poured Valandraud 2007 which is today – while waiting to be shut – really good to drink: power and ripeness in a difficult vintage, and notes of wood rarely so elegant, fine, subtle. Our coopers and enologists did a haute-couture job. Considering the price, it is a minimum we can do.
At the end and for the first time, our Fine of Bordeaux (Brandy) before being bottled. This year, perhaps?

Our most faithful and best customer, from Japan, hopes we will be able to offer quantities of 2009 at prices the market can bare. As he has been buying from us every year for the past 15 years, even in lesser vintages, he has the right to ask us to provide him more than wines from lesser vintages!
We both are able to loose money, even a lot from time to time, as long as we are able to recover our losses with higher vintages, like 2009. What we missed in 2007.

A thought came to me yesterday, I think that some 2009 taste like this magnum of Mouton 45 I drank a few years ago with a group of friends…

1st offer for 2009 futures: Thieuley white and claret offered the same price than 2008. Should we take this as a sign?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tastings : Lafont Fourcat and Valandraud

Tasting with my friend Paul Marie Morillon, who is more stressed than me… Goes to show.
2009 whites which we run out only after 6 months, delicious : Muscadelle is a strange varietal, capable of the best and the worst.

Lafont Fourcat 2008, made to cellar, will please our customers who know the incredible potential value these Lafont Fourcat have, red or white.
2009 is one of the successes of this incredible vintage. The cuvee A Nos Amours will certainly get passionate comments.

The meal, we ate again at the restaurant Les Marroniers in Montagne, was perfect : the sirloin is definitely worth the trip and the atmosphere of this restaurant is quite unique. Directors, managers, cellar masters of famous properties meet there, like often here at l’Envers du Décor.

In the afternoon, a group of German wine industry professionals with an Austrian friend visited Valandraud. It gave me the opportunity to taste again the 2008 before bottling: Better than I thought, and for the 1st time, a sample of what Valandraud 2009 could be – as a few batches have not yet finished their malolactic fermentation – I say a sample close to what Valandraud 2009 could be and which can still improved for the last batches who still need to go through their fermentation are usually the best.
Well, our German friend fell on their “butt”. Same with our friend Robert Vifian a few weeks ago, and even François Mauss. It is the first time I feel Valandraud tastes so good at this stage of evolution. It was so good that I brought the rest of the bottle at home to drink with Murielle while watching the “petit journal people” on TV… And the Marojallia 2001 we drank at the table was perfect. For those who want to include a “Pirate” wine in a blind tasting of wines from this beautiful appellation Margaux.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The ladies of Castillon : Who broke the Soissons vase ?

The topic of the event held in the salons of the National Assembly by our MP was broadcast on Canal + television on Thursday evening and unfortunately, as one might expect, the story rather focused on Mr Soissons who has done more to help the prohibitionists than ad campaigns on TV! Thus. I hope he saw himself!

Meanwhile, 300 people attended and looked like they were enjoying themselves and the success of the operation is undeniable: a tainted cork doesn’t prevent drinking beauties.The problem with the media in our society is that they care more about someone doing stupid things than promote those who work and live from their profession with love.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Looking for the ladies on TV

Deprived of the "Petit Journal" yesterday evening, I zapped Canal + and was happy to see, on an American channel, the famous Charlie Rose who I had met several years ago in Saint Emilion during a meal-interview on the Parker myth.

This morning, Murielle told me about her trip to Paris with this group of winemakers, her visit of the National Assembly while in session with MPs and ministers shouting at each other and making plenty of noise. The tasting was attended by a lot of people and had a friendly atmosphere except for Mr. Soisson who had not realized that this event was mainly to taste Bordeaux made by women. It’s unfortunate that Yan Barthes TV was not there to record his "borloorismes" !
Perfectly organized, thanks to Françoise and Jean Paul Garraud’s work and of course Anne Marie Galineau .
A comment was already posted by Chloé Woitier on (in French).

And even a picture made by Marie Roginska

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

History books : Cocks & Féret

The Château Bel Air (Ouÿ- Bernard) was classified as a 2nd growth in the district of Saint Etienne de Lisse in Cocks & Féret’s 1868 first edition, with a production of 30 barrels of 900 liters (around 36000 bottles).
In the very rare edition “Saint Emilion and its wines” from the same Cocks & Féret, published in 1881, Belair (Bernard Ouÿ’s misses) was classified as a 1st growth in the district of Saint Etienne de Lisse, still producing 30 barrels.
This cru was sold between 800 and 1200 Francs, while Saint Emilion 1st growths were sold between 1000 and 1400 Francs as futures. In good vintages, the price could double by the time bottles were delivered 3 to 4 years later!

At that time, the vines were planted 1.5 meters (4.92 ft) between each row by 1 meter (3.28 ft) between each stock to allow the plow to pass. For those who were still working manually, vines were planted 1.33 m by 1.33 m (4.36 ft)!
Many techniques, some considered being invented by the “Garagists”, were actually brought back from the past (pinching, deleafing, etc…).
All is said, written in books from that period, even what needs to be done and questions still being asked today.

The price from that period is equivalent to 5000 Euros per barrel as futures, in today’s currency. It would be great if a specialist could convert these 1880 Francs in 2010 Euros.

10 female winemaker on TV
Following their show in the reception hall of the National Assembly (very successful), Murielle and her friends will be on TV in the “Petit Journal People” from Yan Barthès on Canal+ between 7:05 and 7:55 pm.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Primeurs 2009

The list of participants attending is filling up: new association, requests from friends, former employees, suppliers who find it obvious and normal to present their wines at my place, certainly providing their energy, their differences but who can not help my company which, commercially speaking, is busy enough selling our wines and those that have already been distributed by my company for a long time.
Difficult for me to refuse, while for the past 2 years, I have reduced the number of wines presented and only included those who provided us a revenue: unfair to some, favoritism to others, it must be understood that this period is for promotion and sales and I need a minimum of coherence. There are no shortage of clubs, trade unions, places, old and established associations or even ephemeral, there are plenty of opportunities to present wines.


The cold winter is is a good pretext to do a lot of meals and tastings, with an excellent Clos de Sarpe for around 100 euros. Sarpe 2001, rated 95 by Parker lives up to its promises. Rich, powerful, fine, it now starts to open-up. Hard to find, I admit, but well worth the trouble to find.
The truffles brought by our guests were superb, as well as this superb wine that I recommend to all my friends: Quinta Sardonia 2006 which, with Flor de Pingus 2003, is part of Spanish wines I have in my private cellar, and Murielle’s famous paella was a good excuse to open them.
Champagne Dom Perignon 2000 works well too with the truffles

We tasted, in Carles, all the batches of 2009 - Haut Carles and Carles, with Alain Raynaud, Jean Philippe Fort, Stéphane Droulers (the owner), Sebastien Bouëtz and his employee, Murielle and me.
It's hard not to notice that this is a great vintage, but difficult to guess such early futures wines produced with grapes harvested later than elsewhere and with such fine density. I think that wines from Fronsac will be tasted earlier this year. It's a good idea, but visiting professionals will need some experience to decode these pupae

I recommend to read the 2 last posts from Stéphane Toutoundji.