Sunday, June 27, 2010


Release of Peter Sissecks’ futures, the famous Pingus and Flor de Pingus as well as the last one, the new PSI.
The 1st vintage, 1995, placed Pingus from the outset as a wine of its own, a cult wine, one of the rare icons in the world of wine, with a special status that owes as much to the quality of the wine as well as the true biodynamic approach of the property and the charisma of its creator: Peter Sisseck. If you don’t know them:
Pingus is an expensive wine, although with what’s taking place in Bordeaux this year, it will seem very reasonable, you can try to buy some.
Flor de Pingus , which is not really a second wine but a sort of Forts de Latour or Virginie de Valandraud, and Flor really has some fans like my father-in-law (82 years old) who loves this wine.
And PSI, not expensive at all, bears the signature of Peter Sisseck.

In addition, this year is special for Peter since he became part owner of a vineyard in St. Emilion with Silvio Denz, right next to one of the best parcels of Valandraud on the commune of Saint Christophe des Bardes, on this fine clay plateau limestone.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Symbols and successes

Today is Quebec’s national day and Saint John Baptiste day.

There is also a party at my office with good champagne to celebrate Yan Xin getting her DUAD diploma from Bordeaux prestigious enology school and probably the first Chinese (from the mainland) to get such diploma.
Champagne as well for the release of Valandraud 2009 future which I can already call a success (thank you).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bis repetita ...

Just before releasing my wine, I read some of my past postings and noticed that they still are relevant today, i.e. this text posted May 11, 2005 or the one posted on November 15 of that year (both in French).


The 1st text posted on my blog on May 10, 2005 was entitled “Sad Futures”, the futures campaign ended on June 8, 2005. It was the year the 2004 vintage was sold.
In conclusion, I was already saying: “and so far, I remain convinced that there has never been so many good wines in Bordeaux and that all this discomfort, this crisis, only comes from our inability to meet our customers’ expectations”.
I added that day "I’ve had enough: and yet it is the best job in the world ..."
I had not written then, as it would have been a slip - although - that it's the oldest profession in the world ... I was not ready to be humorous.

For the current futures campaign, the sale of 2009 Bordeaux, it’s a different story. Maximum stress, the sums required (and often obtained), the substantial financial commitments, relationships with our customers, wines selling right away, those a bit more contentious, the failures, the volumes released, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th tranche expected, all of this requires to remain calm and Zen. As stated so well by a friend of mine, for sure this year my wine will not be drunk but instead speculated and put into investment funds. And I would add, can it be otherwise at this price level?
This reminds me of a Belgian cartoon in 2000 (already) with the title “the soaring price of Bordeaux”: a customer goes to a wine shop with a security guard at the door and a camera on the ceiling, he asked the wine merchant: Please, just a drop to put behind my ear, like a rare perfume, it will be sufficient!

Well, in the meantime, while waiting for the 1st growths to be released, the super seconds will not be long and it will be time for me to sell Valandraud, admiring the achievements of Pontet Canet, Léoville Poyferré, Trotanoy, Duhart Milon Rothschild, Carruades de Lafite which, as François Mauss says so well, if trees don’t grow all the way to the sky, they still reach some amazing heights !

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Le Figaro

With this "Marianne" style title: Bordeaux : le banco des flambeurs (Bordeaux: gambler’s banco) - the French critic Bernard Burtschy, one of the best tasters in the world, comes on pretty strong.
It is true that seen from here in France, 2009 Bordeaux prices are difficult to understand and even owners wholesalers like us are a bit, even very much surprised by the strength of this market that swallows all these expensive wines well rated by the Wine Spectator, the Wine Advocate, Decanter, Bettane et Desseauve, René Gabriel, Quarin and even Bernard Burtschy !

He (Bernard) defends wines sold for not too much compared to the quality and he quotes (at least that's something) Virginie de Valandraud I proposed at the same price as in 2005, really.
Bernard Burtschy’s conclusion should be commented: Are there any justification for such increases?


Asking questions and answering them probably deserves a little more explanation. To say that France no longer can afford to follow, why not ... But to think that these wines, a symbol of luxury, of quality, social success for anyone who buys and drinks them, should be sold with our Franco-French means is an illusion, and if the Chinese market seems to be considered the main reason for the increase of these top brands, I can see in my company, most are bought by Americans and when India will also arrive in the market for fine wines, these famous 30/40 even 100 Bordeaux will no longer be within the reach of our past clients, considered traditional. As if we had forgotten that before the years of "Wine promotions", there were only industrialists, lawyers, community leaders who could afford to drink these wines.

I must repeat again and again that Bordeaux en primeur market is highly speculative and that besides these 100 expensive brands in Bordeaux, there is an incredible amount of very affordable and high quality wines available.

In my company, there are still more than 50 wines to be sold for less than 25/30 Euros: Lynsolence, Lalande Borie, Haut Mazeris, Haut Bergey, Franc Mayne, Franc Maillet Cuvée Jean Baptiste, Fombrauge, Fiefs de Lagrange, Faizeau, Clos Romanile ( with only 900 bottles produced), Clos Margalaine… and for me : Clos Badon Thunevin, Bel Air Ouÿ, Clos du Beau Père, Domaine des Sabines, Bellevue de Tayac et bien sur Bad Boy, without forgetting our blanc de Valandraud N°2. remarquable like Haut Carles, Fleur Cardinale, Fieuzal, Moulin Haut Laroque, Vieille Cure, La Dauphine, Tour des Termes, Tour Carnet, Sansonnet, etc...

If one adds the 300 wines proposed by Bordeaux merchants, that’s a lot of choices, at all prices and in all styles, classical, modern, darlings of Johnson or Parker, there is plenty of choice!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

No time...

... to write to you on the status of this futures campaign!

Friday, June 18, 2010


M6’s new star’s is called Luce, this nurse trainee will change carrier. Perpignan Peyrestortes and its region have their new star.

Will she come to Maury to sing « Ne me quitte pas », this beautiful song by Jacques Brel, performed with such talent ?

Will she be lucky to have beautiful lyrics and music written to sustain his career?

That’s another story.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Talbot 2009 : the best Talbot since 1945 ?

Following my first tasting of 09 Château Talbot, I wrote that it was really good, and with a 92-94 from Parker and 92-95 in the Wine Spectator and 17/20 in Decanter, Jancis Robinson, Bettane and Desseauve, René Gabriel from WeinWisser and even RVF giving it 17-18, Talbot – a great brand – gives the opportunity to buy a great wine at a price, already quite hefty, but at least realistic considering the craziness with prices, stock and previous vintages like 2005, 2001 and even 2000.

Also released Saint Pierre, Rauzan Segla.

Parker - Bordeaux 2009

He still has a major influence on prices for consumers and clients follow his 100 points and other good notes. Even historical crus, those of 1855, careful and respectful of customs in Bordeaux and “normal” customers, can’t even resist increasing their prices, even if they are “reasonable”. Five minutes after being released, the market, speculation explodes even reasonable prices: Pontet Canet, Trotanoy, Gracia, La Fleur Petrus, Duhart Milon Rothschild, Hosanna are examples to date of significant increases.

If some merchants, English traders, announce wines on sale, offer more, others take over and after a while, you never know exactly why, a balance between supply, demand and price is created.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Clos Romanile

We also have our cellar manager, Rémi Dalmasso, and his « garden wine » (800 bottles produced in 2009) : Clos Romanile

Neal Martin's Wine Journal Score 90-92
Tasted at Ets. Thunevin. Ripe, rounded and unashamedly opulent on the nose with macerated black cherries, blueberry and a touch of iodine. It has better definition that I expected. The palate has thick chewy tannins, somehow reminding me more of a Priorat than a Saint Emilion! But there is a sense of balance and precision here, and though not my style of wine, there is an exuberance and joyfulness within this Saint Emilion. Tasted March 2010.NM

Revue du Vin de France "Success"
It’sRémi Dalmasso’s wine, cellar manager for Valandraud. The nose is marked by wood. The palate is full, but with more extracted tannins in the finish.. PM

Dé : Excellent 94-96
Watch-out, this is a masterpiece! This is "the" wine for you to understand and discover what a talented winemaker can successfully make with passion when he decides to create its own "small domain". Remi Dalmasso works as enologist for Valandraud and with the help of his wife Sonia they produced an elite mini-cru since 2006. Few comparable wines have this silky texture and generous aromas. “Garden wine”, the 2009 Clos Romanil is a grand bottle that equals in strength and density the finest wines of the commune, while maintaining a stunning feminine character. I was excited by its depth, elegance and length in this vintage, which should drive it towards the stars. Very classy!

Thank you Chateau Pontet Canet and Gracia for having awakened our sleepy customers, while waiting for the most famous wines of Bordeaux to be released in this campaign which will probably be the latest one in modern years.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Le Monde magazine

In this weekend’s issue, which replaces Le Monde’s old version of the supplement, Bettane Desseauve wrote a wine section listing some of their favorites. Wines were presented with fun and had comments I share regarding Bad Boy and Haut Carles which concern me particularly. But also for Marquis de Termes, Fieuzal, Beau Soleil in Pomerol, Guiraud, Rouget, Phelan Ségur and of course Pontet Canet and Ducru Beaucaillou, etc…
It’s hard to get out of the usual frame work such as right bank-left bank, classified growth, crus Bourgeois, the style and imagination of the writers forces them to pay attention to titles and attracting readers, to find new ways to write about wine and generate interest and curiosity and this is not an easy task.

In my shops in Saint Emilion, each sales person is responsible for its own communication and 3 stores have 3 different styles and 3 ways to get the attention of the customer. Each time, there is a common thread, a story, and each time it reminds me of Jacques Luxey’s 2 sayings:
1/ One doesn’t sell a product but a difference
2/ Know-how and let people know.
Jacques, we miss you. And not just Murielle and I but also Michel and Philippe, I am sure…

For your information, Le Monde is a prestigious newspaper in France: 300,000 units sold and 1.5 million readers. I hope that Le Monde becomes the new media which takes us out of the French professional “ghettos”, for here in France, the press is highly controlled: fight against alcoholism, Evin law, auto censorship, without taking in consideration the new gurus of anti Parker style and pro of under-ripe wines, followers of “nature” wines.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Left bank, right bank

Great success for châteaux La Clotte, Pavie Macquin, Tour Figeac.
And to think that again this year, I hear people rambling again about the left bank working better than the right bank ... whereas what works is simply the best brands at the right price

Just in Saint Emilion, there are probably 30 to 40 fine brands, and more than 100 will be offered ; the question is more: does one need to be rich and famous to have the privilege to sell futures?
Knowing the fundamental reasons to sell en primeur will give you a part of the answer, but if a little known wine sells 20-30-50% of its crop as futures, it’s an added contribution to cash flow and notoriety.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

La Dominique

Reminder: knowing where one comes to know where you want to go…

Château La Dominique has been sold to Bordeaux wholesalers since Clément Fayat bought the property. I checked the history of Bordeaux wholesalers first tranche release price, to which 50 to 100% should be added to get to the consumer price depending on the distribution network:

1982 5.79 euro RP 93/WS 92
1985 9.15 euro RP 74/WS 83
1989 11.89 euro RP 93/WS 91
1990 12.96 euro RP 92/WS 88
1995 16.77 euro RP 89/WS 89
1998 24.85 euro RP 87/WS 90
2000 26.00 euro RP 91/WS 91
2005 21.00 euro RP 90/WS 89
2009 ? RP 92-94/WS 93-96

There are few wines with Parker notes superior to 92 which have already been released. It does not facilitate decision-making and does not minimize the risk of being wrong.

Futures campaign

120 wines still have to be released to date as futures: Its proof that it is complicated for a manager, owner, to set a price that balances the clients needs, the client’s customers, the status of the brand, competition, not to mention ego and competitive spirit. While 95% of Bordeaux probably sell for less than 5 Euros retail, the most famous wines set their prices based on their feelings, a balance between supply and demand, hard to understand for the uninitiated. In addition, even professionals have a hard time understanding our system in Bordeaux, a mix of serious industry, haute-couture crafts, and a bit poker players by nature, often liars.

The release price is the inherited social status from the 1855 classification, even the 1955 here in Saint Emilion. The client doesn’t care, but for the wine it is a great challenge which, each year establishes or re-establishes the value of the brand.
A great part of Valandraud’s notoriety is due to the release price which, from 1991 to 2004 was more, or equal, to 1st growths classified in 1855 (with no high notes from the Wine Spectator or the Wine Advocate).
Since then, Valandraud cannot play the same game in regards to prices, first growths becoming more and more cult wines, icons seldom questioned, and indisputable for the best. Clients are rarely consulted, even though, in the end, they are the determining factor.
I have no doubt that for Lafite Rothschild, the Chinese client will play a bigger role in setting the release price than Bordeaux wholesalers !

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fleur Cardinale

Yesterday, Chateau Fleur Cardinale was released. It is one of the best value for money in the right bank (in other words, the owners sell their wine at a good price)
The wine tastes remarkably good now. The en primeur tasting by journalists don’t help this cru with its late terroir and late harvest, a month later than Pomerol or early terroir in Saint Emilion.

Other than that, I am still looking for a name for good Montagne Saint Emilion (2009) I just bought as the name of the property is too complicated, in my opinion…

Blind tasting

We had a great evening and nice bottles at a couple, friends of ours who are great hosts, the pretext being to discuss soil samples before they plant truffle oak trees.
With our meal, we drank blind:
Champagne brut Moët et Chandon, Clos des Jacobins 2002 (good), Clinet 1997 ( ?), Pommard 2002, I forgot the name, OK, and a very fine bottle I already drank a few times : Pape Clément 2002 : class and a great deal for anyone who wants to have a nice bottle without breaking the bank: elegance and power, ripeness and freshness, a must.

In the supplement issue of the magazine L’Express, special selection for Haut Carles and Bad Boy, Marquis de Terme, Guiraud and many other famous wines. The futures campaign is still waiting for the big names to be released…

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


On M6, I watched with curiosity and pleasure the program « Enquêtes extraordinaires » ("Extraordinary investigations") last Sunday at 3:30 pm. The subject was about near-death experiences. It doesn’t seems to be serious, nor fun and yet it was a very good program that makes stories about return to life after clinical "death" more credible. The optimism of the actors involved made the topic interesting ...
I read a good novel during my flights to the end of the world. This exciting book was written by Tatiana de Rosnay : Boomerang.

Our “Chateau for rent” finally found few customers. It is true that if we had turned it into a B&B, it would have been more sellable, but hard to be profitable.
Fortunately, the initial goal is to have a nice tool to receive and accommodate our customers and good friends.

Bad Boy 2009 which is very well noted by French critics as well as Americans, is sold for the first time as futures, which does not prevent orders on available vintages. This wine helps to promote Valandraud: it is not tagging along Valandraud but instead, opens new markets for Valandraud and help its image.
This situation is rare enough to be highlighted: usually this kind of wine has to bought by distributors almost all the time to be entitled to the famous wine.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Crown Wine Cellars, Hong Kong

I was invited by a Chinese friend, wine lover, to eat and drink in this restaurant dedicated to wine and with an underground cellar (Thank you Alexander )

We drank :
Laurent Perrier rosé
Meursault d’Alain Coche Bizouard Goutte d’Or 1er cru 2002, Simply very good (anis, smoked hazelnuts ?)
Château Palmer 1970, a very good bottle, soft tannins, aromas of truffles. A very fine bottle, the second was still closed.
Tiganello 2006, hard to taste after Palmer : this wine was quite dry, closed tight. Better to taste again in 10 years ?

Following, we went to a trendy bar “Sugar”, with an amazing view of Hong Kong’s skyline and a drop of Cognac Paradis from Hennessy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Olivier, Haut Carles and Château de Carles, Fiefs and Arums de Lagrange : these good wines are probably not speculative but their quality is consistent and could be considered good value for the money. In the meantime, this futures campaign is taking its time, it is a sign of nervousness, there is no margin for error, neither by the chateau nor the wholesalers who are unable to carry so many wines. Will next week be the decisive moment?

In the plane, I enjoyed reading a book bought in Saint Emilion : « Le mec de la tombe d’à côté » (Family grave) written by Katarina Mazetti. Astonishing book from this Swedish writer, quirky atmosphere, love story between a peasant and a librarian, full of humor, a delight and a few tears.

I drank at the airport in Hong Kong, with Eric Riewer, a good Cote du Rhone 2004, produced by Tardieu.
This epicurean journalist turned me on to the Chinese restaurant in the hotel next to the airport and told me about a good Chinese wine, made by Emma Gao Yuan: Domaine Sliver Heights.
Nest time, I will try this wine to see what I think about this new property which produces wine at 1200 meters in a new region?

Futures campaign

Already more than 180 wines have been released as futures, lots of “small” chateaux as well as a few crus considered “unavoidable” such as Carbonnieux, Gazin, Duhart Milon Rothschild, Ormes de Pez, Croix de Gay, etc… Also released a few expensive wines like Fleur de Gay, Le Plus de la Fleur de Bouard, Magrez-Fombrauge, Croix de Labrie.

Many of my colleagues wholesalers and I have a hard time to predict what is going to work and what is not, except, of course, for wines getting a high note from James Suckling of Wine Spectator or Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

We already sold 20 crus, with 0 stock left and impossible to find more stock, for either we had already bought everything, or available price today doesn’t allow us to resale it.

When you think that the futures campaign has barely started as of June 2!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Back at the office

Back at the office before leaving again for promotional trips at the beginning of July to Japan and mid August to Brazil.

In Taiwan, no time for tourism, but just to meet a nice importer, efficient and fun. Presentations of my wines and tasting meals with wine lovers and rich clients. Laurent and I didn’t see the time fly, and already we were in Hong Kong for Vinexpo joined by Xavier and Xin.
We were 4 on our stand: lots of pictures, tastings, contacts with clients and prospects, new business in the Philippines, Siberia, Thailand and of course, China…
Hong Kong is unavoidable, and not only for the top 30 brands and the futures campaign, but also for experiencing Chinese business practices and meet the European diaspora, considered an example of savoir-vivre where Bordeaux still enjoy being first.

As soon as I got back, quick round-trip to Venise in Italy to attend an event organized by our very good distributor for his clients where a few of his suppliers were present, including some Bordeaux colleague wholesalers and famous chateau owners.
Now, back to the 2009 futures campaign…