Friday, July 30, 2010

Russians and our Fine Bordeaux

Visit of Valandraud and meal at home with 4 Russian journalists as well as a young lady scouting for the shooting of a new French film.
Saint Emilion and the Aquitaine region are popular destinations for shooting films, perhaps due to political will and means provided by the region, and also due the wine world and our guilds who are very active in the media world.

We drank Blancs de Valandraud 2006 N°1 and N° 2, followed by Fleur Cardinale 2007 , delicious, Bad Boy 2006, Clos du beau Père 2006, Valandraud 2006, and for the 1st time our Fine Bordeaux de Valandraud, with its label, paired with a big, very big, baba au rhum which I improved with this Fine Bordeaux.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Baby Bad Boy, Vin de France

Stéphane Toutoundji posted on his blog his opinion (in French), “ça bouge !!! ” (change) , which I share 100 %.
The new brand “vin de France” and the results, useful in France, of this Australian study on the gap between the palate of wine professionals and… consumers!

The creation of Baby Bad Boy 2009 was based on simple criteria: the palate of young consumers looking for fruit and softness and a blend of several varietals possible in the “Vins de France” appellation, with 70% Merlot and 30% Grenache (a sort of Bordeaux hermitage )
The consumer price in France will be 10 Euros and around $20 in the US (?) and will be available in October 2010.
The vinification was made with the help of Claude Gros and the bottling done in Maury by Jean Roger Calvet.

Answer to Arnaud

Following yesterday’s post, Arnaud commented :
“Does your last comment on the neighbor’s vineyard inspires your future cultural practices?”

Regarding cultural methods and practices, I believe that it is insensible and even absurd not to question them, and this whatever the approach used: only using chemicals is, in my opinion, no longer relevant. An organic approach and everything around it is becoming necessary and in any case mandatory fur us, our employees and required by our clients who ultimately are the judges.
How fast, thanks to whom? Research, the climate? My business is not too late, and my employees - some who personally own vineyards - are equally concerned. You could already see for yourself what is being done by visiting our vineyards and our winery.
The glass is half full instead of half empty, as usual….

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In the vineyards

Last Sunday, I took a stroll in the vineyards. Below some of the pictures I took of our vines :

and especially some of the vines next door waiting to be pulled and which have been heavily pruned. They received no treatments, nor organic, or chemical and the leaves and fruits looks very healthy…


Thursday, I was invited for lunch at L’Envers du Décor. The restaurant was full and had to refuse people. Coordinating personnel on the floor and in the kitchen as well as customers... is not an easy task.
We had a good meal with Chateau d’Aiguille 2000, always good, 60 Euros on the list, and as always, I saw many colleagues and brokers friends sitting at tables near ours. It is hard not to be noticed, but that’s not the objective when eating at L’Envers du Décor.

I don’t often go to restaurants in Saint Emilion except from time to time to friends’ restaurants (and customers of my wines ): Le Tertre, Le Clocher, La Cadène and of course l’Envers du Décor.

Most of my professional meals are done at my home, as long as Murielle doesn’t find it too inconvenient: the reason being to eat products we like, cooked to our liking and the opportunity to drink our wines to promote them, as well as to drink expensive wines such as Pingus, Harlan, Cheval Blanc, and even Petrus.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Around the vineyards

This morning I went around the vineyards in Saint Emilion and Pomerol with Christophe Lardière, Jean François Beyney and Xavier Lacoste.
They looked great, with little green harvest needed, proof that our vines are well balanced. Some older vines of Merlot are producing lower yields due to coulure.
Deleafing is almost finished, a tough job for seasonal employees, but full timers are used to it.

La vie en rose

In hot weather, there is nothing like the champagne, white and rosé during a meal.

The 2009 Domaine de Chevalier Rose is really good, able to compete with the best classified growths from Provence. Seldom is it mentioned that Bordeaux also makes rosé wines and even a local specialty called Claret, to be drank simply, fresh, with grilled steaks, salads, fish; this wine works wonders!
(And I almost forgot the sparkling! - Lionel if you read me )

The price and quality of the roses we sell in our stores in St Emilion are obviously dependent on the sun and weather. Yesterday, there was sun and the shops sold roses, if the temperature is a bit colder, it's red wine. The climate in addition to the economic environment make and break the success or failure of sales! (We sell the Rose from Chevalier at 9 euro and good Bordeaux Chateau Subilaux and Chateau Lafont Fourcat for 5 euro)

To be more financially independence, we went from 2 wine shops in St. Emilion and 1 Maury last year to 2 more in Saint Emilion and 1 in Margaux, in addition to our website, this makes a lot of bottles.
Especially if you include our customers who rent the Chateau Valandraud in Saint Etienne de Lisse and are very willing to buy our wines.
Small creeks make big rivers.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Around the vineyards

This morning I went around the vineyards in Saint Emilion and Pomerol with Christophe Lardière, Jean François Beyney and Xavier Lacoste.
They looked great, with little green harvest needed, proof that our vines are balanced. Some older vines of Merlot are producing lower yields due to coulure.
Deleafing is almost finished, a tough job for seasonal employees, but full timers are used to it.

Tour de France

The Tour de France will pass in front of our property in Margaux : Château Bellevue de Tayac which is, in fact located along the route of the châteaux, and the individual time trial Bordeaux-Pauillac (52 km) will take place in the famous vineyards of the Médoc.
The next day, the 2010 Tour de France will end on the Champs Elysées in Paris.
With a bit of chance, we will be able to see our cellar and vines on television.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Good evening

Yesterday, we were invited by friends, owners of a famous cru from Saint Emilion, just to spend quality time and have a good conversation.

We started with a Champagne Rose from Laurent Perrier, and with our meal, we tasted blind 3 white burgundies, including Clos des Mouches blanc 2007 from Joseph Drouhin, a great wine. I thought it was Drouhin’s monopoly, but there are actually other producers.
We also had a very old and great Meursault and an Auxey Duresses to start.

A red wine at the end with incredible richness, served at the right temperature, tasting very much from the South: Court de Mautens (vintage?), which I liked very much. Vive Rasteau, Vive Grenache.

Friends, a good meal, good wine and good company are worth more than any psychoanalysis!

Fleur Cardinale

Lunch session at Fleur Cardinale with practical work: 2009 - 2008 and 2005 tasting... There are worse exercise to do.
2009 was great… today. Late cru, which is known, but it has to be taken in consideration during the futures tastings.
2008, just bottled, the most refined and elegant since the 2001 vintage. This 2008 is proof that one can bring together late terroir, power and elegance.
2005 is, of course, a success, is closing up, like many 2005.
For the next harvest, we will do 2 to 3 additional experiments, including integral vinification. Impossible to sleep.

As for my recent readings :
Anna Gavalda « La consolante » : a bignovel, lively, entertaining, funny, sad, astonishing. I was totally into the story.
Laurent Gounelle « L’homme qui voulait être heureux », (The Man who Wanted to be Happy) – in French – Not the best title but the subheading is: « ce que l’on croit peut devenir réalité ! » (what you believe in can become reality)

The futures campaign is ending.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A good Sunday

On the site of the magazine Valeurs Actuelles, an article written on October 22, 2009 by Arnaud Folch was just published online. The title : « Pieds-Noirs, une blessure française ». (Pieds-Noirs, a French wound).
Some wounds heal poorly, I see from time to time, Pieds-noirs who still have the typical Algerian accent, probably acts of resistance against globalization... It could be a great subject for the baccalaureate exam!

Sunday was Murielle’s birthday celebrated with 2 bottles of Pomerol : 2006 Latour à Pomerol in a classical style we both like, a very good wine, with many memories (inexpensive cases of 1967 bought from the caretaker when it was created and drank a long time ago…) and Bon Pasteur 2002, still so good and paradoxically seldom reviewed. Thank you Dany and Michel Rolland.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I occasionally spend time with “nécrovinophiles”, a word I invented to define the special and bizarre love some wine enthusiasts have for wine past their peak and dead for some time with only for coffin of the glass bottle and the cork, out of breath, which can no longer wait to disappear!
Although I can understand the historical, cultural aspect - I have trouble believing that one can enjoy drinking or even taste these corpses.
Indeed, how many bottles of wine kept too long end up - badly - in the sink? For even they are not even worth for making vinegar.
How many of these older wines kept in cellars whose sole interest is to be here to fill a “nice cellar” or to show off?
All 47s and 45s cannot claim being worth Cheval Blanc 47 or Mouton 45, and if there are exceptions to every rule, I am afraid that too many amateurs of old wines have forgotten that exception is precisely to be exceptional!
You would tell me, and it is the only excuse, that until having tasted, until having opened, you do not know! Sometimes there are miracles: I remember, it's true, drinking this bottle of 1937 Lescours, more than 50 years of age, which was extraordinary.
Perhaps, sweet wines hold better the road of time. And I do not deny there are some big surprises, but my concern is only for those who enjoy drinking these wines, too old and even when they are seriously dead, find them interesting. All sorts of tastes are in nature … so as beating and pain for masochists!
To put it simply, wine is born, peaks and dies, that’s the way it goes and that's why it affects us so much: perhaps it is similar to human life.

I easily admit that one can offer a bottle of the year of birth as a birthday gift to show love to a person. I also have in my cellar a few bottles of 1955 for Murielle, a few bottles of 1951 for me and other old vintages I often prefer to give than to open. I also was shocked drinking improbable bottles, the only thing I criticize, I repeat, is those who find all these qualities in wines that are obviously finished, dead!

Of course, those who trade in such antiquities are not to blame if they do their job correctly. After all, they are only traders who respond to some customers by offering wines way over the hill to actual clients. Their rarity and prices reached can help making a living from those corpses.
t takes all kinds to make a world: maternities as well as cemeteries.
I must admit that this article was already written for some time. I discussed this subject with friends, some close to this addiction, but only after the publication of an article in the last issue (or previous one) of the RVF, dedicated to a famous collector who quotes me with bitterness, so I wanted to post this post on my blog today.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I just returned from a busy week of Bordeaux 2009 en primeur tasting with my wines and Château Guiraud!
In all, more than 30 wines from Bordeaux were presented by Dominique Befve from Château Lascombes. Close to 1000 people attended, thanks to our oldest and most loyal distributor, and this with productive tastings: We sell, which paradoxically, is not so common during our so-called “promotion” trips.
And meals… great at the Silverado in the Ginza neighborhood, equivalent to 2 stars Michelin with classy, rich and relaxed customers and a fan of my wines, funny. He also owns Aux Amis 59 restaurant in Tokyo with a breathtaking view. Of course, we were also in the restaurant of our importer-distributor in Osaka.

The interest in 2009 is obvious, even here in Japan, who already experienced other vintages of the century!

They are curious about the Chinese market for the influence they supposedly had on this year’s prices and also for being novice, in their eyes, in the art of wine and the complexity of Japanese culture, which has well integrated it.

Other than that, so many people, so many people in the streets, everywhere. Tokyo is so big and able to mix tradition and modernity so easily!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Still regarding Robert Parkers tasting notes and revised notes for the 2000 vintage, and since Patrick wrote about it in one of his comments: Gracia 2000 increased from 93 to 96.

"This is a big upgrade for this spectacular micro-cuvee, a true garage wine from a 4.4-acre vineyard. A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, I always find Gracia to be reminiscent of Ausone. The dense, rich 2000 reveals notes of a spring flower garden intermixed with smoky barbecue meat, blackberries, black currants, and crushed rocks. The extraordinary perfume is followed by a wine of great depth and richness, full-bodied power, and not a hard edge to be found. This velvety blockbuster is just beginning to strut all its stuff, and should age easily for another 15+ years. "RP

Unfortunately, I ran out of it a long time ago....

I also recommend to read on Wall Street Journal’s site, an article written by Will Lyons revisiting terroir and garagistes ...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Branon 2000

This was part of the 2000 Robert Parker tasted again last week. It got 97/100:

"Everyone at the tasting where this wine was presented was rocked (or should I say shocked) by the greatness of this wine. It needs no defense. I rated it 96 seven years ago, and it comes from a beautiful vineyard in Pessac-Leognan near Haut-Bergey. Made by Helene Garcin and her winemaking team at the time, Michel Rolland and Jean-Luc Thunevin (now replaced by Dr. Alain Raynaud), 650 cases of this wine were produced. It has a deep, opaque bluish/purple color and a gorgeously sweet nose of incense, asphalt, blueberry liqueur, coffee, bacon fat, and a hint of meat juices. Full-bodied and dense, with silky tannins but enormous richness, length, and texture, this is a stunner to drink now or to age for another two decades." RP

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bordeaux 2000

Parker rated again 2000 and the wines I am in part responsible for received higher notes

Valandraud went from 93 to 94
Marojallia from 94 to 96
Branon from 96 to 97

For my close friends, Gracia got now 96 instead of 93 and Croix de Labrie went from 95 to 93, etc…

This will help move some cases of 2000 which, considering how expensive 2009 are, will find an interest in this market, in case the 2000 vintage is a bit forgotten.

Also, new notes for the wines from Ribera del Duero. Peter Sisseck’s wines were all successful :
Hacienda Monasterio receveid suberd notes :
Pingus 2004 : 100
Pingus 2005 : 99
Pingus 2006 : 98
Pingus 2007 : 98
Pingus 2008 : 99

Flor de Pingus 2004 : 98
Flor de Pingus 2005 : 96
Flor de Pingus 2006 : 95
Flor de Pingus 2007 : 95
Flor de Pingus 2008 : 96

Quinta Sardonia 2004 : 96
Quinta Sardonia 2005 : 95
Quinta Sardonia 2006 : 93
Quinta Sardonia 2007 : 92
Quinta Sardonia 2008 : 93
Quinta Sardonia 2009 : 92-95

2009 Futures

The futures campaign is almost over, and as any speculative futures campaign, trade relations can take a wrong path, one accusing the other of bad faith when he cannot get what he wants to buy. The wholesaler blames the property, which the wine is in demand, not to have enough bottles to sell, forgetting that in the meantime they were less demanding in 2007 and 2008. Criticizing them, only in thought, to be too expensive, when they would rather have a 15% margin on 1000 Euros than 15% margin on 50!
The client does the same vis-à-vis the Bordeaux merchant distributor, and so on throughout the supply chain all the way to the end customer.

At the end of this campaign, I was called by the name of some famous birds from the financial world: in the street, I was called Mister “Kerviel”, or even almost Maddoff, and certain customers of “I was told that you were a speculator”, etc. ...
I am forced to justify myself.

Fortunately 95% of customers know the “Bordeaux” system and many have a good memory, and not just selective ones: indeed my business only sells 1st growths from the right bank, for those on the left bank, I do like my buddies and buy every year in London, Zurich and even in Bordeaux these 1st growths much sought-after.

If a kind of coherence is possible when one has the privilege of getting a first tranche allocation, how can you get a “good price” when you buy from someone?
This year, if you add to the already high price of the first tranche, with lower quantities voluntarily sold, the prices for 2nd and 3rd tranche, the average prices, the captain's age, my handicap in golf and the beaches of Cap Ferret, you can understand why I am considered incompetent!

Fortunately there are also great properties, owners who like me, or who simply enjoy my business, some of them even - and very famous ones – increased, this year, my 1st tranche allocations, or gave me 2nd, even 3rd tranche allocations as a gateway to the future.

A novel could be written about all this. In the meantime I suggest you go to the bookstore to buy this new book published by Feret: “The market for reputations, a sociology of the world of Bordeaux wines” written by Pierre-Marie Chauvin.
The timing is to read this book in the evening to relieve the stress of this campaign is perfect.