Friday, October 29, 2010

Read in the newspaper Sud Ouest, or on blogs

The Chateau Carmes Haut Brion was sold to developer Patrick Picher. This Pessac Léognan is one of the most famous small properties less than 5 hectares.
Our wholesale business had the privilege of getting a very small allocation and was also able to sample this rare wine at tastings organized by the UGC (Union des Grands Crus).

In St. Emilion, the harvest is almost finished, and the next few days of sunshine and cold night will help latecomers to pick top quality grapes.
I am convinced that Fleur Cardinale, Sansonnet and even us will have crisp wine with remarkable freshness, even if it seems impossible oenological speaking.

The appreciation of all the consulting enologists is so different and their opinion so diametrically opposite that I can only encourage them to come taste the futures in March 2011!

Good moments

After visiting the cellars of Clos du Beau Père in Pomerol, Prieuré Lescours and Saint Emilion, I can say that this year, the fermenting wine smell great, with beautiful and bright colors, and that the grape juice is naturally very sweet, with alcohol levels between 14 and 15 degrees for the Merlot and even for the Cabernet Franc.
There is certainly good potential, after tasting the first 2 dry batches, in other words when all the sugar has been transformed into alcohol, and before the maceration phase to extract concentration and harmonize of all components of the wine. Long maceration, or short: it will be short for the Petit Verdot in Bellevue de Tayac.

Cocktail with buddies and friends in the beautiful monoliths cellars of the Manoir of Galhaud’s house where a romantic Chinese film was recently filmed with the very famous Chinese actors Miss Xu Jinglei and Li Yapeng.
Xu Jinglei

This cocktail felt like the happy end of this year's harvest: a few bottles of wine from all over the world, Spain, Chile, southern France and even Pomerol and Saint Emilion!
This moment of conviviality reminded us that time passes too quickly. Muriel and I have already known some of the participants for 25 years: first regular customers of our first restaurant, Le Tertre in Saint Emilion. The opportunity to talk with Martine from Montpellier, from Palavas Les Flots, and of the little wooden train that took us to the beach in the 60s.

Jean Francois and Martine can be proud of their cellar which serves as the setting for wine from the property aging in beautiful barrels.
Saint Emilion and its few cellars dug in the rock are beautiful places to visit.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Future program

Grand Tasting in Hong Kong : Xin and I will be attending the Grand Tasting in Hong Kong organized by Bettane & Desseauve from November 4 to 6.
We will present : Valandraud 2006, Virginie de Valandraud 2006, Clos du Beau Père 2006, Blanc de Valandraud 2007 and the wines from the Roussillon, Thunevin-Calvet range, poured by Ramuntxo Andonegui.
Just prior, I will be in Shanghai for an event in one of the best restaurant in the city, and then after Hong Kong, direction San Paolo, Brazil, and even a short trip to Chili before returning to France via Brazil.

On December 10 and 11, in the Carrousel du Louvre for a tasting also organized by Bettane & Desseauve, with 2007 vintage and 2 tables to group our friends from Terre de Lisse : Fleur Cardinale, Rol Valentin, Pressac, Faugères, as well as Haut-Carles and Thunevin-Calvet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shooting of a Chinese film

A large Chinese film crew, 7 or 8 people, is currently shooting a movie, or rather a series of 4 movies on Bordeaux, the wine estates, chateaux and their lifestyle, the harvest, etc...
In any case, this 2010 vintage will great media support with this massive undertaking which already started more than 3 weeks ago.
My friends from Chateaux de Carles and Fleur Cardinale will, I hope, have great pictures to show during our travels to China. Muriel and I, as consultants, will probably have a small part.

Bordeaux wine can thank this very professional team and I already know that they will bring back home the pounds accumulated during the many meals and Ganbei for all wines to taste ...

Monday, October 25, 2010


I was invited by Jean Michel Cazes for lunch with a few colleagues wholesalers, winemakers and of course a few brokers, in his 2 stars Michelin restaurant in the Château Cordeillan Bages.
As I arrived earlier, as usual, I exchanged a few words with Jean Michel Cazes about our opinion on this 2010 vintage, some news and plan to finally visit his property in the Roussillon.
He is constantly creating, moving forward. An example of how to be at 75 years old to stay young, I admire him.
I was sitting at the “Saint Emilion” table (all the tables had the name of an appellation), at my right Michel Tesseron, owner of the famous Chateau Lafon Rochet with whom I always enjoy spending time.
Our table was somewhat dissipated, proof that in the Medoc, a person from the Right Bank (not more, lets not exaggerate) can be warmly received.

I had a great time, prior, I stopped by Lynch Bages to taste and eat a few grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon forgotten on a vine, delicious.
I also sopped by my property in Margaux, Bellevue de Tayac, where the fermentation vats smelled very good.
In the afternoon, I returned to Saint Emilion and had the visit of a Belgium importer, Patrick Lelièvre, and some of his clients who flew to Bordeaux to visit chateaux. The wines they have in their cellars now have a picture. Young and curious, they were able to see Valandraud during the harvest.

For dinner, 2 couples, friends for a meal prepared at home by Mumu.
Valandraud Blanc N°1 2008, closed, Puligny Montrachet 2006 Etienne Sauzet, with a bit of sweetness, pleasant softness, a very good wine.
Quinta Sardonia 2006, always good and Pingus 2006. One can understand the myth when such a young wine can already show so much class.
Following, Pavie 2003, then a bit of our Fine Bordeaux from Valandraud and a bottle (offered by our Brazilian friends) from Vale Verde Cachaça from Brazil, very good, even as a digestive.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Harvest 2010

End of the harvest on Merlot at Valandraud’s, October 20, 2010.
Thursday, the Merlots for Bad Boy were still being picked in our new property in Saint Genes de Castillon, and Friday it will be the Cabernet Francs on the plateau of Saint Etienne de Lisse and those in Pomerol.
Monday, we will pick the Cabernet Francs in Badon, the Cabernet Sauvignons and the Carmenère from the area of Saint Etienne de Lisse will have to wait…
Everything has been picked in Bellevue de Tayac: Merlots, Petits verdots and the cabernets sauvignons.

In Lalande de Fronsac, in my daughter Virginie Thunevin’s property, it will probably be of very good quality this year, finally.

The harvest still continues...

On Monday, the 2010 harvest still continued with the Merlot located in front of the chateau in Saint Etienne de Lisse: a small harvest due to coulure affecting old vines of Merlot. Our Merlot from Génissac (Bordeaux) harvested for Bad Boy is all in
The grapes in Fongaban have been picked on Wednesday. Great flavors, these grapes can even be eaten as table grapes, hard to resist, the pips have finally ripened with a crunching texture and proper acidity levels.
Our old Malbec and Merlot from the south eastern slopes in Saint Etienne de Lisse are also in. Wednesday was the turn of the Cabernets Sauvignons in Badon (very good?) and Prieure for the 3rd wine. The Cabernet Francs from Plaisance and Badon (near the nationale) are top.

We had some visitors during the harvest: Wednesday was the Norwegians, Russians the next day, the gentleman with classic cars visited Bellevue de Tayac. The promotion of a cru needs a lot of time.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The harvest continues

The harvest continues, the Merlot from the parcel of Laroque are the first batch of Valandraud picked on October 16!
The particular flavors of the vines from this parcel provided us, last year, the best batch for Valandraud 2009.
The grapes from the property we rent in Génissac are also all in, and the Merlot from Clos du Beau Père in Pomerol are finally in the tanks, brought in on Friday, October 16. Sure that in our area, we must have frightened the neighbors and that our grapes had to be tasted and tasted again!

We probably took a big risk, I do not think today that we could have done it 10 years ago... and I am sure that the day we lose the whole crop we will be told that we asked for it.
We must now turn those grapes into fine wine.

With our meal, we drank with the owners of La Vieille Cure (Fronsac), those of Fleur Cardinale (Saint Emilion) and Annie and Michel : Bad Boy 2007, in part made in Fronsac, La Clotte 2008 which is now delicious and rich : this rare classified growth from Saint Emilion, neighbor of the first vineyard of Valandraud, has improved greatly and is still quite unknown, which makes it a good value, a bottle of our Pomerol Fayat-Thunevin 2008 there too very good, Valandraud 2002 which will be ready to drink in 5/6 years like most Valandraud. At least 10 years are needed to tame the initial power.
Maury 2007 from our partner in the Roussillon, Thunevin-Calvet, and a half bottle of late harvest from Arvine from the Valais in Switzerland, Domaine des Claives 2007 from Marie Thérèse Chappaz, offered by friends from… Switzerland.

Switzerland again, with the visit of a group of amateurs. The proximity of Faugères, whose owner is Swiss, makes Valandraud more and more attractive for Helvetians.

Sunday, tour of the vineyards: which parcels of Merlot should be blended together? The low yields of this vintage force us to make choices.
The cold nights and sunny days ripen slowly our last Merlot from Saint Etienne de Lisse, the Cabernet Franc from Badon and Plaisance never looked so good. The Cabernet Sauvignons from Badon are finally ripe, those of Bel Air will still have to wait 8 to 10 days?

In this special year the lack of water makes it difficult to see the tannin from the seeds turning brown. Color and flavor are of course the simple markers to understand total ripeness.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


The harvest is going quickly and grapes are beautiful, ripe and for lovers of analysis, the hypochondriac of pH, total acidity, malic acid, and obsessed by degrees, or as diabetics by sugar level in blood , here are two tests conducted by Rolland’s laboratory on grapes brought in on October 12, 2010:

Malbec from Saint Etienne de Lisse
13.71, ph : 3.38, Total acidity : 2.90, malic acid : 0.7

Merlot from Saint Sulpice de Faleyrens
14.41, ph : 3.54, Total acidity : 3.00, malic acid : 1.1

If these analysis remain stable, I think it’s great. If Valandraud tastes like marmalade, as the recent comic book about Robert Parker implies, it may be a fantasy, and as for its aging capability, we’ll see in 50 years!

Yesterday, we had lunch with the boss of the group MitSiu logistics and his son. He came to present the China Pass: to help us penetrate the Chinese market using adapted logistics to our needs, with the company’s know-how and their platform in the free zone in Guangzhou (Canton). We are already customers of the group MitSiu Blanquefort and likely soon in China?

Friday, October 15, 2010


Following maximum stress and our teams of pickers making the efforts to step-up the pace picking grapes, from this voluntary late vintage, stress level was at its highest on Monday and Tuesday due to the humid and hot weather, contributing to diseases. Luckily, the weather changed yesterday, with dry and cold night and a bit of wind: it’s worth gold right now as it protects the grapes from being damaged by the botrytis (gray mold) and instead concentrates the aromas and flavors.

Risk taking is part of the game I chose, considering I've never picked one over-ripe grape, but rather under-ripe.

None of the wines made in 20 years at Valandraud has this character of over-softness dreaded so much in Bordeaux by many owners, critics, and even enologists, while the real danger still today is the opposite... unless one prefers harsh tannins, rough, dry with beautiful aromas of green leaf, box wood, too frequently regarded as the proper style for a classic Bordeaux, recalling the good old days of cold vintages.

I like drinking our 2007 today. It’s sure that waiting as much as possible makes it sexy, pleasant, until a better vintage: 2009, drank yesterday with Chinese guests, is the year to beat in 2010. A high mountain to climb which makes the challenge even more exciting.

Tasting with 24 Austrian guests who tasted semi-blind : 4 series of 3 wines, they had to guess the vintages, 1998, 2000, 2003; between 3 Virginie de Valandraud, which one is 1995, 1998 and 2000; between 3 Valandraud, they had to say which one they preferred between Pichon Lalande, Mission Haut Brion, Cheval Blanc, and, yes, Virginie 2007 is a good challenger against Carruades de Lafite 2007…. The price difference makes comparing a diffult task. In any case, I liked the 2007 Carruades, which, for your information, is sold in stores in Saint Emilion for 375 Euros and Virginie de Valandraud sold for 38 Euros !

The Terre de Lisse blog is working well. The proof : I thought that “when China wakes up, the world will tremble” was from Alain Peyrefitte, well no, it is believed to come from Napoleon Bonaparte.

I read it and liked it

I read it and liked it

and didn’t feel like the victim… and Panos Kakaviatos didn’t ask me anything !

Robert Parker and the comic-strip book devoted to him are featured in a web page article on the website of the magazine Decanter, signed Panos Kakaviatos who is a big fan and admirer of Robert Parker, for he writes regularly on Mark Squire’s BB (and also came to check the durability of Valandraud!)

Just a thought: I believe that Panos does not understand the humor of French comics, and read this comic book with his “traditionalist” eyes. After all, he writes for an English magazine !

This is a fiction, where everything that happens to Parker is set in a dream, rather a nightmare, for that matter, for the explanation is given at the end. I found this book rather amusing despite the authors “anti-Parker” bias, judging by the comments of Saverot.

There is, of course, the conspiracy theory (the US globalized taste, dear to Jonathan Nossiter) ... Damn, what power Parker has!
There is humor, a bit in the second degree, a few stories found in the trash, but that’s the price of fame for Parker... and his dogs (Mondocano sex) !

My friends and I are being caricatured. Pat Parker has a big part, very likeable, the drawings are well made, after all I still see, in my case, that Valandraud holds a nice place among the 3 wines supposed to please Parker, between Pavie and Le Pin. I like this combination.
Robert Parker, if you read me, remember that the best score you gave Valandraud is 95 points for the 2005 and 1995.

I hope that people quoted in this comics will read it and take it as a “consecration”, because after all, to be featured, during one’s lifetime, in a comic book, even if loaded, is something I never dared dreaming would happen.
Incidentally, there are a lot of errors, including a terrible one, having one of my friends, Archi, disappear, while he probably still has another 40 years to live thanks to all these good wines he drank.
He may be entitled to an erratum in the next comics book that bring him back to life.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

That’s it !

The harvest has begun full throttle: a team in Margaux, a team in Pomerol, a team in Saint Emilion and perhaps Génissac.
The serenity of the last days gives way to excitement.
The ripening we have long awaited is finally within reach of our secateurs. Our choices will be - or will not - validated by the wines made in the months to come.
Are we, as stated by a famous winemaker of Libourne, in a style similar to 1990?
Modern, for sure but, unfortunately, certainly with low yields!

The blog Terre de Lisse is already accessible (in French)… A first for the collective blog of Fleur Cardinale, Rol Valentin, Valandraud, Pressac and Faugères.

In the last issue of Paris Match, a few pages on the new cellars in Saint Emilion : Faugères, Villemaurine, those built at Cheval Blanc and later La Dominique, and nice pictures of the cellar of Cos d’Estournel in Saint Estèphe.
Architecture at the service of agro-tourism and communication : not everyone has the chance to have the kind of “visibility” of Château de Pressac, or the garage of Valandraud.

Announcement - birth

Merlot is doing well in CABARDES.

After having cut his teeth with his friend Arnaud ESCOURROU “ LA REGALONA”
Eric SOULAT embarks on his winemaker’s adventure, alone.
With the advise in vinification from Arnaud, he just put together his small cellar for this 2010 harvest.

We are please to announce the birth of TALUOS.

Strange, and still...

I am a bit provocative but still, it's kind of weird to think that when Bordeaux sells its 1st growths, super-seconds and others alike, in other words, less than 20 wines, with a 1st tranche wholesale price between 120 and 500 Euros for the 2009 vintage and 3 or 4 icons with a price between 500 and 1000 Euros, Bordeaux seems expensive to the diaspora of wine professionals, but when 20 or 30 (or more) fine Burgundies are sold at similar prices, or even higher, there... nothing, not one negative comment.

Is the reason, again, the excessive transparency of the release price in Bordeaux, the timing? The futures mode, volumes?
Does Burgundy only have smaller properties than our Right Bank crus, the other side has, it is true, larger properties, but shouldn’t they actually limit their surface?

Good wines and 2010 harvest at our place.
Friday for lunch with Brazilian friends : Fleur Cardinale 2004, Blanc de Valandraud 2006, Valandraud 2007, Hugo Calvet-Thunevin 2006, 3 Marie Calvet-Thunevin 2005, Maury 2007 Calvet-Thunevin and Fine Bordeaux de Valandraud (900 bottles for the 1st bottling)
Saturday : Le Moulin 2002 Pomerol, Fleur Cardinale 2004, Pressac 2002 and 2008.

The harvest will start full throddle tomorrow. Waiting for this harvest is like the clam before the storm, agonizing.
In fact, we are already October 11 and only 1 hectare were picked in Pomerol at Clos du Beau Père, 2 hectares of young vines in Fronsac at Haut Mazeris, 3 hectares in Saint Emilion at Prieuré Lescours and 2 hectares in Lalande de Fronsac at my daughters, in Domaine Virginie Thunevin.
It's not much, considering that this week we should pick our young vines of Malbec in Saint Etienne de Lisse, and probably half of our old Merlot at Clos Badon-Thunevin, the Merlot from the plain, 1 hectare in Lalande de Pomerol. Maybe a bit at Haut Mazeris, depending on the evolution of our grapes, the effects of Sunday’s rain and our reflections on the advantages and disadvantages to wait, and this is not philosophical.

Fleur Cardinale has not begun, La Dominique finished picking its Merlots, but there are still Cabernet everywhere or almost everywhere.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hilarious duo

After co-writing “In Vino Satanas” with Denis Saverot, Benoit Simmat wrote the script for a comic book published by 12bis: “Robert Parker, les sept péchés capiteux” (the seven heady sins) with the subtitle “the anti Parker Guide” .
The foreword is written by... Denis Saverot, managing editor of the Revue du Vin de France.

Well, it always makes an impression to see my face (designed by Philippe Bercovici), my history, my name and Valandraud in a comic book! and as Denis Saverot says, being in the legend.

The themes are quite similar to those of Jonathan Nossiter (the film Mondovino where I also appear) or Elin McCoy, and above all about those fantasies on the standardization of wines and palate. Parkerization, Rollandization ... After all, one only lends to the rich.

Dialectic and television

How could you consider yourself explicit when taking two lines of an article out of context?
Unlike you, Laurent, I have a similar palate than Robert Parker and I can also say, in the same sentence, that it is also close to that of Michel Bettane, but very different from yours. This does not prevent me from reading your comments because your vision of wine, even very different from mine and my "gurus" helps me to better my business of owner, wholesaler and consultant!

Television :
Yesterday, I spent the whole day with televisions. In the morning, a Japanese TV station whose main subject was on Léo Shinohara, Caroline and their adventure in wine with his Clos Léo and his cuvee “Caroline” produced in Côtes de Castillon. The potential of this 2010 vintage is really great.
I spent the day with a Swiss TV to see the 2010 harvest and speak about the 2009 vintage.
We harvested a few plots in Haut Mazeris, the enchanting surroundings of Fronsac gives you great photos ops and the grapes are always good… To be eaten: a feast for a king!

Following, with the same team, we went to Château Angelus in Saint Emilion wearing my hat as wholesaler-friend. A large group under a big canopy was in the process of desteming the grapes by hand, a monumental job which made feel younger and reminded me of our beginning in Valandraud.
Grapes still being re-sorted on vibrating tables are placed in the cellar, a real caviar. The best of the best of grapes from a great terroir. Again, they will make here a huge wine, it’s true that Angelus is one of the most consistent wines in quality for over 20 years.
Tasting of 2009: I emptied my glass, as it's too hard to spit out such a good wine. Hubert de Bouard de Laforest received the TV crew, and there too, a group of Chinese were visiting at the same time. This proves the interest China has for our wines in Bordeaux.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Question of style : every sort of taste exist in nature

Reading the last column of Jean Marc Quarin dated 1 October 2010, I came to write this little article, by analogy with the south.
Patrick and Laurent are a bit provocative, maybe even reactionary, cheeky, able to write on my blog rave reviews on the style of Gauby’s wines and those, less popular (it's a euphemism) of Bizeul or our Thunevin-Calvet, in the Roussillon. Even a commentary written with passion, talent, love, on the wines of Jerome Bressy “Gourt de Mautens”, Hervé Bizeul made me discover, highlight the opinion of Patrick compared to that of Laurent.

Vast subject of controversy, some vins “d’auteurs” (“author” wines) raise a lot of fiery comments, especially when, in addition, one meets people who make these wines. Fortunately, the unique taste so often announced is not yet imposed, some media like the style of Gauby, I can not deny it, as I read, like everyone else, the RVF or other media, others are opposed (see La Passion du Vin). After all, it is better to wait until tomorrow to find out which style is right, by still being around. And yet, why should a wine have to last, be a perennial property, is there an obligation to be a superstar from the 1855 classification to have the right to exist in France?
The key, I think, is economic viability which makes customers happy, as well as the winemaker and his employees.
Whatever style of wine is preferred by some or others, even if they are my friends, I rather prefer, and will for a long time, the opulent wines of Hervé Bizeul or those made by Claude Gros here, in the South, or in Bordeaux . The evidence of my taste for these wines: I asked Claude Gros to help us here in Bordeaux, for our property in Pomerol. He is helping us produce our wines in the Roussillon “Thunevin-Calvet”, where he is looking for fruit and clear aromatics, still in the area of maturity without complexity!
With Michel Rolland as consultant, it’s been a while that I chose my camp.

What would be good, a sincere wish of Hervé Bizeul and some of our friends, is that some influential journalists help us push the world to discover this sublime region, with the moral obligation (I only look at 1 or 2 well known media) to talk about the different trends of thought in this region and not just those about cold fruit.
It's not because I, we do not make wines like Gauby that we should be ignored, much less make venomous comments as I have read here and there.

It’s true that I am directly concerned, but still I do not see how and why wanting to produce southern-style wines in the south would be more abnormal than make in the south northern-style wines?
Spain makes many wine-lovers dream, Chateauneuf du Pape gets praise from major media and Roussillon is still very much a land to discover, to exist their should only be one style of wine, that is all.
The site La Passion du Vin is for the Roussillon, Languedoc and Southwest with its tremendous and different terroirs, the only real area of diversity of opinions and I have not forgotten this dream of seeing a great tasting in the style of the Grand Jury Européen with wines from the South. I'm sure we would be able to find the wines, the men and even the funding, for both the region, and its CIVR and Vins du Sud label, is motivated to defend its region, its wines and the people who make them.
(and one more time, I forgot to write about the fortified wines of Maury, Collioure, Banyuls, etc…)

This text was written a few days ago, before comments made by Patrick and Hervé. It’s so difficult to have such different friends !

Finally !

October 6, 2010 : The beginning of the harvest in Pomerol, for our parcels next to the cellar of Clos du Beau Père (sector of René-Bellegrave) and also those of Patache.
In the afternoon, the whole gang will go to Fronsac, at Haut-Mazeris

Thursday, October 7, the same group of pickers will start to harvest young vines in the commune of Saint Sulpice de Faleyrens, near the cellar of Prieuré Lescours.

The rest will be done depending on the weather forecast and the evolution of our grapes took their time
We’re also expecting the visit of a Japanese and a Swiss TV station.

Next week will be the turn of Haut Carles and Fleur Cardinale?


Last Monday I had the visit, with my friends Jacques and Jeanine, of several properties, following Izak Litware’s visit who with a friend to taste some of our 2008 and 2009 vintages.

Visits: first, Chateau Troplong Mondot who was just beginning to harvest, very friendly atmosphere and where the smiles of the employees and owners said more than words. The grapes were beautiful. This property is not pretentious and yet nothing is missing; in addition it’s a beautiful place.
They gave us a guided tour despite the harvest and that's a rare privilege that needs to be mentioned. In addition we were invited to share the dinner for the harvest with Christine and Xavier and the staff from the property. It was the opportunity to meet fellow wholesalers from Bordeaux (these dinner are quite known).
Troplong Mondot 2007 and 2004, both drank with pleasure. This is part of the joys of this profession: the possibility of friendly relations and share around a table.

Between the tour and the meal at Troplong Mondot, we had time to visit the Union des Producteurs de Saint Emilion (Producers Union of Saint Emilion) that I had not seen in operation since its expansion and modernization. We change environment, of course, 800 hectares (1980 acres) are vinified in this vine-growers cooperative, which is probably one of the most modern in France (?)
The grapes arriving in trailers were, for some, clean and beautiful, the capacity of analysis and separation of batches impressive.
Technology at the service of quality, everyone wins, including wineries who defend the same appellation: Saint Emilion.
We were received by the president himself, who was at work and saw us. There too, we were treated like VIPs, thank you Mr. Danglade and congratulations to UDP de Saint Emilion. They are bound to receive more and more small producers who are unable, financially and physically, to comply with all the current and future rules and obligations. When will a la carte system like American wineries have will be available?

In the afternoon, we stopped at La Dominique where smells of fermentation tanks and beautiful juice pumped-over already show the success of this vintage at Chateau La Dominique.
Following, the neighbors in Pomerol Château La Conseillante. Need we say more than what everyone knows?
Here, serenity and calm, simple tool but with first-class terroir, between Pétrus and Cheval Blanc, hard to beat. A new cellar will soon be built. Meanwhile, the 2009 is just wonderful.
Quick visit with my friends at Le Gay: Everyone is busy, full vinification, keeps you busy. Still lots of grapes not harvested but, again, the quality of this vintage makes everyone smile.

At Rouget, The value is one of the best in Pomerol, calm and serenity. The 2008 we tasted is quite consistent with what I thought of the harvest of this vintage at Chateau Rouget, 2009 and 2010 look promising!
A great tour of Pomerol and a simple dinner in a restaurant with a good bottle of Patris 2007 Saint Emilion Grand Cru, quite good, produced by Michel Querre and family.

Friday, October 8, 2010


The Fleurie agency came to the office on Friday to do a story about the harvest, and as we still had not started, it turned into an interview at the office.
In the afternoon, visit of an English couple customers of one of our good and loyal customers, broker in the UK and a prospect for Costa Rica, and a couple of friends of friends Franco-American-Argentinian! Wine lovers, they are also looking to buy a property in Saint Emilion. I should open a real estate agency.
About real estate agencies in Saint Emilion, they all offer the same properties. Is this the right way to sell real estate with prices between 3 and 6 million Euros?

Saturday, with our couple friends, we visited some properties to get a feel for the places and get an idea of prices, we also visited other properties: our own and the one built from ground-up by Carole and Stéphane Bendenc: Chateau Maro de Saint Amant and Villhardy.

The harvest of Merlot ended, as in many properties with early terroir or specific cultivation methods leading to early ripening, all is relative this year. We did not even start at the beginning of the week but maybe on Thursday or Friday, in our 20 years of activity, it will be the latest harvest.

I read comments from technicians in the Medoc or superb analysis reports in the right bank and comments surprised by the strong potential of this harvest of Merlot and Cabernet. These comments are credible, not coming from “sellers” or “traders”. It’s not yet a done deal, but as of today we’re on our way to make again a very good vintage in Bordeaux.

We drank with our meal : Clos du Beau Père 2006, good, Valandraud 2008, very good but it is closing up, Mendel Unus 2006 Argentinian wine (Mendoza) produced by Roberto de la Mota with 70 % Malbec and 30 % Cabernet Sauvignon, good and powerful.
Le Moulin 2008 Pomerol, rare, made by Michel Querre, closed, somewhat austere like this classic style vintage Bordeaux knows how to produce, to drink again in 7 to 10 years.
Fleur de Gay 2006, one of the wines which inspired Valandraud, sexy, very Pomerol, next to Haut Carles 2006 powerful, for long cellaring, very pure and with great freshness (clayey-limestone terroir), the style Patrick or Laurent like
Meursault Bouches Chères 1997 from Buisson Charles still with energy and a great Bourgogne Blanc Comtes Lafon in Meursault in 2005, Clos de la Barre

Filtering comments, and more...

I leave this message for “Serge” - whom I asked to call me or give me his phone number in order to discuss his comments which I find sometimes borderline in my opinion.

He did not deign to answer me, his comments are probably enough for him, we tried to look for his (without calling the police ) his name and email address as the one he posts is false.

« okayyy! I did not realize that moderation was just meant to prevent M Bettane to post a few words somewhat virulent, you can never be too careful! However Bizeul is small fry here we go merrily!

Can I ask you a question mr. thuvenin, which I hope will not seem too daring: do you love dogs? »

Nothing to do (although ...) but I collect (even though I'm not a real collector) Nicolas catalogs, and I miss 1928 and 1929, great vintages for even then were vintages of the century !
Nicolas stores, are still everywhere in France, I'm not sure that managers, employees have the opportunity today to browse these nice catalogs, true that they are on the internet, but hey, is not the same.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I often read worried comments about the globalization of wine, formatting the taste of wine because of perceived or actual influence of Robert Parker’s notes and the advice of Michel Rolland.
Well, these comments really diminish the wine world and ignores the views of other critics, some of which are quite close to the believed Parker palate, while others are very distant.
All attempts to prove such a difference in taste, I especially think of François Mauss Grand Jury Européen, have not really succeeded (to my knowledge) to prove that the wines of Pavie, Angelus, Pape Clement, even Valandraud are so different from the supposed European palate in comparison to the established palate of Parker!
Jancis Robinson maintains her own English opinion, Bettane remains French even though he is gaining importance (finally!) in the Asian world, Quarin still has his fans in Switzerland, France and even the U.S., the Wine Spectator has a very different view and I am not even talking about Decanter and all the others. That they all have less influence than Parker, who monopolized power, is a fact, but that critics have no influence on wine producers? I admit that for me, I've never hidden the influence Michel Bettane had on our wine, the joy I had when Quarin or Clive Coates had seen before many, the class of Valandraud 1998, thanks to its large percentage of cabernet franc, etc...
Also in my case, with specific example, Parker and Bettane and René Gabriel gave a huge note at that time to Valandraud 1995.
More than 12 years later, in the remake of the Judgement of Paris organized by the Grand Jury Européen, 2 American wines arrived before Valandraud which arrived on top of Bordeaux with his 3rd place, happily before all the stars, including 1st growths such as Margaux, Latour, Haut Brion, Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild, Ausone, Cheval Blanc and even Pétrus.
It doesn’t mean that Valandraud is better.
The proof is the classification
The proof is the market price of my famous colleagues.

In any case, it proves that Parker and other critics don’t have such bad taste and that they do not have the assumed responsibility for this globalized American taste. Believing that Parker and Rolland are responsible for this fantasy makes me think that those who make these comments don’t have a clue. These are gossips, to talk, speak, and scare people, as some organic zealots with their sad face, bad hair and depressive character, not to mention their scary cragginess, as for me, I see organic living with happy people, smiling, healthy, the evidence by their attitude that this is the right way.
What’s the point of being organic if it is to go to sad stores where customers all look sick?

Hurrah for light, for children who run and laugh and live fully the pleasures of life.
I got side tracked... back to our topic: Parker-Rolland’s globalization

Parker likes Haut Brion, he likes Lafite Rothschild, he likes the wines from Guigual, Chapoutier (organic, no ?), he likes Valandraud and likes Rayas ! Bizarre no… to label a palate ?
Anyway, if someone wants to kill their dog, just say that it has rabies (French proverb)
Regarding Rolland, it could be worse, if possible.
First, all wines are alike when they’re signed by Rolland, it’s a globalized wine, and that's it.
Really. Go check on Wikipedia the list of his clients and you'll be surprised! I do not know if the list is correct but I just take one example: does Troplong Mondot tastes like its neighbor Pavie? Does Lascombes tastes like Leoville Poyferré? Does Le Pin tastes like Le Gay?
Who can say, write, without being of bad faith that Rolland = all wines taste the same?
Oh, I forgot, does Valandraud tastes like Larmande?

Does anyone serious has at least once tasted blind the wines from Michel Rolland’s properties in the world?
Well, of course, all these wines are not bad, and maybe that’s what is considered Parker-Rolland’s global taste? Shouldn’t we rather have vegetal, acid and raspy taste to remind us the good times?
This extensive a priori might be a good subject for a thesis, Pierre-Marie Chauvin if you read me ...

On another subject – for Parker doesn’t like our whites, fortunately Neal Martin does – here are a few pictures of the harvest of the 2010 Valandraud Blanc for Patrick Essa :

2010 Harvest : wait, not wait...

The harvest in Pomerol is well advanced, many stars accustomed to get 100 points by Parker and other notes are, without a doubt, still producing a great vintage.
Saint Emilion, generally late, is starting with the earlier terroirs near the Dordogne, the plateau will follow at the end of the week and next week.
We have not yet started with red grapes anywhere. Beginning will probably be on October 4 and it will most likely be the usual race between Bordeaux, Fronsac, Margaux, Pomerol and Saint Emilion.
I read again Emile Peynaud and think again about Michel Rolland, and I believe that it is certainly easier to start than wait and that, anyway, I've never produced an over-ripe wine.
Too concentrated, it is possible, too much new wood for certain palates allergic to wood, yes, but not too ripe and even some Valandraud have this classic Bordeaux taste, limit Sauvignon like in 1997 which is nevertheless one of the best wines in this vintage.

In the meantime, I taste the grapes at Prieurs de la Commanderie and Fayat in Pomerol, which are being picked and in La Dominique, the first plots are looking really good.
The areas of Cheval Blanc, La Conseillante, L’Evangile, and therefore La Dominique is, one more time blessed by God.
A Parisian friend showed me around the small property he just bought in Pomerol, it reminded me of our beginning. He can not imagine what he got involved in. He must indeed, if he wants to be good, invest money and energy every year, but I know he will cope. It's crazy the number of investors, large or small, who love wine, and want to go to our side, and make themselves what makes them dream.

The daily Sud Ouest and its titles Marianne style, suite…
Following various comments generated by the article in the Sud Ouest about Michel Rolland, François Camper sent me a message telling me that he regrets the content of his notes, that he apologized to Michael Rolland and asked me to please remove any reference to his article on my blog. The link to Terre de Vins no longer leads to his article, but I leave the comments from the fake Francois, no address or name, for my blog’s archive.

No, jokes aside, I leave what was written so far for there are several François : the one who wrote on 09/23/2010 at 5 pm the beautiful response to Marie Rolland, comment N°9 from another François (the right one ?) posted on 09/23/2010 at 10:22 pm and François Mauss comment who knows that it’s not my genre to write and hide my address (for I don’t type my notes as I still use a pen…). It would also be a shame to erase comments from Jean Noël Hervé, Patrick Essa and those written the next day by Michel Bettane or Jacques Perrin.
Anyway, as of today, Cecile will enable comment filtration, because like many other blogs, it becomes necessary: some anonymous messages are not becoming funny but blasphemous and mean. It’s unfortunate, but it's not bad not having deleted a single message from the beginning (I believe only 1 or 2)

On another subject, but in response to Mr Blaquière Jacques: Gérard Colin has been making wine in China for a long time, first at Grace Vineyard in Shanxi, you could probably get his address either from François Mauss, or Hervé Bizeul, or may by the owners of the restaurant La Cadène in Saint Emilion. I heard from him some time ago as he was starting, after discovering a beautiful region to produce wine, partnerships with investors in China.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hangar 14, quai des Chartrons in Bordeaux...

... Monday, September 27 2010 : Tasting of the official selection of wines included in the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc for the 2008 vintage.

This title is a bit long, but this represents a renaissance for these 243 crus bourgeois, for the 2008 vintage, thanks to the talent of the officials from the Alliance and the system selected: an outside agency, Veritas.
The new boss of the Alliance, Frédéric de Luze (Paveil de Luze) replaced Thierry Gardinier (Phelan Segur) and the first tasting in Bordeaux has been organized for Bordeaux wine merchants, brokers and journalists and shows the interest of the industry for these crus bourgeois.
Nevertheless, the huge differences in style, quality, will ultimately lead to a classification system (personal opinion, of course )

Until the next classification for 2009 for which we have not forgotten to apply for Bellevue de Tayac, and expected to be approved, if all goes well.
I just tasted a few wines, but I particularly enjoyed Branas Grand Poujeaux, Tayac and of course Clement Pichon.
Following a brief stop in Margaux to taste the grapes at Bellevue de Tayac and talk a bit with my employees, I made a few phone calls and its already the evening and time for my friends visit, Jean-Paul and Martine, and the opportunity to eat a good meal and a bottle of Linda Flor 2004 (Argentina, Marbec) with amazing ceps.

Waiting for the 2010 harvest...

Last week, I was very busy with business meals and meetings : 9 business meals and only 5 with Murielle and myself.
The opportunity to talk freely about everything during my meal, and with a smile, even if it is often about serious subjects: trade in Tahiti, sales in China and India, our group of owners in the town of St. Etienne de Lisse, a book on Bordeaux (another one...), Swiss friends looking to buy a property with great potential in Saint Emilion and it is not simple, for they are unfortunately scarce and expensive, other friends lucky to own several beautiful properties in Pomerol and Saint Emilion, but whose notoriety and wines are below their incredible potential. More to follow, even if I reduced my work as a consultant to take care of my business, I can freely make a kind of assessment, and give some advise.
The wines I drank this week are : 3 Bordeaux which costs almost nothing, bottled in the properties by my company in Blaye, Bourg and Lussac, then La Violette 2007 superb (it was shut tight last year), Cheval Blanc 2004 pure elegance next to Valandraud 2004 still hefty, powerful. The 2007 Blanc de Valandraud N°2 which will be renamed Virginie de Valandraud Blanc starting in 2009 or 2010, the N°1 will simply be replaced by Valandraud Blanc.

The whites were still being picked last week, reds will wait until this week.
2010, a year with great potential (again, will tell doomsayers), just a few problems, as usual, maybe a bit more than usual. Waiting for the pips and the skin to ripen has an obvious time discrepancy, in my opinion. Sorting all those damn berries shot by coulure (problem during flowering) on old vine stocks of Merlot.
More sorting and seeds to remove, burned clusters, grapes shriveled either by the sun, or most likely by deficiencies depending on the area, a side-effect of water shortage mostly visible on young vines with real problems depending on the area, there will be again second wines this year.

We will probably have very low yields, regardless of the terroir, (we’re used to it): which should be around 25 hectoliters/hectare (1.4 tons/acre) in top terroir and for 1st wines and 35 hectoliter/hectare (1.95 tons/acre) on 2nd cuvees.
Before being certain, we still have to wait until the grapes are in.

Our balance sheet stops on 08/30, our turnover slightly dropped mainly due to the delivery of the 2007 vintage, with less business than 2006 and, of course, the 2005 vintage!
The next report should be better considering our “order book”. The recurrent problem of a company is not its revenues or profits, but instead the level of its inventory, cash-flow and taxes (in France, small companies pay 33% on their profits, while large and rich groups pay between 8 and 20%. That’s French fiscal equality. This point is currently being studied by the government to help small companies become more competitive, like in Germany).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I received lots of comments on my post of Thursday, September 23.
The content certainly made people react: François Mauss, Jean Noël Hervé, Laurentg, Serge and especially this beautiful comment from Marie Rolland, not counting the discussions it created here in the town of Saint Emilion.
It can also attracts people needing to show off, paranoia encouraged by the Internet and blogs, this is not new.
A bit of rain fell last night and helped remove the dust on the roads. I had many appointments since my return from China, including customers, journalists, bankers, personal friends, friends wholesalers to try to forge partnerships for some of my wines, the first sales rep hired for Thunevin-Calvet in our cellar in Maury, wine distributors from China (again), the inauguration of a very nice wine shop in St. Emilion (where a good crowd attended) and also a business dinner last night with members of our club in St Etienne de Lisse whose “temporary” name was found through the game organized by the magazine Terre de Vins : What sort of events, which media to target, which sort of communication activities must be done in common? For our friendly group is both diverse in terms of wine and with our respective images.
To be continued. If you have ideas, don’t hesitate to let me know.

A new book published in English and written by James Lawther, will be available in bookstores, with the headline “The top 100 wines of Bordeaux”, and containing beautiful pictures. Too bad for only listing 100 properties, 150 would have been easier.
Valandraud and Haut-Carles are listed in the Top 100 and, of course, all the modern icons, although a few stars are still missing.

While walking in the valley of Fongaban with my faithful dog Max, I passed in front of a house with a beautiful orchard. The 2 sisters and the partner of “La Puce” were picking apples: perhaps 300 kg from 2 apple trees, and especially “La Puce”, which is now 88 years old, looks like Edith Piaf, with the energy of young girl. She told me “My darling, in 12 years, I will definitely celebrate my 100th birthday! "
What a lesson !

The daily Sud Ouest and its titles Marianne style !

It would take a book to talk about Michel Rolland and the reactions he generates!
2 readers on my blog recommended an article published in the newspaper Sud Ouest, which, of course, I was already aware of through several sources: la passion du vin with comments, some serious, others expectedly caricatured, like the headline of this Sud Ouest articles: "Wine of the future, Coca Cola style, according to enologist Michel Rolland," and signed by the journalist (?) Denis Lherm.

Like me 3 ort 4 years ago, Michel Rolland conducted a lecture with questions and answers for students of the famous business school, INSEEC, on the theme which wine will we drink in 2050?
This conference lasted over 2 hours and it is true that for 10 minutes Michel Rolland cited Coca Cola, hence the title in the newspaper and the caricatured comments on Michel Rolland. As usual, some shortcuts are anathema to others.

To think that Michel Rolland is a bit provocative, for sure, but imagine he’s stupid is upsetting.

It is true that here in France success is often viewed as a flaw and suspicious and it is true that all customers who use Rolland's services are stupid! No doubt that critics, journalists, writers, wine lovers who love the man and his work, think that the wines made by him, his company, his team are degenerate idiots who know nothing.

It is also true that tasted blind, Rolland’s wines are good… how vulgar.
As for me, I find it difficult to guess, blind, a wine made by Michel Rolland or under the supervision of technical managers or competent enologists .
There are other enologists and consultants here in Bordeaux - or elsewhere - and all they could be blamed for is for wanting to produce good, healthy and clean wine appreciated by its owner and customers. This is probably unacceptable to many, like painters, where talent only exists in misery and misunderstanding.
In any case, it would be nice to have the opinion of students present that day. As for me, I know that Rolland can be a consultant to produce millions of bottles of wine, industrial style, and that he can also participate, with talent, in producing the rarest wines, on the finest terroirs in Bordeaux, Italy, Argentina, USA, etc..., for he likes challenges and the least among them is to work for icons, some of which owe him part of their success!

In the meantime, here are some pictures of the 2010 harvest of our white grapes :

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chateau Ferrand

Saint Emilion is active: another brand new cellar with an obvious search of aesthetic. It is true that the location lends itself perfectly: it was at Chateau Ferrand, owned by Baron Bich (the ballpoint pens).
It is a beautiful property, its style a bit like a sleeping beauty.
As the owners continue their efforts in the vineyards to be eligible to the top category of the classification system... a legitimate objective, they still have to put the necessary financial and human resources...

Anyway, I found the 2009 good, and the quality of the reception made me think that ecotourism is not a word thrown in the air: the reception and the opening of the cellar was pleasant, quality people were invited, a very nice atmosphere and a buffet of rare quality.
Stay tuned, for what matters in our businesses is often perseverance ....
And now the second pass for the pickers to pick our Sauvignon