Monday, May 30, 2011

Chateau Branda

This property belongs to friends since 1998 and produces consistently good wines. The quality of their terroir (and men) make Chateau Branda one of the leaders in the appellation Puisseguin Saint Emilion with Guibot, La Fourvieille and La Maurianne.

The consultants are Bernard Henri Engalbert who has been talking a lot about terroir, and Pascal Chatonnet who is the winemaker consultant.

I helped them with PR when Michel Puzio, Chateau Croix de Labrie, was one of the consutants for this beautiful property. The owner-manager Guy Benjamin asked me to help Chateau Branda introduce the chateau to the press for it is lucky (is it luck or just hard work) to have no issues selling their wine thanks to its great quality-price ratio.

We will offer their wine as futures very soon.

Friday, May 27, 2011


New label for our Margaux:bellevuedetayac09

PThe futures campaign continues with the release today of La Fleur Morange, Faurie de Souchard ....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Futures campaign

While I am in Hong Kong promoting Valandraud, the futures campaign goes on in Saint Emilion with the latest releases (randomly) : Sociando Mallet, Rayne Vigneau, Sanctus, Beau Soleil, Les Grands Chênes, Jean Faure, Marojallia, Clos Margalaine, Sarget de Gruaud Larose, Moulinet, etc...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New labels

Starting with the 2010 vintage, our Blanc No. 1 becomes Valandraud White:
And our Blanc No. 2 becomes Virginie de Valandraud Blanc:

Monday, May 23, 2011

The pleasure of drinking wine (mythical or not)

I recommend reading comments, in French and rather lengthy, on the site La Passion of Wine about a blind tasting event where an Austrian wine won over the mythical Romanee Conti.

Hervé Bizeul’s comments, often excessive (he is refraining himself this time ), defends the part of the dream, and even at some point, stated how difficult it is for a professional to drink wine for pleasure rather than always trying to analyze its qualities and defects.
Sure that I see around me people who taste, and taste ... and never let go, as rodents spinning on a wheel to no end, with no other purpose than to run.

Accepting mythical wines does not mean not being critical or judgmental. As for me, I do not make the mistake of confusing mythical wines with mythical properties. It’s not the same thing.

Mouton Rothschild 1945 is totally different than Mouton Rothschild 1978 for example, and everyone knows that 1945 is the absolute dream. I guess for DRC, it is the same, but with more difficulty due to the strength of the brand instead of the vintage. But, of course, I did not drink enough of DRC to speak about it as a serious connoisseur.
Hence my comments about chateaux which may disappoint, even though they are mythical and the absolute references. But isn’t this also the case with works of artists, musicians, architects and even cooks?

The world is not perfect; it is not a reason not to believe in dreams...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Brotherhood of Saint Christoph (St Anton am Arlberg, Austria)

Next July, Adi Werner is organizing the 625 years (!) anniversary celebration of the brotherhood of Saint Christoph.

18,500 brothers and sisters make up Europe’s oldest brotherhood and the festivities will be held on July 7, 8, 9 and 10. Impossible for everyone to get in the small chapel  but bravo for your energy Adi!

We will only be with you in thought because I am in Japan and Hong Kong to present a few wines from 2010.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wine of the Week in the newspaper Sud Ouest: Bad Baby Boy

The newspaper Sud Ouest published on May 17, 2011 an article on our Baby Bad Boy

I tasted Suduiraut 2010 and found it really good:
Chateau Haut Carles and Carles will also be released on Friday.

Saint Emilions Grands Crus

I should spend my days in the streets of Saint Emilion where I have the opportunity to meet many people... For instance, at noon, I ran into the president of the cooperative, Mr Jean Francois Danglade with Michel Saurue. We talked about expending the services of the producers’ union (wine cooperative) with a sort of Californian Winery style segment. Michel said that it’s already the case... I still have lots to catch up, I tell you!

So why not allow small growers to produce better wines (Saint Emilion Grand Cru) while respecting the existing rules, etc...

Further, I ran into some colleagues leaving the trade union meeting which focused on Grand Crus, how to make better, quality improvement while keeping a “normal” price, 2 more winemakers interested in the 2010 campaign (Mangot , Pipeau), and even further a friend driving by stopped to tell me about an upcoming fine meal. On the way home, the wine shops are ready for the tourist season.
And that's the point of walking from the office to home.

On the Internet I read a report on the Cannes Film Festival and Jodie Foster’s last movie “The beaver” I though this movie was more or less about sex, but no, it darker, more intellectual, a film about depression. Anyway I like Jodie Foster, who, according to Christian Dalbavie also likes Clos Badon.

Last night Murielle and I drank Hacienda Monasterio 2005 Ribera Del Duero, just for fun, for we didn’t do any excesses in Paris, I just wanted to drink good wine, and it is a good wine. Sold for around 40 euros in Spain and the USA signed Sisseck Peter, I still have 4 or 5 bottles (yum!)

Futures 2010 (as of May 16, we sold 19,452 bottles)
It is starting slowly. We’ve had some good sales with additional demand which we couldn’t fulfill entirely, La Mauriane, Mont Perat red, and we have swift demand for Gazin but we do not have any allocation from the chateau, so like everyone else we must buy them from our colleagues in Bordeaux or the UK!

We still don’t do a good job with Sauterne and of course, we still miss too many good brands. It is the cost of fame in part due to Valandraud but also certainly my inability to play golf

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Salon RVF au Palais Brongniart

We were locaged at the entrance, and we able to see many people, friends, lovers, industry professionals, some journalists, people presenting new projects, publicists ... In other words, a trade show!
There probably was a bit less attendance than last year, but I didn’t count.
Perhaps because of the limited invitations available to exhibitors? The nice weather? The crisis? The choice of date?
The place is certainly magical and the organization is top notch, sure it's a bit expensive if you do it alone, but as a group, as us, is certainly the best.

This is the 2nd time we sell wine directly at our table, taking orders immediately for future deliveries. This reinforces the relationship with some of our loyal customers from Belgium, Brittany, Koreans living in Paris.
Let’s meet in the next trade shows: the Carrousel du Louvre and prior, of course, Vinexpo.

Burtschy : notes and comments

It's easy to find in the Figaro (in French) which has been giving tough notes this year!
Our wines received great ratings with 16.5 for Valandraud blanc, 15.5 for Clos du Beau Père (L’Evangile got 16) as well as Clos Badon and a very nice comment for Valandraud with 16.5 and Virginie de Valandraud 16.
Fleur Cardinale 16.5, La Dominique 16, Cheval Blanc 17.5, Troplong Mondot 16, Tour des Termes 15.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


We drank with our meal well-known labels and vintages.
As an aperitif, and with Jabugo and Soubressade, Bollinger, good, but not too winey, balanced.
Latour 2002 powerful, modern, successful RP 96
Latour 2001 finesse, class, again a success RP 95
Latour 2000 great, top wine, modern, powerful and suave, opulent, fat, we could have drunk another bottle ... RP 98 and we agreed fully.
Latour 1999 RP 94, hard to taste after the others
Latour 1998 RP 90, deserves more, even if the right bank was particularly spoiled in 1998, Latour was pretty good.
Hurrah for this 2000 and this is true that these wines do not taste too old.

With desert, a complete harmony between ice and orange cake, Yquem 2002 and 1998, there are worse meals. Especially with a nice atmosphere, and as it was not enough, Cognac Tesseron 29 as a digestive, a huge rum (South America?) And other sweets. Fortunately, I was not driving. Too bad all those bottles drunk forced to do without a glass clearner, that's life in a castle, one must choose.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Pomerol is a bit under the spotlight these days. Following TASTE and a great story from Denis Hervier, Neal Martin, on Robert Parker’s site, tasted many Pomerol, known, lesser known, rare, some rated 94 others 77. Clos du Beau Père 2008 got 88 and a good comment, Fleur de Gay 2008 94 and La Violette 2008 89.
The new labels for Valandraud Blanc and Virginie de Valandraud Blanc 2010 are almost finished: the last N° 1 and N° 2 will be released on Friday, May 13

In the meantime, here are some excerpts from the press kit that will be sent to our customers for Valandraud Blanc:
... "Brilliant success.... One of the finest whites in this vintage"..... Bettane and Desseauve
"Firm and exciting and nervy ..... Way above Bordeaux blanc in quality ".... Jancis Robinson
... "It will be a great bottle. Bravo." Jean Marc Quarin
... "Burgundy-like bouquet ... Clean and crisp." Neal Martin
... "Nice cut .... The flesh is there" ... James Molesworth

And for Virginie de Valandraud White
... "Success immediately attractive" ... Bettane and Desseauve
"Fresh and direct ".... James Molesworth
... "Sweet nose aromatic"… "palate".... Jean Marc Quarin
... "Easy sweet stuff".... Jancis Robinson
... "The palate is crisp"...." Good tension and length. Fine." Neal Martin

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Time (passing)

The 5th Philosophia Festival is to be held May 27, 28 and 29, 2011 (the mail from the trade organization lists 2001!)
In the agenda: the stages of life, wine, people, is it good to grow old?
Time... But they do it on purpose! Fortunately, I won’t be there!

The weather is still beautiful and the days for “icy” saints are over. The flowering is 15 days early: will the 2011 harvest start at the end of August?

It is also the time for the RVF show taking place at the Palais Brongniart in Paris on May 14 and 15: for a former bank employee like me, to present my wines in Paris in one of the temples of the French stock exchange, adds something more.
We will pour:
Chateau Valandraud 2008, Virginie de Valandraud 2008, Clos du Beau Père 2008, Chateau Bellevue de Tayac, 2008, Blanc de Valandraud N° 1 2008, Bad Boy 2008 and Baby Bad Boy 2009, as well as Fleur Cardinale 2007, Sansonnet 2007, along with our friends from Terre de Lisse, Pressac, Faugères and Rol Valentin.

Pomerol - Saint Emilion - Union - same battles

Meeting at Pomerol’s trade organization, the room was full: the subject was indeed important, the new rules for the appellation.
I respect the leaders of our unions who are volunteers, able to hear every time some of the grumpy members with a smile and having the energy to pull everyone else, including me, of course. Useful meeting thank to some of the good ideas brought up, including some of the criticisms, when they are constructive, and some of the more useful questions: for example, planting densities, the number of clusters, allow time to time …

I read in the letter in a large brokerage firm, a piece about the new Bordeaux Futures 2010 campaign:
"Even though the reasons for such serenity may well be legitimate, it is likely that there also lies the biggest gamble” .... (The word probability seems to me more appropriate). ... "to see this campaign completely miss its promises. Indeed, the success of the 2010 futures campaign mainly depends on the ability of Bordeaux wholesalers to avoid "sinning by excess": the foundation upon which today's market for cru is built on is certainly less stable than it seems.
First of all, it seems very risky to rely solely on the strength of the Chinese market in order to expect a very good 2010 campaign."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting for the futures

China, Bordeaux, futures...

Jeff Leve just wrote a big and detailed article on the American and Chinese markets regarding the 2010 vintage, the past, the present and the future.
It is certain that the Chinese market has affected the balance and that the Medoc and its classified growths have fully benefited from this Eldorado. This year the left bank will once again be able to set the tone of this campaign. Our right bank will most likely have to be more cautious, waiting for our Chinese friends to realize that up to today, the quality-price-history wines are on the right bank (the Jurade since 1199 – contemporary of Gengis Kahn, the Jin and Song dynasties and Richard the Lion hearted in Europe).

Today, one of our “protégé” has been released: Chateau Tour des Termes, Saint Estephe Cru Bourgeois.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Palaces, finally!

Good news: at last there are luxury hotels in France!
Only 8 promoted, after the 5-star, it will give us the ability to compete with other countries.
In Paris: The Plaza Athénée, the Bristol, the Meurice, the Park Hyatt Vendome, and rest of the country: Les Airelles and the Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, the Grand Hotel Cap Ferrat in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz.
I only stayed at the Meurice and the Hotel du Palais, and ate well at the Meurice, the Bristol and the Hotel du Palais.
Long live luxury, if the wine list could include some of my wines, it would help my credibility which I still need to convince my clients around the world.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I attended a meeting of our trade organization for the preparation, presentation of a rare event for 32 people. June 18, the reception I will participate in as Jurat alongside 70 already appointed will be a powerful moment. For its symbolic, political and friendly meaning.

It is certain that when I arrived in 1984 in Saint Emilion, I had never imagined being part of this Jurade who, more than a brotherhood, is a living component of the history of wine in Saint Emilion. It was founded, and this is not folklore, in 1199 to defend the city, its people and its wines.

There will be a beautiful flower festival, the day before Vinexpo, with over 800 guests for the meal and our new role in the collective life of this jurade, knowing that I already had the pleasure of being appointed Commander (due to my status as a wholesaler and left bank owner) and being part of the Commanderie du Bontemps du Médoc, Graves, Sauternes and Barsac.

Thank you to those helping move the lines, these glass ceilings (Glass Ceiling)

Bertrand Le Guern’s grid

Useful tool : Almost all the notes have been released and you can already get the average for the wines, erratic notes are barred, even if Parker controls the world market.

For example, Fleur Cardinale has only one note low and erratic: from Jean Marc Quarin!
Virginie de Valandraud wiht only one note high and erratic: from Neal Martin!
Valandraud: no erratic notes even though the same Neal Martin gave a low note to my Valandraud.
La Dominique has 2 low erratic notes, Jeff Leve and British wholesalers who seem no to want to sell La Dominique … even though I also had them taste the 1989 to show what this cru is capable of!
For Troplong Mondot, it’s Jancis Robinson’s note, etc…

Friday, May 6, 2011

Here they are

Robert Parker’s notes from the Wine Advocate, on our 2010 Bordeaux are finally out on his website (as well as the final notes for the 2008 vintage)
It is our turn to understand his message concerning the vintage as well as the market.
1st opinion, he liked it but would like to cool down the Bordeaux “game”, prices becoming higher and higher for 40/50 “icons”; with so much demand from the Chinese market.
In any case, some 98/100 and many 95 and more, and our Valandraud got 94/96+.

Thank You

Thank you Izak Litwar for his nice comments and ability for always wanting to be surprised. Itzac is one of the critics who judges positively wines, not looking for flaws, but for its qualities. Considering, it changes your life and relationships with each other.

Thank you also Bettane and Desseauve who liked especially Clos Badon Thunevin and the Blancs de Valandraud, dear to Murielle. This encouragement pushes us to double our energy to make even better. There again, it is our way of life…
I would also like to point out the level of notes given to La Dominique, Fleur Cardinale, Marquis de Terme, Le Prieuré, as well as the return of Sansonnet in the high-end camp and the level of the vintage.
Regarding our wines, Clos Badon Thunevin, Virginie de Valandraud, the Blancs. Unfortunately, still unnoticed by many, the level reached by Clos du Beau Père and Bellevue de Tayac which fortunately were well received by our clients.

Bettane & Desseauve, notes and comments for 2010 = auto-promotion!

Château Bellevue-de-Tayac
An expressive nose, rather racy, ripe red fruit, mineral nuances, rich palate, with tight flesh, a lot of maturity in the grain and fruit, finishing with a delicious freshness.

Clos Badon
This little cru driven by Murielle and Jean-Luc Thunevin has today an impressive and elegant ripness. The whole wine is sleek, fine, soft, deep with extremely fine tannins 17

Virginie de Valandraud
The bouquet is subtle and varied, the body is deep with fine tannins, a refined finish and great depth 16 – 17

Château Valandraud
Following a magnificent 2009, here is again one of the great vintages in the history of this wine. Murielle Thunevin created again a great wine with style, depth, soft and sleek, superbly elegant. 18 – 19

Château Sansonnet
This wine has power and elegance with silky tannins perfectly melted. 16

Château les Sabines
Nice wine, silky and refined, carried by a soft tannins. 16

Nice tannins, svelte and fine, pretty fruit with expressions of blackcurrant, plenty of aromatic charm, length. 16 – 17

Blanc n°2 JLT
The second wine of Jean-Luc Thunevin’s white is an immediate and attractive success: soft fruit, length, intensity, very deep. 16

Blanc n°1
Produced like the N°2 by Murielle Thunevin, it is a total success and one of the best whites of the vintage, from any appellation: great wine, deep and sleek, refined with a rare and subtle aroma and with delicate and persistent intensity. 18

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Open door weekend

73 châteaux from the Saint Emilion appellation and its Satellites opened their doors last Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was for us very calm with regular visitors, Sunday morning was also very calm, but we had a lot of people in the afternoon: with 3 of us, we had a hard time to please all our visitors, friends, neighbors, curious and amateurs, some from Taiwan, others from Japan, Denmark, well, many people (even one of our bankers, and our accountant!)
I believed that we did our job well, we poured many wines and sold a few cases in our area, with Valandraud, Pressac, Faugère, Mangot and Fombrauge and in Saint Emilion in Clos Badon, there were less people as visitors were driving in a pre-arranged route.
We had Miss Vicky at our house: a breath of fresh air and such energy; we had nice weather and the cherries are ripe in the trees.

Only pleasure

When we arrived at our meeting, a beautiful brocket (young male deer) was waiting at the door, curious and not scared by the sound of our cars. A nice encounter for this Thursday evening, before having dinner with friends next to Fronsac.

8 guests were gathered for fun, no shop talk.
The meal was great: Pata Negra, tomato gazpacho, exceptional roast filet of beef, French peas, cheese and ice cream desert from Lopez in Libourne (I had 3 serving). Champagne Ruinart Blanc de Blanc to begin, then, blind:
Monbousquet 2006, unanimous opinion: this is the type of wine we love, full, rich, was guessed by its characteristics.
Smith Haut Lafite 2008, I think that this wine should have been decanted 2 to 3 hours before. Served as is, the mouth was a bit disjointed but the nose was incredible and full of strawberries, wild strawberries, surprising in Bordeaux. I appreciated this wine more than the others.
Clinet 2007, in my opinion, this wine is not yet recognized at its true value, a perfect balance, forget about 2007, a fruit, incredibly fine tannins, the oak is almost in a Moueix style, it was perfect – again for me.
Clos Saint Martin 2002, a special choice of our host who is fond of this wine with a price ratio rarely seen, I found it closed. Again a decanter would have been more useful and being served at a higher temperature
We finished with the wine of the evening unanimously (Remember that all the wines were served blind): a great Pape Clément 2002 which is probably the best wine of this vintage and if, in addition, I like the owner, then it is all pleasure.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday 27

Release of our favorite wines, La Mauriane 2010, Puisseguin Saint Emilion, with the quality of a Grand Cru Classe, with comments from Jean Marc Quarin who can barely hide his enthusiasm and who could also have added a couple of people : consulting enologist, Claude Gros who is our consultant in Maury for Thunevin-Calvet and in Pomerol for Clos du Beau Père, and Pierre Taïx who is an avid user of organic practices and helps Rémi Dalmasso, our cellar manager, produce a good organic wine with his Clos Dalmasso.

I spent the afternoon with our accountants Pascale and Jeannine, plus our independent consultant Daniel Balzac, meeting with one of the managing executive of our historical bank who, despite being based in Paris, knows our dossier and was able, with talent, to understand our expectations, needs, which gives the proper meaning to business relations where the word partner finds its meaning. Thanks
I tasted Valandraud 2010, 2009 and 2008, what a nice evening... the 2009 certainly dominated by its “easiness” to drink now.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Neal Martin

Neal Martin published his notes and comments on the 2010 right banks, their style, level of alcohol, consultants, with still a different point of view than Robert Parker or even Decanter.

With Neal, you shouldn’t read his comments as he doesn’t like “blockbusters”. So, he posted great notes and comments on my second wines Bel Air Ouy 89-91, and especially Virginie de Valandraud which, with 92-94, has a better note than Valandraud.
And Neal likes our whites – check out Mark Squire’s BB. He also noted/commented La Dominique 90-92, and Fleur Cardinale?

Michel Rolland - Le Figaro

April 24, finally free! Murielle and I went to Maury. It had been more than a year since we were there. Every time I am there, I think that it is a pity that I don’t spend enough time in this place where everything is so different, calm and wild – I speak about the nature, of course. We had a good meal at Maury’s 1 Michelin star restaurant with the Bizeul, and then visited the cellar and the vineyards, especially those in Lesquerde with its beautiful granite terroir.

When I returned to Saint Emilion, I heard about an article published in the April 22 issue of Le Figaro about Michel Rolland. This 2 pages article was titled “The citizen of Libourne who became a guru and phenomenon, Michel Rolland”.
Titles are always titles, even if I find this one a bit too much! I never hid my admiration for Michel Rolland, but I feel the word guru is inappropriate: he is certainly a charismatic leader.

Besides the picture, Michel Rolland makes a real synthesis of himself and his job: “my job is 30% enologist, 70% psychology”. I can vouch for that for it is exactly what I experienced in my relationship with Michel Rolland: every time I shared with him my fears, he knew, with his calm, confidence and paternal feeling, how to steer me in the right direction. I am (as well as Valandraud) amongst several other crus who owe him our success and I have never forgotten, especially considering that part of my story grew at the same time as Rolland’s legend and that our history is bound so there is no need for us to see each other often to know it.

So, when I read all the bird names he’s been given, I certainly respond strongly and when I read this article, I believe that I am really lucky to know that I can just call him when I need his help. Always there, Michel and his firm where I work closely with one of his consultant-enologist for my own consulting activity as well as Valandraud.