Friday, August 31, 2012

Tasting: 2008 vintage

Here are the bottles we were served for dinner and paired with a very good meal, great atmosphere and 2008 Bordeaux magnums.

1st course
Château Rouget, very well made. I always believed that this wine is undervalued; it’s the value of a Pomerol, a complete wine and still holding great promises…
Château La Conseillante with its unique style and Haut -Carles, confirmation of the high level of this wine which should also be the case for the great 2011.

2nd course
Château Pichon-Lalande, château Montrose and again Haut-Carles holding very well, for comparative tastings are terrible; François Mauss’ grand jury proves it every time.

While waiting for the 2012 harvest, we have good weather, even very good weather. Margaux appellation released a statement mentioning the 2005 vintage, the better, if it could be true.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012


We already planned the extension of the current cellar of Prieuré Lescours this Winter. It is necessary as we had to vinify in another location this year.

If our sales are good this year and our banks contribute, we have several projects planned for the comming year:
- A 1500 m² storage facility for bottles and equipment to replace the current one which is outdated.
- A new office next to the existing one, which we’ve been using since 1988 and has become too cramped.
- We also need a tasting room, a kitchen and office space for me.
- We also have plans to expend the ground floor into two stores instead of one.
The current offices will be transformed into studios rentals

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I now have a lot of questions to answer!

Will I need to go back to an “open” market distribution system while preserving a few exclusive customers or carry on with direct distribution as I currently have with a few colleague wholesalers? I will ask a few brokers and Bordeaux wholesalers as well as some of my clients. Strategic choices to sell my Bordeaux wines have become more complex over time as I am as well a wholesaler, a colleague and competitor. A difficult position to be in.

The big question is also which strategy to choose; offensive, defensive? Should I increase the size if my properties or reduce them? Increase or decrease the wholesale business? Choose autonomy at all cost or find a partnership, with who and why.

It is now time to choose the path to move forward.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Jurade of Saint-Emilion

On September 16, 2012, the start of the harvest will be announced in Saint-Emilion with a series of events, including the march of the Jurats, mass, a large banquet and the proclamation from the top of the donjon of the Tour du Roy of the famous “alleluia Saint Emilion”.

I am certain that this Jurade will be well “watched” as the 2012 classification should already be official!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The trade organization for the wines of Lalande de Pomerol

This week, we discovered the trade organization for the wines of Lalande de Pomerol, where we dropped off 6 bottles of SABINES 2006.

Located in front of the beautiful old church of Lalande de Pomerol, this office offers several services for its members and only has one employee who seems quite active.

The value of unions for tourists and wine lovers is to find information but also a wine store where you can buy wine at the price of the properties. That of Lalande de Pomerol is consistent with the objective of promoting; all the wines available are sold for 12 euros and you can only buy one bottle of each wine.

The interest is to promote the Chateaux; it is quite rare to see this kind of equality, unfortunately none of the “stars” are present!
In other wine stores, Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Margaux for example, wines are sold at the “so called” price of the properties…

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nice weather and nice bottles

The veraison is going well, the sun is with us and boosts our morale even if it damaged and burned a few clusters being exposed by a few leaves recently removed, probably too severely. It does give us a good way to predict the harvest which will most likely start a little later and with lowered our yields. We still have 45 days to wait to find out what is this vintage 2012 will be as well as the new classification of Saint-Emilion 2012.

I drank with friends Petit Taluos 2011, good, fun wine, Syrah aromas and sweet fruit, at a very sweet price.

The top wine Taluos 2010 is closer to a classic Bordeaux than a Cabardès, Eric asked me what I thought. It took me two days to realize this, too reserved, too much like a classic Bordeaux, not enough of a “crazy”' Cabardès like the second wine, however, a good wine to taste again in 2 or 3 years as the previous 2000 vintages are very good now, this wine is perhaps simply closed.

In the same meal Croix de Labrie 2009 very high level, a very fine bottle, really.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Château Bel Air Ouy

These days, the chain is always opened

The cellars (a hot topic for the press)

For some time, several Chateaux in Saint-Emilion have done a tremendous amount of construction and are now catching up on the Médoc, Rioja, Napa Valley.

Some of the cellars are already done and active, among them the most ambitious: Cheval Blanc, designed by Mr Portzamparc as well as a series of great achievements including the beautiful, and original, Chateau Faugères, signed by Botta. The most visited cellar today is, I think, Soutard, where agro tourism has been at the heart of the process, and Villemaurine with its active underground caves?

Fonplégade is equally successful, as well as the harmonious Troplong Mondot, Fleur Cardinale very discreet, Sansonnet with a perfect cellar, Barde Haut contemporary and original, and there are more just as successful.

Some are still under construction: Angelus as well as Pavie both rebuilding their cellars. I wonder when I drink their wine, what they will improve considering the “top” level they already have. La Dominique, with the talent of Nouvel, and probably other projects that are added to what was or is already taking place in Pomerol (Pétrus, Le Pin, La Conseillante, Petit Village, Le Gay, etc...), even in the greatly forgotten area of Fronsac, with La Dauphine, La Riviere, Carles...

If you do not like wine, you will still be able to appreciate these works of art and the owners’ different philosophies regarding their own wines, technology and the image they want to communicate.
I was invited by a friend for my 1st meals at the restaurant of the Chateau de Candale open since July 13.

It was completely renovated and had a terrace facing the vineyards, parking, dining room, bar, cellar and even a games room. Nice place, young and attentive service and good food, a mix of classic and contemporary, it works well, the restaurant was full with locals which will be good for this winter!

L'atelier de Candale
1- Grandes plantes
33330 Saint-Laurent des Combes

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Garage in August

Last Wednesday, we had many clients who came to taste, visit and buy from our seasonal shops, managed by our 2 Florians.

The location where the first Valandraud was produced, in the heart of Saint-Emilion, next to the restaurant the "Clos du Roy", is easily accessible for visitors, so last Wednesday afternoon I had the opportunity to tell part of our history: Murielle former nurse at the hospital in Libourne and me, former employee of the Credit Agricole in the Dordogne; among the visitors where people from Brittany, an employee in a logistics company and a nurse, the in 2nd group of parents, the father worked in electronics, the mother was a nurse and their son was studying human resources. They were from the eastern part of Lorraine, near St. Avoid.

Thir obvious interest in wine and the producers made me feel good and the good weather today, our beautiful backgrounds all made it a beautiful day


The carbon footprint is not the only important assessment, but also: economic, social, ecological...

I visited my vineyards and cellars before most of my employees left for their holidays, knowing that there's always work to be done in the vineyard as well as in the cellar. The veraison started and confirmed that the harvest will start in late September, early October. It will not be an early year. The vineyards look beautiful but the yields will be quite low. We'll see what happens in Saint Emilion. The vineyards are being so well tended that it looks like a big garden, which is great. This contradicts some of the articles stating that the vines are not being tended. They are probably written by someone who doesn’t go to the same places as me or who has not often worked in vineyards. It would be interesting that a scientific and financial study be done on the hours worked in our vineyards in Bordeaux, in noble appellations and more, and compare it to other places in France supposed to work better or even in other countries (California, Italy ...).

The commitment in personnel, the number of men and women working per hectare should be significantly positive for companies in Bordeaux. In my company, we have a full time employee for 2 hectares, compared with the usual 1 full time employee for 4 hectares, for our fine wines and in addition, we have seasonal workers (pruning, de-leafing, green harvest and regular harvest).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Small shop in Bordeaux

Not long ago, I had a very good meal in a restaurant, invited by Maître Joëlle Bordy; one of her favorite place. This “fish” restaurant located in the hip neighborhood of Saint Pierre, 22 rue du Parlement, has a very good cuisine and pleasant atmosphere. I realize that I almost never go to Bordeaux, but it is true that I don’t often eat in restaurants, even in Saint Emilion.

Friday, August 3, 2012

James Suckling and 2009 Bordeaux

James Suckling reviewed again the 2009 in August and thanks to him, we sold some wine in China, Hong Kong, New York and Quebec. I would like to thank our clients and James Suckling who helped our sales in these countries.

He gave high scores to the 2009. It’s been quite a popular vintage, even in our stores in Saint Emilion: sexy, ripe, round and already drinkable have all been factors for its success. Actually, all the comments such as “needs to be cellared for 20 years”, “it is a cellaring wine, you have to wait”, are certainly not worth as much as “taste this! It’s really good! How many bottles do you want?”

Well, back to James Suckling’s notes; he gave, rightly so, 97 points to Valandraud, which I think is the best we’ve done so far, till 2010? In addition, a series of good notes: Virginie de Valandraud with 94, is one of the successes of “seconds” Bordeaux. Bellevue de Tayac 87, De Carles 92, Fleur Cardinale 93, Secret de Cardinale 94, Franc Maillet Jean Baptiste 93, Gracia 94, Haut Castenet 89, Haut Mazeris 92, Sansonnet 93, Vieux Brandard 92, Clos Badon Thunevin 92, Clos Romanile 93, Galaxies 2 Romanile 91, Sabines 92, Domaine Virginie Thunevin 91, Bad Boy 93, Haut Carles 91, Guilbonnerie 90, Clos du beau Père 93, etc… This should give plenty of amo to help boost sales of our wines as well as those of our friends.

Cheval Blanc visit

Florence and I went to Cheval Blanc to accompany a Welsh architect and her husband who wanted to visit the new cellar. It has been attracting a great deal of visitors for its aesthetics and its design appeals to various kinds of people, not just wine lovers, but also people interested in art and culture, who may find through this way interest in Cheval Blanc. This is relevant for all of us.

The cellar is already more than a year old and ages very well. The vegetation on the roof is remarkable, the sun softened the colors of material, the place is impressive and the vinification cellars still aesthetic, especially the barrel cellar, which has the perfect condition: AC, humidity, aromas, the best.

At Valandraud, our “hotel” venture is starting to work thanks to reservation websites, word of mouth from customers who already experienced the place and customer from our list, friends, acquaintances, neighbors. Our rates are very reasonable for the services offered. Along with our wine shops, this is growing to become a significant part of our business.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


The fountain-washhouse in the valley of Fongaban is under renovation. I thank the mayor and the association for saving this witness of the past badly damaged by time, for, I’ve seen this fountain gradually deteriorating since 1988 when I arrived. Its old tree, a poplar, burned and even the spring is partially dried.

I hope the work will be well done, so it becomes a stopping point for hikers and families from the town walking with their children and dogs between the gardens and the vineyards. Again, this is a nice window on the social life of our little community, as the word city seems to me disproportionate for less than 200 inhabitants live within the village.