Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2012 Harvest : go !

The 2012  harvest for Valandraud white has started this morning by picking of  some sauvignons which were already mature.We are doing our best to outrun the bees and the birds before they manage to eat all the good grapes ... Every grape is hand picked, put in a basket then in a temperature controled small truck to be then stored in low temperature rooms before we start the pressing and vinification.

Cru Bourgeois !

Roger Pourteau who writes for Le Figaro issued today 3 pages of articles about the Médoc Cru Bourgeois classification, together with the complete official list of awarded 2010 growths.

There is an interview of Alliance des Crus Bourgeois' president, Frédéric de Luze from Château Paveil de Luze regarding this 3rd classification; there is also an article about Chateau Sénejac, the official list of all 260 Crus bourgeois châteaux including the 11 from Margaux, terroir is also scrutinized and -last but not least -  an article about our Chateau Bellevue de Tayac 2010 which is finally a Cru Bourgeois (I missed the classification for vintage 2008 and 2009  : I'm not very good with documentation and timing...). Vintage 2010 has just opened the door !
This is a great story when you realize that 2012 saw Valandraud upgraded to  First Classified Growth in Saint Emilion and Bellevue de Tayac upgraded to Cru Bourgeois in Margaux.
Who said Bordeaux was not up to change ?

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I was invited to taste a vertical of Château Le Gay from 2003 to 2011 and Château La Violette from 2006 to 2011 organized at Château Le Gay by Catherine Péré Vergé and her daughter, with Michel Rolland, employees and several Bordeaux wholesalers and brokers.
La Violette 1.8 hectares with 100% Merlot and Le Gay 6 hectares and 90 % merlot + 10% cabernet franc : 2 iconic properties located on 1st growth terroir and the energy to produce the best wines.
The 2010s were amazing.


Last Tuesday, we received a group of Americans accompanied by one of the first clients of Valandraud (1992) and based in New York.
We tasted our wines from the Roussillon at L’Essentiel: Constance, Dentelles, Hugo 2008 and L’Amourette 2009, and a few Bordeaux Domaine Virginie Thunevin 2009 and Virginie de Valandraud 2009 –great wine.
We then had lunch at home with 8 guests: tomatoes from the garden of Murielle’s parents and Pata Negra given to us by a friend paired with Valandraud 2005 and Kosher Valandraud 2005, finer, softer.
Following, paired with a perfectly cooked leg of lamb and fresh vegetable gratin, Valandraud 2009 which prompted one of the guests to say “that’s a wine!”. Red fruit and coffee to finish, then visit of our vineyards (red and white) of Valandraud. We passed in front of our famous neighbors: Fleur Cardinale, Rol Valentin, Pressac, Faugères and Peby Faugères. We then visited our Maison d’Hôtes and the cellar, then went to the warehouse in Saint Magne de Castillon.
I think our friends were happy with this little tour, especially since we took the time to stop in the beautiful caves of Chateau Ferrand.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Valandraud classified

On my Facebook page, nearly 400 people have "liked" it and nearly 150 have commented favorably on our new status.
Reading media sites, blogs, I found a lot of positive comments, a small number quite negative, almost insignificant amount, but useful to me because if my wines and I pleased everyone, it would mean that we would have become old and I am not ready for that yet!
I received a lot of texting on my cell phone, emails at my office and of course congratulations on the street, at home and on the phone. My thoughts go to all those who helped us and God knows how many: Boussarie, Lebailly, Lelièvre, Rolland, Alain… and many more, colleagues today, consultants, enologists, employees, friends. One even told me that I had finally resolved my existentialist anxieties: Valandraud engraved in a marble plaque, is that an analogy, humor shared by the passing of time, in any case, a friendly message.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wasps forbidden!

The harvest will start on September 18 with the whites. It will be a race to pick ripe grapes between the pickers and hungry wasps – if not birds also present in our vineyards.

The Jurade Sunday and the heritage night Saturday evening will have this year a particular flavor for us. I hope our 1st vintage as a 1st Grand Cru will be great!

Prior to the results

For dinner on September 4th and lunch on the 5th, before the results of the classification were announced, we drank the following wines at home with friends:

Bad Girl

B de Basilio 2010 Grenache blanc from Rioja, no nose but incredible flavor, ample and fresh.

B de Basilio 2007 Rioja 62% Tempranillo 32% Grenache et 6% Graciano. Simply a great wine.

Following, blind:

Fleur Cardinale 2008, delicious, fine, ultra drinkable

Canon La Gaffelière 2008, trully a very fine wine.

Following, Fleur Cardinale 2009 and Clos Badon 2009 both already accessible and drinkable. Their power is tamed by the softness of this wonderful vintage.

The next day at the restaurant Clos Mirande in Montagne, I had a business lunch and drank Fleur Cardinale 2008 and 2009, which re-confirmed the high quality of these 2 wines.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

What a story!

What a story! Valandraud promoted to 1er Grand Cru Classe B starting with the 2012 vintage. In other words starting with this harvest which will begin in less than 30 days. It’s a dream come true, today, fiction became reality. The nicknames given to Valandraud like “garage wine” and especially “Cinderella Wine” for my Japanese friends. Well, it is time to begin a new adventure, without forgetting the past. The future should be more pleasant.

We are fortunate to be in Saint Emilion where this is possible! I praise the people responsible for the classification, INAO, commission, regulators, and ministers, those who created this revisable classification in 1955. Perhaps the famous 1855 left bank classification will envy us.

I received a lot of messages of friendship, congratulations from friends, buddies, relationships, journalists, critics and even bankers. The newspaper Le Sud Ouest published a very nice article, as well as AFP, les Echos, le Nouvel Observateur, Challenges, Le Point, regional newspapers, Libération, L’Express, Capital, le Figaro, 20 minutes, radio stations and of course Decanter, Wine Spectator, blogs... and tomorrow Le Monde. Thank you Saint Emilion.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Chateau Valandraud was just promoted 1st Grand Cru Classe B in the new 2012 Saint Emilion classification

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The winners of the best Pomerol 2009

Bettane et Desseauve have selected for Terre de Vins the 20 best wines of Pomerol 2009 and Clos du Beau Pere was included :

"This property of four hectares, formerly called Chateau Ratouin was bought by Jean Luc Thunevin in 2006. Its vineyard consists of two parts: two hectares on sandy soils and two on the plateau in the sector of Bourgneuf. Both different terroir are blended together to create Le Clos du Beau Père, the wine is named after the father of his wife Murielle. This wine is creamy and juicy. 15/20
Varietals: 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc
Tasting Notes: This consensual Pomerol has firm tannins but a very good constitution. Powerful and focused, it will be perfect with chicken with truffles or beef cheek confit."

The wines included in this list of honor are Château Le Gay, Château Bonalgue, Clos du Clocher, but also well rated Château Franc Maillet (6th), Château La Violette (13th)

Le Figaro, the opinion of the wine and the best deals in Saint Emilion

Clos Badon is considered a good value by the site of the Figaro. I purchased Clos Badon in 1998 and changed the name to Clos Badon Thunevin because the name Badon is shared by 3 or 4 winemakers who own vineyards in this particular terroir located under the hillside of Pavie. It was a very old property existing under this name before 1800 and producing consistently very good wines, at the top of the classified wines of Saint Emilion. I always told my friends and my clients that Clos Badon is "the good deal" of our portfolio.

So thank you the Figaro and its tasters: Ian d'Agata, Abi Duhr, Peter Moser, Roger Voss, Bernard Burtschy.

These days, a lot of articles about our wines are coming out: RVF, Gault et Millau, Wine Doctor, as well as in Korea, India ... Thank you.


The harvest is projected to start on September 13 for Valandraud Blanc and in the best case September 24 for the Merlot from our Château Prieuré Lescours. In the meantime, I made a quick trip to Maury to meet with my partner andone of our accountants as well as one of our 2 bankers.

It was also a good opportunity to meet one of our loyal customers from Luxemburg, visit the vineyards, taste the Muscat grapes, pick and eat a few figs and almonds. All organic and very good.

I ate twice at the restaurant-wine store Pichenouille, including one meal with Hervé Bizeul. We drank 2 of his 2010 wines. They were both very good. Clos des Fées is constantly looking for excellence and their wines, like ours, are evolving towards fresher and more fruit. This is coming from picking ripe and sun-drenched grapes.

Each time I regret that we have to drive 4:30 hours to get to Maury.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Readings and punishments

We are now getting in the period when all the 2013 guides are coming out: RVF, Bettane & Desseauve, Hachette, etc…
Difficult to renew ourselves, as in the Michelin, only 10% of the wines change (good or bad), it depends on the work of producers and changes in the editorial team: such critics or journalist, prefer modern wine (which is rare these days) or “natural” (which is more common, especially in the RVF). Nice heated exchange concerning Hervé Bizeul’s choice (Clos des Fées) of no longer wanting to be in the guide RVF. Various blogs, including Hervé’s, the Grand Jury, La Passion du Vin also give their opinion, pros or cons, about his choice.
It reminds me that I too have made this choice in the past, not to submit my wine to some guides. It was only to prevent these guides to taste a “garage” wine with no terroir or pedigree, too rich and too powerful, where an expensive wine didn’t fit their criteria, except, of course, for my “dear” Valandraud. I even refused to submit to several magazines and important journalists, knowing that my wines were not their “cup of tea”. Getting older has made me more “tolerant”, assuming that when my wine is being caricatured, when it is ranked and noted badly, it will show and if others like my wine, well, it will be the readers’ choice whether to buy the book or the wine!
It does bring up an important question: Should one participate in an exam you’re certain to fail, especially if the rules and rating criteria have changed?
Should one be masochist instead of pragmatic?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Special mention

In the next issue of the Guide Hachette, due September 5th, our Clos Badon 2009 was highlighted with a special mention. Unfortunately, we’re sold-out (except for a few magnums I kept for our meals).

The 2009 vintage has produced incredible wines, sexy, pleasant, easy to drink, except for Bad Boy and Valandraud which need to be cellared. 2010 will be tighter, a proper vintage to be “cellared”.

After visiting our vineyards of whites at Valandraud, we had lunch at home with Athanase Fakorellis and drank a bottle given to us by a store in Saint Emilion: Domaine de la Taille aux Loups 2010, from Montlouis Sur Loire appellation, a dry Chenin, really delicious, with ripe fruit, pur aromas, floral, hard to top this well vinified Chenin. Thanks