Friday, December 20, 2013


Adrien Bacquey came to Saint Emilion to promote Bollinger Champagne in my company; not an easy task as I have many good friends in the great Champagne region. 
The Champagnes in my shops and in my company tend to be purchased and consumed by members of the company, my wine maker friends, during meals at home and of course some customers and tourists that come to visit our region.
We were lucky to taste, to drink, La Grande Année Rosé 2004 brut and all those present were seduced by this bottle. 
Therefore Bollinger champagnes will take their place in our shop l'Essentiel from 2014

Philippe Etchebest


Murielle and I were invited to dine by friends from Saint Emilion at the Hostellerie de Plaisance and once again we had an excellent meal. The height of Philippe Etchebest's talent doesn't need to be explained again, because even if he is currently a star on French television on M6's 'Kitchen Nightmare', he still works hard to please his happy, smiling customers, people from the local area and many young gourmets.

This is great for his restaurant and great for Saint Emilion. Professional service, a great wine list... We had a great time.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A safe investment

Some of our friend's properties, well known, have been or are in the process of being sold, and this at very high prices, if I am to believe the rumours.

An estate with a beautiful chateau, very beautiful, in Fronsac, is said to be the most expensive operation undertaken by a Chinese investor in Bordeaux. The French are also queuing up to buy wine chateaux, to protect their heritage, for tax deductions from a working tool, possible investments, social status and all of this with other irrational factors such as simply falling in love with the place.

Money in the bank, currencies like the Euro and the Dollar are being contested with new virtual currencies like the Bitcoin, which I heard of for the first time in 2011, would that explain it all? 

Hotels and restaurants

We have rediscovered the basics in the past few years; having many tourists coming to France and good quality hotels and restaurants to welcome them.

I am privileged to have many friends in these professions and the work undertaken by my collaboraters has ensured that our wines are present in Saint Emilion and the local area, in Bordeaux, in the Bassin d'Arcachon and of course in Paris.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The flap of a butterfly's wings...

The small amount of wine produced in Bordeaux in 2013 has caused a rise in the price of 'small wines', bulk wines sold in once put in the bottle by the Bordeaux wine merchants.

The rise, which has almost reached 30%, is also taking place in a difficult climate: the French economy is at it's lowest ebb, exporting is difficult due to the strong euro and this added to the fact that the 2013 vintage in Bordeaux, to put it lightly, doesn't benefit from having a favorable reputation.

Of course this has an impact on my buying, follow ups, and exclusivities. Luckily I have the advantage of having considerable stocks of previous vintages.

For the more expensive wines, we shall see what will happen in March with the Primeurs but for the moment for our wine in stock we are not really looking at any rises but stagnation, blockage and falls, apart from a few exceptions... :(

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wine Spectator

James Molesworth has very recently published his tasting notes on the 2010 vintage, among which: 
Château Valandraud : 96
Virginie de Vlandraud : 92
Clos Badon Thunevin: 92
Château Bel Air Ouÿ :90
3 de Valandraud : 90
Château Bellevue de Tayac  : 90
Clos du Beau Père : 90
Valandraud blanc : 93
Virginie de Valandraud blanc  :90
Chateau Franc Maillet "Jean Baptiste" : 92
Château Sansonnet : 92
Château Fleur Cardinale :93
Marojallia : 93
Domaine Virginie Thunevin : 89
Domaine des Sabines : 89
Château La Guilbonnerie : 88
Présidial Thunevin :88

Many thanks!

Brazil: Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte then Asia!

This has been a big working week for myself and Carlos, promoting our wines and those of our friends in Brazil which is one of our priorities along with the US and China.

As soon as I return, I shall be leaving with Michael to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok from the 2nd to the 10th March. I think he's looking forward to it!  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A nice surprise!..


  This is a label that we recently uncovered in our archives which must be from before 1940 when the rules and regulations weren’t as controlling as they are now. There must have been some white grapes used to make a sort of ‘Champagne’ for the Caves of Saint Emilion or Montagne sold under the label ‘Grand Mousseux’ of Saint Emilion.

10 years ago, we bought a small plot of vines next to ours which contained a few white grape vines that must have been well over 80 years old.

We tried to make wine out of the few grapes that grew but unfortunately without much success!..

The 2010 Vintage...

James Suckling has started publishing a few marks and comments on his Bordeaux 2010 Tastings among which our very own Valandraud 2010 receiving a very good 95/100. Though it seems James preferred our 2009 Valandraud which received 97/100. I’m just wondering if Robert Parker and James Molesworth agree with him…

At lunch I tasted both of these wines during a visit from two of my wine merchant friends from Bordeaux and I’m waiting for their opinions…

The 2010 Valandraud Blanc, given 95/100, should be one of the best Bordeaux whites of this vintage according to James Suckling.

The Wine Spectator marks are out, James Molesworth marked a lot of wines, a lot of Bordeaux 2010 and that’s good news because therefore there are a lot of ‘small’ chateaux, small prices, branded wines and good deals to be had. 

For example our own Domaine Virginie Thunevin 2010 Bordeaux with 89 points, or our Domaine des Sabines, Château Bellevue de Tayac or the Clos du Beau Père with 90 points…

Friday, February 1, 2013

Blind tasting...

After tasting the wines from the 2010 vintage from our estates and those of friends, Murielle cooked a meal for all 13 of us washed down with a few wines tasted blind. A good excuse for good old friendly banter with questions such as 'Are angels girls or boys?', good jokes and humility for all of us, such that the blind tasting didn't stop us from thinking about the goals of the person bringing the bottles to the table. That's how today, tasted blind, a modern, oaky wine is rejected because it is no longer in vogue and following the style of the 'leaders', the 'elite', whereas yesterday it would have been put forward (maybe too easily) as a pioneer. 

We set ourselves an easy question to answer: 'Which wine do you like the most today?'

To start us off in the first series; on the left Cos d'Estournel 2009, a powerful wine and nobody guessed Left Bank, let alone Saint Estèphe. It seemed clear to everyone that this reserved wine was from Saint Emilion or Pomerol. A wine, a great wine, that was made to last. Valandraud was on the right and was prefered by 10 out of the 13 people present because of its softness, the fineness of its tannins and already expressive aroma. The vintage was easily found.

The second series was as follows; Valandraud 2003 on the left. Fresh, fruity but a little unbalanced for me. Chateau Margaux 2003 was on the right. Smoother and more charming. 2003 was a difficult vintage for me and the verdict was 50-50. It should be interesting to taste these wines again in 4 or 5 years!

Then on to the third series where nobody found the vintage, all thinking of much younger wines. On the left Harlan 1994, and nobody thought of the USA, let alone California, mistaking it for a great powerful, young Bordeaux. On the right Valandraud 1994 which seemed very young also. Seven people prefered Harlan, six Valandraud. These wines are capable of being very dominant and many famous crus did well in this difficult year.

Before and after, the bottles were opened with their labels on show. Unfortunately an American bottle from 1999 from the state of Virginia was badly corked and before that, to go with the salmon, was a Chevalier Montrachet 2006 from Bouchard Père Fils and our very own Valandraud blanc 2010, in harmony with the dish.

An ambiance of discovery, good humour, like greedy gourmet teenagers could be felt and our two new members must have been surprised by the freedom of speech. That's the magic of wine and good food.

We also enjoyed an excellent Fleur Cardinale 2005, a superbe wine and a very good vintage for Bordeaux.