Friday, January 31, 2014

Roussillon, could do better!

David Schildknecht rates nearly 500 wines from the Roussillon for Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. Our Cuvée Constance Thunevin-Calvet 2011 which was given 91, and the 2012 recieved 90+ with some nice comments, will now be easier to sell in New York or Berlin with its value/rating/price ratio being very favourable. (18 dollars in the US)
The other wines, without doubt too full-bodied, ambitious and more expensive were rated between 90 and 93 by David. If they had been rated at the same time as some Priorat or Californian wines, I have no doubt that they would have recieved ratings between 95 and 100 and completely different comments.

Friday 31/01/2014 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Andrew Jefford

It is with great pleasure that we spent a few hours with Andrew Jefford on Tuesday, writer and journalist, to answer a few of his questions about ''terroir'' .

Although he lives in France, down towards Montpellier, I hadn't welcomed him to Saint Emilion for a few years and this is a shame as he is one of the English wine critics that backed our story from the early days. Something that wasn't too common for the English at the time, all too happy to bash the Garagiste liked by the 'uncultivated Americans'. 20 years ago, the English were still the gatekeepers of the good taste of Bordeaux wines.

A meal and wine tasting with a red Burgundy whose name I don't recall, Valandraud 2010, 3 Marie 2009 (because when one talks about ''terroir'', the Roussillon generally has something important to say), Clos du Beau Père 2010 and Virginie de Valandraud Blanc 2012.

A quick visit of our red and white vines at Valandraud with a tasting of Valandraud 2011 from the tank. It will be put in bottles with our own machines next week.

Time has flown too quickly.

Wednesday 29/01/2014

Influences... (part two)

Part two because after my desire to create a UGC Sud de France, my implication for the first time (as far as I am aware) in a film which came out in French cinemas on the 22nd January where Valandraud 2009 plays a part in the scenario, I had the pleasure to watch this great film with its splendid actors and I keep a close eye on the film's Facebook page to see what is being said, what is happening and I read and watch all the hard work these guys are doing even after the film has been produced. It has to be said that they are really putting their backs into it.

 I can't help but see the similarities with our own work. It is one thing to make a wine, even if it is Valandraud, one must follow up and provide a service before and after selling it. It's a secret for no one in the small world of wine, that the success of Lynch Bages, Haut Marabuzet, Figeac, Angélus and so many others that are reknowned today owe their notoriety to the hard work undertaken by those who are in charge, as well as the quality of the wine of course.

So the subject of influence. Have I, through my blog, twitter and Facebook accounts, influenced any of my 'friends' to go and see this film, knowing that in a few months it will be broadcast on the major French TV channels?
How many out of the 5000/10000 people that read my comments and tweets are French, and how many have seen the film? I've had only three friends write to tell me that they've seen it, and enjoyed it. So there it is; three people!.. That's not a lot!

How many TV and radio programs, newspapers and magasines, and blogs have or are going to talk about this film? It probably adds up to millions of French people hearing this information. How many of them will go and see the film? How do we measure the influence of the media against good old fashioned word of mouth: the best way to influence someone?

Tuesday 28/01/2014


It's the question I've been asking myself often these past few days. Who has influence? Who is able to make things happen, apart from Closer, Médiapart or Twitter? Recently it seems to me that the media, newspapers, blogs and Facebook have seemed to lose their power of influence, if I take for example the idea that one has of the Bordeaux wine scene and the 2011, 2012, 2013 vintages (not that great) or our preconceptions about wines from the Languedoc and the Roussillon (alcohol and small wines).

Our, friends in Bordeaux having invested time, money and their knowledge in the South, still see these beautiful wineries treated as 'outsiders' and expect to see them treated this way for a long time to come. Although those who were treated as 'outsiders' when they first arrived in Bordeaux are now very much integrated. The ex-investors, the ex-bankers, the ex-Pied Noirs, are all in Bordeaux and now seem so very Bordelais to their very own 'outsiders'.

One has to therefore bet that that will be the case in the South in a few years. Proof of this it the idea that we all share the need for a common communication tool; a UGC Sud de France, to promote the great wines of the Languedoc and the Roussillon. Who can ignore what the Union des Grands Crus of Bordeaux has done, to be able to bring in crowds of people from the whole world, to create such a remarkable event that even though this year looks difficult, lots of people are coming to Bordeaux for the primeurs, tastings and events organised by the négoce and the chateaux?

So will there be a similar organisation in the South, a sort of UGC? Why can't 50, 100, 150 chateaux in the South put some ressources together especially if we take into consideration the ambitious political undertakings in the South already which could help finance such an organisation?

Voilà, it's said. If one day sees the creation of such a project, the 'bordelais' would without a doubt be happy to have their small place.

Monday 27/01/2014

Harlan Estate


One of my collaborators asked me the price for a few cases of Harlan Estate, a cult wine from California with had the help of Michel Rolland from its very first vintage, 1991... like Valandraud.

This wine served blind at home was greatly enjoyed - I was lucky enough to distribute this wine for a few years and therefore I've been able to drink quite a bit of it. This wine has never been the subject of big controversies, being able to stand up to many a big, modern Bordeaux and its price of 500 euros a bottle puts it in the same league as the1st growths of Bordeaux.

Friday 24/01/2014