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Bordeaux Wine Tourism

Date: Thu, Nov 12, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business




This is great news for Bordeaux wine tourism. A €55 million investment in wine tourism.
Serious investment in such a beautiful city that has been a Unesco World Heritage city for the last couple of years.
Every time I go to Bordeaux there seems to be an improvement. The recent opening of the 5 star Regent Grand Hotel right in the centre is very positive. Although they really must do something about the lighting. They are either using re usable (and dim) light bulbs or they are happy to have a brothel ambience.
The tram way seems to function very well after we all suffered a few years of near gridlock with the traffic in the centre, whilst the work was being done.
The Theatre always looks stunning, the wine bars, restaurants and wine shops are all vibrant and fun.
The strip of land on the old Quai de Chartrons(where the old merchant ships loaded the wine in barrels)has now been revitalised to having concerts and events and the wonderful water features along the waterfront and around the Bourse are fantastic.
A truly fantastic city, with an amazing history and a modern vtality.

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Australian Wines...Andrew Jefford lecture.

Date: Thu, Nov 12, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Here are the words from a fascinating presentation by the UK journalist Andrew Jefford. The lecture took place two days ago in Australia.
The interesting points are the challenges facing the Australian wine industry........also the fact that the Australians refer to their grape growing and winemaking as an industry! No wonder people don't like 'industrial' wines.
There are many interesting and relevant points from Andrew's lecture.
The positives are undoubtedly the diversity of Australian wines and also the potential. Also the relative youthfulness of Australian wines within the global market place...they have come a long way in the last 30 years.
The negative aspects are the perceived homogenous styles and also 'Brand Australia', which has lead to big wine companies dealing with big European supermarkets....and destroying the price on promotions.
Also the over adjustment of acidity and tannins has made the wines seem bland and 'made' rather than natural.
And the key and most current point is that the Australian economy is relatively healthy at the moment (certainly in comparison to others), and the exchange rate means that Australian wine is 25% more expensive in the UK than 12 months ago.
I would be amazed if these price promotions continue in supermarkets. They are un sustainable and do more damage to Australian wines than good.

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Rainbow in Minervois

Date: Fri, Nov 6, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

I would love to think that the crock of gold was at my house!!!

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Chateau Troplong Mondot

Date: Thu, Oct 29, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business




This is one of the slightly more bizarre named Chateau in Bordeaux. The property is in the tiny hamlet of Mondot just to the south east of the village of Saint Emilion. The vineyards belonged to the Abbe Raymond de Seze in the 17th Century and the size of the vineyard area (33 hectares) has not greatly changed in the last 300 years. Raymond Troplong,owned the Chateau from 1850 and his nephew and succesor at the Chateau Edouard Troplong added the name Troplong to the estate before he sold it.
The Valette family bought the estate in 1936. Alexandre Valette was a Parisian wine merchant who already owned Chateau La France in Fronsac and he later bought Chateau Pavie very close by in Saint Emilion.
The most notable point is that the vineyards are the highest vines of the Saint Emilion area (over 100 metres above sea level)...there is a large water tower next to the Chateau(hidden by the trees in the pic) which is a bit of a landmark. Also the size of the property is significant when many of the Right Bank Chateaux are less than 10 hectares.
The Chateau is currently operated by the delightful Christine Valette and her husband Xavier Pariente.
I wanted to visit the Chateau as the wines have recently been elevated from Grand Cru Classe to Premier Grand Cru Classe status in the controversial 2006 re classification of the Saint Emilion AOC system. Also the prices for Troplong Mondot wines have leapt upwards recently on the back of some extremely high Parker notes.

The impressive barrel store.

I was met by the elegant Stephanie Libreau who gave me a guided tour of the estate. The harvest was in full swing and the gypsies seemed to be all over the place. I noticed some of these grapes ready to be sorted. You can see the slight damage and inconsistency of ripening in these tubs in the picture below. These are actually grapes from a block of vines that was effected by a hailstorm during the early summer. The estate was very lucky as only 20% of the grapes were effected. Essentially a cold funnel of air rose up from the river Dordogne and dropped some large hail stones mainly on the neigbouring property. Hail is a nightmare for a vigneron, but it can be very isolated.
Some slightly iffy grapes.
The resultant wine from these grapes will not go in to the main Chateau wine, but their second label which is called Mondot. The normal production is 60-90,000 bottles of the 1st wine and 10-30,000 bottles of the 2nd wine.
The 33 hectares are planted mainly with Merlot (90%) with Cabernet Franc (5%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%).
After a tour of the vines and the winery I tasted the following:

Chateau Troplong Mondot 2007, Premier Grand Cru Classe Saint Emilion
Excellent dark concentration of deep spicy autumn fruits. A note of dark chocolate and mocha intensity. Very tight and ripe tannins with an elegant finish. A good wine for the 2007 vintage.

Mondot 2004
This was a slightly hollow and aggressive style. The Cabernet character and harshness did not seem to be nearly as harmonious as the main wine. It was robust drinking!

I was then invited to lunch with Christine Valette and Xavier Pariente. It was a great fun harvest lunch with the many gypsy families who pick the grapes. It was a fun and informal lunch and we opened a couple of interesting wines:

Chateau Troplong Mondot 2001, Grand Cru Classe Saint Emilion
Again a very concentrated rich style. Not showing massive ageing at the rim. Power packed and silky smooth tannin/fruit balance.

Chateau Troplong Mondot 1995, Grand Cru Classe Saint Emilion
Showing major development in colour and very mature meaty secondary fruit aromas. Less powerful than the 2007 or 2001 in alcohol and punch. Tannins smooth but not in the same league as the other two.

Overall it was a fascinating visit and enhanced by Madame Valette's hospitailty to invite me to lunch!
The more recent wines were excellent. They certainly have the 'stamp' of their consultant winemaker Michel Rolland. Powerful, full on wines with quite high alcohols but very smooth tannins. Certainly a Chateau to follow.

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Bordeaux 2009

Date: Mon, Oct 5, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

It looks like the Bordeaux grape harvest for the 2009 vintage could be rather special. This follows a good 2008 harvest and an exceptional 2005.
This information from the CIVB gives general background detail for the 2009 weather pattern and the sunshine, temperature and rainfall. The only anomaly seems to be the lack of rain compared to previous years.
I know that there is a high level of optimism in Bordeaux at the moment where the harvest is in full flow. I will be back in St.Emilion this Wednesday and Thursday.

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Bella Wines - 2009-09-08

Date: Tue, Sep 8, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Would you like to stay in this Chateau?
Yes, this is the fairy tale Chateau de la Riviere in the Bordeaux region. They have a few exquisite guest rooms available. It is a truly amazing experience. They also have some of the most incredible cellars for storing their top quality wines.

We are running wine tours in the Bordeaux area, with a clear focus on fun, learning and experiencing top quality wines. We taste at Chateaux such as Lynch Bages, Mouton Rothschild, Margaux, La Gaffeliere and Cheval Blanc. We eat at some of the best and coolest restaurants in the Bordeaux region. And we normally find time to stay in a 5 star hotel for a night.
For more information and prices please email directly: hamish@bellawines.co.uk

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French Wine Exports dip by 25%

Date: Fri, Sep 4, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Some recent statistics here have caused dramatic headlines. For sure the French export market is difficult on the back of extreme pressures from exchange rates and the credit squeeze let alone the bad and slow payment situation.
However statistics are open to abuse. Champagne sales may have fallen by over 40% in the first half of 2009, but the Languedoc Roussillon area has definitely increased sales. We, at Bella Wines, have increased sales by c 25% so far this year. Lets see what the important Christmas period generates..
If anyone is looking for the greatest value and most dynamic wines of the World then it is worth seeking out wines from the South of France.

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Millau Bridge...le Viaduc de Millau

Date: Fri, Aug 28, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business


I have often driven rapidly over the Millau Bridge, either excitedly heading back to Sue and the boys (its only 90 minutes from home) or charging north towards a ferry and England.
In July I traveled with the boys for a UK 'holiday'. We stopped at Millau to have ice cream and check out the bridge.

Designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster and conceived by French engineer Michel Virlogeux.
Cost: 400 million euros.
Where:Links the A75 Clermont Ferrand to Beziers motorway above the river Tarn valley in the South of France very close to the fantastic cheese village of Roquefort.
Record?: Highest bridge in the World at 343 metres above the valley floor.
The construction:

14th December 2001....first stone laid by JC Gayssot, Minister of Transport.
28th May 2004....the two parts of the deck from either side are joined together.
14th December 2004...Inauguration by Presdient Chirac.
16th December 2004...First traffic
Interestingly there are only 7 steel pylons that connect the bridge to the valley floor.
The bridge is 2460 metres long.
There are 36000 tons of metal framework, 205,000 tons of concrete.

It is a stunning construction and well worth stopping off to have an ice cream and browse around the visitor centre.

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Minervois hills

Date: Thu, Aug 27, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

This is a wild view from our house. The little building tucked in the garrigue is the Chapel of Sainte Leocadie. The pine trees, small scrubby oaks, thyme, rosemary, olives and sage all add the character and heart of this stunning wild corner of the Minervois.

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Resveratrol....red wine is good for you

Date: Tue, Aug 11, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

This is a good a relevant article from Decanter magazine.
I have previously written about the healthy values of a couple of glasses of red wine. It seems that there is more as a preventative medication as well as a simple anti oxidant.
I would love to see wine prescribed by doctors. I know that French hospitals certainly serve wine at meal times.

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English Poiltics

Date: Fri, Jul 10, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

I was recently chatting with a good friend who has links with the House of Commons. We discussed the possibility of him standing as an MP.......however as we discussed the situation further, it was evident that whatever his passion or his beliefs or his wholehearted enthusiasm to change or reform, at this time UK politics has very few friends and very little credibility.

These are interesting statistics below:
Can you imagine working for a company that has a little more than 600 employees and has the following employee statistics?

29 have been accused of spouse abuse.
7 have been arrested for fraud.
9 have been accused of writing bad cheques.
17 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses.
3 have done time for assault.
71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit.
14 have been arrested on drug-related charges.
8 have been arrested for shoplifting.
21 are currently defendants in lawsuits.
84 have been arrested for drink driving in the last year.

Which organization is this?
It's the 635 members of the House of Commons, the same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us inline.

What a bunch we have running our country - it says it all. And just to top all that they have the best 'corporate' pension scheme in the country.


It is staggering that 84 MP's have been arrested for drink driving in the last year.

Are these role models?

Are these people we should respect?



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Gritty Scotsman

Date: Thu, May 28, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Love him or hate him, it is inspiring to see a UK tennis player wanting to win at last. For so long the gentleman players have been under performing or not fulfilling their potential. However Andy Murray seems to have the determination, single mindedness and raw passion (as well as a lot of talent!) to succeed......and he is Scottish.....which is even better.

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Is Summer starting?

Date: Fri, May 15, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

At last Summer may be around the corner. It has been damp, wet and miserable in the South of France recently. In fact it has been far better weather in the UK over the last two months. The vignerons have sufficient rain....now they are worried about rot and oidium(are farmers ever happy?). Whilst we have had ghastly damp heavy skies, we have been more fortunate than many parts of Bordeaux who seemed to have had severe hailstorms...one of the nightmares for any grape grower. One saving grace for this part of the Languedoc is that we have fresh cleansing winds that can soon change the clouds and freshen up the whole atmosphere. Let's hope.

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Two Glasses of Wine

Date: Sun, May 10, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

  When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the
  mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of wine...
 
  A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began,
  wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.  
 He then  asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
 
  The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The
  pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
 
  He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was. The professor next picked up  a
  box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
  He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous'yes.' The professor then
  produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively
  filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
  
  'Now,' said the professor, as the laughter subsided, 'I  want you to recognise that this jar represents your life.
  The golf balls are the important things; your  family, your children, your health, your friends, and your
  favourite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
  The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything
  else; the small stuff.
 
   If you put the sand into the jar first, he continued, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
   The same goes for life if you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff.
   Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical
   check-ups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18 holes. There will always be time to clean the house
   and fix the disposal.
   Take care of the golf balls first; the Things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'
   One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented. The professor smiled.'I'm
   glad you asked. It just goes to show
 you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a
   couple of glasses of wine with a friend.'               
 

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