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Bordeaux Fete Le Vin to be held in Hong Kong

Date: Tue, Jun 23, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Day three of Vinexpo, and it already feels like I live in the press room. Although have made four trips over the wobbly bridge already today, so at least they are letting me out for a bit of air.

This is also the third 'morning after' a Vinexpo party - Sunday was at Lafite for the press dinner, while last night I somehow managed four parties, which I am paying for today.

But during the day there are lots of interesting stories. I just interviewed Robert Madelin, Director of Consumption at the European Commission for a Decanter piece, but thought I would share a wine tourism story: that Bordeaux Fête le Vin will be going to Hong-Kong.

There's already a good link here, because Vinexpo is now held in Hong Kong every year that it is not in Bordeaux (wonder if it is quite such a marathon out there aswell???), and the two cities signed a cooperation accord in October 2008 (the Hong Kong government and the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce).

The Bordeaux Wine Bureau will now be doing a partnership with the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival to put together a Wine Festival in Hong Kong looking at Bordeaux's wine, food and culture.

Laurent COURBU, President of the chamber of commerce, said they were looking at doing similar things in other countries around the world also. They are also looking at opening an office in China to promote investment in the region.


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Sweet Wines of the World

Date: Sun, Jun 21, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

A tasting of some of the best sweet wines of the world was my first vinexpo event yesterday. It was held at Chateau La Tour Blanche in Sauternes, and was the fifth edition of the tasting. Organised at this chateau because there is the school of viticulture at La Tour Blanche, and part of its mission is teaching.

I have meant to go for the last two editions, so was determined to actually get there this year, and it was very busy (particularly around the non-Sauternes stands). There were some drawbacks - no seeming order to how the tables were laid out, and only one table for a laptop in the whole place (but this was not a journalists tasting of course!!). More annoying was that there was a distinct lack of spittoons (as Robert Joseph said, ‘when did they put a tax on spittoons?’).

However, logistics apart, the wines were very interesting - from eight different countries, 22 differnt producers and around 50 different wines. Fascinating to see so many different styles of sweet wines, some from botryised grapes, others late harvest, ice wine or from stopping fermentation to retain residual sugar. There were a few that were too syrupy or lacked complexity, but on the whole it was a great selection of wines. A few tasting notes below.

Domaine Pierre Bise, Coteau du Layon, Quarts de Chaume 2007
This appellation, in the Loire valley, uses chenin blanc. The sweet wines are made by pallisserage (drying out the grapes so they effectively turn into raisins), and are aged for 18 months. This example was very sweet, with low acidty or acidity masked by very high residual sugar. Attractive orange marmalade flavours, but really too syrupy to be completely successful.

Chateau Laville, Sauternes 2003
I didn't try all the Sauternes on offer, as was here to taste wines from other regions than Bordeaux, but I enjoyed this wine. Good complex nose and structure. Almost dry undertones, really like this, although still needs more lift and freshness to really stand out, no doubt because it is a 2003. 85% semillon, 12% sauvignon, 3% muscadelle.

Tokaj Oremus 2002, Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos
Shame that there was only one Tokaj producer, but still wonderful to taste (this region is getting increasingly popular in the UK and giving Sauternes a run for its money). The flavour and taste profile is very different from the others on display, has a lovely sweet and sour thing going on. 70% furmint, 30% harslevelu – and could never mistake this for a Sauternes. Great length, no dip in mid-palate, and like the dry finish. This will be almost entirely noble rot berries, but not all.

Tokaj Oremus 2000, Oremus Tokaji Eszencia
The richest of all Tokaj styles, and I'm afraid for me this is too sweet. But that's not to do down the quality - it has wonderful mouthfeel, you could have a satin blindfold in your mouth a la Kim Basinger, or rather less dramatically drinking honey. It’s certainly different, and very distinctive. But you would need to have a thimbleful of this. The sugar concentration of eszencia is typically between 500 g and 700 g per litre, although apparantly the year 2000 vintage produced eszencia exceeding 900 g per litre.

Domaine des Tilleuls, Malvoisie Vetroz 2004
Above the Rhone is heart of Swizz Alps, the Valais producers 75% of Swiss wines. Noble rot, or late harvest, or mix. This has much less obvious sweetness, and I like its almost restrained, subtle feel. Not exactly high acidity either – more aromas of hay and straw, with sprinkling of lime blossom. Good length. Pinot gris.

Domaine des Tilleuls, Amigne, Vetroz 2005
Enjoy the very silky mouthfeel of this one – you can feel the weight, it is almost slippery in your mouth, and clearly has high sugar concentration. But the texture is again satiny, and there is a good lightness to it, so not too sweet. These don’t feel like showy sweet wines. Grape variety Amigne.

Azienda Agricola Maculan, Acininobili 2004
Region Bianco Passito Veneto
Northern Italy, from the village of Breganze just above Venice. This one is lovely, very different again and was a popular choice around the room. Softer and more gentle than many of the wines here, it floats along. Perhaps lacks some acidity and certainly lacks complexity, but it is very charming. The wine is made from passerillage of the local Vespaiola grapes, which can also make dry wines.

Canada Inniskillin, Icewine Vidal 2006
This ice wine wine was draw enough to get me to the tasting. From the Niagra Peninsula, Grape variety Vidal, kept on the vine until December or January in the heart of winter. The effect of alternative frost and thaw dehydrates the grapes and concentrates the sufar and acidity. On the nose straight away this is unctuous and has an enveloping aroma. It has this wonderfully almost dry, sour edge to it that counterbalances the enormous sweetness. Gorgeous. Beautifully clean finish, very well defined, but intense, sour oranges, sour lemons.

Austria – Burgenland
Weinlaubenhof Kracher
Chardonnay Trockenbeerenauslese No 7 ‘Nouvelle Vague’, 1999
Grape variety chardonnay. Totally different taste profile and unusual to get a noble rot grape from chardonnay. I think it lacks the acidity to be a truly successful sweet wine for me – it has good flavours of honey and walnuts, and some wholemeal toast, but it needs crisping up.

Welschrisesling Trockenbeerensauslese No 8 Zwischen den Seen, 2005
Burgenford, Neusledlersee. Much more interesting than the chardonnay. This has a delicacy, yet the intensity creeps up on you.

Scheurebe Trockenbeerenauslese No 11 Zwischen den Seen
Wonderful nose, cloves and Christmas oranges. Warming and spicy, and exciting. I would rather a little more freshness on the end, but this is sweet and supple and very seductive.

Chateau Yquem 2005
There's a subtelty and lightness to this that is surprising. It is closed (not surprising for a 2005 at this stage), but you can feel the depth and how the aromas gain in intensity ib the mouth. One to stay with for a while, and then revel in. Good for them to be here also, you don't often get Medoc first growths at open tastings like this.

Weingut Dr Loosen
Urziger Wurzagarten, Auslese Goldkapsel, Mosel 2007
Grape variety Riesling. This is just so wonderful – light and fresh and delicate, very floral, white flowers, there is a sweetness but it is barely caressing your palate. And you know it is light in alcohol, and will not cloy after a glass, as so many of these would do.

Graacher Himmelreich, Beerenauslese, Mosel 2006
These are what sweet wines should be for actually being drinkable in a meaningful and regular way by consumers – expertly executed, a barely there sweetness that is so perfectly balanced by very crisp, well defined acidity. Riesling (as they all, Ernst being Mr Riesling).

Bernkasteler Lay, Trockenbeerenauslese 2005
On the nose, there is blue cheese and a definite whiff of old socks, but the palate it is crisp and fresh, with fresh elderflower – amazing for such a sweet, intense wine... this is a great, but my favourite of the Loosen wines was the first.

Domaine Cauhape, Quintessence of Petit Manseng, Jurancon 2005
Passerillage again, drying out the grapes traditionally, on the petit manseng grape. I like this appellation, and this particular wine is full of rich rich oranges and lemons, very clear citrus. Underneath that, there almost petrolly, Riesling edge to it, and it has a lightness and deftness that is enjoyable. A good sweet wine, but doesn’t soar above everything else.

Domaine Zind Humbrecht
SGN Niesling Brand Grand Cru, Alsace
Riesling. That’s better. As soon as you go this far north, and add in the Riesling grape, you get these soaring acidities, and the proper balance between alcohol, sugar and freshness. Clean, fresh, but powerful and the aromas persist, revealing a spice in your mouth.

SGN Gewurztraminer Hengst Grand Cru, Alsace 2007
This one is very sweet, high sugar content with real spice and a very silky mouthfeel. That very enjoyable if slightly disconverting gewurstraminer blend of sweet and sour, with lots of minerality coming through also. Very good, and the acidity keeps the whole experience lively and refreshing.


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France’s first bonded warehouse to open in Bordeaux

Date: Fri, Jun 19, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

I wrote this story for Decanter yesterday, but there has been a lot of interest, and I thought I would write a fuller version here:


'A bonded warehouse, that will enable overseas buyers to store their wine tax-free for an unlimited amount of time in a secure controlled environment, will be launched in Bordeaux next week, the first of its kind in France.

bordeaux city bond

The venture, Bordeaux City Bond, has been made possible because of a change in the law which is due to announced at Vinexpo next Monday by Jerome Fournel, the director of the French customs service. The current laws state that no wine can be stored for longer than two years (with one year’s grace period) in a commercial warehouse in France, but this is due to be scrapped, allowing storage for unlimited time under certain conditions.

Bordeaux City Bond will be a private independent company, but has investors from key sections of the wine industry. The main investors are the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce (41%) and Vinexpo (10%); between them representing 51% of the board. The other 49% is shared between 12 negociant companies, four supply chain companies and one bank - Credit Agricole d'Aquitaine.

The negociant companies are:
Maison Sichel
Yvon Mau
Joanne (who incidentally have their own bonded warehouse also, called Chateaux Bond, that will also benefit from the new laws)
Bernard Magrez
Johnston et Fils
Compagnie Medocaine
JJ Mortier
Veyret Latour
(hmmm, and one other, sorry!)

Bordeaux City Bond will be ready for business from June 22nd, 2009, headed up by Philippe Dunoguier, who comes from a background of both chateaux and negociants including Bernard Magrez and Chateau Loudenne, and Jean Claude Lasserre, the former head of customs in Bordeaux.

‘This is not just for storage of Bordeaux wines,’ Dunoguier said, ‘but for Bordeaux investors in particular it will provide an excellent guarantee of provenance which is increasingly important when trading wine through auction houses.’

Customers of Bordeaux City Bond can be private individuals from outside of Europe, or wine merchant businesses from anywhere in the world, Europe included.

‘With the difficult economic conditions right now,’ said Lasserre, ‘it seems even more important for us to show our faith in the future of Bordeaux as a fine wine centre, and in the future of fine wine as a whole.’

The exact location of the warehouse is being decided upon today. They hope in the future to build a 'Fort Knox of Wine' specifically for the company, but for now it is being outsourced into an existing facility that will follow their quality charter of temperature control, traceability, privacy, security and so on.


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Bordeaux chateaux names to be standardised in China

Date: Wed, Jun 17, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The official translations of Bordeaux 1855 Classified Growths is going to be launched next week at Vinexpo.

The initiative has been launched by Poh Tiong Ch'ng publisher of The Wine Review in Singapore (southest Asia's oldest wine publication) and the Chinese Bordeaux Guide ( www.chinesebordeauxguide.com )


The text accompanying the launch reads:
'When we first revealed the initiative, it was with a view to standardising the Chinese names of the 61 classified chateaux.

While every chateau has the same name in French and English, it has an average of 5 to 10 different Chinese names.

This is because a journalist in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan or China will translate, for example Mouton Rothschild, differently. Multiply that with 20 different wine retailers, importers, restaurant wine lists and the potential for confusion in extraordinary... Too many than are necessary to confuse the wine lover in China (and Chinese reading people elsewhere)...

One of the unofficial Chinese names for Mouton Rothschild, for example, is a translation that calls the First Growth Chateau Wu Tang King. Wu Tang here is the same Hubei Province Daoist martial arts sect particularly renowned for its swordsmanship.

As you can see, the need to have official Chinese names for the 1855 Medoc classification is not only very important, it is urgent.

(The) Chinese Bordeaux Guide can not give the official names (they) are only the messenger... although only 14 chateaux have so far confirmed their offical chinese names, (we) shall not be deterred from this imporant work...'

All the names will be published in the Chinese Bordeaux Guide, and the iniative will be officially launched next week - and no doubt drum up a few more properties at the same time.


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French Senate officially approves internet within Evin Law

Date: Tue, Jun 16, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Yesterday, the Senate in Paris rubber-stamped the use of the internet for alcohol advertising.

Although we had been told it was coming, you're never quite sure until the Senate give their final approval, so this is very good news. Until now, the Evin law listed the media (tv, magazines, radio, posters etc) that were allowed to advertise alcohol under certain strict conditions, but made no mention of the internet - so by omission it could be seen as illegal (just ask Heineken, who had a site closed down in February 2008).

The reason was the Evin Law was written in 1991 when (certainly in France) the internet was a fledgling technology that pretty much noone was using. The Senate has ended this anomaly, except on websites that are aimed at young people, sport and other pysicial activities.

Quoted in the press release I received yesterday, Nicolas Martiquet, founder of website http://www.eccevino.com, made a good point, 'It is much easier to avoid young people looking at alcohol advertising on the internet than it is via a poster campaign that will be displayed in the Metro.'

Full details (in French):


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Making the most of Vinexpo

Date: Mon, Jun 15, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The Bordeaux wine trade fair, VinExpo, starts this coming Sunday, June 21. Although there are likely to be far fewer people this year than normal because of the credit crunch (estimates are closer to 40,000 rather than the 50,000 who came in 2007), it is still bound to be a fascinating week.

The difficulty can often be how to plan your time - the halls are huge, and there are hundreds of workshops, conferences and tastings on offer. It really does pay to plan ahead, so I thought I would highlight a few particularly interesting things that are going on...

Malbec Day - Monday June 22nd, a comparative tasting of malbecs from Cahors and Argentina.
Official launch of Bordeaux City Bond - a bonded wine warehouse, first in Bordeaux, Monday June 22nd.
French owners of overseas vineyards - Tuesday June 23rd
Nicolas Joly talking about organic/biodynamic winemaking - Tuesday June 23rd
Solutions to the economic crisis in wine - Wednesday June 24th
Benefits and Challenges of wine tourism with the Great Wine Capitals, Wednesday June 24th
Chablis Grand Cru tasting, Wednesday June 24th
John Duval (formerly of Penfolds) will also be there with his new wine, Songlines, that has been called the 'Latour of McClaren Vale' by Stephen Spurrier, so will be very interesting to taste that.

The Bordeaux/Bordeaux Sup are also offering free cookery classes matching various world foods with Bordeaux wines...

Once you have registered on www.vinexpo.com, you can then register for any of the planned events.


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Is AOC Bordeaux dead?

Date: Sun, Jun 14, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

A short book was published in Bordeaux last week by a group of winemakers who are pretty unhappy about the future of their profession.

The winemakers are all AOC Bordeaux producers, and have formed an association called Collectifs des Viticulteurs de Gironde. It is run by a winemaker called Didier Cousiney, who I met when the association was set up about five years ago (this is a Decanter story I wrote in 2004 http://www.decanter.com/news/news.php?id=56387 ). It has no official link with a syndicate, or still less the CIVB, so is highly unusual in Bordeaux, created because they felt that the smaller winemakers didn't have a voice.

The book has been officially written by Jean Renaud, but in collaberation with other winemakers, and questions whether there will even be winemakers in AOC Bordeaux in the future, since noone can survive on the money that they make in this appellation (which represents, along with AOC Bordeaux Superior, about half of the production of the region).

The heart of the problem, they say, is the sale of bulk wine. 'A tonneau (900 litres) of wine is today being sold at 700-750 euros, and even at that price no negociant wants to buy it! Castel, who are typically the biggest buyers, are getting rid of their stock and not buying any more.' The price is below the cost of production and winemakers are losing money simply by turning the fruit on their vines into wine. 'There is a whole group of winemakers who have traditionally lived by selling their wine in bulk under the regional appellation of Bordeaux - and this is now dead,' says the book.

Cousiney has told the local Sud Ouest newspaper that hundreds of winemakers are in great difficulty across the Gironde and that, 'for years we have been either selling off buildings or pulling up parts of our vines. But there is only so much we can do, and noone can work indefinitely without making the slightest profit to live, let alone reinvest in the property.'

There's no doubt that the financial crisis has decimated the already pretty low price for bulk wine, and many winemakers have large quantities of it in their cellars - and a new vintage will be coming into the cellars in just three months times. And the rain this spring has meant more money has needed to be spent on sprays and other treatments.

The book suggests that official bodies invest more in marketing, that they allow the yield per hectare to be raised in order to lower producion costs (which of course runs totally contrary to the idea of maintaining regular quality levels in this basic Bordeaux appellation), and to allow people to have a Volume Complementaire Individual (VCI) - basically a reserve of wine that they can put aside in good years to bbe able to blend in the following year if there are problems such as hail, as there have been of course in 2009.

The book is called 'Restera t'il des vignerons a Bordeaux (will there be winemakers in Bordeaux in the future?').


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Cork trees and Alentejo wines

Date: Wed, Jun 10, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

I’ve spent nearly a week visiting two very different wine regions – first of all the Alentejo district in Portugal, and then back in France but over to Burgundy.

The Alentejo is halfway between Lisbon and the Algarve and an area that is getting an increasingly good reputation for improving its quality efforts. You can get to the first vines around an hour south of Lisbon, near the gorgeous town of Evora (where I didn’t manage to talk my way out of a parking ticket, but had a fantastic custard éclair that made up for it!), but I went quite a bit further down to Cortes de Cima winery cortesdecima.com, and then to the very modern Herdade de Rocim www.herdadedorocim.com/ .

The Altentejo has been known for years as the cork centre of Portugal (the country produces around 60% of the world’s corks) and it is a very flat landscape dotted with wheat fields, grazing animals and the feathery tops of cork trees. This is cork season right now, and plenty of harvesting was going on. It has always made wine, but has been historically better known for mass produced and low quality white wine.

In recent years, it is the still wines of the Duoro that have been getting plenty of attention (with reason, of course, and it is an area that I have visited and been thoroughly impressed by), but the Alentejo has been quietly attracting new investment and coming up with some fantastic reds, usually based around a mix of international varieties such as Tempranillo (called Aragonez over here) and some that are better known in the Duoro such as Touriga Nacional.

Cortes de Cima, owned and run by Hans and Carrie Jorgensen for the past 30 years, is one of the leading quality estates in the Alentejo, and is currently doubling the size of its winery to respond to growing demand. They somehow managed to whip up a delicious lunch of omlette, salads and of course plenty of wine with about ten minutes notice. Among the range of wines that we tasted, I was particularly impressed by an excellent Syrah varietal bottled under the name Incognito.

Herdade de Rocim was very different - newly built in 2007 with 35 million euros worth of investment, it was like a winery that you would find in Rioja, or Argentina - art gallery, very sleek tapas and wine bar, and designed to within an inch of its life. Good wines also, but far less effortless than those of Cortes de Cima. I'm doing a full tasting of their wines in Bordeaux this Friday, so will be able to make a fairer judgement on them then.

Two of my favourite wines, though, were a white Vinho Grande from Casa Ferreirinha 2006, from the Duoro Valley, and a lovely Vinha Do Contador from the Dao 2007. Both of these were tried over a long lunch in Lisbon, accompanied by some freshly caught fish. A very interesting wine country, and one I am looking forward to getting to know better


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Wine of the Week

Date: Wed, Jun 3, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

I put up my latest Wine of the Week onto the site today, and thought I would reproduce it here, as it really was a particularly gorgeous wine, that is ready to drink up and enjoy right now.

Chateau Figeac, Saint Emilion Cru Classe 2000
This 40 hectare vineyard is owned by Thierry Manoncourt and is a premier classifed wine of Saint Emilion. Aged in 100% new oak barrels which by now, nearly 10 years down the line, have completely melted into the wine. Still very intense, fleshy red fruits with cedar with hints of truffles, this blew away the other wines around the table (all also Saint Emilions, but admittedly not classified ones).

(Tasted at Le Logis de Roy restaurant in Saint Emilion. This wine should cost around £80)

I update this section of the website pretty much every week (not quite as often the heading would suggest!), but rarely put them also on the blog.

I also sent off this morning my latest wine column, and also include here my favourite wine of the tasting. A Bordeaux blend, but from Australia...

Blue Poles Reserve Merlot, A$35 (approx €20)
Named after the Jackson Pollock painting, Blue Poles is located in the cool climate Margaret River, where a long ripening season gives delicacy to the wines. This is a truly great example of a Merlot, with softness but no hint of flabbiness, great length and a real structure to it. A key indicator of quality is that winemaker Mark Gifford only make this wine when the grapes are of sufficient quality to merit it – they don’t buy in grapes from elsewhere as is often the Australian model. So in 2009 there won’t be any Merlot or Cabernet Franc as the grapes were not of sufficient quality due to the vintage conditions. Shame, but all the more reason to get hold of this bottle...



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Ultimate Wedding Gift for Wine Lovers

Date: Wed, May 27, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Highly loyal readers of this blog might remember that I put together a wedding case of six specially-selected bottles of wine last year for my friends, Andy and Tony, who got married in London last year (they couldn't do that in California right now of course).

I was asked to do something similar a few weeks ago for another couple, and was very happy to repeat the exercise. It takes a bit of time choosing the right wines, but it is such a personal and unusual wedding present that I think we should all be doing it!

The Wines (I used the Wine Society as I often do, because I really like their choice of wines), and chose one wine to be opened on their anniversary for the first 10 years, and then a special one for their 20th anniversary.

Year 0 (2009) - for the honeymoon, champagne of course. I chose Pol Roger pure brut (£35) but can always swap for whatever your favourite is!
Year 1 - (2010) - An organic wine from Chile, making great syrah. Matetic EQ Syrah, San Antonio, 2005 (£15)
Year 2 (2011) - As they got engaged in Pisa, chose a Tuscan red for this year. Gianni Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino, 2003 (£29)
Year 3 (2012) - Third anniversary is leather, so chose a Rioja which is often described as strawberries and leather. Roda Reserva, Rioja, £20.
Year 4 (2013) - Olympic Year; English wine... Ridgeview Merrit sparkling wine from Sussex.
Year 5 (2014) - Fifth anniversary is wood!! So has to be a well-oaked wine... a barrel-fermented white Burgundy. Chose a Chablis, at £42 - Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Côte Bouguerots, Domaine William Fèvre, 2004 (expensive but seriously seriously good!!)
Year 6 (2015) - Wine mentioned in the new Sebastian Faulkes James Bond book!! Château Batailley, 2001, Pauillac, £27.
Year 7 (2016) - For something different, a very good port that can be kept until 2030. Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira, 1998, £29.
Year 8 (2017) - Portugese dry wines are getting better and better, so an unusual but hopefully really nice choice. Vertente, Douro, 2004 (Niepoort), £17.
Year 9 (2018) - An amazingly good Napa wine that will drink until at least 2020. Stags Leap SLV Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003, £75.
Year 10 (2019) - Sauternes ages so well, and this was an amazing vintage. Clos Haut Peyraguey, 2001, Sauternes, £39.
Year 20.(2029) Save one that will still be really great in 20 years! So of course has to be a Bordeaux... Chateau La Tour Figeac, Saint Emilion 05 at £48 that looks pretty good aswell!

wine list


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Le Pin, Ausone and Petrus in 24 hours

Date: Tue, May 19, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

I had a very busy (hence no blog) but great week last week, taking Grace Chen from Araujo Winery in Napa ( www.araujoestatewines.com )around various estates in Bordeaux.

We started on the Left Bank (Haut Bailly, Malartic Lagraviere, Yquem, Raymond Lafon, Margaux, Mouton and Lynch Bages) before crossing over the river and visiting Vieux Chateau Certan, Le Pin, Angelus, Ausone and Petrus.

I don't normally take a whole week out to visit properties, and I did have some stressful moments trying to cover both the hail and the en primeurs for Decanter, but it was really an amazing week to visit so many great properties back to back (although have to admit that we finished off having lunch at the lovely Cafe du Port back in Bordeaux, and what would normally have been a delicious glass of Provence white wine tasted decidedly uninteresting).

There were a number of new projects going on; new cellars and/or vinification equipment planned at Lynch Bages, Margaux, Le Pin and Petrus, plus new reception rooms at Ausone (talking of which, Ausone came out today at almost 30% under the 2007 price, 360 euros per bottle. Of course very expensive, but tiny quantities as ever, and I finally got to taste the 2008 while at the chateau and just a stunning wine).

I have so far put up a profile on the website on Le Pin ( http://www.newbordeaux.com/documents/lepin.html ), and updated Haut Bailly ( http://www.newbordeaux.com/documents/chateau_haut_bailly.html ) and am going to do my best to get Ausone up in the next few days.


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Father's Day at Haut Bailly

Date: Wed, May 13, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

As Haut Bailly celebrates its success this week, of first 95-97 points with Parker equalling Haut Brion, and selling out 90% of its 2008 wine within hours of releasing its price, I thought I would post a photo of a great gift idea I found in the Haut Bailly boutique this week...

A Father's Day box that has two bottles of La Parde de Haut Bailly (the very good second wine), and the Rose de Haut Bailly, and one bottle of Haut Bailly itself. Complete with the essential dad accessories of barbeque utensils!!!

haut bailly fday

By the way, am I only person to be feeling a bit annoyed that Robert Parker has now 'discovered' Haut Bailly? For years he gave it at best very average scores (usually around 87-90). It's definitely the opposite of a usual Parker wine; subtle, restrained, elegant. But a few years ago he turned up for a tasting at the property (giving them five minutes notice) because he said he wanted to understand the wines better. The vertical seems to have convinced him that he was missing out, and since then he has been enthusiastically trumpeting the property. His 2006 score was initially 91-93, but he retasted it again earlier this year (after his 'discovery' at the chateau), and upped the score to 94, and a few months later put the 2008 at 95-97.

I know it is wonderful for the property to be getting the recognition it amply deserves, but I for one rather liked it being under the radar... the insider's Pessac Leognan... don't change Haut Bailly!!

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Sweet Bordeaux: Sauternes Rebrands Itself

Date: Thu, May 7, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Not just Sauternes in fact, but all the sweet wine appellations of Bordeaux have rebranded from Vins d'Or de Bordeaux to the rather more catchy Sweet Bordeaux.

The 12 sweet wine appellations of Bordeaux are:
Bordeaux Suprieur
Ctes de Bordeaux-Saint-Macaire
Graves Suprieures
Premires Ctes de Bordeaux


To launch the new name, they are holding a series of sweet-themed evenings around Bordeaux; at Chez Pompon wine bar last Thursday, and at the CIVB wine bar last night. Not sure if launching in Bordeaux is really ideal, as this is not the market that they need to convince to start drinking sweet Bordeaux, but it was still a good evening, helped enormously by the cocktail they were serving. If you want to recreate it:
Three bottles of a sweet Bordeaux from any of the appellations above
One bottle of cognac
One bottle of crement sparkling wine (from Bordeaux of course!) - you might want to substitute soda water or tonic water here...
Chopped fruit

Also some good ideas for tapas to match these wines are on the site, created by Jean Baptiste Depons, a Bordelaise chef who has worked at Hotel Crillon and the Tour d'Argent:

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Snails' Eggs, Rose Petals and Rosé Wine

Date: Wed, May 6, 2009 Wine Tasting Wine Business

There are unusual restaurants, and then there's Kinette Gautier.

When I received the invitation to this evening of ros food and wine matching from Bordeaux Oxygene, I almost said no because I am on too many deadlines at the moment, but I couldn't resist for two reasons. Firstly because I am always looking for genuinely good Bordeaux ross, and secondly because I had heard such interesting things about the venue, Kinette Gautier.

Many people don't even realise that Bordeaux makes ros, but more and more good chateaux do... even if they have only just realised that it can be more than a by-product of their reds.

In fact, the Bordelais have been making this style of wine for almost 1,000 years. The original wine that was exported to England back in the 12th century was a version of today’s ros. Known as clairet, (the origin of the word claret) it was a light red wine that would most likely have been undrinkable within about six months of production, because there was no clever technology at the time for preserving wines in ways that allowed them to age. With the addition of sulphur and other anti-oxidising tricks, this of course is no longer a problem, but the Bordelais still make both clairet and ros wines.

Traditionally, it is made in Bordeaux largely by ‘bleeding’ off some liquid from the red wine barrels at the start of fermentation in order to concentrate what remains behind. Rather than just chucking it out, they bottle and sell it, but there is rarely the idea of treating the grapes differently to specifically make a quality ros.

This is changing, however, as the market for this style of wine increases. And last night was a reflection of this increased quality: Kinette Gautier (the name of the 'restaurant', but also of the legendary woman who owns it, rarely seen without an extravagent hat and a keen turn of phrase) has recently had a revelation, after, as she says, 'a long time when everyone knew rose was not my favourite wine... until tasting Clara 2007 Bordeaux Clairet Clos Dubreuil from Benoit Trocard ; once tasted...'

Kinette and her husband Michel Gautier (a Maitre Cuisinier de la France) used to run a Michelin-starred restaurant on Cours du Chapeau Rouge in central Bordeaux, but now run what can only be described as a bespoke dining service with a bit of theatre thrown in. They cook in this very private place for clients who are invited by word of mouth - usually either through the CIVB bordeaux wine bureau, or through individual chateaux. Located in their private house, on a forgotten street of the Bordeaux Bastide (when they first moved here around 20 years ago, the Bastide was 'like the Bronx' as they said last night... 'but everyone wanted to know who was crazy enough to create a restaurant over there...'). You enter into the garden, then walk through into the kitchen, where there is a long table that can sit up to 12 people (we were 10 last night). And then just let them take over...

The evening was really so interesting, and I'm sure even the owners of these wines learnt new things about the flavours and nuances contained in their roses from the brilliant choice of foods that the Gautiers had chosen to accompany them.


The wines and food tasted were:
Chteau Thieuley Ros 2008
Served with Rose petals in lotus leaf form, with avocado, beetroot heart and crevette rose. (I don't think I have ever eaten rose petals before, and they were delicious, possibly my favourite part of the whole evening. The roses were grown in Kinette's parents garden in Langoiran, Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux region)

Clos Fourtet, Ros 2008
Served with Fliet de lisette (a dark oily fish a bit like mackerel), in a whisky-infused gele, with raspberries and balsemic.

Clara de Clos Dubreuil 2007
Romeo and Juliette smoked salmon (smoked themselves, in a Demptos barrel), on a bed of smoked gele, infused with truffle.

Les Hauts de Smith, Ros 2008
Brochette of Arcachon Oysters, with cucumber vermicelli and 'Perles de France'. These turned out to be snails' eggs, from the Charente Martime, finely salted with fleur de sel. Definitely a first for me to taste snails' eggs (who knew snails even laid eggs??). They were bigger than caviar, white, and tasted really quite good, mushroomy, peaty, a bit like cress - but when you crack them a sweet liquid gets released that seemed good last night but the thought of it this morning was less appetising...

Malartic Lagravire , Ros 2008
Aubergine tart (in fact it was more like a ratatouille, but food described in English never sounds as good as in French!) with fillet of veal, on a coulis of carrots.

Ros by Michel Rolland 2008
'Air' of red fruits, with a coulis of strawberries. Served with ginger infused biscuits.

Reviews of each I have put onto the site:

And Kinette Gautier website here:

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