Tasting Alert: Best Whites from Pessac Léognan

Monday the 22nd of July the Magazine Terre de Vins is organising a unique tasting of the best white wines from the Pessac-Léognan appelation of Bordeaux.  Not only is there a killer line-up, but the group has selected one of the poshest venues in Bordeaux to showcase the wines -the terrace of St-James Hotel.

Place is limited so get on the ball and sign up!!  I will be in attendance, so please let me know if you come – I would love to hear who you think produces the best white wine from this star region.

Bordeaux Celebrates a New Bridge

On Saturday March 17th, Bordeaux inaugurated its newest bridge, Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas, adding a modern touch to the traditional skyline of the city. Located in the northern district of Bordeaux, the new bridge links the neighborhoods of Bacalan (left bank) and Bastide (right bank) and is part of the city’s plan to reduce the overly congested roads along the riverbanks.Pont_Jacques-Chaban-Delmas_levé_03

 The celebrations were held in grand Pomp and Circumstance all weekend long Friday night included a major pyrotechnics show.  Fireworks were launched from the base and the highest points of the bridge highlighting the unique configuration of the new landmark whose central structure can be raised and lowered as needed.

The official inauguration was held on Saturday with the French President François Hollande and Bordeaux’s Mayor Alain Juppé.  The ceremony was complete as the French naval ship, the Belem, was the first vessel to pass under the raised bridge.

Celebrations continued Sunday with a series of parades and carnival revelry.

Tasting Double: Where to taste this Saturday in Pessac-Léognan


Chateau Haut-Bailly, known for its silky and elegant reds is the only Crus Classés de Graves winery not to produce a white wine

Finding an open cellar door with an invitation to taste has become easier in recent years here in Bordeaux, however finding an open cellar door during the weekends can still be a bit tricky —especially during the busy moments before and during harvest.  That’s why I was happy to hear that two of Pessac-Léognan’s top Chateaus are offering unique tastings during the Saturdays of September, allowing visitors to taste their wines and see the vines at their prime before and during- harvest season.


Chateau Carbonnieux, once an Abbey, has been making wines without interruption since the 13th century

The bi-annual ‘Bicolores’ tasting event is a partnership between the prestigious Chateau Haut-Bailly who will feature their red wines (they are the only Cru Classé Graves Chateau not to produce whites) and their nearby neighbor Chateau Carbonnieux who will showcase their stellar white wines.

The tastings will be offered each Saturday at 11:00 and 14:30 at both Chateaus.- Start  at the location you want and then follow up with the second. The tariff is 10 Euros for both tastings and visits.

Reservations are encouraged.  To reserve your spot and to find out more information contact Chateau Haut-Bailly.

ImageChâteau Haut-Bailly                                                       103  avenue de Cadaujac                                          33850 Leognan                                                                  05 56 64 75 11


Chateau CarbonnieuxImage                                               Chemin de Peyssardet                                                   33850 Léognan                                                                05 57 96 56 20

A Taste of Corsica in Bordeaux

This week all of France will experience ‘La Rentrée’ —  the time of year when school is back in session, the masses return to the workplace and everyone reminisces about their latest voyage while grumbling about the ‘limited’ vacation time in France.

Well I can’t grant a Frenchman additional holidays, but I can offer a taste of Corsica, one of France’s prime getaway destinations.

This Wednesday some of Bordeaux’s top wine students will be organizing a tasting of Corsican wines at the restaurant A Cantina. Over fifteen producers will be on hand pouring their wines from France’s ‘L’Île de Beauté’.  If you have never had the opportunity to taste wine’s from the nine wine appellations of Corsica or experienced their unique wine varietals (Vermentinu, Niellucciu, Sciaccarellu……) now is your chance.

A Cantina is one of my favorite restaurants in Bordeaux with a lively ambiance, a selection of Mediterranean tapas (charcuterie, cheese…) as well as excellent dishes and desserts.

The tasting will start at 7:30pm and is 7 Euros per person.  Admission is very limited.  If you are interested in attending please contact Jean-Basile Roland, student at BEM Master of Wine management and the man behind this unique tasting.

Restaurant A Cantina                           14, Rue des Bahutiers – 33000 Bordeaux Tel : 07 87 04 28 97               

A Bit of British Perspective

Benjamin Jones, who runs the Grand Cru selection and European sales at the Negociant MT Vins gave Bordeaux Insider a bit of insight on the British Market, the 2011 En Primeur campaign, and what the Bordelais may be missing out on in UK pubs.

How is it working as a foreigner in France, is it easier or harder being British in your job?

Working as a foreigner in France is fine, many of our clients are from the UK and Hong Kong. There are different attitudes between the countries. Some people find that the French are aggressive or bit arrogant.  I don’t think the French are arrogant, but for people that don’t know them it can come off that way sometimes. It really is cultural misunderstanding; however sometime in French business I’m a bit taken aback by their frankness.                                                                                                                                   

What changes have you seen in the UK market for wine in general and for Bordeaux wine specifically?

I think the biggest change that I have seen in the last five years would be exchange rates to be honest. It was 1.5 euros to the pound when I started and the market at one point was as low as one euro to the pound. Times like that the British have virtually no purchasing power.

Many British consumers are out for bargains. Generally the wines I sell come in at ten pounds so they are not the ‘bargain wines’ however there does seem to be a bit more interest in Crus Bourgeois. As prices have gone up with Grand cru in the last few years they are becoming too expensive to drink. What Bordeaux can’t do so well is entry-level market wines just because of pricing. We can’t compete with Chilean wines, but there is always interest for Bordeaux. If you look at Decanter they are absolutely Bordeaux obsessed. I’ve heard they do that because that’s what their readers want.

Historically there is an important link between Bordeaux and the United Kingdom; do you think that relationship is still strong in the wine market?

In the sense that there are still allot of historical allocations with British merchants, but in the psyche of the average British person the historical links are not there. However in the psyche of the educated British wine drinker yes. If you’re working with Bordeaux that’s who you’ve got to aim for, you’re aiming at someone who is a bit of wine geek.

Is there a place for Bordeaux wines in pubs?

It depends on your clients; my clients are selling to gastro pubs. I speak with my mum and she says they ask for Pinot Grigio in pubs. I think that Bordeaux has missed something with Sauvignon Blanc a bit. Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc is very interesting and many people don’t realize that Sauvignon Blancs are being produced in Bordeaux, you return to the labeling issue.

What are your thoughts on this year’s futures campaign?

Catastrophe really. We don’t do much on en primeur, but speaking to my British counterparts they did about 25% compared to 2010. 

My clients said if 2011 is going to work you need to come out at 2008 prices, but the producers didn’t. A lot of 2009 hasn’t been sold outside of Bordeaux and there is still allot of 2010 in stock in Bordeaux. The fact that they haven’t sold allot this year will make it hard for next year.

one of our HK clients who took 23 cases of Pontet Canet 2010 took none of the 2011

What is important is the absence of the Chinese in this campaign. We have seen that with our clients. One of our Hong Kong clients who took 23 cases of Pontet Canet 2010 off us last year didn’t buy any of their 2011 vintage, and that is a wine that worked this year. He said “We are not happy because we did not taste the honey with the 2010 campaign,” meaning they thought they would make money and didn’t. When Hong Kong dropped their excise a few years back people were making money just clicking their fingers. Now it has flattened out and people have been burnt.

Who is the British Bordeaux drinker today, who do you think it will be in five years from now?

The Bordeaux wine drinker is someone quite educated who is interested in wine and perhaps has gone on holiday in France. In the future I wonder if people will want Bordeaux the way they want sparking wines, for special occasions and to celebrate. The problem is that Champagne is easy to find and easy to understand, with Bordeaux you have 50 appellations – its so complicated, but again that’s what makes in interesting.

Another Brit’s perspective on French Wine……

Bordeaux Wine Trip: The Newest Tourism Application for Bordeaux Wines

As the gates of Bordeaux Fête le Vin open today, a new wine tourism application will be going online.  The result of many months of hard work by the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux) in collaboration with hundreds of Chateaus around the region, the new smart phone application “Bordeaux Wine Trip” will allow visitors to plan and organize their visit to Bordeaux before even arriving.

Available on smart phones, tablets and online at , the new free application offers a range of tools for visitors.  Traditional information on Chateaus and their tourism offerings are available, however it is the geolocation option that is interesting, allowing the user to find Chateaus, restaurants and hotels around the user or in a specific area.  You can then create an itinerary and access it later. Knowing that many of the user’s may be from another country (ie they will not have 3G coverage in France) the application also indicates a map of WIFI locations.  Following a model similar to TripAdvisor users can also rate and comment on their experience at a winery or locale.

Bordeaux Wine Trip works in tandum with another CIVB application Smart Bordeaux transferring the user directly to the Smart Bordeaux page on the winery.

The application is useful if you are looking to plan a trip to Bordeaux – or just looking to dream a bit while at work – but I would recommend it to those living in Bordeaux.  The WIFI option as well as the list of wine bars and restaurants is very thorough.  I am curious to see how some of my favorite addresses are rated.

The free application can be downloaded on iTunes or you can play with the application on its website.

Well that’s all for now… I’m headed off to see Bordeaux Fete le Vin for myself!