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!

Prices are Falling in Bordeaux, Latour to leave the En Primeur System

The prestigious Grand Crus of Bordeaux are among the most speculative wines in the world.  One stellar vintage, or one bad review from a select number of critics can change the buying price by as much as 50% – this is the draw and the danger of the top Chateaux.

The last two vintages of Bordeaux have been hailed as the best of the decade.  Parker gave an unprecedented sixteen 100 point scores to wines around the Bordeaux region for the 2009 vintage.  Producers celebrated and prices were set to match.

However it seems that the millennium party is over…..

The 2011 vintage was mired by a difficult growing session, and although it is praised by many as being an ‘accessible wine’ –ready to be enjoyed earlier than many Bordeaux selections —it did not live up to preceding vintages.

The top Chateauxs have now started to release their prices for the 2011 En Primeur- or Futures Campaign. Chateau Lafite Rothschild opened the ‘bidding’ at €420 per bottle to the wine trade – a 30% reduction from last year’s price of €600.

The pricing bar was further lowered yesterday with the announcement of Cos d’Estornel’s 2011 vintage at €108 per bottle ex-negociant, half the price of last year but still around twice the price of other vintages. This is in stark contrast to past vintage price points such as 2009 when the Chateau tripled its asking price.

How can the Chateauxs get away with varying their prices so drastically from year to year you may ask – well not everyone can do it, and it is becoming risky even for the Top names.  The risk of course is that by lowering their price one year it is difficult to raise it again in future vintages.  One solution practiced by many Chateauxs is to simply reduce the number of bottles released from their first wines (while keeping the price fairly steady) and make up the difference with the second or even third wine.

Cos Estournel will release 12,000 more cases of its second wine compared with last year

In the 2011 vintage only 30% of the harvest went into the first wine at Cos Estornel, of which only 9,000 cases were made, compared with 21,000 last year, according to numbers given by Decanter. While 21,000 cases of the Chateau’s second wine, Les Pagodes de Cos were produced compared with last year’s 9,000. The reason being that the winery was more selective in choosing its grapes for its top wine.  However pricing certainly plays a role:  prices on Les Pagodes de Cos are down only 25% from last year.

Chateau Latour will no long pre-sell their wines to negociants

Other big news from the region is Chateau Latour’s ground breaking – and highly anticipated- announcement that its 2011 vintage will be the last sold using the en primeur system. Instead the first wine, Chateau Latour, and the second wine Les Forts de Latour, will be sold – through the traditional negociant structure – when the Chateau believes they are ready to be opened and enjoyed.  The reason given for this change is the Chateau’s desire to control the conditions in which the wines are kept and limit the growing amount of resale, a problem that has increased in recent years, particularly in the Asian market.

So does this mean that all of the Grand Crus will be exiting the En Primeur system – not likely.  For many Chateauxs the En Primeur campagne is a positive source of media attention. Also En Primeur – which allows Chateauxs to sell their wines two years in advance to Negociants-  is an important source of early revenue – central to investments and the daily functioning of many groups. Chateau Latour, owned by billionaire François Pinault, also the owner of Christie’s Auction House, has the luxury of holding onto their wines for as long as they deem necessary.

What are your opinions on fluctuating prices?  Is it good news that top wines in Bordeaux will come at a more accessible price point? Do you think Latour will lead a movement away from the traditional En Primeur system?  Let me know your thoughts.

Art & Wine in Sauternes: A Good Excuse to Head South

Golden Treasure from Château Filhot

Many of us have had the occasion to enjoy Sauternes wines, those golden, silky, aromatic wines from the Left Bank, but few of us have had the opportunity – or the excuse- to visit the region.

Well the time is now.  Beginning on Saturday the 17th of March until May 8th, three of the top Châteaus in the Sauternes region of France are opening their doors to present a special art exposition. Château Giraud, Château d’Arche and Château Filhot have collaborated with artist Cathy Schein to create ‘murmures’, an exposition inspired by the wines of each wine producer.


The Châteaus are open each day to receive visitors. Special guided visits, with the artist Cathy Schein, are available on the weekends and include tastings of each Chateau’s top wines.

I was fortunate to visit the Châteaus and meet the artist this weekend.


Here is a short video.  Watch in full screen for the best results.

If you are unable to make the trek South of Bordeaux (or from wherever you are) visit the websites of each Château to see the best way to enjoy Sauternes at your home, some of their food pairings may surprise you!

For information and reservations visit Cathy Schein’s website