Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Wine: Jean-Michel Garcion

Jean Michel GarcionJean-Michel Garcion is the wine-maker at Demour – a family owned negociant that owns a number of Bordeaux estates including Ch. La Croizille (St. Emilion), Ch. Haut Breton Larigaudiere (Margaux), Ch. La Tour Baladoz (St. Emilion), and Ch. Tayet (Bordeaux Superier).

Jean-Michel Garcion is a driven man. He did his studies in viticulture and oenology and later on a specialization in commercial business. He worked in a vine nursery (the choice of an adapted vine plant is primordial for the wine’s quality) and different French wineries making red, white (dry and sweet), sparkling wine (champenois and charmat methods) and distillation of wine and fruits for spirits. For a period of 10 years he followed practical training in different wine countries like Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zeland, USA and Spain to acquire his expertise and know-how.

With an open mind and a lot of experience, he became Jacques De Schepper’s right-hand man at Demour in 1991.

Today we interviewed him about his thoughts on Bordeaux wines. Note: this interview was translated from French.

 1. Which is currently your favorite wine to drink wine?

The wines I produce – of course. The Margaux (Ch. Haut Breton Larigaudiere) and the Saint Emilion Grand Cru (La Croizille) are of course my first choice and I am a big fan since I regularly consume.

However, I have a deep admiration for all terroir wines, whatever their geographical origin, including those of Italy such as Barolo, Barbaresco and Spanish wines made from Tempranillo.For whites, I love the great wines of Loire Chenin-based, German Riesling, the wines of Burgundy. I also have a little bit of heart for the Great Muscadet de terroir.

2. Can you provide the name(s) of a Château (or Châteaux) that are on the rise?

All the wines in Bordeaux are improving. Qualitatively Bordeaux does better wines today than 20 years ago.

3. Can you recommend a castle from a lesser-known appellation wines That Makes That shoulds Consumers pay attention to?

  • Château Boucheau, Haut-Médoc
  • Château La Rode, Côtes de Castillon
  • Château Bois de Roc, Médoc Cru Artisan
  • Château Les Cambrochets, Côtes de Blaye
  • Château Le Paradis, Côtes de Bourg

4. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux Red Wine?

Any kind of meat, red, lamb, mutton, beef and grilled.

5. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux White Wine?

The dry white goes well with fish and shellfish. White wines with oak marry well with fish sauce or white meat. Sweet wines with foie gras and blue cheeses.

We would like to thank Mr. Garcion for his time and generous answers.  If there is a wine mentioned in this interview that you would like to try – please contact me at and I will try and find it for you.

Tasting the 2012 Vintage at Chateau Margaux

Chateaux Margaux Up CloseSo, I know – the Primeur tastings ended last week – but I attended so many tastings – that it will take me a couple of weeks to get all the tasting notes on the blog in a way that will do them justice – so keep checking back daily for the net couple of weeks – I will be adding one tasting per day to the blog.

Today, I am going to talk about the tasting at Chateau Margaux.  Each of the 1st growths (Lafite, Latour, Mouton, Margaux, and Haut-Brion) do not give samples to any of the other tastings in Bordeaux during Primeur (not negoce tastings and not the UGC tastings) – so the only way to get to try these wines is to get a scheduled appointment to taste them at the Chateau.  I scheduled three of those appointments this year: Margaux, Lafite, and Latour.  My notes on the Lafite visit and the Latour visit will be posted tomorrow and Wednesday.

Margaux Tasting 1The private visits all take the same basic form:  You arrive at the chateau at your scheduled time – you are formed into a group – led into a tasting room or area, provided with a short description of the vintage, and then presented with the wines.

Margaux Tasting 3

We were told that it was a difficult growing season at Margaux that resulted in a small crop.  It was a very wet spring and the vines got used to having a lot of water.  That was followed by a very dry summer with no rain in August at all.  Which was then followed by a rainy harvest.  Chateau Margaux only received 34% of the grapes grown – the rest were put into Pavillon Rouge and then the 3rd and 4th label.

2012 Pavillon Rouge:  The family has made great strides to increase the quality of the Pavillon Rouge wine.  With the dramatic price rises in the last few years – the family was very concerned that people would get a bottle of Pavillon Rouge and be disappointed.  So, they have made significant changes to it – it now largely comes from the same plot every year and it has a much larger percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon now (about 70%).  After having tasted the wine – I can attest that this new style of Pavillon Rouge is very different and better than Pavillon of a few years ago.  One of the tasters I was with said that he felt that Pavillon Rouge now has its own distinct identity as a wine and it is not just the second label of Ch. Margaux. I am not sure about that – because to me it is still very “Margaux” styled. I felt that the wine had a nice primary cassis fruit nose dominated by Cabernet and that the wine was elegant and balanced with a long finish and soft silky tannins.  It was actually one of the nicest Left Bank wines I had on my trip – outperforming some of the 2nd growths in St. Julien. Buy some.  I am going to.

2012 Ch. Margaux: This is probably the best Left Bank wine that I tasted in the 2012 vintage.  The grand vin got only 34% of the fruit in 2012.  It has a deep, deep colour with a beautiful perfumed nose.  It was open already at this stage and beautiful and elegant.  The tannin management was incredible and it had a long, long finish.  This wine will need a long time to age but the the density and power is there along with the elegance and balance.  We were told by the Chateaux – that if we had not had the 2009 and 2010 Ch. Margaux’s (which are unbelievable) then we would consider 2012 as a classic Ch. Margaux vintage.  I agree with them and I would recommend buying some of this wine – especially if the prices come down.

2012 Margaux White: 2011 was an exceptional vintage for the white Margaux and so it is hard to compare 2012 to it.  The 2012 does not have the same kind of flavours and complexity but the quality of the wine is improving every year.  It was pale gold in colour with an explosive nose of flinty steel, ripe peaches and a hint of smoke. The nose really surprised me – I expected more cut grass aromas from the Sauvignon – but this wine was dominantly white fruits – almost like a Semillon – except that this is made from 100% Sauvignon.  On the palette, it was medium bodied with good acidity and a long salty finish mixed with rosemary and herbs.  Very good wine.

Overall – these were by far the two best reds I tasted from the Left Bank and I recommend them for purchasing if the prices are reasonable.

Margaux Tasting 4On a side note: Chateau Margaux is one of the estates that is the most dedicated to experimenting to improve the quality of its wines.  In fact, they have two oenologists on staff whose main purpose is to run experiments.  I remember, the first year I came to Bordeaux, I met a young oenologist who was studying at Bordeaux II who was doing some work at Ch. Margaux on the difference between corks and screw caps – at that time the evidence was inconclusive – we did get into a pretty heavy argument though about Brett (but I will save that for another blog post). . .

Well – to get back on track – at the tasting we were told that Chateau Margaux has been experimenting with many things: corks, caps, concrete eggs, organic practices, etc.  They want to make improvements to their wine – but they are not going to implement changes unless it has been proven to actually improve the wine.  Organic practices is one of the experiments that seems to be working and the Chateau would like to have more and more of its production be organic in the future.  Bravo for that!

The Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Wine: Axel Vallet

B&M_B5I6986Axel Vallet is a wine lover and negociant in Bordeaux.  He was born in the Champagne region with Basque roots 35 years ago. He describes his love of wine and how he got involved in the wine business in this way :

“I have been ‘tasting’ wine since a very young age with a father oenologist who was passionate about wine himself. After business and marketing studies in France and several years abroad in Ireland and Canada, I naturally challenged myself to become involved in the fine wine business. I have been working in this exciting environment for over 10 years.”

We interviewed him about his thoughts on Bordeaux Wine:

1. Which wine is currently your favorite wine to drink?

Difficult question as I try to drink different wines all the time. As a Bordeaux negociant, I have the chance to drink and taste many wonderful Bordeaux wines all year long but my favorite wines at home usually come from Burgundy, Rhône, Piemont and Tuscany as I am always curious to discover new wines from these fabulous regions.

2. Can you provide the name(s) of a Château (or Châteaux) that are on the rise?

There are many unknown or lesser know Chateaux in Bordeaux that should be highlighted for the great work and quality they have made since last few years. On the top end, we should applause what Ch. Pontet Canet has done since they are working with Biodynamie : the quality, finesse and precision are outstanding !

2. Can you recommend a Château from a lesser-known appellation that makes wines that consumers should pay attention to?

Ch Lanessan, Ch L’Argenteyre, Ch Poitevin in the Medoc to name a few.
Ch Val de Roc in Bordeaux Supérieur owned by Laurent Vallet, vineyard manager at Chateau Ausone.

Denis Durantou’s lesser known wines : La Chenade, Saintayme and Ch Montlandrie.

3. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux Red Wine?

No surprise here, a thick “côte de boeuf” grilled rare on the sarments

 4. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux White Wine?

No surprise too, oysters from Arcachon with a chilled dry white and a young chilled Sauternes or Barsac wine with a mango based dessert.

We would like to thank Axel for his time and his generous answers.  If there is a wine mentioned in this interview that you would like to try please e-mail me at and I will try and find it for you.



2013 Tasting at Chateau Belgrave

 Belgrave Tasting

I love this tasting.  It is by far the most relaxed and enjoyable way to taste wine during Primeur.  It is put on by one of the large negociant houses in Bordeaux and they set you up at your own table with everything you need and then bring the wines to you in flights.

They also provide you with a wonderful lunch.  This year the starter buffet included local, white asparagus, local oysters, and tuna sashimi marinated in soy.  The main course was rack of lamb with sauteed green beans, and roasted vegetables.
Lunch at BelgraveIt was accompanied by some Thienot Champagne, 2006 Ch. Marsau (which was drinking extremely well) and of course – finished with some 1998 Ch. d’Yquem.

Lunch at Belgrave 2Here are my notes on the different flights:

St. Julien: I wanted to re-taste these wines because my tasting earlier in the week ended up with disappointing results – so I wanted to see if it was becuase of the samples or the day.  It was not.  The wines are not as good as normal.   For me the Branaire-Ducru
and the Lagrange were good – but not great and the Leoville Barton was far below expectations.

Paulliac: The wines in this flight were pretty consistent.  They were all in the 87-89 point range for me.  In order of preference they were: Clerc Milon, Pedesclaux, Haut Bages Liberal, d’Armailhac, Lynch Moussas, Grand Puy Ducasse, Croizet-Bages. They all had dry harsh tannins on them that detraced from the ripe fruit finish.

Pessac-Leognan: There was far more variation in these wines.  Pape Clement was the best but still far below its normal showing.  It had less oak than normal and was perfectly in balance – a classic elegant styled Pape Clement. One of my perrenial favorites Haut Bailly was disappointing – still a good wine  but not the reference point for the appellation this year. Les Carmes Haut Brion and Carrbonnieux were quite good but not great. I was pleased to see that both Smith Haut Lafite and Domaine de Chevalier seemed to reign back on their aggressive new oak regimes this year to make more balanced wines.

St. Emilion: These were the stars of the tasting. All the Merlot wines are showing well in the 2012 vintage and they seem to be very homogenous at a high level of quality. For me Ch. Canon was by far the best – a little more muted and elegant in style than some of the others. Troplong Mondot was very good – but not it normal sexy voluptuous self – this is a more structured and linear wine than normal.  Fleur Cardinale and Figeac also showed very well.  Grand Mayne made a wine far beyond what it normally does and should be a good value in the vintage. La Gaffeliere and Clos des Jacobins are good but not great and maybe a step below the quality of the wines they each have been producing over the last 4 years. This was also the first time that I got to taste Valandruad and Virginie de Valandraud and I came away not impressed.  This is the wine that started the Garagiste movement in Bordeaux with huge extraction practices.  In this vintage it back-fired and the wines – to me – are undrinkable (at least if you enjoy drinking wine with your dinner).

Pomerol:  I was not as impressed with the Pomerol wines as the St. Emilion wines in this tasting – but it was a very small sample.  La Conseillente was excellent with silky tannins and a long elegant finish. Le Bon Pasteur was also very good in a different more concentrated style. The others were good but not great. In order of preference they were: Ch. Le Gay, Rouget, Feytit-Clinet, and La Pointe.

Overall, it seems to be a good year for Merlot and the key for all the wines seems to be managing the tannins.  Wines traditionally made in extracted styles are not showing as well as wines made in more elegant styles. I am interested to taste some of the more elegant St. Emilions like Quinault L’Enclos and Rol Valentin to see how they fared in this vintage.  I will update you when I do.

You can also check out my notes from the Ch. Belgrave tasting in 2012 and 2011.

Restaurant: Brasserie L’Orleans

Brasserie l'OrleansI was taken to this restaurant for dinner by one of my negociants.  This is a classic French Brasserie that looks the part: huge bar, pictures on the walls, banquets, brass railings, tiled floor, mirrored walls etc. It makes you think of Hemingway in Paris during La Belle Epoque.

Prosciutto SlicerBut, this is also a serious food place – evidenced by the standing prosciutto slicer (see right). As many of you may already know – in my books – any place that has a prosciutto slicer is worthy or worship.

The food at Brasserie L’Orleans is classic Bordeaux brasserie fair: l’entrecote, magret de Canard, etc.  I decided to go for the plate of prosciutto to start (entrée), the braised lamb as my main (ˆplat), and chocolate cake for dessert.  All were very good – with the Lamb shank being the star of the night.
Lamb Shank
The wine list at Brasserie L’Orleans is very good – but what is really special is that many of the negociant houses and Bordeaux Chateaux have their own “lockers” in the cellar where they can store wine to bring out for customers and guests.
Lockers 1
My negoce pulled a one such bottle for us that he made me taste blind.  I hate tasting blind – nothing can humiliate you more. To make matters worse – the Bordeliase now have discovered other wine regions (this is relatively new) and so there is no guarantee anymore that at least the wine is from Bordeaux.  This time – at least I did not embarrass myself.  The wine was quite aged on the nose, clearly from Bordeaux – but it had a real youthful colour and density that usually only comes from Merlot on such an old vintage.  So, I guessed that the wine was at least 15 years old and I was curious about the density.  As I started to mention Right Bank (my dining partner laughed) – so I changed mid-sentence and chose Left Bank – St. Julien.  It reminded me a little of a 1986 Gruaud Larose that I had a couple years ago.  So, I went with it.
1994 Leoville Las Cases - Bottle
Turns out it was a 1994 Leoville Las Cases.  This was a big surprise to me.  Normally, 1994 wines are a bit thinner and a little stewed now.  This wine was youthful, dense, concentrated, and yet mature and complex with a long finish.  It was better than you would ever expect.  The best news is that the 1994 Leoville Las Cases is significantly cheaper than any of the other older vintages and can be had for a good price.  I will be offering it laster in the week and I will update this post with the link.
If you are already interested you can e-mail me at to get a case.  There will only be a handful in the offer.
This is a great classic French Brasserie and one of the must go to stops while you are in Bordeaux.
Brasserie l’Orleans – 36 Allée d’Orléans  33000 Bordeaux

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2012 Warehouse Tasting – St. Julien and Margaux

Warehouse TastingOne of my negociants just finished building a brand new state-of-the-art warehouse and so they invited all of their customers to taste the 2012 vintage at the warehouse.

The warehouse is incredible.  When I a chance I will upload the pictures in a gallery attached to this post – so that you can see.  For anyone wondering about the provenance and the storage conditions of Rooftop back-vintage wine offers – just take a look at the pictures.  Storing wines in Negoce warehouses like this may actually be better than storing them in the cellars of the estates – because the humidity is controlled better in the warehouses.  Also, notice the stacks and stacks of back vintage Grand Cru Classé?  That is good news for Rooftop and Rooftop customers – lots more offers coming in the future.

Now to the tasting – I decided to focus on the wines of St. Julien and Margaux at this tasting – to get an idea of what the left-bank showed like in the vintage.

In short, the wines are not good.  Surprisingly not good. Seriously – I cannot say this enough times . . not good. . . not good. . .  They are actually worse than 2011 – in that in 2012 even the top Chateaux, my perennial favorites that always seem to create a good wines in a bad vintage, even they did not make good wines – they simply made OK wines.  For example – this year Ch. Leoville Barton (St. Julien) and Ch. Rauzan Segla (Margaux) which I think of as the reference points for the appellations – are simply not good and I will be surprised to see them get 90 points from anyone.

Generally – the wines had strong tannins that were either bitter or green and a corresponding amount of new oak to try to cover over the bitterness or greeness.  The finishes were all medium length or short and not of normal Grand Cru Classé quality.

That being said there were a few surprises where Chateaux made good wine and if prices come down this year – they could represent good value.

St. Julien

Wines of the Tasting:  Ch. Lagrange and Les Fiefs de Lagrange – both wines were restrained with silky tannins and not overdone in any way.

Other wines that showed well:  None

Avoid (surprises): Ch. Leoville Barton – surprisingly short finish and Ch. Beychevelle (I think there was volatile acidity on the sample).


Wine of the tasting:  Ch. Giscours – remarkably well balanced wine with a complex nose and great mid palate.  Finish was the longest of the bunch.

Other wines that showed well (in order):  Ch. d’Issan,  Boyd-Cantenac, Rauzan-Segla (just OK this year and not different than the other Margaux wines), Cantenac- Brown, Lascombes, and Rauzan-Gassies.

Surprises: D’Arsac and Desmirail – both estates made wines much better than expected and they are right in there in quality with the other Grand Cru Classé wines this year.

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Planete Bordeaux – 2012 Bordeaux Supérieur Tasting

SignI started the tastings this year the same way I always do – I went to the Planete Bordeaux – Bordeaux Supérieur tasting.

I do this for two reasons:   First, it starts a day before the official tastings – so it is the first tasting you can attend.  Second, I think it is always the best tasting to get a feel for the vintage. This is because the Bordeaux Supérieur estates do not have the resources to ‘fix’ wines like the Grand Cru Classé estates – and so the characteristics of the vintage show through more.

As I have mentioned in posts in previous years (2011, 2010), there are two styles of Bordeaux Supérieur wines: 1) the traditional style – that has less concentration, less extraction, less oak and (hopefully) more fruit characteristics, and 2) the modern style – where estate owners are trying to emulate Grand Cru Classé wines – with late harvesting, big extraction, lots of oak, and correspondingly high prices.  I prefer the first kind of wines and for me this tasting was a little  because it seems most of the Chateaux owners at this tasting are now trying to make wines of the second kind.

If this tasting is representative of the vintage – then it was a really tough vintage.  The wines were hot in alcohol – about 1-2% more than normal (this is either from more people choosing to adopt a late ripening style or from the heat of the summer).  The wines also had strong bitter or drying tannins with a lot of oak and little fruit to support them. . . leaving most wines as a big alcoholic dry tannic oak bomb with little fruit.  What ever happened to those beautiful 12.5% unoaked or lightly oaked Bordeaux quaffers?  Mostly, they are gone and you need to look elsewhere . . .  (outside the organized tastings).

All that aside, however, there were a surprising number of wines that showed well this year, including some of my normal favorites – the list (in order of preference) is as follows – with the wines divided into the two different categories (Traditional/Modern):


  • Ch. Parenchere (always a beautiful unoaked quaffer!)
  • Ch. Pierrail
  • Grandes Versannes
  • Ch. Plaisance
  • Ch. Fontpeyre-Clement
  • Ch. Lamothe St. Vincent


  • Ch. Reignac
  • Balthus
  • Ch. St. Barbe
  • Ch. Feret-Lambert
  • Ch. Ducla
  • Ch. La Faviere
  • Ch. de Marsan

One thing to keep in mind is that most Bordeaux Superieur wines are made mostly from Merlot and 2012 was reported a good Merlot year – that might explain the surprising number of good Bordeaux Supérieur wines in such a tough vintage.

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Bordeaux Transformed – “A World Class Gastronomic Tourist Destination”

Grand TheatreBordeaux has gone through a startling transformation since I first began to come here in the mid-1990’s.  Back then – it’s reputation as a provincial town that had seen better days and that had little to offer tourists was well deserved.

The city was not in top shape:
•    The public spaces were worn and tired
•    The buildings were run down and grubby and the streets were rough and dirty
•    There were no high end hotels and restaurants
•    The wine trade was closed and tourists were not welcome at the Chateaux
•    The restaurants seemed stuck in another world that had long since past.
•    There were almost no wine bars and if there was – they only served Bordeaux wines.

But things have changed dramatically.  This month Wine Spectator’s Robert Camuto wrote a piece entitled “Bordeaux Reborn: The once sleepy wine capital awakens with a new culinary and travel landscape” (Wine Sepctator – March 31st, 2013 – page 52).  In it he highlighted what Bordeaux insider’s have known for a few years.  . .

Place de la Bourse

Bordeaux is now a world-class wine and food tourism destination.
•    The public spaces have been gentrified and cleaned up.  The Quais along the riverside have been turned into gardens, pathways, and fountains.  The old warehouses have been transformed into restaurants and retail shops.  An ultra modern tramway has been installed throughout downtown.

•    The facades of all the buildings in the city have undergone an extensive washing program that brought these majestic buildings back to their best from Bordeaux’s glory days.
•    The old Grand Hotel de Bordeaux across from the Grand Theatre was renovated and restored and re-opened (it had been vacant for many years) offering the first top end hotel in the city and Le Gabriel, A Michelen starred restaurant, opened in the premiere location in the city – at the centre of the restored Place de la Bourse.
•    The Chateaux have begun to open their doors.  Led by a few forward thinking owners – Bordeaux Chateaux have now begun to welcome tourists with visit programs, hotels and restaurants at the Chateaux.  It is still not as welcoming as North America – but it is light years better than it was.
•    A number of new restaurants have opened to enliven the food scene
•    And finally, and most importantly, in the last couple of years, a wave of wine bars has started opening across the city.  Everytime I walk around it seems that there is a new one I did not know about.  For a city built on wine – it is about time.


All of these changes make Bordeaux a world class culinary tourism destination.  If you have not been –you should.  In the Rooftop Guide to Bordeaux – I will be providing some tips and hints about the special places in Bordeaux that you should see while you are there and most importantly the things you should eat and drink!

Introduction to Rooftop’s Guide to Bordeaux

Place du TheatreI love Bordeaux.

Over the last 10 years, Bordeaux has gone through a dramatic transformation from a stuffy old provincial city to a majestic world class food and travel destination.  I think that for food and wine it is one of the best destinations in the world.  It has it all:  Grand public spaces, history, culture, hotels, restaurants, wine bars, modern public transit, and most importantly – wine.

If you have not been – you are not alone – many people still think of Bordeaux as an inhospitable place for tourists – where only professionals can gain access to and enjoy its finest points.  That has changed.   There has never before been a better time to visit Bordeaux as a tourist.

In order to help, I  will be running a series of weekly blog posts every Thursday morning throughout the year highlighting all the best places and things that Bordeaux has to offer.  The goal is to entice you to go there and discover them for yourseld.

If I am successful and you decide to go and have questions or need assistance with your trip – please do contact me – there are a few things still that only professionals can access in Bordeaux . . .

The list of blog posts that will be coming are listed below.  I will update the links in this index as they are posted.

Rooftop’s Guide to Bordeaux:

Bordeaux Travel
•    Bordeaux Transformed – “A World Class Gastronomic Tourist Destination”
•    How to Visit – Part I: Wine Tours
•    How to Visit – Part II: Wine Schools
•    How to Visit – Part III: Weekend des Grands Amateurs
•    How to Visit – Part IV: Self-Guided Trips

Bordeaux Food Specialties
•    Asperges des Blaye / Landes
•    L’Agneau de Paulliac
•    Lamproie
•    L’entrecote
•    Fois Gras
•    Canelé
•    Macaron
•    Archachon Oysters
•    Perigord Truffles

Bordeaux Restaurants
The Institutions:
•    Le Chapon Fin
•    La Tupina
•    Brasserie L’Orleans
•    Fernand
•    Le Noailles

The Revival:
•    Le Gabriel
•    Le Bistro de Gabriel
•    Brasserie Bordelaise
•    Bouchon Bordelias
•    Bistro du Sommelier
•    Baud et Millet
•    Au Bonheur du Palais
•    L’Appart

St. Emilion:
•    L’Envers du Décor
•    Clos du Mirande

Outside Bordeaux:
•    Le Savoie – Margaux


Wine Bars:
•    CIVB
•    Le Wine Bar
•    BU Bar a Vins
•    Wine More Time
•    Au Quartre Coins du Vins
•    La Robe
•    Le Gabriel
•    Max Gallery
•    L’Autre Petite Bois

Wine Shops
•    ETS Martin
•    L’Intendant
•    Bordeaux Magnum
•    Badie
•    Cousin et Compagne

Food Shops
•    Marche des Capucins
•    Bailliardan – Canele
•    M de Macaron – Macaron
•    Fabriques Pain et Bricoles
•    Le Comptoir de Bordealise
•    Choclaterie L’Arnicol
•    Fromagerie Jean d’Alos

Bars and Cafes
•    Café Brun
•    Grand Bar Casatan
•    Café Pop!
•    Café Dijeaux

The Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Wine: Richard Curty

IMG_8709This is the first installment of our Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux.  It is a series of interviews of people who live in Bordeaux providing their thoughts and tips on the wines, the city, and the food.

This interview was with Mr. Richard Curty the Wine Director of Ch. Parenchere.  He is a graduated oenologist and the wine-maker at Ch. Parenchere. You can visit him on facebook.

We interviewed him about his thoughts on Bordeaux wine.

1. Which wine is currently your favorite wine to drink?

Château Beau-Séjour Bécot 1998  1st Classified Growth of St Emilion): Power, Elegance, Authenticity… but he [the wine-maker] is also a friend …

2. Can you provide the name(s) of a Château (or Châteaux) that are on the rise?

It is hard to answer this question as, today, Bordeaux consists in 2 very different worlds. First, the world of the Grands Crus who, more than always, produce amazing wines like Figeac, but whose prices have risen so much that they are quite unreachable now. On the other side, you have a lot of “petits châteaux”, less-renowned, which, in the last 10-15 years, made unbelievable progresses. Between 8 to 20 Euros, those wine offer so much pleasure; it is really worth finding them. Examples of those great values would be Château Mangot in St Emilion or Château du Hâ in Medoc.

3. Can you recommend a Château from a lesser-known appellation that makes wines that consumers should pay attention to?

I like, for example, Château d’Aydie in Madiran which knows how to domesticate the Tannat.

 4. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux Red Wine?

A juicy Prime rib from Bazas roasted over vine branches, fried porcini mushrooms picked in the Parenchère woods with a good glass of Château de Parenchère 2005.

5. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux White Wine?

A sea bass from Archachon cooked in unilateral with a Parenchère White 2011.

6. Bordeaux is often associated with “Tradition”, with an image a little bit “Old school” for younger consumers. Is it an advantage or a disadvantage for Parenchère?

Tradition and History are for sure big strengths for French wines in general, and particularly for Bordeaux. Everyone envies our Châteaux, our Terroirs, our know-how….  But today, this is not enough and we need to constantly evolve. The taste of customers is changing, and so is the way of drinking wine today. We need to adapt without losing our identity. For us, the challenge is here as we never wanted to fall in the standardization trap. We have good strong tannins at Parenchère. We do not want to make them disappear as this is our identity, but we work a lot to soften them and to highlight the fruit in our wine. This is a step toward a more modern style rather than making a dusty, hard wine which you will have to wait for 5 or 6 years before drinking it.  We are using very modern techniques as micro-oxygene, optical –sorting … but the work on which we focus more is the understanding of our Terroir and the work in the vineyard.

Thanks to Mr. Curty for his time and generous answers.  If there was a wine mentioned in this post that you want to try – be sure to contact me at and I will try and find it for you.