Bordeaux 2014 harvests – Chateau Phelan Segur

Bordeaux 2014 harvests – Chateau Phelan Segur


By Brinda Bourhis

A few days ago I was at Château Phelan Segur, St Estèphe and the harvests were in full swing.

Around 150 harvesters have been taken on to pick the grapes on this 68 hectare property, in the heart of Saint Estèphe and where the quest for quality has been a priority for Veronique Dausse, the estate’s Managing Director.

The owners are the Gardinier Family Group, who also own the outstanding restaurants Taillevent in Paris - 2 Michelin stars- and the Relais & Châteaux Les Crayères in Reims - 2 Michelin stars.

Following the example of perfectionism developed by this family in the fields of hotels and restaurants, nothing is left to chance in the running of Château Phélan Ségur.

During my visit, the optical sorting machine was in action, selecting with great precision only perfect berries. “We brought in the optical sorter for the 2011 vintage, and for a couple of years used it as a trial, today we have decided to purchase the machine as we are totally satisfied by the results” commented Veronique Dausse.

For Luc Peyronnet, the Vineyard Manager, his first vintage at Phelan Segur was 1993. Since that date, major improvements have been made in the vineyard management including a mapping of the vines through the technique called Greenseeker. By a GPS, it calculates the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). It gives a measurement of the physiological activity of the plants. The map obtained from these measurements illustrates the development of the vineyard in real time and is a precious tool in aiding decision making: it allows a reliable estimate of the plants’ nutritional requirements; to control the development of their vigour all through the year.

Speaking on this year’s vintage, Luc Peyronnet said that the main characteristics will be : a powerful, classic Bordeaux with good tannic structure and a wine with good ageing potential. “But it is too soon to really have an idea of what the final wine will turn out to become, we are still at the early stages, there are still the fermentations and maturing processes to go through…only time will tell”.

The harvests at Château Phelan Segur should finish by October 15th.

by 14 Oct, 2014

Bordeaux 2014 : First impressions by a wine expert


Text: Brinda Bourhis

The harvests not only concern the wine producers and their pickers. The role of the external consultant who has been following the evolution of the vine cycle all the way until the end of the winemaking process is an important one and his/her views give us a better understanding of the vintage.

Patrice Hateau runs a company called Synergie Vin based in Bordeaux and offers expert advice to wine estates for their technical needs in the vines and cellars. He also specializes in audits and management consulting during transactions of châteaux. Previously, he worked several years for Vignobles Bernard Magrez, and was the winemaker behind the much acclaimed 100 points by Robert Parker for Château Pape Clément Red 2010 and White 2009!

Patrice shares his first impressions on the 2014 vintage in Bordeaux where grapes from the Right Bank and parts of the Left Bank have now made their way into the vat room.

“2014 can be described in many ways:

A vintage that required patience

A vintage where basic and systematic viticultural practices was not possible

A vintage with a ‘never-ending’ cycle

A vintage when it was only in September that hydric stress started to set in

A vintage that will most probably be great for the Cabernet Sauvignon

A vintage that should be a good one for Bordeaux especially for the producers who applied serious vineyard management throughout the year

A vintage that brought some disease due to the unstable summer and very localized storms on the right bank

Thanks to the late summer that has settled in the region since early September the grapes have ripened well and the volumes will be higher this year.

The Merlot ripened slowly and the high acidity during veraison has now reached acceptable levels and there is a nice aromatic potential.

For the Cabernet Franc, although they should be good, the leaves and branches dried out due to the warm weather in September.

As for the Cabernets Sauvignon, they show smooth tannic structure with excellent potential.

My first impression is that we should have some nice wines, with freshness and complex aromas, concentration with better structure on the Left Bank than the Right Bank.”

by 6 Oct, 2014
2014 Bordeaux Harvest Report Cru Classé Graves whites picked in radiant sunshine

2014 Bordeaux Harvest Report Cru Classé Graves whites picked in radiant sunshine


Text & Images: Brinda Bourhis

Both wine producers and pickers were thrilled to kick-off the 2014 harvests early September in the Pessac Leognan area including the Cru Classé Graves Whites, since the weather conditions were ideal. The Indian summer will mark this year’s vintage for whites, much awaited for after a rather unstable summer in July and August.

Among the Cru Classé Graves Whites, Chateau Couhins-Lurton was one of the first to pick on 3rd September. Vincent Cruège, Technical Director at Vignobles André Lurton reported “the first results show good maturity, acidity and a minimal potential degree of 12°. We have 80 pickers this year for our various estates who will all work meticulously so as to bring in the best grapes into the cellar”

They day after, it was Chateau Carbonnieux’s turn, with the first Sauvignon Blancs picked. Eric Perrin, owner of the estate and President of the Cru Classé Graves association commented “We are very glad about the quality of this vintage : the cold summer preserved the acidity of the wine and the warmth and sunshine of late August and early September ensured a high level of sugar. So actually the balance between the freshness (5.8 AT) and alcohol (12.8°) are the sign of an outstanding white vintage . We expect to start picking the reds at the end of next week, with the merlots .”

Jean-Jacques Bonnie of Château Malartic Lagravière seems also reassured and glad that the recent climate conditions have been a great help for the last stages of ripeness for this whites. “With the warm weather since end-August, the grapes have ripened quickly giving aromatic musts supported by a good acidity, just the balance we are looking for in our whites! “

More harvest reports to come direct from Bordeaux in the next few days…

pickers at Couhins Lurton white grapes at Malartic Lagraviere

by 23 Sep, 2014
Bordeaux Wine Festival – a booming 9th Edition

Bordeaux Wine Festival – a booming 9th Edition


Text: Brinda Bourhis // Images: Bordeaux Fete le Vin 2014

500 000 visitors attended the Bordeaux Wine Festival that took place from 26-29 June in the city along the quaysides of the Garonne River – a remarkable result for this event that is now in its 9th edition.

Hong Kong is now very familiar with the concept that was exported to the city in 2009 in association with the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce, Tourist Office and other official bodies – branded as The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival.

With a glass and tasting passes purchased at 20 euros for 13 tasting tickets, wine lovers from France and across the globe headed to Bordeaux for the 4 day event to learn and discover the wines from this world famous region.

All the appellations of Bordeaux were present, with producers behind their booths pouring non-stop to crowds of wine enthusiasts. The Bordeaux Wine School initiated hundreds of visitors on the art of wine tasting.

Hong Kong was also part of the show, with the Milk Tea Master booth and Dim Sum tastings prepared by the Top Chef Mak Kwaipui of Tim Ho Wan restaurant!

Other highlights of the festival was the spectacular firework display every evening, exclusive masterclasses at the Chamber of Commerce with a tasting of a selection of wines from the 1855 Cru Classé including Chateau Mouton Rothschild…

And last but not least a Giant Barrel was created and placed at the entrance of the festival - 9 metres high, made from 285 000 corks all bought from a local charity association!

The next edition is programmed from 23-26 June in 2016.

by 23 Jul, 2014



On 19th March, Millésima , the leading on-line wine merchant from Bordeaux hosted an exceptional tasting with over 30 producers from prestigious appellations of the Rhône Valley.

Created in 1988 by Patrick Bernard, Millésima has over 65,000 customers mainly in Europe, who in just a few clicks on their internet site can order outstanding wines from Champagne, Rhône, Burgundy and Bordeaux.

Among the Rhône estates presented at the tasting were Chapoutier, Delas, Beaucastel, Guigal as well as some lesser known domains who produce quality wines: Louis Cheze, Bernard Gripa…

Michel Tardieu, owner of Tardieu-Laurent was accompanied by his son and daughter who both work in this family-run business that was showing a Condrieu, Gigondas and Vacqueyras from their range.

Speaking on the Asian market, Camille Tardieu, head of communications at the estate said “our wines are sold through Corney & Barrow in Hong Kong, we have a good partnership with them and we often host similar events there”.

Hu Jia, Export Manager for a local wine merchant was among many of the Chinese residents of Bordeaux who attended the tasting. She explained “The tasting was a good representation of Northern and Southern Rhône and it was for me a good way of learning more about the region. I liked Paul Jaboulet Aîné : white Hermitage “Chevalier de Stérimberg” 2011 and Domaine du la Veille Julienne Chateauneuf-du-Pape ” les Haut-Lieux” 2010 and “Réservé” 2010! I look forward to more events like this with Millésima”.

Well done to Millésima for the great initiative of offering our palates, that are often familiar on Bordeaux, to the great wines of the Rhône!

To learn more about Millésima, you may go to:

by 3 Apr, 2014



Text: Brinda Bouris // Images:  Brinda Bouris & Julien Fernandez

The organizers of Vinipro, the new trade fair that kicked off on March 3rd for 3 consecutive days confirm successful results with over 6000 people attending to discover the wines presented by 262 exhibitors from Bordeaux and South West France.

According to the Co-President of Vinipro, Benoit Calvet: “we managed to attract serious visitors making this fair a really professional-focused and targeted one.”

On the Union des Cotes de Bordeaux stand, wine producer Bertrand Rousseaud from Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux added “the key objective was to meet buyers and establish business ties, which is what happened at the show. But we’ll only know in the next few months, if and when the orders for our wines come through to prove if it was a real success “.

The profile of visitors ranged from restaurant owners, sommeliers, wholesalers, importers and wine buyers from 33 countries (mainly Europe, Eastern Europe but also the USA and Asia).

Like many trade fairs, a multitude of events and tastings took place throughout the 3 days, including Andreas Larsson, Best Sommelier of the World, hosting a tasting on the 2013 vintage.

Digital technology in wine was part of the show in the 2.0 area, with high-tech companies demonstrating innovative applications that are today an integral part of wine marketing and sales.

Next year, Vinipro takes a year off since it will be Vinexpo’s turn, but plans to come back in 2016, but in the meantime, it is now up to the wine producers to follow-up on all the contacts made and hopefully get their wines out onto the store shelves…

by 28 Mar, 2014
Vinipro-a new generation trade show

Vinipro-a new generation trade show


Text: Brinda Bourhis, Cru’s Bordeaux correspondent

Everyone in the wine trade knows Vinexpo that has existed for many years, but Vinipro is another trade show that started on March 3rd 2014 for the very first time in Bordeaux. Vinipro brings together wines from Bordeaux and from the South-westen of France all under the same roof in the same venue as Vinexpo (Bordeaux Lac exhibition center) during 3 days.

However the two shows are absolutely different. The key objective is to “do business” at Vinipro, so no glamorous booths and fancy goodies, but a modern approach with a relaxing environment, social media tools and simple booths where producers and négociants can meet potential buyers and get down to business.

According to Xavier Planty, Co-chairman of Vinipro and President of the Sauternes and Barsac Grands Crus, the wines exhibited at Vinipro represent those of a new generation, modern and accessible responding to the expectations of today’s consumers around the world.

After the first morning at Vinipro, exhibitors seem quite enthusiastic:

“The Union des Cotes de Bordeaux managed to get 15 producers together in a short space of time for this fair. They are all motivated as it’s a show that reflects the wines of the Cotes de Bordeaux: accessible and modern. I’m am sure that the next 2 days will go really well and we’ll be back for the 2nd edition”

-Patricia Zabalza, Director of the Union des Cotes de Bordeaux

“The Crus Bourgeois du Médoc is showcasing 120 wines from the 2011 vintage.so far we’ve had quite a number of visitors and lots of press interviews. It’s a great opportunity to show what Bordeaux has to offer from the Medoc”

-Frederique de Lamothe, Director Crus Bourgeois du Médoc

Brinda Bourhis, Cru’s Bordeaux correspondent will follow up Vinipro to see if the show lived up to its expectations.

by 7 Mar, 2014
The Winemakers’ Collection of Château d’Arsac

The Winemakers’ Collection of Château d’Arsac


arsac cellar

2013 marks the 8th edition of Château d’Arsac’s special cuvée ‘The Winemakers’ Collection’, a wine under AOC Haut Médoc completely elaborated by a guest winemaker from around the world.

Ntsiki Biyela, the first Zulu female winemaker from South Africa was chosen by Philippe Raoux (d’Arsac’s owner) to create this year’s production that he relates to as the ‘Optimist’ cuvée due to the disturbing weather conditions encountered this year.

Cru’s Bordeaux correspondant, Brinda Bourhis, met with and Ntsiki Biyela just a few days after the end of a rather stressful harvest…

winemaker Ntsiki1164983_2495623_460x306

Where did the Winemakers’ Collection concept originate from?

Philippe Raoux: In Bordeaux we focus so much on the vines, terroir, soil etc rather than the winemaker. This collection is a way of giving the winemaker a key role (like the main actor in a film – an industry that is reflected on the labels of these wines)

In the past we’ve had guest winemakers like Michel Rolland, Eric Boissenot from Bordeaux but also Susana Balbo from Argentina and Andrea Franchetti from Italy.

I’d like to add, that this collection shows that wine is a cultural product that unites emotion, techniques and culture, like a work of art. Unfortunately, strict French laws (Evin law that limits the communication on wine) portray the contrary.


How does it work?

Philippe Raoux: In November, the winemaker selects 10 hectares among the 54 hectares of Haut Médoc that will produce the special cuvée a year later. He/she then comes back just before the flowering to confirm their choice. For those who are not too far, they make several visits before the harvests, for the others the team at d’Arsac keep in touch via Skype and video conference. The winemaker is free to vinify and blend the wine using his or her own methods – to bring out the creator’s style.

What are your first expressions of this vintage?

Ntsiki Biyela: It was a tough one due to the weather, but a great challenge. In South Africa we are lucky not to have to fight against rot and worry too much about the climate. So I actually admire Bordeaux winemakers for the efforts they need to make in vintages like this one. If I was asked to make wine in Bordeaux again I would certainly accept!


30,000 bottles are produced every year of the Winemaker’s Collection

A case of 6 bottles of the Collection is distributed in China by SHANDONG WEIFANG RULIN WINE CO., LTD (approximate retail price 10,000 RMB)

by 29 Oct, 2013
Château Cos d’Estournel Harverst 2013

Château Cos d’Estournel Harverst 2013




Aymeric de Gironde, CEO of Château Cos d’Estournel in St Estèphe gave Cru’s Bordeaux correspondent Brinda Bourhis a brief report on the recent harvests of the white wine produced at the estate.


“Cos d’Estournel Blanc is a very rare wine. It has been elaborated since 2005 in very small quantities, focusing on a unique style and the highest quality possible every year without any compromise.

The vineyard of Cos d’Estournel Blanc has a unique geographical situation, between the atlantic ocean and the Gironde river, it is at the northern point of the Bordeaux region where we grow white grapes. This specific location enables us to elaborate a very unique wine with succulent fruit and great balance.

Harvest for Cos d’Estournel Blanc is always done in several “tri” or “selection”, in order to pick each cluster at its optimum maturity. We started on September 23rd with 3 days of a first “tri” (selection) of the ripest Sauvignon Blanc, and we waited until October 1st for the second “tri”. Timing was absolutely crucial this year to keep the right balance between aromatic expression and freshness.

While the first barrels are finishing their fermentation, we can already see some characteristics emerging, with great aromas of exotic fruits and a lovely and elegant minerality.

After the unanimously appraised Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2012, I am confident in the ability of the 2013 to continue on the same path.”


by 16 Oct, 2013
Bordeaux Harvest News – Château Couhins

Bordeaux Harvest News – Château Couhins


Direct from the vineyards, Cru magazine’s Bordeaux correspondent Brinda Bourhis reports on the 2013 harvests.

 couhins winery (1)

Château Couhins, a Grand Cru Classé of Graves is owned by the French state, French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). The technical innovations and research developed at the estate will be extremely useful this year. Romain Baillou (Sales & Communciations Manager) and Matthieu Arroyo (Technical Manager) explain why.


“Château Couhins began picking the Merlots on Monday 30th September with a team of 40 people. Our approach during the harvests is based on intra-plot picking, that means picking small parts of plots that have reached consistent ripeness, and rigorous sorting is done in the vines to ensure only ripe bunches are picked.  Small crates with the picked grapes are placed in a cold storage room for one night to keep freshness in the grapes before entering the harvest reception area in the cellar. The day after, the bunches are put onto a vibrating table to remove the small sized and dried berries. Then the bunches are destemmed. At Couhins we are fortunate to have an optical sorter that  is very efficient and able to eliminate the unripe berries that we have this year due to a complicated flowering season. Only the best berries are kept.

Thanks to the precise viticulture we have implemented, and the different stages of sorting, the Merlots are ripe and do not show vegetal notes. We have small yields though (30-40 hl/ha).

The balance between acidity and degree potential is good, and perhaps the style of this vintage will be sort of neo-retro (modern technique with a classic fresh style).”

optical sorter COUHINS

by 8 Oct, 2013
Bordeaux Harvest News by Patrice Hateau

Bordeaux Harvest News by Patrice Hateau


Mr Patrice Hateau who runs Synergie Vin, an audit and consulting firm that offers technical advice to wineries in Bordeaux, gave Brinda Bourhis (Cru’s Bordeaux Correspondant) his expert analysis on the 2013 vintage.

 patrice hateau

“I have 21 vintages of experience behind me and I’ve never seen one like 2013 ! High rainfall and low temperatures from bud break until end of June, together with lack of sunshine (deficit of -43% in May!) are the main climatic conditions this year. In addition, hail storms in July and August, and now a warm humid September that encourages rot, makes this a complicated vintage.  The recent rain (30-40mm) accelerated the harvests for the Merlots, and many wineries could not wait until mid October as planned.  Very few plots are perfectly healthy, and I would not be surprised if even some Grand Crus opt for mechanical harvests, to speed things up. The vine cycle is really late this year, the vines are already entering autumn with leaves turning from green to yellow/brown, but the grapes are still not totally ripe.”


On the positive side, the whites are showing good quality, especially the Sauvignon.

Right bank wines that are Merlot dominant, have reached optimal ripeness, so should be picked in good conditions, but again need to be picked quickly.

For the left bank, although the Merlots suffered less from flower abortion, the Cabernets are still not ready.

For the vines that have been tended to throughout the years to obtain good balance, with controlled canopy management, it will be slightly less difficult. But the wine producer needs to constantly observe their grapes this year, and be extremely reactive to counter the changing moods of Mother Nature!

by 4 Oct, 2013
Bordeaux harvests 2013 – Château Brown

Bordeaux harvests 2013 – Château Brown


Direct from the vineyards, Cru magazine’s Bordeaux correspondent Brinda Bourhis reports on the 2013 harvests that have just recently got underway.


Château Brown, Pessac Leognan

This estate that produces both red and white wines has just finished harvesting the whites. Jean-Christophe Mau, co-owner of Château Brown reports on how it went and his expectations for the reds.

“In August the beautifully sunny yet not excessively hot days, contrasting with the cool nights, were highly beneficial to the ripening process for the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes in Pessac-Léognan. However, the recent rain forced us to bring forward the harvest start date. So picking of the Semillon grapes began on 17th September and the Sauvignons were picked a week later as they needed to ripen further. We were lucky to pick during several days in nice sunny weather, and the analysis for the whites are looking good, but it is too early to tell if they’ll be as stunning as 2012. The yields are slightly lower than 2012 (33hl/ha this year compared to 38hl/ha last year).


Now for the reds, we don’t think they can be picked before 10th October, so yet another late year, with the weather over the next few days being a crucial factor. But many producers in the area are not certain to wait that long, due to the humidity and high temperatures there is a certain risk for the grapes. Let’s just be patient and keep our fingers crossed that the weather will be good in the days to come”

DSC_1995 DSC_1646

by 1 Oct, 2013
Bordeaux Harvest News 2013

Bordeaux Harvest News 2013


Direct from the vineyards, Cru magazine’s Bordeaux correspondent Brinda Bourhis reports on the 2013 harvests that have just recently got underway.

Chateau Malartic Lagravière, Grand Cru Classé Graves

Séverine and Jean-Jacques Bonnie, who run with their family the prestigious Grand Cru Classé of Graves estate Chateau Malartic-Lagravière give their first impressions on the harvests of the whites that began just this week on Thursday 26th September.

“Our team started picking the white grapes this morning. The weather was great with a light wind. For the moment we are on the first selective picking on certain plots of Sauvignon and will leave the others to fully ripen.

Looking back at the vintage’s growth cycle, despite a cool, overcast, rather wet spring, flowering went well and was uniform, even if it was relatively late.


Fortunately the summer period began with a turnaround in the weather. July and August were splendid, with high temperatures and not much rain. These two months allowed the vines to catch up a little, but the start of ripening was still fifteen days later than in a classic vintage. Conditions were, however, good and the start of ripening was fast and fairly uniform. The end of August and early September saw two rounds of leaf removal and some thinning in order to even out differences in degrees of ripening and to improve air circulation, thereby reducing the risk of rot.

This will enable us to maximise the chances of obtaining optimal ripeness, despite a late harvest.

After a full day picking in a meticulous manner, we can confirm that the grapes are very aromatic, the skins are ripe and refined.

Well it’s just the beginning, and we still have the rest of the whites and then the reds to pick a little later. So all we can say is that we will have several busy weeks ahead of us, but with a committed team we are confident that all will go well”


by 28 Sep, 2013