May 10th 2012, by Gavin
What impact a new President might have on the French wine industry is unclear but the continued improvement in the exchange rate is good news for wine drinkers in the UK. Today’s rate of €1.25 to the £ is the best for some time. So we’ve put our UK prices back to the same level as a year ago, despite a duty increase in March.
Since January, we found that by going over the £10 a bottle barrier, sales fell away, so any help we can get with Sterling against the Euro to remain competitive is welcome. Rowan Gormley, the founder of Naked Wines, told me last year at the London International Wine Fair – where we were both speaking at a conference – that every time he put a price up by a pound a bottle, sales for that wine halved. I’d agree, based on some fairly unscientific analysis. For anyone selling wines at around £8 to £9 a bottle, where 40% disappears in UK tax and 10% in shipping and delivery costs, a pound either way makes a huge difference.
To view our wines, with UK prices now all under a tenner, here’s the link to the Best Sellers.
April 16th 2012, by Gavin
I wrote this article for the trade magazine, Harpers Wine and Spirit, for the April 2012 issue.
Gavin Quinney, a grower in Bordeaux and contributor to Harpers Wine and Spirit, has tasted the top wines en primeur since the 2000 vintage. @GavinQuinney on Twitter.
There are only two types of vintage in Bordeaux these days, it seems. “Best ever” (2009 and then, arguably, 2010) and “Better then expected” (2008 and now, 2011). Most of the wine trade and press who attended the annual primeur tastings in early April agreed that the 2011s showed better than everyone thought they would. And, of course, that prices would have to be lower for the wines to sell as futures.
How does 2011 rate?
2011 is not a great vintage for red Bordeaux but it is a good vintage – and a very good one for dry whites, and an excellent one for Sauternes. I don’t think it’s comparable to any other recent vintage but qualitatively, for the reds, I’d put it well below 2010, 2009, 2005 and 2000 but above 2007, 2004, 2002 and most 2003s (excluding the northern Médoc). It sits somewhere alongside the 2008s and 2001s, depending on the region and the Chateau, and has more charm than 2006.
One plus point about 2011 is that most of the leading Chateaux produced 2011s that typify their terroir, their style, and the vintage. It may not have been a normal growing season in Bordeaux but the wines, for the most part, are faithful to their origin.
’It’s good to return to an Atlantic vintage, after two Pacific ones,’ said Denis Durantou of L’Eglise Clinet in Pomerol. ’With less alcohol.’
April 2nd 2012, by Gavin
At the end of September 2011, I wrote about the unusual 2011 harvest in Bordeaux. Some people out there like to see the nerdy stuff, so I put together my weather charts for Livex, the Fine Wine Exchange. Here’s my article that appeared on their site in March. (For my other fascinating articles on the Livex blog, search ‘Quinney’).
As the trade and press prepare to descend on Bordeaux for the annual en primeur tastings in late March and early April, here are my weather charts for the 2011 season compared to recent vintages.
A summary of what happened in the vineyard:
1. Early budbreak, very warm spring, drought until July.
2. An up-and-down summer.
3. Low threat of mildew early on but risk of rot later.
4. An early harvest under September sun.
5. Picking dates a gamble between ripeness and rot.
6. Sorting and selection were key.
7. Quality and yield vary from one estate to another.
March 21st 2012, by Gavin
”Today, I have no further changes to make to the duty rates set out by my predecessor.”
George was at it again in this year’s Budget. Of course, the Chancellor could have said “Duty on alcohol will increase by 2% above the rate of inflation, as put in place by the previous Government” but the news channels would have picked up on that bit of bad news.
The official Budget document doesn’t actually say what the actual increase is. “As announced at Budget 2008, and extended in March Budget 2010, alcohol duty rates will increase by 2 per cent above the RPI. These changes will come into effect from 26 March 2012.”
Anyway, here are some numbers and a few updated graphs.
March 20th 2012, by Gavin
I was asked by Gemma, the News Editor at Harpers Wine and Spirit, for my thoughts on the 2011 vintage before the trade and press tastings here in the first week of April. Here was my reply.
Even though I live and breath each vintage in Bordeaux, it’s foolish to try and predict how each Château’s wines are going to show from barrel, especially with such an up-and-down year as 2011.
No-one is going to claim that 2011 is a better vintage than, say, 2009. Apart from me, that is – I lost 80% of my crop to hail in May 2009. (So did hundreds of others, for that matter.) But for the great wines, 2011 sits in the shadows of 2009 and 2010, despite the dry and sweet whites from last year showing real promise.
There are some key factors about 2011.
We had a very early budbreak and then a summer-like spring, so the vines flowered about three weeks early in May. By the beginning of July, after a bone dry period of four months, the development of many vines had become blocked through lack of rain. July and August were then up-and-down – at times hot and humid, at other times cool and rainy.
The year will go down as a very dry year, with just 270mm of rain from March to September, compared to the 30 year-average in Bordeaux of 430mm. But in July and August we had around 150mm of rain compared to a norm of 100mm, so a glance at a weather chart will show that it was an upside-down season – dry from March to June and again in September but wetter in the summer. Weird.
January 17th 2012, by Gavin
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the funeral of my father, Jeremy Chavasse Alden Quinney. It was held in the Warwickshire town of Alcester, not far from the village of Sambourne where he’d lived all his life, a dozen miles from Stratford-upon-Avon.
I gave the address, or eulogy as it’s often called, and I’d written everything down in case the nerves got to me in front of the hundreds of people who had come to pay their respects. Near the start, I repeated a line from one of the readings: “For as long as we ourselves live, holding memories in common, a man lives.”
Bearing that in mind, I thought I’d publish my tribute to Dad for family and friends. Five years ago, some of his grandchildren were too young to really understand, and some hadn’t even been born. My stepmother Gel hosts a ‘Bluebell Day’ in his honour each Spring for close family – which we try to get to, with varying degrees of success. Anyway, here is the address I gave.
January 5th 2012, by Gavin
Happy New Year. It may surprise you to know that with Christmas Day 2011 and New Year’s Day 2012 both falling on a Sunday, we didn’t have a Public Holiday in France on Boxing Day or on Monday 2nd January. The vineyard team worked all the way through, with no additional time off.
But France will more than make up for it in 2012, and the following dates may be useful to bear in mind if you’re planning to come to France or do business here.
Unlike the UK, where Bank or Public Holidays are on Mondays (except for Royal occasions), French public holidays are based on the actual date. This can be a double-edged sword.
The French often like to bridge, or faire le pont*, to make a long weekend of it if the official Public Holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday. I’ve included these unofficial days in the table below.
December 23rd 2011, by Gavin
Many thanks to all our friends, family and customers for all your support in 2011. Here’s to a tasteful Christmas and a vintage year in 2012. (We sent this card out to everyone by email but thought the image would look nice here too.)
November 25th 2011, by Gavin
Join me at the ‘Three Wine Men’ tasting
3rd and 4th December, at Lord’s, London NW8
Prize draw for free tickets
Come and taste our stuff at the ‘Three Wine Men’ event at Lord’s next weekend, hosted by Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin and Olly Smith. There are scores of other wines to try as well.
Oz will be standing on his soap box at the Château Bauduc table at 2pm on Saturday. No doubt he’ll be quite rude about us.
October 6th 2011, by Gavin
If it hadn’t been for Steve Jobs, I wouldn’t have read the sad news on my iPad this morning, or be typing on my Mac now. Our kids wouldn’t be playing games on my wife’s iPhone, and there wouldn’t be any iPods lying around.
Of course, we’re not the only family surrounded by all things Apple but if it hadn’t been for Steve Jobs, the company’s co-founder, we probably wouldn’t be living in this château.
It was the announcement of the original Apple Macintosh in 1984 that got me into the micro-computer industry (as it was called back then) which would eventually give me the chance to buy a vineyard. Before then, my CV consisted of two jobs in different fields, and two dismissals.