March 19th 2013, by Gavin
Chris Evans, host of BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show, came to Bordeaux earlier this month with his lovely wife Natasha for an extensive wine tour. We were honoured to be asked to show them around, via a friend of a friend, and here’s what we got up to, along with some holiday snaps. (To enlarge any picture, click on it.)
“I beg you, if you like wine, take a plane, hire a car and go to Bordeaux,” Chris wrote in his weekly column for The Mail on Sunday, tapped into his Blackberry at his hotel in St-Emilion after just a couple of days here. “It’s a dream trip.”
On their ’kids-free wine tour’, we visited Chateau Clinet and Le Pin in Pomerol, Chateau Haut-Brion in Pessac, Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron in Pauillac and Cos d’Estournel in St-Estephe. We also tried a few wines from around the region over dinner here at Chateau Bauduc, at restaurant La Tupina in Bordeaux and in the two restaurants at Les Sources de Caudalie, the hotel set amongst vines to the south of the city.
“Twas fanbloodytastic” he texted when he got home, before appearing on Friday evening’s The One Show on the beeb. He looked fine. I was bloody exhausted.
Then, on Monday, the reality check. “Just been to gym. Nearly died. Holidays not worth the relapse,” he announced on Twitter. (Apparently, he’d put on half a stone.) The trouble with an excursion to this corner of France is that the wine and food can be a little too tempting.
September 30th 2012, by Gavin
The sunny, dry weather carried on from August up until the last week of September, giving us the chance to harvest our Sauvignon as and when we wanted. Last year, we spent 500 hours cutting out less-than-noble rot from the bunches. This year, none. Tasty.
So we’ve been able to pick our entire crop of 2012 Sauvignon Blanc ’à la carte’. This is an expression routinely used by cocky vignerons who have had the luxury of choosing when to harvest each parcel of vines, as and when they ripen, without being inconvenienced by forecasts of rain or other such interruptions.
The weather has indeed been kind and there was an important change at just the right moment in mid-September, when the mornings became quite chilly. This allowed us to pick by machine before and just after dawn, while the grapes were cold and delicious. By starting at 5am, as we do routinely nowadays, and wrapping up each day’s harvest by around 9.30am, we brought the grapes in with minimal risk of oxidation at around 12 to 13C.
October 5th 2011, by Gavin
With the growing season almost three weeks ahead of last year, the harvest of our white grapes at Château Bauduc kicked off at the end of August. It wasn’t the easiest vintage, as we had four months of near-drought from March to early July and a tad too much rain from mid-July to the beginning of September. The summer was cool overall but at times it was very humid, which caused problems. In the end, after getting hands-on in the vines to sort the grapes, we’re pretty pleased with the result.
Here’s the story of the white harvest in photos. Click on an image to enlarge it.
Update, Summer 2012: if you’re in the UK and would like to sample the fruits of our labour, you can order the wine here.
September 25th 2011, by Gavin
‘Points v prices’ often throws up some anomalies but we couldn’t resist these scores by Jancis Robinson MW, the UK’s most respected critic. (Source: www.jancisrobinson.com). Prices are per bottle, UK.
Château Mouton Rothschild blanc 2009 £70 16 points/20
Château Bauduc blanc 2009 £8.95 16.5 points/20
Château Haut Brion blanc 2009 £750 17 points/20
Yes, Haut Brion blanc, a rare wine, is £750 a bottle from leading UK merchants. The Bauduc blanc is available online here.
June 26th 2011, by Gavin
Last week was a busy week, what with the biennial Vinexpo trade fair taking place in Bordeaux. After tastings and meetings, and five dinners on the trot (two small ones here, three flashier affairs at neighbouring châteaux), I was flagging a bit when a short email came through to email@example.com from Jancis Robinson MW OBE on Thursday morning: “Hope Vinexpo is treating you well. Much enjoyed your 2009 white, even if it is not based on the usual vines. What is the RS pse?”
Angela was about to reply ‘£8.95′ before checking with me at the show. ‘The Residual Sugar is 2.94 gms/litre’ was the answer Jancis was looking for. ‘Why?’ we asked. HRH replied “I’m planning to make it wine of the week on my website tmrw.”
Now that is good news at the end of a long week, and somehow all the effort we put in after the hail in May 2009 seems worth it. Here below is Jancis’s article on the wine, taken from the freebie part of her site. (Subscription costs £69 a year for ‘Purple Pages’ – essential reading for any wine nut.) Jancis then kindly tweeted the link to her 90,000 followers on Twitter. I did the same for my, er, 1,193.
May 26th 2011, by Gavin
An early start to the growing season, then lovely weather for the all important-flowering in the vines – three weeks ahead of usual – seems a little too much of a good thing.
Now what we need is a little divine intervention for some much-needed rain and, with any luck, no natural disasters. We have, after all, had one or two catastrophes strike in May (hail, 2009) and June (hail, 2003).
Budburst kicked off early this year, towards the end of March.
May 24th 2011, by Gavin
It’s five years since Oz Clarke and James May came to Bauduc at the start of their Big Wine Adventure – the video of the day is on the home page of our main Bauduc website and on the blog here. Oz has been back a few times since, the most recent visit being in March.
Here are his thoughts following his visit, with his kind permission. A slightly shorter version appeared in our Gazette, the newsletter we printed and posted to UK customers in May. You can view La Gazette online here.
‘Right, I thought – time to hit the 2010s. So I stopped off at my old mate Gavin’s place, Château Bauduc, and tasted at least 10 barrels of rather fine Merlot before we hit the real business of the evening which was to actually drink as much Bauduc as he could possibly afford without bankrupting him. Which we did – we bankrupted him. We drank the lot.
April 26th 2011, by Gavin
We like weddings. Especially big ones.
It’s the time of year when we get asked to quote for many special occasions. Thankfully our wines often seem to fit the bill, as far as quality, versatility, prestige, provenance, a smart label and price is concerned. And you won’t see it everywhere.
Receiving this sort of feedback too is encouraging for any wine grower:
“The Bauduc wines drew a remarkable number of positive compliments, way outside the usual drunkard expletive. Really, so many people came up to me to say how good they were… My purpose in writing is merely to say thank you for a) the Bauduc which you must never be complacent about – it is seriously good b) the sound advice on bubbles.”
(Mark Johnstone, 25 June 2010)
Another advantage is that buyers can collect the wine from our Calais collection point, saving £25 duty per case in the process. As long as the wine is for your own use, such as for a wedding, there’s no limit to the amount you can take home from France.
So we’ve decided to go one step further for a trial period, following an idea from a customer who wanted to buy a barrel (all 25 cases) of wine. For a substantial order, we’ll print the names of the happy couple and the date on our Château Bauduc label. We are, after all, known for putting the names of famous chefs on our label, not least Rick Stein and Gordon Ramsay. The same applies for anniversaries, birthdays, special events, and so on.
February 24th 2011, by Gavin
In my list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2011, there’s no mention of switching from corks to Stelvin screwcaps for white and rosé, and changing our whole bottling process. There’s just a brief squiggle in the margin of ‘New Year Goals’, saying ‘check with customers about closures.’
Perhaps we should ‘check with customers’ more often because a month after asking, we’d used different bottles, different closures, revised back labels and a different bottling machine for over 130,000 bottles. Later in this post I’ll cover the bottling but here’s a reminder of how our customers made the call to change.
Although I’m a big fan of Twitter, and have a rather feeble Facebook Page, we wanted some swift, one-to-one feedback, without too much interference from either lobby. So on 14 January, with the help of a nifty online survey program called Wufoo, we emailed our customers (we use Campaign Monitor) with the question ‘what closures should we use to bottle our wines?’
As a guide, I wrote an accompanying article called 10 Questions about Corks v Screwcaps and within a week, over 1150 kindly completed the online survey. More than 700 people added a comment, which was staggering, given that most of the UK wine trade and press think the subject a bit passé (me included, in all honesty, before I understood that customers have such strong views).
This was the result, which I’ve edited from the Survey Results post with my self-serving Pacman effect to highlight the conclusion we came to:
With almost two thirds voting for screwcap for white, plus 19% ‘Don’t Mind’, 84% is a persuasive majority. Only 12.4% expressed a preference for cork for our rosé, our top selling wine in the summer (i.e. we’d be sealing it with a closure that only 1 in 8 wanted).
It’s a different story for Bordeaux red with 77% voting for cork or ‘don’t mind’. 23% is still a sizeable vote for screwcap for this, the most traditional of wine regions, but it should be remembered that we’re from the cheap seats, not the royal circle.
February 23rd 2011, by Gavin
Ronan Sayburn is one the leading sommeliers in the world and recently made a star appearance on Michel Roux’s ‘Service’ on BBC2. He’s also Director of Wines and Spirits at the Hotel du Vin, and has taken on one of the Scholarship winners, Danielle, from the programme. In this video from their new website – via the ‘HdvTV’ YouTube channel at the foot of the page on their site – Ronan talks through what to look for when tasting a dry white.