December 22Vignobles Chaigne et Fils comment on post
Vignobles Chaigne et Fils, who produce the Ballan-Larquette wine in the Bordeaux region, which we reviewed recently, send us an email regarding the post. I thought you might enjoy reading our communication as much as I enjoyed it, so here it is. As a note, you may recall a blurb I had about Wilfred Wong at the end of that review. Regis comments on that, among other things, but I have since taken the blurb out of the post (consider this a retraction), as what I said was disproved. Thanks to Regis for setting this straight for me!
Your wine blog is superb !
Thanks for your review about Château Ballan-Larquette 2005.
It’s great for me as a producer, to get direct feed-back from the consumer.
I am happy you enjoyed it, even if you find it still young.
I can tell you that Wilfred Wong did actually taste Château Ballan-Larquette ’05 on several occasions before delivering his rating. He came twice at the estate, and we met at some other occasions. He appreciates our work, and invest on our brand. When looking for new Bordeaux for his listing, he blind-tasted several hundreds and we got the chance to be among the very few selected. (we began with ’03 vintage two years ago, and he find the ’05 even better). Wine tasting is subjective, each person has a different profile, Wilfred’s one may not exactly match yours.
’05 is really a special vintage at Bordeaux, and I partially agree with you when you say that this wine may rest for some years. In France, our customers now appreciate ’03 and ’04, more classic, more “open”. Nevertheless, ’05 is successful in CA, a lot consumers may appreciate its strong body, and its deep fruity mouth.
Your advice decanting a hour ahead is very good.
If you appreciate more aged wines, you may keep some bottles of Château Ballan-Larquette ’05 for 3/5 years as you suggest, the result will be ok.
You will find more information about the estate on our blog : http://blog.chaigne.fr/
or translated by Google :
Continue enjoying affordable Bordeaux and welcome at the estate when visiting France !
Of course I had to reply!
I can’t say enough how much I appreciate you not only taking the time to write to me about your wine, but seeking out my post/blog in the first place. It shows just how much you do care about your wine, and that you value people’s opinions about it. It shows passion, and good business sense.
What you say about Wilfred certainly does give him credibility in my mind. I really don’t know anything about him, except that he does reviews for BevMo wines, which seems a little risky, if he is also buying for them. I think in hind-sight, the problem may have been in the bottle itself. We have had some bad experiences with BevMo where some bottles were spoiled, most likely because they don’t treat them well. As such, we have stopped buying from them. I will seek out another bottle from another source and try it again. Like I said in my review, it did show a lot of promise. It had many things I liked in a wine.
The vintage thing has come to be an important issue as of late, where as some vintages that were thought to be not so great, have turned out to be quite good… like 2002 (in Bordeaux), for example. People are suddenly drawn to them because they’re finding them in restaurants and loving them. I think you’re right, I might enjoy the ’03 and possibly ’04 more, right now. I have no doubt in my mind, however, that I’ll love the ’05 around 2010. Age, as I’m sure you know is totally relevant to the specific wine. I find that most French and Italian wines need more age than that of say, Australia, Argentina, or even Spain. Could this be what is being referred to as “old world” vs “new world”? Seems to be the case.
Like you say, wine tasting is very personal. I tend to appreciate the “old world” wines of vintage more than the “new world” wines at any vintage. The trouble I have is the cost of purchasing old world wines that are already old enough to drink now, and I haven’t really been “into” wine long enough for my small cellar to have built up the age of the newer releases I have in it. That will start to change soon though, as some of those bottles “come of age”.
I have taken the comment about Wilfred Wong off from my post. It was more directed at his very brief, not very informative description of the wine, despite having given it 90 points. To me 90 points is a pretty darn good wine, and I would have more to say about it than he did.
I look forward to trying a bottle from another source… I hope I can find one!
…and he was good enough to reply to me…
When I get some spare time, I write “larquette” in google to know what happens about our wine, I appreciate to get feed-back.
We have always in mind, for each bottle we sign, the pleasure of the consumer.
For example, when I welcome a new employee, I tell him :
“we have 3 priorities, in order :
1) security (employees, consumers)
2) quality (of your work, of the wine we make, of the relationship between employees, with providers and consumers…)
3) efficiency (we have to earn money to be able to last)”
Vine growing, wine making are long term works, you have to be very careful all along the process from planting the vines to the bottling to get good wines each year (not only special vintages as 2005)
I don’t think that a new bottle would change anything. You will not find it elsewhere in CA, BevMo is our sole client there.
I suggest you to make an experience : buy another bottle, let it rest at home for 5 weeks, and then serve it. You may experience something different, wine may recover from transport, heat, cold, if stored in a cool place for some weeks. Let me know your conclusions.
I don’t know bevmo logistics, I did not travel to CA up to now. I have a great opinion of this firm, they seem very careful in their buying policy, they don’t look for the lower price, but they have a high demand for value for money. BevMo is of course a huge machine built for making money, but I know some of the top managers, they are really wine fashioned. Wilfred is rating for them, he is involved in the choice of wines, but he is not the buyer. He has a commercial job, but he will not deliver a good rating if he is not convinced by the wine. If he did, bevmo consumers would not trust him longer.
US market is very interesting, as more an more people are able to decide what they appreciate or not, what value they give to a wine. I think that a 90 for a 10$ wine is not to be compared to a 90 for a 200$ wine, scale is relative, not absolute.
The US market is very sensitive to vintage, due to the Bordeaux futures.
For our affordable wines, our clients importers & distributors need fruity wines, ready to drink. We adapted our vines & our wine making process to get very good wines able to be drunk soon after bottling. We don’t forget our consumers who like ageing wines (a lot would like to age wine, very few really make it…). Our terroir and grapes allows a 5/8 years favorable ageing.
We are now preparing the first release of ’06, bottling Jan 8th, should be on BevMo shelves in march/april. Less concentrated, rounder, still as fruity as ’05, more “classic”. Maybe easier for most consumers who are not wine specialists. Not yet rated by WW, as he did not get the final blending (my importer & BevMo trust me, I hope CA consumers will appreciate ’06 as much as ’05)
We have the chance that wine consumers first initiated to wine by new world frequently prefer the complexity of old world wines when more experienced…
PS I do speak/read some French, as my father’s family is from Lyon, and it was spoken in my grandparents’ house exclusively when I was a young child. I also spent a couple of months in Paris several years ago, but other than that, have very little chance to use it here in Los Angeles. I think my wine blog may justify a trip to Europe for a tour of some vineyards… perhaps I can put yours on the list!
Merry Xmas, happy new year, and enjoy Bordeaux !
’06 Vintage in the Spring! I can’t wait to try it, sounds like it could be more up my alley. I think comparing my notes to Wilfred’s will also help me understand his tastes. I’m also going to get another bottle and try his suggestion of letting it sit in my cellar for a couple months before trying. That will be a fun little experiment.