UNESCO approved – the tourists are coming!!!

Congratulation Burgundy. On the 4th July 2015 UNESCO officially recognized the unique “terroir” that makes up the 1247 vineyards in Burgundy’s prime Côtes de Nuits & Côtes de Beaune districts. Champgane was also recognized, meaning that all France’s main wine regions: Bordeaux, Burgundy & Champagne are now part of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.

The UNESCO committee when giving their positive verdict during the 39th assembly in Bonn, Germany stated that Burgundy was “an outstanding example of grape cultivation and wine production developed since the High Middle Ages,”

This is final recognition of the unique ‘terroir’ conditions in Burgundy that have enabled wine makers to make arguably the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the world.

The project was spear-headed by Aubert de Villaine, owner of the Romanée Conti estate.

This new status will inevitably lead to an influx of new tourists eager to discover this region. However, the inevitable difficulty is the management of this new parameter. Is the region equipped “logistically” to deal with these new tourists? Do we have adequate infrastructure to cope with their needs? Accommodation, transport, cellar-door facilities?

I get the impression that we are not quite ready. Accommodation is lacking, transport is only possible by train or car as Dijon airport only exists for private jets! And what about cellar-doors? Only 10% of the estates are open for “tastings” in Burgundy…and those that really need to see the tourists are not found in the designated “UNESCO” area…oops!

The paradox is quite unique…tourists really only want to see (and taste wines from) the famous estates, which are in the designated UNESCO area of the Côtes de Nuits & Côtes de Beaune. Unfortunately these estates are closed to the public…Of course you can stroll or drive through the vineyards …but nothing indicates what you are looking at. There are a limited number of estates you can visit, but they are not necessarily the best. The estates who want to see the tourists are in the Côte Chalonnaise, the Maconnais and Chablis districts.

A solution would be to explain the unique set-up in Burgundy, that this region is not like “Napa” in California or “Hunter” in Australia which are geared towards wine tourists. Burgundy is an authentic wine region whose only true vocation is to make wine…small quantities that have to be spread around the world and that are sold mainly through retail channels…not cellar doors The tiny size of the estates and small yield means that they cannot accommodate cellar door facilities and they don’t need them either. They just don’t have that dimension. What’s more, there is an “everyone for themselves” mentality in this region, rather than working for the common good, which makes for poor synergy. It is common knowledge that the Côtes de Nuit district doesn ‘t get on well with the Côte de Beaune!!!

There is no easy solution and I personally can’t come up with one. I just hope that Burgundy authorities have a few good ideas up their sleeve that they are ready to implement quickly…otherwise the shock could be a brutal!

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DRC wines for sale -a unique opportunity

Yes, every once in a while we get some DRC bottles for sale. Here is what we have available…but be quick as they will run out fast…


La Tâche

1 MAG La Tâche 1982 3.500 €

2 bles La Tâche 2003 2.500 €

1 MAG La Tâche 2005 9.200 €

5 bles La Tâche 2009 2.840 €



4 bles Richebourg 2009 1.510 €



1 ble Echezeaux 1985 866€

2 bles Echezeaux 2009 976 €


Grands Echezeaux

1 ble Grands Echezeaux 2001 1.176 €

2 bles Grands Echezeaux 2007 1029 €

2 bles Grands Echezeaux 2009 1.160 €


Romanée Saint Vivant

2 bles Romanée Saint Vivant 2009 1.320 €

5 bles Romanée Saint Vivant 2011 1.209 €


Romanée Conti

1 ble Romanée Conti (Individual Wood Case) 2009 13.125 €



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Burgundy vineyard prices to make you feel dizzy!

Ever thought about investing in Burgundy vineyards? Burgundy is not only very famous, frustratingly difficult to understand, small, unique, complex, now one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites, but also, as you would imagine, highly expensive. The average cost of buying a grand cru vineyard in Burgundy (which by the way is France’s most expensive wine real estate), rose by 5.3% in 2013…and keeps increasing. These vineyards are all but impossible to acquire…

Burgundy is unique in that it is made up of over 2000 estates, the majority of which are less than 10 hectares (25 acres) and in the famous “Côtes de Nuits & Côtes de Beaune” districts (2 out of 5), which cover only 50 km or 30 miles.

Still hungry for more figures? Burgundy has 559 hectares (1,398 acres) of Grand Cru and 3326 hectares (8,315 acres) of 1er Cru (or first growths). Although primarily a white wine region (60%) known for its great Chardonnay, the Pinot Noir accounts for 56.8% of Grand Cru wines and 44.2% of first growths.

So is it easy to purchase a Burgundy estate. No. Unlike Bordeaux, where the “chateau” is in the middle of its vineyard and where you see all you own, Burgundy estates are huddled together in a necklace of villages and their vineyards are found spread over different areas between the villages. To make things even more complicated, in Burgundy they have a mosaic-like set up where each estate owns certain  “parts” of a number of vineyards. Therefore you “cannot” see what you own.

The vineyard plots that rarely come up for sale are expensive and many estates cannot buy them alone and are looking for investors.

To give you an idea of costs, here is the official price index in 2013

Chardonnay – Côtes de Beaune

Appellation village – 590.000€ average price/hectare

Appellation 1er Cru – 1.55m€ average price/hectare (up from 1.50m€

Appellation Grand Cru > 2.46m€/hectare to 12m€

Pinot Noir – Cotes de Nuits

Appellation village  – 480.000€ average price/hectare

Appellation 1er Cru – 655.000€ average price/hectare from 620.000€

Appellation Grand Cru > 2.46m€/hectare to 12m€

Chablis : 175.000 €/ha, Chablis 1er cru : 300.000 €/ha ; Bourgogne appellation régionale : 48.000 €/ha ; petit Chablis : 76.000 €/ha.

Elsewhere in France:

Rhone valley – 1.2m€ / hectare

Bordeaux – 2.3m€ / hectare

Champagne – 1.1m€ / hectare

In Burgundy, which is primarily an agricultural region, vineyard transactions make up about 3% of the area of the agricultural real estate market but over 33% of the value, according to a recent publication.

To add to this, Burgundy has 38 of the 50 most expensive wines in the world…

Still interested? Well there are still some great “value-for-money” purchases to be made in Burgundy. When you’re established in the area, like we are, you get to hear of these things. If you want to know more, contact us: stephenliney@gmail.com

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Tips on how to enjoy your bottle of wine…

There are certain rules to follow in order to get the best from your bottle of wine. RESPECT is probably the most appropriate. If you don’t repect your wine, then you won’t get the maximum enjoyment.

Wine is like a human being…it is a living organsim that has a life-cycle (like humans) and reacts to atmospheric conditions (like humans).

Ageing and cellar conditions:

Wine is like a human being – it has a lifespan – which can be exploited to the full if kept in perfect conditions, or age prematurely if left in the wrong place. Wine needs to be kept in a humid and cool environment. It doesn’t like dry conditions, exposure to sunlight or extreme heat conditions. Avoid keeping a case of wine under the stairs or in the kitchen or even worse, in your garage!!!*

These are the basic rules:

1/ Keep the bottles lying down. The cork (providing it has one), needs to be kept moist, so contact with the wine is necessary.

2/ Make sure that the storage area is fairly humid – 60% to 70% as the outside of the cork needs to be kept humid too.

3/ A dry cork will shrink so air gets in and wine seeps out, ageing the bottle prematurely.

Opening the bottle and serving:

Wine needs to breathe and a certain amount of oxygen will open up the wine and make it more agreeable to drink. Too much oxygen and the wine will “oxidize” and taste like wet cardboard!

These are the basic rules:

1/Uncork the bottle 30 minutes before serving…avoid carafing or decanting (see late explanation).

Why? Because the wine needs to breathe. When a bottle is uncorked you may get a slightly musty, cheesy, sulphury smell. This usually come from the Wine/SO2/Cork contact. If you let the wine breathe or oxygenate, this will dissappear and the wines true aromas will prevail.

Wine is made of many odorous molecules with different volatility. As the wine breathes, the most volatile molecules evaporate giving the first aromas…the longer the wine breathes or the more you swirl, the more the aromas change as the denser molecules start to evaporate, which you can then smell. That is why when you go to a restaurant and order a bottle of wine, it is only really near the end of the meal that you start to appreciate it…once it has had time to wake up…!

“What if guests turn up by surprise and I have to open a bottle and serve straight away?”

2/ Then pour into a carafe to “oxygenate” the wine before serving.

Tricks of the trade: Go into the kitchen and pour the wine into a carafe (bowl shaped bottle with swan neck – if you don’t have one, use a water jug). If it is an older vintage (+5 years), then pour slowly into the carafe and leave for 5 minutes before serving. If it is -5 years then you can agitate (swirl) the carafe vigorously for a couple of minutes. Take a funnel and pour back into the original bottle. Why? Well, if it is quite an expensive bottle, it’s nice to serve from that original bottle and not the carafe  as guests make take the wine for being Bag In Box!

3/FAQ: Are “wine aerators” efficient?

Yes, although they still remain a “stylish” wine gadget. If you don’t have time to open a bottle 30 minutes before, or you don’t want to swirl the wine in a carafe “à la wine waiter”, then they do work…and it’s always better than drinking unready wine!

Swirling & sipping:

Without wanting to look like a wine snob, there are certain simple stages that should be followed if you want to get the best from your wine.

1/ Look at the wine in your glass. No, this is not to check if your glass has been filled correctly, but just to check the transparence. If the wine looks cloudy or murky, then there will be a problem. It should also tell you a little about the age of the wine. Normally the darker and more intesnse the colour, the younger the wine. If you have a more brick-red colour, the wine is normally older. This does vary according to the grape varietal – but this is not the most important aspect.

2/ Smell before swirl!!! People have the bad habit of swirling as soon as they pick up the glass. Wrong. If you are looking to detect a fault in the wine, or more importantly to see how the wine evolves, you need a benchmark. Smelling the wine before you swirl will give you an idea of how it is from the start and will make it easier to track its evolution or find the fault!

3/ Sip and enjoy!! Yes, the main aim is to drink the wine and to enjoy it.  However your mouth is an elaborate and sensitive tasting machine with taste buds that will always relate the true story…whether good or bad. So read on…

What sensations should I be getting?

Wine is all about personal enjoyment – YOUR personal enjoyment – which will be related to your brain by your sensory organs – primarily SMELL and TASTE.

What you smell, you may like, but you may be dissappointed by the taste or vice versa.

Each person is biologically different and what YOU may detect in the wine, your neighbor may not. You might be sensitive to sweet or sour things. What you have eaten before tasting the wine (or lack of food) could also alter the taste. Did you have coffee, fruit juice or toothpaste???

My advice: when tasting wine, let the first sip line your pallet, but DON’T judge the wine at this stage. Your pallet needs to adapt to the acidity and/or tannins of the wine. Swollow or spit. Then judge the wine on the second taste. This also applies when changing from a red to a white or vice-versa.

Balance is for me the most important part, not trying to find adjectives to describe the wine like “it tastes of white flowers, mushrooms, blackcurrant, cheese crusts etc..”

Balance for white wines is “Alcohol, Acidity & Fruit”

Balance for red wines is “Alcohol, Acidity, Fruit & Tannins”

Wine will always have alcohol form day 1 to the end of its life.

Fruit is obviously an important part in the smell and taste of wine, whether black fruits, red fruits, stone fruits, summer fruits, green fruits etc. You can also get floral notes in wine.

Acidity adds sharpness to the wines and helps them to age too. Warmer climate wines have lower acidity than cooler climates. Acidity is the backbone of white wines and is felt on the sides of your tongue and will make you salivate slightly. Too much acidity tastes excessively sour and sharp, a wine with too little acidity will taste flabby and flat. It also counterbalances the sweetness in wines and the bitterness found in the tannins.

Tannins are the backbone of red wines. Found on grape skins, seeds and from the wine barrel they have a certain bitterness and give the red wines a character. When young, a red wine will have very dry and bitter tannins. This will be felt in your mouth, in particular at the back, on the roof of your pallet and on your gums. Tannins are looking for proteins in your mouth and the only way to avoid that extra dryness is to accompany the red wine with protein-based foods such as meats, cheeses or chick peas, lentilles (for vegetarians). The tannins will leave the natural proteins in your mouth alone and hook on to the food substances, making the drinking of the red wine more enjoyable!!

So basically, a good wine means a perfect harmonius balance of the above and will result in you saying “wow, now that IS good”.

But you musn’t forget what wine is all about…

“the right wine, with the right food and the right people at the right time…”




*If you don’t have a wine cellar (which is the case for most people), or space is limited,  invest in a small wine fridge…

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Bordeaux vs Burgundy…a Chinese puzzle!

So we’ve just been informed that the Chinese are now owners of over 100 wineries in Bordeaux (out of about 8000). That means that 1.25% of Bordeaux is now owned by the Chinese!
But we’ve also been informed that the Chinese are now buying more Burgundy wine than Bordeaux! So what do the Chinese prefer? Here is where the puzzle starts. The rise in wine estate acquisitions in Bordeaux by the Chinese isn’t a sudden revelation of their love of Bordeaux wine, rather the search for a new “status symbol” to show their wealth.
To be honest, I believe the Chinese to be a little wary of Bordeaux wines. Why? Well for two main reasons: counterfeit wines that find there way on to the Chinese market and are scaring the Chinese from acquiring bottles such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild (of which about 70% on the Chinese market are fake). They are fed up of spending up to 6000$ on a bottle that turns out to be counterfeit!
The other reason is the Chinese governments clampdown on gift giving – a national pastime – and where offering expensive bottles of wine would have been considered the ideal gift.

What’s more the Chinese have moved on. After spending several years discovering and buying Bordeaux wines, they decided to move on to the other premium wine region, Burgundy. Here the challenge is different and even more exciting as it is a challenge to discover and understand “Bourgogne” as it is now suitably called and it’s unique “terroir”.
So why do the Chinese buy more chateaux in Bordeaux then in Burgundy? As mentioned earlier, the Chinese are buying “chateaux” in Bordeaux as a status symbol. They are easier to identify as you’ll find a beautiful chateau in the middle of the vineyard, whereas in Burgundy, the estate (they don’t call them chateau here) is normally located in one of the beautiful villages and it’s vineyards (or “parcelle” as it’s called in French) are spread around the village and beyond. You rarely own a whole vineyard in Burgundy, you own a section of one vineyard….maybe 20 or 40 rows of vines, and some more in another and so on….So in Burgundy it’s difficult to find an estate on it’s own vineyard. It’s called the burgundy exception. So for the Chinese who are looking for a visible “all-in-one” tangible estate, they look to Bordeaux. You get it all in a glance!
The Chinese are however unperturbed by Burgundy’s intricacies and are frequently found, in small groups, visiting the vineyards and trying to understand the famous “expression of the terroir”, of which the Burgundians are so proud. Many small-sized estates producing some of the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the planet just have to be discovered. One Chinese businessman, Louis Ng, bought a Burgundy estate, the Chateau de Gevrey Chambertin. He is, to my knowledge, the only Chinese estate owner in Burgundy. Strangely enough it is a chateau and not an estate) in the middle of its vineyard…one of the rare specimens in Burgundy. But this proves a point.
I have many clients from Asia: China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore and they marvel at the authentic and unique way in which wine is still made in Burgundy, the history and the men (and women) that make the local wines so unique. Bordeaux is more forthright, whereas Burgundy is more subtle. Or to say it in local terms, Bordeaux has the body whereas Burgundy has the elegance!
So going back to my first point as to whether they are Bordeaux or Burgundy, I think the answer has to be both. But more importantly why are so many Chinese visiting these famous wine regions in the first place? Its not just about their love of French wines, it’s also about curiosity.
China will be the 6th largest wine producer by 2016 and wine regions are sprouting in several parts of the country. There is already a fight between the Shandong province and the Ningxia region, with both vying to become China’s answer to Napa valley. The Chinese government is giving grant money to anyone who wishes to develop agricultural land and build a winery and new winery estates are popping up everywhere. China has the biggest domestic tourism market in the world and big ambitions too. China wants to rival with Bordeaux’s wine quality in the next 30 years and make the domestic wine market a fine wine market too. The Chinese are here to discover, enjoy and emulate. Many are on a fact-finding mission as the wine culture is a new culture which they wish to embrace. China is a superpower with big ambitions…become the number one wine production country in the world. They are not there yet, but give them a few more years and who knows?
So could this be the missing piece of the Chinese puzzle? Only time will tell.

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Developing a Market for Chinese Wine: Tourism and Education

Developing a Market for Chinese Wine: Tourism and Education.

via Developing a Market for Chinese Wine: Tourism and Education.

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Is France a safe country to travel? Ask Charlie…

In a country that doesn’t speak the English language, kept out the Romans (for a long while at least),  invented gourmet cuisine and produces pint-sized leaders with global ambitions as often as croissants (no, not Sarkozy, Napoleon!), accusations of holding 741 “No-Go Zones” that ressemble Afghanistan and Iraq made most French laugh (well, they need something to make them smile at the moment…).

Depending on which American news channel you watch, the news of the sickening terrorist attack in Paris, sent shivers down most peoples spines. But Fox News takes the Oscar for what can best be described as (politely) “amateurish journalism”. Stupid, pre-fabricated lies would be more accurate…cue the terrorism specialist Nolan Peterson. Has this guy ever even been to France???

Fortunately the rest of the journalistic world in the USA, and in particular the New York Times, were on a more realistic line. Thanks in particular should go to the French satirical TV show Le Petit Journal who in a typical David vs Goliath boxing fight, floored Fox News in the first round with some clever journalistic jabs to the chin. Fox News apologised 4 times!

France, like many terroist-threatened countries in the world, needs to move on and not bow to fear. Indeed the French, after organising a peaceful march that brought together over 4 million people on the streets – and many more at home, have found a much-wanted unity that other countries should take note of. The message is clear. They will not be daunted by terrorism and there is a strong feeling of unity between different religions – Catholic, Muslim & Jewish – avoiding any amalgamation between muslims at large and radical muslim terrorists. Despite the horror of the attack and the intention of creating more “radicalisation” and “hatred” amongst the different ethnic groups, the opposite seems to have happened. France, that has had its share of racial problems and seen the right wing National Front party shave away a fair share of voting from the established parties, has never been more united and racism “tolerant”. Even the President François Holland saw his popularity soar by a record 21%!!

But let’s be realistic. This may and probably will have a temporary effect (at least politically) as the economic realities of France come back into the limelight and the muslim world at large has taken ombrage thr the last edition of the satirical journal. But something has changed in France’s persona and it could have a positive long-term effect on what is one of Europe biggest multi-ethnic countries. Time will tell.

But back to the question in the title of this article, is it safe to travel in France? Of course. Just as safe as in most other European countries! Thanks to the French populations attitude to terrorism, thanks to French satirical press and sadly thanks to Charlie Hebdo. The New York Times published its 50 best world destinations in 2015 and one of the French regions I prefer and where I live, Burgundy, came 15th out of 50…ahead of Paris! So don’t be afraid, come to this beautiful and unique country and experience the wonderful French lifestyle at first hand.

Vive La France, Vive la Bourgogne and Vive Charlie!

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