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Bordeaux sexes itself up

Bordeaux, the bastion of old-fashioned wine aristocracy, is getting sexy.

A group of young wine professionals representing 18 different estates have come together in an effort to promote a younger, fresher, more vibrant image of the region, specifically to compete on the international stage.

Christened Bordeaux Oxygène, the group aims to breathe new life into the perception – and sales – of the region’s wines. It will concern itself chiefly with non-winemaking related issues, notably the marketing and promotion of Bordeaux, in an effort to increase the region’s appeal to young wine drinkers.

‘Too many people have an image of Bordeaux as being stuffy, and home to aristocrats on horseback,’ says 27-year-old Jean-Antoine Nony of Château Grand Mayne in St-Emilion. ‘We want to get closer to the consumers.’

‘Bordeaux has a very bad image,’ says Sylvie Courselle, also 27, of Château Thieuley in Entre-Deux-Mers, and the group’s secretary. ‘Everyone thinks it’s only old guys who make wine here. We’re a group who have travelled to lots of different wine regions around the world to learn about making and marketing wine. Now we want to communicate to people that there are lots of young winemakers in Bordeaux and show them what we’re doing.’

The group, which held a launch dinner at Smith-Haut-Lafitte’s Sources de Caudalie hotel complex last week, was keen to stress that it had no desire to erase the winemaking heritage and traditional practices of Bordeaux.

‘When we have visitors from Japan or the US, they are inspired by our history,’ says Caroline Frey at Médoc 3rd growth Château La Lagune. ‘We mustn’t lose that. But we must also attract other, younger customers.’

The group, most of whom are from notable winemaking families, and many of whom studied oenology together, will share ideas on the marketing and promotion of their wines. They will then hold events across Europe in an attempt to challenge Bordeaux’s old-fashioned reputation.

Early projects include the possibility of a ‘speed-dating’ themed tasting in London with selected members of the press, who will each have a five-minute ‘date’ with the various members of the group – and their wines – before ushered on to the next.

There will be an in-depth look at Bordeaux Oxygene in January’s Edition of Decanter (out December 7)

The members of the group, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Juliette Bécot (Châteaux Joanin Bécot, Côtes de Castillon, and Beau-Séjour Bécot, St-Emilion);
  • Jean-Jacques and Séverine Bonnie (Château Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Léognan);
  • Jean-Baptiste Bourotte (Château Bonalgue and Clos du Clocher, Pomerol);

    Alice Cathiard-Tourbier and Jérôme Tourbier (Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan);

  • Mathieu Chadronnier (Château Marsau, Côtes de Francs);
  • Marie and Sylvie Courselle (secretary) (Château Thieuley, Bordeaux Supérieur);
  • Matthieu Cuvelier (Château Clos Fourtet, St-Émilion);
  • Coralie de Boüard (Château Angélus, St-Émilion, and La Fleur de Boüard, Lalande de Pomerol);
  • Basaline and Thibault Despagne (Châteaux Tour de Mirambeau, Bordeaux Supérieur, and Mont-Pérat, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux);
  • Erwan Flageul (Château Brillette, Moulis);
  • Caroline Frey (Château La Lagune, Haut-Médoc);
  • Eloïse Heeter-Tari (Château Nairac, Sauternes);
  • Edouard Labruyère (Château Rouget, Pomerol);
  • Florence Lafragette and Marcello Roudil (Châteaux Rouillac, Pessac-Léognan, L’Hôpital, Graves, and La Loudenne, Médoc);
  • Jean-Christophe Mau (vice-president) (Châteaux Brown, Pessac-Léognan and Preuillac, Médoc);
  • Jean-Antoine Nony (Château Grand Mayne, St-Émilion);
  • Stéphanie Rolland-Lesage (treasurer) (Châteaux Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol, Fontenil, Fronsac and La Grande Clotte, Bordeaux Blanc);
  • Benoit Trocard (president) (Clos Dubreuil, St-Émilion and Clos de la Vielle Eglise, Pomerol).

    Written by Guy Woodward

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