This morning I met with Sebastien LeClerec, who took me around the Chateaus of St Emilion, and who brought a breakfast of croissants, which we enjoyed over a cup of coffee. I had not seen Sebastien since meeting him at ProWein, and it was great to catch up with him and I greatly appreciated his showing me around St Emilion. We took a tour of the impressive production facilities of the UDP and met the winemaking team who develop the Aurelius brand, among others. He is an impressive guy and a part time walnut farmer, and he explained to me the process of harvesting them, which sounded like fun but sure stained your hands!
After a great lunch, I drove to the town of Bordeaux, to the downtown offices of the Bordeaux negociant and producer, Sichel. I discovered first hand that you can’t use your cell phone while driving in France, but the police officer who was kind enough to explain it to me was great and actually helped me with directions. The next police officer who pulled me over was really nice too – he was nice enough to remind me to obey the traffic laws and use my turn signal!! He also gave me directions – who say the French are cranky? They are great!
I met Alex Sichel and Edouard Brastaad and we drove off to the Margaux region to Chateau Angludet, where we met winemaker Ben Sichel. He and his team were in the middle of sorting the late ripening petit verdot grapes, which will be used in the production of the 2014 vintage of Angludet, which Ben expects to be extremely good. Ben explained that Petit Verdot, which is typically around 12% of any Angludet vintage, provides a great bridge between Merlot and Cabernet and is a key to the consistent quality of their wines. After tasting the 2010 and 2011 Vintages of Angludet and touring the estate, which is home to many of the Sichel family members, we headed back for a tour of Sichel’s downtown offices – where we met again with Ben’s brother James. He took me on a tour of their very impressive offices, which has been used by the Sichel family since the late 1800’s.
James is understandably proud of all his family and he was equally proud to show off two impressively re-developed areas of downtown Bordeaux – the waterfront and the Rue Sainte-Catherine. The waterfront sits on the Garonne river and it shows me what could be possible with Detroit’s own waterfront area as it has only been developed within the past 10 years. It is beautiful and vibrant, with people running, skate boarding, and enjoying the beautiful views. The Rue Sainte-Catherine was re-developed into a pedestrian only shopping street 1.2 kilometers long, which makes it one of the longest shopping streets in Europe. On it, is the Grand Hotel of Bordeaux, which is situated across from the Opera House, and where we went to the rooftop and shared the 2013 Sichel Rose, a blend of Cabernet and Merlot and enjoyed the city view. Afterwards, we went downstairs street side for another great evening of conversation, dinner and an offer to join James on one of his future Triathlon competitions! I guess I will have to start training!
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