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11 November 2005

A breath of fresh air in Bordeaux?

Jean-Christophe Mau, fussy sorter
Eighteen bright ‘young guns’ have formed a new producers’ association and launched their promotional campaign for the UK, called Bordeaux Oxygène. What is particularly noticeable and novel for Bordeaux is that it’s not obviously based on an elitist hierarchy or specific appellations. It does include top-ranked Saint-Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé estates such as Angélus and Beau-Séjour Bécot, but there are also Châteaux from Côtes de Francs – Marsau owned by Dourthe – Thibault Despagne’s Tour de Mirambeau Bordeaux Supérieur and Ch. Preuillac (Médoc) and Ch. Brown (Pessac-Léognan), both represented by Jean-Christophe Mau. They are all youthful and enthusiastic – Mau joked he is the oldest (I don't know how old he is but younger than me probably!) – although perhaps not lacking in funds. The group also includes the daughters of Michel Rolland (Stéphanie Rolland-Lesage at Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol) and the owners of Smith Haut-Lafitte (Alice Cathiard-Tourbier); and Mathieu Chadronnier, son of Dourthe boss Jean-Marie. Bordeaux Oxygène’s president Benoit Trocard, of Clos Dubreuil in Saint-Emilion, commented: “A revolution in Bordeaux isn’t possible. Our parents and ancestors worked and achieved things for Bordeaux; it’s our turn to get out there, head on with the competition from top wines that aren’t necessarily from Bordeaux.” Their initial focus is Europe and in particular the UK, Switzerland and Belgium with plans to hold targeted tastings this winter and next spring - “to get moving, keep moving, not wait,” as vice-president Jean-Christophe Mau put it.

For further details try contacting the elected secretary Sylvie Courselle at Château Thieuley (Bordeaux Supérieur). The other producers involved are: Malartic-Lagravière (Pessac-Léognan); Clos du Clocher, Château Rouget (Pomerol); Clos Fourtet, Grand Mayne (Saint-Emilion); Château Brillette (Moulis); La Lagune, Loudenne (Médoc); and Ch. Nairac (Sauternes). Let’s hope they don’t shorten Bordeaux Oxygène to its initials for English speaking countries, as they had in the original press file…
A version of this story appeared in the UK trade paper Off Licence News, 11th November 2005. Tasting feature from the same trip here: Pessac-Léognan, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.