Culture of omertà still exists in Bordeaux

Bordeaux still operates under a culture of omertà, according to one of the region’s most respected producers.

A code of silence still exists in Bordeaux, according to one of the region’s top producers

Speaking at a dinner in London organised by Bordeaux specialist merchant EFWines, Jean-Michel Laporte, director of Château La Conseillante in Pomerol, told the drinks business: “There are winemakers who are real liars in the region that haven’t been outed or caught because a culture of omertà still exists in Bordeaux.

“Producers live and work by a code of silence. When you scratch below the surface, Bordeaux is a very unprofessional region in the way it does business.”

Despite the prevailing code of silence, Laporte believes there is little room in the region for extreme manipulation.

“A few producers were guilty of keeping their best barrels for samples while the majority tasted completely different, but the négociants caught onto it and stopped buying their wine,” he told db.

However, barrel manipulation is still very much alive in the region.

Consultant Stephane Derenoncourt admitted that the samples he makes from en primeur are different to the wines that end up in the bottle

Bordeaux consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt admitted that the samples he makes from en primeur are different to the final wines that end up in the bottle

Last month, Yann Bouscasse of Château Cantinot admitted that he offers different en primeur barrel samples to different journalists, with US critics James Suckling and Robert Parker getting new barrels while the Revue du Vin de France gets a sample from a second or third use barrel.

Meanwhile, prominent consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt admitted that the samples he prepares for primeurs week are different to the final wines that will be bottled.

Derenoncourt, whose clients include châteaux Talbot, Smith Haut Lafitte and Clos Fourtet, told French newspaper Le Monde: “We remove a bit of each distinct parcel and put them straight into barrel after the running off so that the marriage between the wines and the wood may happen more naturally than if we were to put the wines through that at a later date.”

Laporte is surprised at the admission: “For a consultant of such importance to admit that, he’s put himself in a tricky position – he’s shot himself in the foot,” he said.

“If you’re not confident about your wines at an early stage then you shouldn’t be showing them en primeur – it’s as simple as that,” he added.

As for La Conseillante, the only difference to the château’s en primeur samples and what ends up in the bottle is the percentage of pressed wines in the blend.

“Pressed wines are extracted, powerful and astringent when they’re first made so we don’t add them to our en primeur samples as they need time to soften in barrel.

“We don’t use any pressed wine in our en primeur samples, but around 5-6% will end up in the final blend,” he said.

Laporte admitted that it would be sensible to hold the en primeur tastings a year later than they currently take place, but that it would be difficult to do so as many of the châteaux rely on the money that selling en primeur provides them.

One Response to “Culture of omertà still exists in Bordeaux”

  1. John S. says:

    Didn’t anybody with a lick of common sense stop trusting the Bordeaux trade years ago? They have no credibility to lose or reputation to damage. This is just the same old song in a different key.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Marketing Executive

Harviestoun Brewery
London, UK

Content Marketing Assistant

Matthew Clark Bibendum
London, UK

Retail Sales & Operations Manager

Davy's Wine Merchants
London, UK

Head Distiller

Little Bird Gin
London, UK

Events Assistant

Speciality Drinks
Park Royal, London, UK

Digital Sales & Marketing Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

Brand Marketing Manager

Maverick Drinks
London, UK

PR and Communications Manager

Maverick Drinks
London, UK

Various Sales Roles

Amathus Drinks Plc
Bristol, Cardiff, Cornwall, Devon, Leeds and Birmingham

The City Wine & Spirits Show

London,United Kingdom
12th Oct 2018

IBWSS China

Shanghai,China
5th Nov 2018

IBWSS UK

London,United Kingdom
11th Mar 2019
Click to view more

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

the drinks business is proud to announce the inaugural Global Malbec Masters 2017

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters.

Click to view more