Monthly Archives: April 2013

A serene morning break from wine.

If you don’t fancy visiting the vineyards of France in the depths of winter help is at hand. Always interested to find ideas for our wine tour clients when visiting the vineyards of France is not an option, Mary Dardenne of Decanter Tours and I sacrificed ourselves to test drive the new Day Spa offer by The Shanti Maurice.

I have mentioned this fabulous Mauritian resort on previous posts, so some of you will recognise the name. Normally reserved for residents the Nira Spa is now opening it’s doors to non residents for a special offer. So should you find yourself near the south of the island here’s your chance.

Yoga at the Shanti

We arrived in time for the 8.15 Hatha yoga class given by one of the highly trained resident yogis, followed by a cleansing Jalneti session to clear the sinuses. This all worked up an appetite for the fabulous spa breakfast. Served in a private tea pavilion surrounded by the waterfalls of the spa garden we were offered a choice of hot dishes accompanied by fresh fruit, grilled vegetables, Muslei, yoghurt and freshly baked breads (including gluten free) all accompanied by their famous ginger and lemon tea.

Breakfast is served

After a break for digestion lying by the pool the morning ended with the wonderful 4 handed Abhyanga Ayurvedic massage, steam and scrub. We both highly recommend this as a wonderful way to while away those wine tour free months and your liver will be in pristine condition for the start of the next season!

And to finish a swim in the spa pool.

To book the Serenity Morning call the Nira Spa +230 603 72 00 or by e mail


If you don’t want to wait for the 2012 Scores

Following on from my previous post if you are impatient to hear more about the 2012 primeurs Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast’s European Editor, has already posted more than 250 Bordeaux 2012 barrel sample tasting notes and scores. You can review his notes online now for free at: Roger knows Bordeaux – from the most expensive en primeur wines to the region’s best values.

European editor, Roger Voss

Based near Bordeaux he knows the area intimately and as well as Bordeaux he reviews the wines of Austria, France and Portugal for the Wine Enthusiast so has wealth of experience to draw on. He is also one of the few who systematically taste the primeurs blind. If you want to read more from Roger his published books include France: A Feast of Food and Wine; The Wines of the LoirePocket Guide to the Wines of the LoireAlsace and the Rhône; and Fortified Wines.


Bordeaux online

If you ever doubted that Bordeaux had sufficient coverage on the net then this is the week to change your pre conceptions. With thousands of members of the trade running from pillar to post to taste the 2012  the blogosphere, twitter and Facebook are currently full of comments and impressions of the new vintage.

Since 2011 The website has been revamped with 7 versions covering France, USA, UK, Germany, Belgium, China and Japan. The language that pops up will depend where you log in. In addition to the usual information you would expect from a wine region there is video content including interviews with wine makers and not just the iconic ones but the ‘heart of soul’ Bordeaux producers. If you are not able to get to Bordeaux and tour yourself you can also follow via videos the lucky ones who have visited. If Bordeaux wine tourism is your aim there’s an app for that too; Bordeaux Wine Trip which, should you be lost amongst the vines, will locate you and tell you what and where to visit, dine or sleep nearby.

The Bordeaux Wine Trip App 

Bordeaux has over 450,000 fans of Facebook,Weibo and followers of Twitter in France, USA, UK, Germany, Japan, and Belgium, most of the 60 Bordeaux appellations and other producer groups also have Facebook pages as do many of the 8 000 properties so there is no shortage of news about Bordeaux to be had on the net.

Need info about a particular Bordeaux wine you happen to have in front of you in a shop or restaurant?  Help is at hand via an app. The most well established is Smart Bordeaux, since its launch in December 2010, this app has been downloaded over 82,000 times in 116 different countries. 18,000 Bordeaux wines, be they châteaux or brands are listed (in 13 languages) with details about the wine, producer and serving suggestions. Scan the label or type in the name to learn more. It’s a useful teaching tool to find details of terroir, varietals and wine making but be quick as the students often get there first ! Smart Bordeaux has a partnership with Advanced Track / Trace and Prooftag, specialized in anti-counterfeit seals, allowing the integration of an identification tool that scans authentication seals that are more and more present on the bottles.

The importance of traceability is also highlighted on the Cru Bourgeois web site which offers the possibility to scan the flash code on the new labels, which are a quality guarantee, or by entering the unique number on the label on label.


Data Matrix labels on the necks of Cru Bourgeois bottles
For more information about left bank wines open the Medoc Web site on your smart phone and again, by typing in the name of the wine you can learn all about what’s in the bottle or link directly to the property’s web site. The right bank is not to be left out, the producers association Circle Rive Droite currently has 141 members located in 19 different appellations of Bordeaux’s Right Bank and also now has its own iPhone and iPad app (in French, English and soon Chinese) with a digital wine-tasting notebook and access to information about all the member properties. It too has a “Traceability” section enabling users to check the authenticity of a wine by referring to the Cercle Rive Droite’s identifier marked on the bottle and scanning its QRCode.

The Cercle Rive Droite App

Bordeaux is only a Tweet away. Twitter is full of Bordeaux news and aside from the official Bordeaux tweets 2 of my favourites to follow, and not just during primeur, are Decanter columnist Jane Anson, @newbordeaux and Gavin Quinney, wine maker and taster @GavinQuinney.
If you are looking for more in depth information there are a wealth of Bordeaux based wine blogs too  you might enjoy these, from food and wine writer Nicole Croft and from Maxine Colas.
Oh and of course there’s me!

Is Asia the best place to learn about wine?

I’m sure it’s no news to you that Bordeaux is flying off the shelves in Asia. Recent sales figures by the CIVB (Conseil des Vins de Bordeaux)  show that of the 42% of Bordeaux sales that went to the export market in 2012 (that’s 2.36 M HL or 315 million bottles for a sales value of €2.28 billion)
China is now the leading market in volume having bought 538,000 hl in 2012 for a total of: €338 M (second only to the UK at €420) however add on Hong Kong and the total is a whopping € 580 M in value – and that’s before we look at the other Asian markets many of whom would be bigger players if it weren’t for punitive import taxes in many countries (350% in Thailand for example).
If you needed more proof, the sale a few weeks ago while I was in Hong Kong, of part of Henry Tang’s wine cellar for almost 50 M HK$ by Christies should do it.

The idea that all this top Bordeaux is being mixed with Coca-Cola is now just another urban myth. It was reassuring perhaps for a lot of traditional Bordeaux consumers to poo poo this buying power of Asia by saying ‘well they might be able to afford it but they don’t appreciate it the way we traditional drinkers do’

Well get over it! Not only do they appreciate it but also they are willing to spend the time, and yes money learning more about it.

Asia now has 5 MWs considered by many as the highest distinction in the wine world, (4 of whom happen to be women) and watch out there are many more in the pipeline

Wine schools are booming with almost 100 WSET providers throughout the region for example

The Bordeaux Wine School now  has 11 Accredited partner schools throughout Asia each offering Bordeaux programmes by 75 tutors trained about Bordeaux at the Source!

The Worldwide Accredited Bordeaux Wine Schools

On a recent quick tour of the some of the key cities I was once again amazed by the enthusiasm for education amongst wine enthusiasts and the quality of the schools be they private, business or hotel schools. Judging by the quality of state academies the governments obviously attach a huge importance to investment in education, especially vocational and continuous training for people in the service industry. An important sector, for not just tourism but also supplying this growing local market of budding connoisseurs.

Hotel Schools such as IVE and VTC in Hong Kong , the Institute For Tourism Studies in Macao  Korea and TEMASEC Polytechnic  in Singapore, amongst many others, are bringing to the market young well-trained service professionals that really know there wine. Such courses are completed with visits to major wine growing areas. Private schools such as WSA, ASWEC and other Academie du Vin are also training in the retail trade and service staff as well as a growing public of enthusiastic amateurs and business men who understand that wine knowledge can be a helpful tool to oil the wheels of business.

The new tasting studio at TEMASEC in Singapore

UNWTO (The United Nations World Tourism Organisation) figures just realised say that the Chinese overtook the Germans as the worlds biggest spending travellers in 2012 increasing their spend by 41% to $102bn – so we better be ready to know how to serve them those top wines.