Friday, June 24, 2011

AWBR Conference at Bordeaux Business School Plus Dinners at Chateau Giscours and Millesima

June 8 - 11, 2011 – Another Academy of Wine Business Conference (AWBR) with the location this time at the Bordeaux Business School. This was my 4th visit to Bordeaux and I always enjoy the city because it reminds me of a “little Paris.” With just over 1 million people including the suburbs, Bordeaux has an amazing downtown that was renovated with the UNESCO World Heritage grant to bring it back to its 18th century glory. Sidewalk cafes, fountains, statues, and beautiful buildings enchant along the Garonne River.

The conference was enjoyable with over 80 academic wine papers spread over 3 days. I spent most of my time in sessions on wine social media, branding, and consumer behavior. In the evenings, the conference committee planned exciting dinners for us. As I was traveling with my sister, Michelle, this time she was able to accompany us.

Enchanting Dinner at Chateau Giscours

On Thursday, June 9, the Union Des Grands Crus de Bordeaux sponsored at dinner at the beautiful Chateau Giscours (see photos) in Margaux. Michelle and I drove from our hotel near the airport, and it only took about 25 minutes to arrive. We were greeted by one of the owners who was very excited because she had just negotiated the 2010 en primeur price that day and achieved a 10% increase over 2009.

At the welcome reception we started with Chateau Giscours Rose 2009 which paired well with the foie gras and cheese appetizers. When more than 100 of us sat down to dinner, they announced we would be drinking 2007 vintages for the evening from a variety of member producers. I wasn’t that pleased with the news because 2007 was a cool and wet season in Bordeaux resulting in high acid, astringent tannins, and lighter body. However, most of the wines worked well with food.

The first course was pate with salad paired with a white Bordeaux. The main course was grilled steak paired with 2007 St. Estephe which was so tannic that we had to ask for a Margaux. Everyone at the table was much happier with the softer Merlot dominant wine. The cheese course brought much delight in that a 2004 Chateau Giscours grand cru was poured as a complement. This was the favorite wine of the night, and showed some complex secondary notes, more integrated tannins, and a fuller body with longer finish. Even though 2004 isn’t considered close to the greatness of 2005, it was much more enjoyable than the 2007 reds. However, we ended with a raspberry crème cake paired with a 2007Chateau Doisy Daene Sauternes which put most people in a state of rapture. As our host informed us, though 2007 was not as great in the Medoc, it was perfect in Sauternes.

Celebration Dinner at Millesima

Friday evening after the conference, the celebration dinner was in downtown Bordeaux at Millesima – an amazing wine shop and cellar housed in a historic warehouse. Millesima is both a negotiant and a wine retailer, and has locations across France. The dinner was sponsored by the Union des Maisons de Bordeaux, and began with a tour through the cellars where was passed cases of famous labels, including all the first growths. However, we did not get to taste those wines, but were treated to other member wines from Bordeaux, plus our wines from around the world.

This was our traditional celebration dinner where we each brought a bottle of wine from our country. My contribution was Opus One, which was so popular the bottle was tasted and consumed by more than 30 people in less than one minute! Dinner was three courses and consisted of scallops to begin, grilled duck/beef as the main, and raspberry sorbet with crepes for dessert.

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