Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Two Good, 2 Bad for 2013: Gavin Quinney, owner Chateau Bauduc

Published:  23 December, 2013

In the second of our 2 Good, 2 Bad for 2013 series Bordeaux winemaker, Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc, looks back on a year with more than its share of highs and lows including seeing a large part of his crop destroyed by hail as well as spend part of the year entertaining BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans on a tour of Bordeaux's best chateaux.

Gavin Quinney, owner and winemaker of Chateau Bauduc, Bordeaux 

Whe someone says 'there's good news and there's bad news', I usually ask for the bad news first to end on a positive note. So here are 'the bad' first.


2 Bad

1 On Friday 2 August, we'd just finished all the hands-on work in the vineyard at Chateau Bauduc and were about to sit down to supper outside with friends at our farmhouse. It was a fine summer's evening but, seemingly from nowhere, a quiet but deadly storm approached from the Atlantic coast. We didn't even have time to clear the table. Hailstones peppered the garden and, more importantly, the vines; strong winds propelled the pebble-sized, icy balls into the west-facing rows, shredding leaves and splitting grapes.

 I have no idea how many times I said the F word that evening but I think I let the side down in front of so many children. 

It transpired the following day, bad as it was in our own back yard, that we were on the edge of the corridor of destruction that ripped through the Entre Deux Mers. I've never seen anything like it. Some 10,000 hectares, or 25,000 acres, lost between half and 100% their crop for 2013. More than 80% of the hundreds of growers affected don't have hail insurance, because of the cost. Us included.

We lost about half our crop on the night and the vines closed down for a while, as if in shock. The result is that many of the remaining grapes - on the hail-affected vines - never ripened properly. So about half the wine we've made, following the harvest in late September and October, is only good enough to be sold off in bulk. That's not good.

2 A diary clash. I've followed Chelsea to European finals in Stockholm, Moscow and Munich but the date of the (inferior) Europa Cup Final wasn't in my 2013 calendar for some reason. So when Ronan Sayburn asked if I'd help out with a Bordeaux tasting and presentation at The Dorchester, I agreed. On discovering my schoolboy error months later, it was too late - I tried to switch it but in vein. Still, listening to Ronan talk about the terroir of the Left Bank easily made up for not partying the night away in Amsterdam after Chelsea's last minute winner. 

Meanwhile, the wines of Chateau Bauduc have yet to be listed at the Park Lane hotel.

2 Good  

With every storm cloud there's a silver lining, and a stash of positives came out of the hail. We had hundreds of supportive comments from customers and friends on our Bauduc blog, Twitter, by email and by phone. Then some press, not least an article by Victoria Moore in The Telegraph.

Finally, I was chuffed to win the Special Recognition trophy at the Harper's French Wine Awards (mainly for tweeting and blogging on the challenges of being a small Bordeaux producer this year, with the emphasis on small). The large glass ornament takes pride of place on our kitchen mantelpiece, next to the handsome bronze boar whose snout has been put firmly out of joint.

1 This is a tough one, as there have been many good things. On a personal 'moving to France' note, our eldest daughter Georgie did well enough in the French BAC at her lycée in Bordeaux to go off and read Law in Bristol in September. It seems like only yesterday since we threw her into our local village école maternelle, aged four, when we moved here in time for our first harvest in '99. 

2 I guess though that taking Mr and Mrs Chris Evans around Bordeaux for three days and four nights in March rated pretty highly. Chris is full of energy and enthusiasm, with a huge appetite to learn; he also won everyone over by taking such an interest in them as individuals, and what it is that motivates them.

It will be a long time before I forget our trips to Chateaux Clinet, Le Pin (oh, the '98..), Haut-Brion, Pichon Baron and Cos d'Estournel. The dinners here at Bauduc (cote du boeuf cooked on the vines is a house favourite) at the two restaurants at Sources de Caudalie, and at La Tupina in Bordeaux were hugely entertaining. The wines served at lunch at Pichon Baron by Christian Seely will also take some beating. 

Thanks to Kirsty, Laura and Richard for hooking us up.