Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Erica Landin

Got a winemaker onto Snooth! Follow him!

Posted by Erica Landin, Sep 9, 2012.

I've just arrived in the Rhone to participate in the harvest at Domaine Duseigneur. Will share my experience with you guys. First order of business was to get the winemaker onto Snooth so he knows what we are up to.

Do follow him - Bernard Duseigneur is user bduseigneur. He is harvesting his first Chateauneuf du Pape this year, and has Côtes du Rhone and Lirac vineyards. Good guy, good wines, gorgeous place!

I have interviewed him in Swedish, but have one post in English here:

Also check him out in the video on my blog, it was how we met! (filming)


Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 12, 2012.

I'll be looking out for his wines--will he have an American distributor? 

Recently, my nephew served me a wine from Lirac and it was really good.  I'm keeping that appellation in mind when I'm shopping Rhones.  The nephew and his girlfriend are into wine now and have good palates with a leaning toward Grenache and Syrah, so I'll also alert them to M. Duseigneur's wines. 

Reply by Wai Xin Chan, Sep 13, 2012.

Well done Erica, you are certainly making good use of your time in Rhone! Apart from harvesting grapes, you are harvesting contact for us with wine makers!

+1 to that!

Reply by Erica Landin, Sep 13, 2012.

He has one, not a large one, but a few of the wines are starting to be available. I'll show him how he can add and describe the wines on Snooth. I'd try the Astrolabe. Or as an easy summer red (served chilled) the Minha Terra. If I'm not off tasting wines in other domaines, I can use this break in harvesting to help him get active on snooth ;)

Reply by Clare Goggin Sivits, Sep 14, 2012.

Fantastic! Thanks, Erica. I can't wait to learn a little more about his wines.

Reply by Erica Landin, Sep 14, 2012.

Thanks Clare - he is feeling a bit overwhelmed right now but really happy when someone follows him, so let's see if we can get this started. If we could just get a break from these 12 hour workdays! Office work might be stressful (as is writing) but it "aint got nothin" on the life of a winemaker during harvest!

Reply by Clare Goggin Sivits, Sep 14, 2012.

No doubt!

Reply by Clare Goggin Sivits, Sep 14, 2012.

Also -- if anyone needs, here is the link to his profile:

Reply by Erica Landin, Sep 14, 2012.

Thanks Clare :) I will get Bernard to add a picture and the like during the weekend. Am getting out early Sunday morning to get some photos of sunrise over Chateauneuf du Pape for an article, so if I get him to show me his new vineyards then, I will get him to pose.

If anyone reads this and wants to tell me what would be interesting to hear from a winemaker, it could help him know what to share!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 14, 2012.

Okay, here's a question: how does he decide when to pick? Does he just use "scientific methods," hydrometers and the like, or does he primarily rely on tasting the grapes, or some combination?  Other than finding willing bloggers, how does he make sure he will have pickers available when he needs them? 

Another one:  Does he foresee expansion of his holdings, and will that be accomplished by purchasing land already under cultivation, or by buying land and planting it?  (What does a hectare go for compared to, say, Napa?)

Reply by bduseigneur, Sep 15, 2012.

Erica landin found the right words to express what we feel at the moment :

Of course we use all the analysis tools but the last call relies on tasting. Seed and skin ripeness are key elements for structuring the tannins. When they are ripe, Nature generously grants you a 15 days window to pick.

We are actually looking for expension in Chateauneuf du Pape and in Lirac. CDP land is bloody expensive, about 400 grands per hectare. Lirac is 1/10 of this. What is it in Napa ?

We have started to rent some land which is already cultivated and are converting it to biodynamics. Also some that we have planted last winter that will produce their first harvest in 2015.

The land is not the only thing to finance when you are running a vineyard. The running capital needed to get to the first bottle of wine and the stock which obviously depends on your aging strategy are also very costly. Let alone the machines and the buildings.

That's the winemaker constant dilemma, making long term plans with huge needs and limited resources !


Reply by EMark, Sep 15, 2012.

Bernard, thank you for the interesting response.  It is interesting for me, whose main interest in wine is as a consumer, to get your technical and economic perspectives.

I hope there are people on this board who can provide a response to your question regarding land prices in Napa, but, I cannot.  As you can image, much like in your region, land prices vary significantly in California, and I suspect that, Napa Valley is the most expensive vineyard land in the state.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 15, 2012.

Here is some idea of what land in Napa costs. Although the article is a year old, things won't have gone down, since the market hasn't appreciably worsened in the last year.  $50k per acre for fringe land and $300k per acre for the best, possibly more.  In hectares (about 2.5 acres to 1 hectare), that's $125k for the dodgy bits and $750,000 a hectare for a good parcel, perhaps even more.  Obviously, there's a big range, and, like Lirac, some less expensive areas.  There's also a ton of places people don't plant vineyards that might be ideal for some things, like the Alameda/Contra Costa ridgeline for nebbiolo (my hunch), and some areas around the East Bay for syrah--but without the AVAs/appellations, no one would want to risk growing grapes they might not be able to sell.  I recently had some wines from Lirac that I loved, so this is a place I'd like to see expansion in. 

I admire the courage of anyone who makes wine and really appreciate the risks you take.  The Phelans grew grapes on land they purchased with a previously made fortune and sold to high-end makers of Cab.  Then they built a winery, and now it's for sale--they just couldn't sell enough of their very good wine at a price that justified it and lost a bundle.  If you have $3.2 million to spend on their property, you can be in the business, but then there's hiring a winemaker, carrying inventory, and all the rest.  I recently had a nice talk with the winemaker at Furthermore, which purchases grapes on the model of Siduri, and we discussed all the ways things can go wrong.  He lost a supplier, but has been able to get more grapes in their place, has changed facilities many times. On the other hand, he has no capital invested beyond the money tied up in inventory, but he's still a long way from making his living at this. 

Thanks, Bernard, for you post.  I for one hope to hear a lot more from you.  And great profile picture--it speaks volumes!


Reply by JonDerry, Sep 15, 2012.

Yes, good to hear from you Bernard, and all the best of luck this harvest.

Have you considered other specialized regions in the Rhone? What do you think of Cahors?

Thanks for the price breakdown on Napa Fox, don't think I'll be buying there in future! Probably Amador, Paso, or the like. Though there may be pockets in Napa/Sonoma I could possibly entertain...I wonder what that Lagier Meredith site might go for in a decade or two? That was a real nice view with vines that will be maturing and plenty of room for expansion if desired.

Reply by bduseigneur, Sep 16, 2012.

No I'm not looking for expension in other regions. Iguess I just want to stay a Rhone ranger ! FYI I am also buying small quantities of grapes from Saint Joseph and Condrieu in the Northern Rhone.

I'm not a great specialist of Cahors I'm afraid. It may look close to where I am located on a map but it's a totally different region winewise. The Cahors I have tasted recently shown spectacular progress compared to the rustic Malbec I had memorised 15 years ago.

One of my good friend Jean Courtois is running the Perrin vineyard called La Grezette. I know that they are working hard to get the best their terroir can give.

Thanks to all for your encouragement !

Reply by Erica Landin, Sep 16, 2012.

I'm still hanging out here, waiting for harvest to start. In the meanwhile, I've been off tasting on my own in Languedoc, with Bernard at Rayas (I thought I was good at opening doors, I've got nothing on him it seems!) and showing visiting friends how to pick grapes. Take a look here:

Tomorrow we re-start harvesting (yay!) and on Tuesday I leave :(

Reply by Terence Pang, Sep 21, 2012.

Thanks for joining us on Snooth Bernard. What's the chances of getting your wines in Australia?

Reply by bduseigneur, Sep 22, 2012.

None at the moment I'm afraid as I have no importer there. I'll be happy to meet one if you can advise me.

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