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Natural Born Wine Lover (NBWL)

Natural Born Wine Lover (NBWL)


18 février 2020
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Somewhere out there, between the earth and the sky, one is in a constant quest to shelter one’s body and soul, to find an expression of the gifts he is endowed by nature and recreate them into earthly and heavenly fruits.

One walks upright: his steps outline the trajectories of his incessant pursuits, his hands, free and flexible, give them shape and a vertical that runs from his head to his heart connects him with the nature “down below” and the one “up there.” This is the conscious human being: the one that thinks, feels, and acts in harmony with the Universe.

I cannot help but bind these thoughts with what – ever since the time of Rudolf Steiner’s first lecture on biodynamic agriculture in 1924 – has become the philosophy of hundreds of conscious people whose work is directly linked to the earth, and to vine growing and wine making, in particular. And also to share the observation that here, in France that has always impressed me with its art of creating some exceptionally pure wines, in terms of both their nature and expression, the tendency of bio- passing into bio-dynamism is picking up speed.

Classically, in its essence, Bordeaux is also especially cautious about such serious undertakings such as the passage into bio-dynamism, and continues to be the stately “wine bastion” I have always liken it to. This is understandable – in a country such as France that not only because of its very strict legislation but mostly because of the fact that here the terroir has been scientifically studied for centuries and the entire wine-making cycle is examined under a microscope the responsibility that goes hand in hand with the challenge is huge. It is inevitable to speak about investments, too, in funds, time and specialists, as well as about the risks that go along with such an undertaking. Because apart from the consumer the responsibility is also towards all those who work in the wine sector, one of the leading industries in the region in terms of employment. And now that we are speaking of responsibility, I would add: the responsibility of a wine producer whose domain is situated in an appellation that ranks lower is no less than the responsibility of a Grand Cru, for example. Because what is more valid for biodynamic estates compared to the traditional ones is precisely the Love for the Earth however much of a cliché it may sound (at this point a wide-spread image might appear in front of your eyes: the image of a happy and well-meaning vintner. He claims he is in love with the land that he cultivates as per his perceptions. In this sense, there is a difference only in substance, in the terroir’s quality.

Thanks to my professional occupation and personal interest that has deepened with the passage of time my fate got me in touch with some producers of biodynamic wines of different Bordeaux appellations. Maybe it was precisely those acquaintances that gave me the impetus for a more in-depth quest. Later, the fate, fortunately always unpredictable, again turned out to be decisive for what I will speak about later.

In early 2015, during my stay in Shenzhen, China, we were invited by an elite local wine club to an event marking the anniversary of its opening. The wine selection served during the formal reception was exceptionally wide. In the end of the evening, however, in a much narrower circle of high connoisseur collectors, by a very generous gesture, which as a matter of fact is typical of the Chinese, the club introduced us to the intimate atmosphere of several “wine works of art.” Whether it was because I already felt some kind of wine nostalgia for Bordeaux, and because of the fact (I confess) that over time it became my “wine home” the spirit of the Margaux’s Château Palmer 2005, GCC wine that we tasted that night imbued my entire self. What I knew about the domain was that it is one of the few GCC representatives that create bio wines for quite some time. A couple of months later, now in Bordeaux, I came across the most recent list of the top-class wines and Palmer was listed under the group of biodynamic wines.

I am writing these lines in a very exciting moment: when one turns to the earth to reap the outcome of one’s labor. There is certain symbolism in this act, especially in the case of grape harvests: before gathering the harvest one first bends down to the earth (and to the vine) as in giving a bow – as a sign of gratitude to its generosity. Nature gives itself in full to its metamorphosis: the mornings and the evenings stand out crisply fresh, the warmth, in contrast to the one during the summer season, is somewhat more rounded and soft and it spills to the last onto the ripe fruits, and the earth is ready to pick them out of its womb.

Grape harvest is that moment when one tastes one’s labor!

I let myself freely experience my emotion. It follows the line of nature’s motion from late spring when I came back to Bordeaux to the present: from the blossoming accompanied by the tenderest floral aromas, through the fruit set, the cluster and berry formation to the veraison, to the finale. I think that if there is any compensation for the missed moment in 2014, the only year not lived, it is certainly embodied in 2015. For since the last cult year of 2010, followed by the more traditional 2011 and the harder years of 2012 and 2013, the 2015 Bordeaux vintage gets the outlines of the great years of 2005 and 2010. A calm spring, a hot July when the vines experienced the so useful hydric stress, followed by the moderately hot and slightly rainy August, the warm autumn enabling the full ripening of the fruit, the absence of frostbites: the perfect combination for a truly exceptional yield, for both the white and the red wines. And there is no way of being otherwise: I have not seen the entire Bordelaise wine class so eupohorized and smiling for quite a while!

That wine happiness of mine culminated at the moment when Château Palmer accepted my request to visit the, during the grape harvest.

Oh, Margaux!

The sunny face of Médoc, its ripe, feminine essence: graceful, sensual and deep.

In terms of geography, Margaux, the first appellation along the way of Médoc chateaux, is the one that opens the door to the traveler. Marojallia, as it was called in ancient times, which has the greatest area among all appellations on the left bank of the Garonne and the most homogeneous expression among the wines of different domains, and which is favored by nature by the most intense sun shine, have impressed, among others, the famous poet Ausonius for its special hospitality.



Château Palmer adorns one of Margaux’s most remarkable domains. The chateau itself, a true piece of architectural jewelry, was built by the famous Bordelaise architect Burguet, who is also the author of another, not less famous one: Château Pichon-Longueville Baron. The 19th century was decisive for Palmer’s history which, unfortunately, did not developed quite favorably for the domain and for its owners, the brothers Isaac and Emile Péreire. People of progressive thinking, realizing the true value of Palmer’s terroir, in 1853 they took large-scale action to develop the estate. At that time, the wine born of this land categorically ranked among the Médoc’s first growths (Premiers Crus). However, just two years later, the 1855 Médoc and Sauternes Classification became the reason why Palmer was listed among the Third Growths (Troisièmes Crus).


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The new history of the domain is not less impressive. It follows the set course: the course of perfectionism. And if today Palmer’s wine ranks among the first growths during tastings the praise for that goes to the ones who, led by their deep love for the terroir and the knowledge of it, create the following generations of Palmer wine.

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The day when I visited the domain was idyllic: an azure blue sky artistically decorated with a couple of white clouds, quite slight wind walking through the vines while they stood strained in orderly lines, as if proud of the fruit they were bearing.

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My host is Annabelle Grellier, Palmer’s Communication Director. During my visit she drew me into the deep substance of domain’s life by comprehensively revealing all of its dimensions. Logically, we start walking through the plot stretching right next to the chateau and the string of low-storied buildings erected before it was constructed.

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There are “windows” of vegetation that smoothly fit in between them: they are shaped as an English garden, in homage to Palmer’s history from the time when the estate was owned by the Englishman Charles Palmer who also gave it his name. The feeling is one of lightness: here the nature breaths in freedom!

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The first taste of the fruit: Merlot which is emblematic for Palmer. In contrast to other Margaux domains where the Cabernet Sauvignon dominates (even in small proportions), here the two varieties are equally represented: 47% each. The remaining part is Petit Verdot which in Palmer’s “recipe” is manifested in the fine notes of spices. The area of planted vines is 55 hectares as the main portion is on a plateau of gravels which mainly characterize the terroir.

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Palmer’s passage into a bio domain happened in 2007-2008 when the terroir was re-mapped with exceptional precision. The “Transfiguration” is a parallel move that Director General Thomas Duroux and Technical Director Sabrina Pernet decided to make very well aware that what was to follow could only be a more pure expression of the deep and rounded Merlot, of the powerful and rich Cabernet; so to speak, to express Palmer in its true nature. The studies for a total transformation into bio-dynamism started as early as in 2008 by the first 2 hectares, in 2009 there were already 5 hectares, in 2013 33 of the total of 55 hectares as Palmer absolutely turned into a bio-dynamic domain in 2014. This, in its own unique way, crowns one very important event in the history of the domain: the 200th anniversary of its foundation.

While rushing between the lines I am constantly asking the question about the bio-dynamic practices applied at Palmer and the extent to which they follow Steiner’s theory. And here I come across a living intellect: the actions taken in this field are borrowed from his teachings without, however, being turned into a dogma: one needs a critical eye and observations because it is all about a single-unit terroir. This is Thomas Duroux’s shared vision. And the practices are numerous: from the preparation of herbal tea as per the natural cycles, through letting in, from November to March, a herd of sheep to graze and at the same time fertilize the soil; through its cultivation – the manual grass growing in order to preserve the wealth of its surrounding flora, the breeding of two cows in a neighboring meadow which contributes to the independent compost production. Nothing is invented: the aim is to have the domain rediscover its harmony in which the vines may thrive alongside the entire nature. All actions are associated with a great deal of caution because the stakes are too high!


On September 22nd, grape harvests start by the earlier ripening Merlot. At that time about 150 grape harvesters join the domain’s team of 25. The atmosphere is tense and magical: the laughter gushing across the lines, the hands that take up the clusters and then the cases that carefully shelter Palmer’s Blue. The royal blue of a grape berry with an innate velvet essence!

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We pass along the sorting table, along the table for optic selection, we enter the vat room, grandiose in both technical and architectural terms, with 54 temperature-controlled stainless steel vats enabling the harvest separation on a parcel by parcel basis: the grapes for the Château Palmer wine and the ones for its Alter Ego. We climb up on the second level where the work goes on in a literally unearthly rhythm: a symbiosis of human and cutting-edge technology.

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The first cellar, the authentic one, with the oak barrels that contain the resting 2014 vintage, and the second cellar, ready to welcome the new-born 2015 vintage. We stop amidst the silence that will soon lend its acoustics to the 2015 Palmer “symphony”.

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It is not chance that I am speaking of music, and what music at that! Palmer’s exceptionality, as you might guess, is informed not only by its terroir. It reflects the unique essence of the people who create it. And here Palmer goes beyond the standard of most Grand Crus which have been welcoming classical music celebrities of world renown for years. A passionate jazz fan, Thomas Duroux invites jazz bands to “christen” the new vintage every year during the en primeur campaign in late March/early April.

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After just a few moments, at the tasting room we rush right into the Listening to 2014 Palmer experience. We are tasting Château Palmer’s “Blue” and its Golden Alter Ego, quite literally (the label on the bottle, as Charles Palmer saw it, is designed in deep nocturnal blue and not in black!).



2014 Alter Ego is a vital composition of fruit, ripe and juicy, with a finale of fine spices. On the other hand, 2014 Château Palmer makes us simultaneously immerse ourselves into a delicate minerality and sweetness: a reflection of the Merlot and into the vertical structure of built by the Cabernet. This is a sublime moment: the nose and the palate catch Palmer in its overall natural beauty!




At parting, Annabelle Grellier presents me with the recording of the concert performed to mark the 200th anniversary of domain’s establishment as a souvenir. This is a biographical music narrative about the life of a wine that has been born and lived between the Earth and the Sky for 200 years now.


In this sense I have no choice but to wish the future 2015 wine Bon voyage!


The original text written in Bulgarian was published in 2015 by DiVino magazine, Bulgaria



Natural Born Wine Lover (NBWL)


12 janvier 2020
Ici vit une jolie Princesse coquine

La Princesse de l’Amphore

Et voilà, nous sommes le 15 novembre 2019 et ce matin, comme d’habitude, j’ai pris mon temps pour une petite promenade dans le vignoble. Un vent austère courait entre les vignes : refermées sous ses attaques glaciales, leurs feuilles craquaient dans un bruit sec et morose : « L’Hiver est arrivé…. La Saison est terminée, terminé-e-e-e-e-e- e … »

Il est l’heure, donc, à raconter une dernière histoire pour cette année. Et comme je me suis habituée aux finales merveilleuses et mémorables, je mettrais fin avec une histoire mi-réelle – mi-féerique.

Nous sommes dans le chai- spacieux et mystique- qui pendant tout ce temps a pu avaler et stocker des milliers d’histoires et de voix. Et voilà, un dernier morceau de ce gâteau, un savoureux :

C’était un soir au mois de juillet, juste avant la fermeture journalière, lorsqu’un couple s’est arrêté et a demandé une brève dégustation. Venu(e)s de la Suisse, la femme était Française, l’homme- Allemand. Une fille d’à peu près 4 ans au bidou mignon et arrondi et délicieusement bronzée me regardait avec attention ; ses yeux- ronds et noirs comme olives grecques me fixaient. Elisa Ecke, son nom, prononcé d’une do-o-o-o-uce voix.

Avant d’entamer la dégustation avec ses parents, j’ai mis dans ses mains nôtre panier plein de magnets au blason familial et je lui ai montré comment en les collant sur le comptoir métallique, on pourrait créer des figures imaginaires. Et ça marchait, comme d’habitude !


Moment de bonheur installé dans la Salle de réception- les parents visiblement émerveillés par les vins, Elisa Ecke- plongée dans son Univers magnétique !

À la fin, pour tripler leur plaisir, je leur ai ouvert les portes du cuvier. Mais avant, en traversant la cour, je leur ai brièvement raconté l’histoire du domaine et je leur ai montré le château- cette magnifique bâtisse style néo-gothique- donc fantastique !

C’est en ce moment qu’une question nous a sorti du Réel : « Und wo ist die Prinzessin ? » / « Où est la Princesse ? »

En riant, les parents m’ont expliqué qu’Elisa s’attendait à rencontrer la Princesse qui vit au château…

« Gibt es eine Prinzessin hier ? » / « Il y a-t-il une Princesse ici ? » – m’a demandé-t-elle.

« Mais bien-sûre qu’il y en a ! Une belle princesse coquine ! Viens, on va aller la chercher ! »

J’ai pris sa main et nous deux- toute petites- avons traversé le couloir du cuvier. Derrière nous les parents étaient en train de perdre leur conscience devant la beauté inox pourpre, violet, myrtilles, bordeaux…

Une fois dans le chai, nous nous sommes directement dirigés vers la Grande DOLIA- une de nos amphores.

« Aïe aïe aïe ! », moi- rentrée définitivement dans le jeu. « Je crois que nous sommes arrivé(e)s exactement à l’heure lorsque la Princesse prend son bain ! Tiens, j’entends comment elle bouge son pied ! Et comme elle est toute mouillée et nue en même temps, elle ne peut pas sortir nous saluer. Mais Attention – ta-da-da-dam ! Si tu poses ta main sur la Grande DOLIA et tu dis ton nom complet plus ton âge, elle retiendra ta voix et la prochaine fois lorsque tu reviens, tu les diras à nouveau, elle te reconnaitra et sortira pour te dire « Bonjour !»


Absolument convaincue que cette potion magique marchera, Elisa Ecke a mis sa main sur le corps argileux et a dit d’une haute voix : « Elisa Ecke, vier und halb Jahre alt. »

J’ai dit que c’est bien, que tout est bien enregistré. À la fin je l’ai demandé si la visite lui a plu.

« J’adore ! », s’est-elle exclamée pour une première fois en français. Étant inscrite dans une école germanophone, elle m’a parlée tout le temps en allemand. Mais dans la langue allemande le verbe ‘adorer’ n’existe pas ! On connait : ‘j’aime bien’, ‘j’aime beaucoup’ et autres mais pour exprimer une si forte émotion, elle a choisi le français.

Aujourd’hui c’est ma dernière visite à La Gaffelière, pour cette saison. Je mets ma main sur le corps de la Grande DOLIA et je dis à haute voix :

« Je m’appelle Yana Yanakieva, 42 ans, et je souhaiterais y revenir ! »

Merci beaucoup !







Natural Born Wine Lover (NBWL)


14 novembre 2019
The family coat of arms with the motto



of  Château La Gaffelière, Premier Grand Cru Classé of Saint-Émilion


The family coat of arms with the motto "IN ARDIUS FORTIOR"

The family coat of arms with the motto « IN ARDIUS FORTIOR »

          In 2009, while I was studying Wine and Spirits in Bordeaux, I clearly realized my fate had handed me not only a wine glass to inhale bouquets and to sip bliss from but also a “cup of knowledge” which was filled only if I had the curiosity to the culture surrounding that drink. And since curiosity is the main driving force in my life it turned out that I literally have the “glass to Paradise”: I felt exactly like the character Julian Barnes’s “The Dream” who has all the time in the world to taste all wines created on Earth, from all vintages, to study all the terroirs of all domains all over the world, all existing grape varieties with the clones which often manifest themselves on those terroirs in quite different elixirsAs we know, wine lives a life of its own in the bottles and changes so when I tasted them again and again over the years I could only exclaim with surprise and astonishment! The Wine Paradise also offered a meeting with all the people involved in wine creation: from owners of the estates who preserve in their memory and in documents the knowledge of each individual vintage and also the vineyard agronomists and wine makers…

I was experiencing that in France, an Old World country where wine culture has been passed down for centuries at all levels: family, circle of friends, professional field, everywhere!

In 2005, when I settled down in Bordeaux, the summer scenes of night life intoxicated me in an impressionist manner: streetlights illuminated the terraces where the people had lively discussions over a glass of wine!… Wine is an absolute part of life, a shared one.

My Dream came true: over the 10 years that followed my cup of knowledge was filling incessantly: visits to domains, professional and amateur tastings… And in the evening, when I was sipping wine it got a particular taste. The power of handing down had triggered some special magic: more intoxicating than alcohol… the magic of knowledge!

Led by that special passion I chose that to be my professional mission: a wine guide. I am convinced that one always starts with what is small: both literally and figuratively, and that in every individual case one lovingly approaches both what is being handed down and what it is aimed at. And here is what I mean:

The role of handing down is undoubtedly huge, on all levels: from one generation to another in terms of ownership; from the knowledge about the domain itself in terms of the terroir: among the professionals who work in the vineyard and among those who create the wine: step by step. And thus, to us: the ones who regroup all knowledge and hand it down to the visitors.

In this sense the wine guide is an educator of a kind. In addition to having to be exceptionally competent, the guide must also adapt both to the levels of knowledge of those who are interested, and they vary quite often, and to the different profiles of visitors: depending on the experience and age but also on nationality, even gender… If the guide lacks that (s)he will not be called a « guide” but merely a “storyteller.” But all this would be pointless if the guide does not have an attitude towards the people (s)he meets! And also (s)he does not have some ways to intrigue them: to arouse their interest, to keep their attention, to make the meeting truly unique! For there is nothing stronger than positive emotions that deeply penetrate the memory. And in this particular case: they make us wish to come back to the domain and taste again the wine created in it.

And after all I have said so far it would be appropriate to provide an example of how I myself experienced my role as a guide, and an educator:


Of Château La Gaffelière, Premier Grand Cru Classé of Saint-Émilion

The Challenge:

Here is a serious beginning of a fantastic story whose only seriousness lurks in its being true.

From May 2018 to November 2019, I was responsible for the development of the wine tourism of an ancient family domain, Château La Gaffelière, Premier Grand Cru Classé of Saint-Émilion. A responsibility and a pleasure at the same time: in addition to the inspiring atmosphere, I found contacts with visitors quite an enriching experience – no boredom, not a single conversation or smile was ever repeated, ever!

This would be too idyllic but for the challenges of profession. And here are some observations: in this particular case they concern the “family months” of July and August. “They could and should be joyful, spontaneous and all smiles!,” I think. “After all a part of the visitors are kids!” But…

It is difficult for the kids to endure the “serious” pleasures such as a “Visit to wine domain”: they have to listen to some speeches and pretend they are interested, they have to behave “properly” and, if possible, kindly ask questions of the sort of “What is it like to be a wine guide?” and “How did you choose this profession?”

When I put myself in their place my soul is filled with deep compassion: during the hottest hours of the day their parents drag them up along the stairs to the vineyards, and then take them back… a great deal of groaning and pulling goes on… And here is what I would say to relieve us of the burden of the duty of being serious:

The guide is not the humdrum who has mugged up some big books of history and checks off one page after another in his head while telling them, choking up with a comma or the inverted commas that tighten his/her throat! And the guide’s energetic gesticulation and facial articulation betray the great deal of exercise (s)he’s done.

The guide is very eager to learn, one who loves reading stories. Maybe we certainly know that every story is a puzzle of many others that (S)He arranges into narratives during his lo-o-o-ong walks…

(S)He does not take herself/himself seriously! And why would (s)he do so: his/her work is entertaining! Even more so if (s)he works in a wine domain! In this case (s)he adds words such as “vineyards,” „soil” and, naturally, most often “wine”. “Wine this, wine that…” Let’s get back to the point!

The inspiration:

Everything started in one of those hot nights of July 2018 – The sun is still rolling idly this way and the voices coming out of the polyphonic swarm of the day’s visitors is slowly dissolving into its orange light. A family of Italians with a little girl named Bianca stops by for a tasting and in the end of it I open the doors of the vat room for them: it is, after all, a creation of the Italian imagination! One thing led to another, and here we are in the wine cellar! At that very instant a memory rushed back to me: 9 years earlier, in another wine cellar I was telling my daughter one of my favorite scenes from Gianni Rodari’s The Adventures of Cipollino: the one about Baron Orange in the cellar of the castle. She is 4 years old; because of the muted light her little white face has a shade of wax which slightly gives her an air of suffering. I know that she is bored and I tell her that story out of the novel to cheer her up. In the end her face is shining and I think “It’s just a story, after all!”.

In that warm evening the story about Baron Orange rolled over for the first time in the cellar of the domain, one of the most fantastic in the world, and the four-year old Bianca and her parents sealed their laughter with its huge body!


The idea of retelling the classic visit to the domain as one for children was born at that moment. Early the next morning, with my mind relaxed and with my eyes seeing every element of the road I’d walked anew, I wrote down what I see, feel and think while having fun candidly. The same way as with the classic visit that I’ve never wrote down on paper this one remained in the form of sketched out markers. And because I am sure that every adult connects with the child he IS from time to time, this gives you a new opportunity to retell my own version!


The family coat of arms on the limestone wall:

Face 2

Malet is one of the most ancient names in the history of France and it is the basis of that emblem! Bestowed with a knighthood during the battle of Hastings, Guillaume Malet, the founder of the family, was made an earl for his bravery in the military campaigns during the conquest of England.

Centuries later, his heirs are still battling on the field called Life but instead of crossing swords they are raising glasses with the emblematic mix of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, while saying out the family motto: In Ardius Fortior!

The whole rite is played in his face but what a surprising look he has on it: the 3 buckles on the knights’ belts, the main elements, have transformed into eyes and a mouth, the earl’s crown – into a punk bang, the Gothic figures of the griffons – into a slightly Bohemian hair, and his beard is colored by sips of wine with the words: Stronger in Adversity!


The name of La Gaffelière:

"The Gaffets" wine lovers, 11th century

« The Gaffets » – wine lovers, 11th century

The name comes from the word “gaffe” which has several meanings in French: “attention,” “a goof,” “a boat hook”.

Imagine a vast space and a multitude of people walking with sticks with hooks and small bells. They clatter on the ground: knock-knock-knock; the bells ring anxiously: “Watch out! If you make even the smallest mistake of coming near us you are exposed to the danger of becoming one of ‘the Gaffets’”, the name given to the lepers who lived in this place. And hence La Gaffelière, the name of the place from time immemorial.

 The outcome of blending them together is the dark Medieval story!

It’s been years, they say, since anyone heard the moans of the lepers but it is a well-known fact that whenever wine is serviced to the earl somehow two sips automatically evaporate…


The Perfumed Staircase:

The Perfumed Staircase

« The Perfumed Staircase »

 To celebrate the spring and hence the awakening of the vines the landscape painter of the domain plants violets every year. And this is not a mere flower! Touches of that especially fragrant plant species adorn the bouquet of the Château La Gaffelière wine in all vintages! The credit for that goes to the grapes of the Cabernet Franc variety, which is a whole garden for me! Irises, lily, roses, mint and fresh plants have left their traces into this elixir!

In the end of the blossoming season, in May, the landscape painter plants some other flowers. But in order to remind us of the presence of violets the wind, a real conspirator, scatters their tiny little seeds everywhere and they sprout, as an echo, in the cracks of the limestone stairs.

It is precisely that Perfumed Staircase that leads us to La Boulangerie – domain’s landmark plot, with its so significant name!

A violet sprouted in the cracks of the limestone stairs

A violet sprouted in the cracks of the limestone stairs


A violet sprouted in the cracks of the limestone stairs

A violet sprouted in the cracks of the limestone stairs


La Boulangerie and The Sculptor:

Philippe Pasqua's silver vine

Philippe Pasqua’s silver vine

 At this very point we must clarify that because of the name of that plot which is fundamental for the domain a lot of visitors think that the bread is made of grapes! Well, not quite so, although there is an unwritten prohibition that accompanies the grapes’ ripening months: Interdiction de manger le Raisin: on finira sans Pain!

Philippe Pasqua is the author of this fantastic mini-vineyard planted in the heart of La Boulangerie! Some wonderful grape varieties have emerged: the leaves of the silvery vines lead is to two new ones: a blend of Merlot and Cabernet: Mer-nеt and Caber-lot. “When one is a Creator (s)he can afford to create silver grape varieties!” I sigh.

Vine leaf 'Mer-net'

Vine leaf of ‘Mer-net’, the imaginary grape variety


Vine leaf 'Caber-lot'

Vine leaf of ‘Caber-lot’, the imaginary grape variety


The Vat Room:

Miraculous Equation room

Miraculous Equation room

             Something like the Advanced Mathematics of the Nose and Palate meets the Imagination, a meeting that only the Master cellar, Franck Darricau, can explain to you! He has at his disposal 20 vats containing 20 elixirs that he calls “juices” and every year he creates out of them some miraculous equation blends. I told him once that this is a Magician’s doing and he conspiratorially suggested that I try a: С= [Merlot (C6+C5+C8+C15) + Cabernet Franc (C12+C17)] =Wonderland!

Wonderland's equation

Wonderland’s equation

The Wine cellar: the treasure!

The Wine cellar: the treasure!

The Wine cellar: the treasure!

         Gianni Rodari whom I adore ever since I was a child is a real virtuoso of the Story. He blends, in his own unique manner, sadness and joy, desolation and victory, tears and smiles!

In The Adventures of Cipollino he sends Baron Orange to the manor of his first cousin Baron Cherry and locks him in the cellar (what an admonition!). In his fear the Baron drinks up the contents of a small barrel of wine and exclaims in a state of ecstasy: “I am in Paradise!”

The Wine cellar: the treasure!

The Wine cellar: the treasure!

So, the story I told Bianca ended in the Paradise, and it became just one part of the experience called “Children at La Gaffelière”

Come in, please and let me tell it to you!


This is a dedication to Monsieur Léo de Malet-Roquefort with whom I have had the great chance to experience the most serious and fantastic at the same time conversations! To my daughter, who has been always so patient during our visits and curious to decompose the noses of the wines we taste. To the Australian Anne Moroney who I have met during the Great Wine Capitals’ week held in Bordeaux at the very beginning of November and who was the first to know this story and encouraged me to write it!

To all children who have visited the domain with me and the others who will listen it in the future!














Natural Born Wine Lover (NBWL), Wine & Soul


29 novembre 2018
Overview from La Boulangerie on the hillside with the place called "The Palat" on left



Even before I started to arrange what I read, the conversations, impressions and thoughts I had, the colorful little stones forming the mosaic of my future narrative, I had already experienced the scale of the responsibility I had assumed. Before the ones thanks to whom this story exists, before the ones who entrusted it to me as well as to everybody who are entitled to know it.

All stories are almost casual! This May I suddenly found myself holding the keys to the story of a 400-year old French family wine estate situated, quite literally, on the road leading to Saint-Émilion. And with the hard task of telling it to the visitors as part of the tour they are offered. It is about Château La Gaffelière, Ier Grand Cru Classé of Saint-Émilion.

Is there anyone who does not know of Saint-Émilion, is there anyone who has not heard about it?!

From the pilgrims who stop to take a breath and some wine along their tough road to Compostela to the most experienced connoisseurs of its wine nectars…

Welcome to Saint-Émilion

   ~Welcome to Saint-Émilion~

What a miniature the signboard designating the beginning of Saint-Émilion is!” I happen to exclaim upon the start of every new tourist season. “It is really microscopic for such a global historical and wine destination!

Probably it has something to do with French legislation,” a Japanese tourist who is heading along the road from the railway station to the small village is not less surprised.

In a single file, dozens of times a day, hundreds of visitors climb the peak in quest of some spiritual substance or intoxicated with the glory of its wines. And most often: all of the above together.

Well,” I reply to him, “it is a bit of French discreteness, pure and simple.” And at this point both of us begin to laugh conspiratorially.

Saint-Émilion with the hermitage of Émilion, the Trinity Chapel and its medieval paintings, the catacombs as well as the underground church and the Cordeliers cloister are yet to reveal its creamy limestone eternity. For the moment the cloak of vines embroidered into small hills and terraces spreads out in front of our eyes; the sound of bells chiming comes from the distance. First, second, third: it takes us back to the mysterious life of the wonder worker Emilion. Fourth, fifth, sixth: even further back, into the heart of a thriving Roman province: the vine, the sciences and the arts striking roots deeper and deeper into the landscape. And here is the Ausonius himself!


In many aspects the domain of Château La Gaffelière is really favored: it is phenomenal that it has remained property of the same family, the de Malet Roquefort, for more than 400 years! It is situated harmoniously on both sides of the main road from Bordeaux to Saint-Émilion. To the right, the сhâteau looks with a Gothic glazing eye the fundamental plot of the vineyard located on the other side of the road and called, not by chance, “La Boulangerie” i.e. “The Bakery”. While we are climbing up and going into it our glance sweeps the entire vineyard across, on the hillside. The energy and versatile expression of that terroir are incarnated into every bottle of wine: a sip of the miraculous combination of its Merlots and Cabernet Francs is yet another instant of happiness for the visitor!


It is an enchanting day in May: the sky above Château La Gaffelière shines in the most azure nuances of blue, the hydrangeas are lethargically spreading their rounded forms in the immediate vicinity of the vines, the Japanese maples aside meditate amidst all of that Universal Zen. At this moment I am in the role of a visitor: listening carefully and taking notes so that I can take up myself the narration in a while.

Maybe it is because of the breeze that comes sporadically from the west: some strange shivers run down my neck and my shoulders, my pulse accelerates. We have arrived at the point when we learn about the presence of an Ancient Gallo-Roman villa of exceptional scale and rich decoration dating back to the 4th century AD, which is situated on the territory of the domain and was discovered personally by its owner Monsieur Léo de Malet Roquefort: La Villa du Palat!


Overview from La Boulangerie on the hillside with the place called "The Palat" on left

    ~ Overview from La Boulangerie on the hillside with the place called « The Palat » on the left ~

I guess your curiosity is now aroused! But let us continue in the spirit of the mosaics: pebble by pebble. Bérangère de Malet, the daughter of Monsieur Léo de Malet, a specialist in Art History and fully dedicated to the project of opening the historic site for visitors, is telling me about its existence during our first meeting and this charges me with a peculiar impulse:

This story should not be forgotten, on the contrary: it must be told! Means and funds must be found to have La Villa du Palat shown to the public!

Several times a day my glance meets the ground with the remains of the villa and yearning for seeing it with my own eyes fills my soul.

Where exactly is it situated? How did Monsieur Léo de Malet discover it? What does it look like and how has it been kept?

All these questions, and hundreds of others, grow inside me, and I get the answers from him in person during our unique visit on the spot in the end of the tourist season, on 27th November 2018.


Five minutes by foot is the distance separating the Reception of Château La Gaffelière and the place where La Villa du Palat is situated: Monsieur Léo de Malet and I cross the road and continue on our way for about a hundred meters in the direction of Saint-Émilion. As we walk we are talking in brief about the Medieval history of the small village of Saint Emilion and the saint after whom it is named but the truth is that what we are both more interested in is the Roman Antiquity, the life and deeds of Ausonius in these lands, and especially the domain that existed as early as in the 2nd century precisely where La Gaffelière is situated.

« We have evidence that it was a huge agricultural estate having area of more than 1000 ha, where any kinds of cereals were grown and special attention was paid to vines. » Actually, it is precisely here, in Saint Emilion, that vine cultivation was introduced by the Romans in the first century AD and although it ultimately settled as a monoculture in the 18th century as early as in the 4th century Ausonius praised the wines made of its fruit. « An important testimony that speaks of vine’s presence here is one of the mosaics found in the villa,” my host says.

The entry to the place called "THE PALAT"

 ~ The entry to the place called « THE PALAT » ~

We pass along the two columns designating the terrain called « du Palat ». Behind our backs, right on the opposite side of the road a small road cuts the boundary between the two vineyards: Château La Gaffelière’s and Château Ausone’s.

Overview on the vineyard, Place called "The Palat", 27/11/18

 ~ Overview on the vineyard, Place called « The Palat », 27/11/18 ~

And here we are now, in front of the meadow! Just thick layers of soil and sand separate us from the remains of La Villa du Palat; covered by a carpet of tender grass: their contours are so clearly outlined!

A part of the remains

~ A part of the remains, 27/11/18 ~

« In 1969, I had decided to clear this meadow and plant some new vines. It was almost 1ha big and this is not at lot small for a place like Saint Emilion. Near the road, there was a row of poplars that we cut down because they would cast a shadow on the new plantations. However, I had to find an appropriate place to preserve their strains. I hired a man to do the job but I warned him to be careful because I had written data that some tesseraes dating back to Roman times had been found there. Half an hour later appeared the first signs of the existence of an Ancient site that we are now walking on.« 

Another part of the remains, 27/11/18

 ~ Another part of the remains, 27/11/18 ~


The first test and rescue excavations were carried out in 1970 and 1971 and revealed a mosaic covering the floor of a huge Gallo-Roman villa.

Central pattern of the carpet

~ Central pattern of the carpet ~

In addition to the motives typical of the region such as vine lianas with clusters of grapes and olive twigs, mosaics were found in the villa’s aula depicting some exceptional figurative elements: a lion, a warthog, a tiger, a rider, a hunter and a dog. Small ponds with terracotta bottoms served as home fresheners. In front of the villa, there was another pond, 70 meters long and 6 meters wide. The complex unfolds an exceptional richness of detail and monumental size. In this case, there is talk, yet unproven, that this is one of the villas of the poet consul Ausonius.

Mosaic: FISH

~ Mosaic: FISH ~

The Plan of the VILLA DU PALAT

~ The Plan of the VILLA DU PALAT ~

I ask Monsieur de Malet if he remembers the exact place where the most beautiful, at least for me, mosaic was found: the vine stylized as the Tree of Life in the center of a laurel wreath. “Of course, it was right here!

I seize the moment in a photo: today the Sun is shining quite brightly and makes his face glow… Almost 50 years later the man who discovered to the world the existence of the invaluable Ancient finds is standing at the very same spot.

M.Léo DE MALET on the place where in 1969 he found the remains of the Villa du Palat

~ M.Léo DE MALET on the place where in 1969 he personally found the remains of the Villa du Palat // 27/11/28 ~

Alexandre & Berangère DE MALET in front of the mosaic

~ Alexandre & Berangère DE MALET, brother & sister, in front of the mosaic ~

« After all steps taken to preserve the site and the refusal of the Ministry of Culture because of its inability to subvent its opening to the public, we had no option but to cover it in order to preserve it against the barbarian assault of the weather. But Bérangère (de Malet) revived the association we established in the 1970s under a new name, « Cépages & Tesselles, la villa gallo-romaine du Palat à Saint Emilion » and fights by all possible means to spread our conviction that La Villa du Palat must be re-discovered because this cultural patrimony belongs to mankind. »


Association "Cépages & Tesselles" created in 2014

~ Association « Cépages & Tesselles » ~

We pass again in front of the 17th-century bourgeoisie house.

« Here is where we found two of the mosaics that we restored after the first archaeological excavations because of their poor condition. Here is where the villa’s thermae used to be and it is precisely the water that damaged some of them. »

The entry stairs of the bourgeois house builed up in the 17th century on the place of the terms of the Villa du PALAT

~ The entry stairs of the bourgeois house builed up in the 17th century on the place of the termae of  the Villa du PALAT ~

One of them adorns La Gaffelière’s Professional Tasting Hall, the other one is kept in the huge space of Monsieur de Malet’s garage.

M.Léo DE MALET in front of the mosaic placed in the Tasting hall, Château La Gaffelière, 27/11/18

~ M.Léo DE MALET in front of the mosaic placed at the Tasting hall, Château La Gaffelière, 27/11/18 ~

The mosaic called "To the Swastikas"

 ~ The MOSAIC called « TO THE SWASTIKAS » ~

Many times I have experienced the strong desire to touch it and when I was alone with it for the first time I put my hand on one of the figures. It emanates some strange energy: carried in time thanks to some human hands that recreated the forms of another world, one pebble at a time. I measure up one of them by the tip of my fingers: it is as big or as small as the berry of the grape.

With the little tesserae, a piece of the mosaic "TO THE SWASTIKAS", 27/11/18

~ The tesserae, so small as the berry of the grape: a piece of the mosaic « TO THE SWASTIKAS », 27/11/18 ~

As we say good-bye I thank Monsieur de Malet for the time he took for this trip. “I am yet to tell about it,” I smile. However, before I head back to Bordeaux I go back to La Villa du Palat. In this moment, another garden shows in front of it: the hillside of the vineyard with its priceless tesseraes of terroir. I go further and get to the brook that used to irrigate the palace’s garden and supply water for the pond.

The stream

 ~ The brook ~

 This is a peculiar state: in the distance, the chimes resound a familiar story:

And every morning the eyes of the locals paint the lines of the landscapes they travel over. During the day they touch the clusters of that Earthly blessing with the tips of their fingers and count one by one the pearls that shape them. When the night falls they start to arrange the stars of the clear sky in mosaics of fantastic forms. The breeze flies from the Ocean, fondling the hands and the hearts of those people: earthly and unearthly. Now it is time for them to sip the Wine: for their bodies and souls to retire to rest.


I would love to thank the family De MALET  ROQUEFORT for all information shared and in particular Monsieur Léo de MALET  ROQUEFORT for the time and the attention devoted to this visit!

For all who wish to support the actions undertaken by the association in order to preserve the site and to subvent its opening to the public, please contact:

Tel: 00 33 (5) 58 42 90 90  //

Tel: 00 33 (5) 57 24 72 15

You can also follow it on social networks:
Natural Born Wine Lover (NBWL)


25 avril 2018
lapmrey 2




Je suis bordelaise, Je suis bordelaise !

The Lamprey :

 Je suis bordelaise and there is no a tooth of doubt about it! I have been living here since forever, the rythm of my heart is impregnated in the limestone walls of Chartrons, and La Gironde is my best friend. How many times I have brushed her hair swimming down her bare back. And how many times I have dived in her blonde plaits, going upstream to the Atlantic, Gironde La Blonde !

Me :

Je suis bordelaise ! It amuses me to say this in front of some of the French-speaking tourists to whom I tell about Bordeaux and the surrounding area, and who often exclaim: “But where is your accent from? It is so melodic! Perhaps you are Italian ?” Hearing this, my face probably lights up in a Southern shine. I tell them that I did live in Italy a while ago, but Je suis bordelaise. “Perhaps you are married to a Bordelais ?” I reply that this would be the most prosaic explanation and that there is one other special test that everyone who insists on calling themselves Bordelais needs to pass. So, here comes the time that I reveal to you one of my secrets.

The Lamprey:

 Je suis bordelaise. My full name is Petromyzontida. I come from an ancient family – my ancestors live in the ocean and the deep rivers since 530 million years ago, can you imagine that ! And it is certain that fearing our extraordinarily sinister maw, none of the other similar kinds didn’t want to mix their genes with ours, and this kept us pure-blooded. Pure-blooded by origin, we are exactly 38 in the family! Indeed, who would voluntarily surrender to the kiss of a water vampire, our most popular reputation, letting him take the most vital part, the blood!

The Nature ! It has rooted in us this impulse for survival that forces us to get our daily dose of blood – our only food. And believe me : when you feed on blood, you’ve got everything! You just need to be discreet when approaching your victim and also skilful in sticking your suction cup to its body. The anesthesia that we inject with teeth permeates fast, couple of seconds and…one, two, three, our victim is weakened in its anaemia.

For the legend-believers, blood is a food for vampires, for the rest – the more earthly ones – food for gods and kings. But believe me : it is not this that makes us aristocrats among the fish. Nor the fact that our extremely delicate flesh melted on the palates of majesties like Henry I, and that only one sacred bite from the body of an ancestor of ours took the king to the Otherworld.

So, you have already figured out that we are fish, but in fact we don’t look quite like the other – our body is devoid of scales, we have no jaws. And if our unique physique – bone-free, with extremely soft vertebrae and a sucking cup, allows us to be so flexible and smooth, and swim into the most treacherous water currents, even this does not help us against the most barbarous amongst all the creatures on earth – the humans! Because while we take just the amount of blood we need to survive, they are catching us out of caprice, to satisfy their « sophisticated » senses. Against them we use the thousands of years of intelligence. Because of their snares, we are merging with the river-shadows on a bright day, and we live our real life in the depth of night.

But this is not our deepest doom! We have a bleeding drama – in the minute we are prepared to experience love and unite with a sucking kiss with our chosen one, our digestive system begins to atrophy, we stop eating actively. Our days are melting together with our accumulated fat reserves.

We barely succeed to enjoy our first and only children! And we have been waiting for them for twelve years – rare are the representatives of the animal world that are going through such a long life path before getting to know love and the happiness of experiencing it!

We smoulder long and die – tragically young vampire-aristocrats of the fish world …

Maybe you already figured out who I am ?!

Je suis bordelaise ! I am the lamprey !

Je suis Bordelaise; collier de dents

Collier royal de dents, Temple de Nuit, 2020


Natural Born Wine Lover (NBWL)

Je Suis Bordelaise

25 avril 2018
lapmrey 2


Je suis bordelaise, Je suis bordelaise !

 La Lamproie :

Je suis bordelaise jusqu’à la dernière dent, et sans l’ombre d’un doute! Je vis ici depuis toujours, le rythme de mon cœur est imprégné sur les murs calcaires des Chartrons, et La Gironde est ma meilleure amie ! Combien de fois j’ai peigné ses cheveux en me lançant sur son dos nu.

Et combien de fois j’ai plongé dans ses tresses blondes, nageant vers l’Atlantique, Gironde la Blonde !

Moi :

Je suis bordelaise. Je m’amuse de le prétendre devant certains touristes francophones auxquels je raconte Bordeaux et la région, et qui s’exclament souvent : « Mais d’où vient votre accent ? Il est tellement mélodique ! Peut-être êtes-vous Italienne ?» Je leur dis que j’ai vécu en Italie, aussi, mais que Je suis bordelaise. « Peut-être avez-vous épousé un Bordelais ?»  Je leur réponds que cela sera l’explication la plus prosaïque et qu’il existe une autre épreuve à laquelle chacun est soumis pour prétendre être ‘Bordelais’. Et maintenant, l’heure de vous raconter un de mes secrets est arrivée.

La Lamproie :

Je suis bordelaise. Mon nom complet est Petromyzontida. Je suis issue d’une très ancienne famille : mes ancêtres ont habité l’océan et les fleuves il y a 53 million d’années, pouvez-vous l’imaginer ! Et il est certain que par peur devant notre extrêmement sinistre gueule, aucune parmi les autres créatures similaires n’avait voulu croiser ses gènes avec les nôtres et voici comment notre sang est resté pur- 38 exactement de la famille au sang pur d’origine! Et oui : qui volontairement succombera au bisou d’un vampire d’eau- notre plus répandue réputation, lui donnera la partie la plus vitale de soi- le sang !

La Nature ! C’est elle qui a enraciné en nous cette impulsion de résistance qui nous force à nous procurer quotidiennement la dose de sang- notre seule nourriture. Et croyez-moi, lorsque tu te nourris de sang, tu as tout ! Il est simplement nécessaire d’être discret lorsqu’on se rapproche de sa victime, mais aussi habile lorsque l’on colle sa ventouse à son corps. L’anesthésiant que l’on lui injecte avec une dent pénètre rapidement : quelques secondes et…un, deux, trois- et elle est affaiblie et anémiée.

Pour ceux qui croient aux légendes, le sang est la nourriture des vampires, pour les autres- les plus terrestres- des Dieux et des Rois. Mais croyez-moi, ce n’est pas cela qui nous place parmi les aristocrates des poissons. Et même pas le fait que notre chaire extrêmement délicate a fondu sur les palais des Majestés tels que Henri I. Et une seule bouchée sacrée du corps d’un ancêtre l’avait amené Au-delà.

Alors, vous avez déjà compris que nous sommes des poissons mais en réalité nous ne rassemblons pas beaucoup aux autres : notre corps est dépourvu d’écailles, nous n’avons pas de mâchoires. Et si notre physique unique- sans arêtes, mais avec des vertèbres extrêmement douces et avec une ventouse, nous permet d’être si souple et de plonger dans les plus périlleux courants d’eau, même il ne pourrait pas nous prémunir contre les plus barbares parmi toutes créatures terrestres, les êtres « humains ». Car si nous buvons une quantité de sang pour nous nourrir, ils nous attrapent uniquement pour satisfaire leurs sens « sophistiqués ». Contre eux utilisons notre intelligence développée pendant des siècles. À cause de leurs pièges nous nous fondons avec les ombres glissant sur le fleuve pendant la journée, et vivons véritablement pendant la nuit profonde.

Mais ce n’est pas notre plus grande malédiction ! Saignant est notre drame : dans le moment dans lequel nous sommes déjà prêts à vivre l’amour et à nous unir avec un baiser-succion à notre élu-de-cœur, notre système digestif commence à s’atrophier, nous arrêtons de nous nourrir activement. Nos jours commencent à se fondre avec les graisses stockées dans nos corps. À peine nous réussissons à sentir la joie de nos premiers et seuls enfants ! Et nous les avons attendu pendant 12 années entières : rares sont les représentants du monde animal qui traversent un si long chemin afin de connaître l’amour et le bonheur de ce vécu !

Nous nous éteignons lentement et nous mourrons- des jeunes et tragiques vampires-aristocrates du monde des poissons.

Vous avez probablement deviné qui suis-je ?

Je suis bordelaise ! Je suis la lamproie !

Je suis Bordelaise; collier de dents

Collier royal de dents, Temple de Nuit, 2020







Natural Born Wine Lover (NBWL)


31 mars 2018
Open Chateau Piron


It happened back in 2015, after my return from China. I have spent a marvelous dynamic year there and when coming back to Bordeaux I felt as I was a true perpetuum mobile, recharged with energy and motivation. So, that in my daily life I had the impression not to walk but to fly!

Now, when I am talking about this period, I clearly remember how several times per day, flying back and forth to my home, my concentrated stare catched a poster stuck on the wall of the nearby located advertising agency. It was the poster of Open Chateau Piron. Words like «competition», «sport» «wine», «tasting», «professionals» and «amateur»,  key words for a person like me with real interest in wine and tastings, but also with a highly developped competitive spirit, made the event leave real impression on me. One day, driven by my curiosity, I finally took my time and read the content of the poster- I understood what Open Chateau Piron is like. Over the following years and namely during this period around February/March the advertisement of the event had grabed my attention and I felt, how to say, happy and relaxed, that Open Chateau Piron still exists! And I could participate on it one day, too.

In the beginning of February this year when Open Chateau Piron was being advertised again I decided that the time for me to join the competition has come- it was the moment to take the challenge! But there was another one and namely- I needed to find a partner, someone like me- with similar level of knowledge in wine & spirits, and who shares the same motivation and desire to win. So I appointed a «tasting» friend of mine and on the 27th of February I sent him a message with an invitation to join the competition.

Fate, however, can sometimes be really surprising! On the same evening I received an invitation from M.Xavier BOYREAU, organizer of Open Chateau Piron, to join the event as a member of the jury.



The idea for Open Chateau Piron belongs to Xavier BOYREAU, co-owner of Chateau Piron, and conceptor. He transmits the positive and competitive spirit and directs the great orchestra Open Chateau Piron, together with his brother Lionel BOYREAU & whole family. After our first meeting I knew theoretically what the tournament is like, but it was during the event itself on 24th of March that I could feel and live its essence while attending it personally.

Opening Open Chateau Piron


Open Chateau Piron is a blind wine tasting tournament modeled after the traditional sport competition and lasts for a day. There are two categories – «amateurs» in the morning and «professionals» in the afternoon– a total of 60 2-men teams. It is up to their members to decide which group to join- based on their experience and qualifications.

When asked why the event is competitive, here is the explanation – every team has a set amount of time to give answer to two questions:

  1. From which French AOC the wine comes from- two minutes time to give an answer
  2. Which is the vintage of the wine- thirty seconds to reply.

The voting system is entirely electronic!

The wines that each of the participants tastes are as follow: 2 white, 3 red and 1 sweet wine. 

Can you imagine the deep knowledge of French wines that the competitors must really have- as the number of French AOCs related to wine & spirits is ~ 420!

For those who want to test their skills without joining the main competition there is Open Chateau Piron OFF, where the same wines are served. Some participants shared that to do Open Chateau Piron OFF in previous editions helped them to train themselves.



Apart from the great tasting experience that Open Chateau Piron is, another very beautiful point is that that is the place where man can meet so many amazing people- wine lovers! Everyone his own terroir, history and experience!

Before the Start

The journey starts at 9:15 am when with Alexandre MORIN ( we hit the road. The conversation. Man can rarely experience such fresh morning wine conversations ! It is Saturday, 9 am, coffee time 🙂 Let’s say it : I am travelling with the animator of Open ! First impressions for the future ambiance.


Alexandre Morin, the animator

Arriving and meeting straight Diala YOUNES LAVENU ( and already both of us we are junping into another conversation. It is with a participant, can say the most true one – since the beginning she participates in all editions of Open Chateau Piron. On my question, how does she train herself, she explained she is a member of a «feministic wine club», whatever this should mean! There is already some peps in the air. It is 10 in the morning 🙂

First exchange with Henry CLEMENS (  who told me: « Tu vas voir, c’est génial! Tu vas t’amuser. C’est l’endroit où le vin est désacralisé» 🙂

Morning Jury

It was time for the opening of Open Chateau Piron 2018. And time to meet up some of the participants, too.

In the « amateur » category :

KEDGE Business School team

Part of the INSEEC Business School team

Part of the INSEEC Business School team

A part of the IPC team 1

A part of the IPC team 2

In action

In the category « professionals »

L’ÉCRIN du VIN team

L’ÉCRIN du VIN, partner of the event, with founder Eric MICOULEAU ( and the tandem : Laurianne BRUN- Sommelière (  & Lucie DUSSILOLS- Chef Sommelière Exécutive – Groupe Nicola Lascombes (

The first part is over and here the results:

> 3:Team 13  – IPC BELLISI / TANG


2: Team 13 – IPC BELLISI / TANG

Delicious lunch break carefully prepared by Restaurant LE PHILOSOPHE in La Brède <3  With Alexandre, Diala and Henry: four of us wine & jury accomplices.

Then: spending time in the wine cellar of the property and discussing with Lionel BOYREAU, the wine grower of the family, about terroir, wines and vintages. Capturing the both « engines » of Open Chateau Piron- the brothers Lionel (on left) & Xavier (on right).

The two engines

Always in the wine cellar- meeting Nathaël SUILS from SUILS/SUILS team- the winner of Open Chateau Piron 2017. Talking about wines & sports and namely the best ways to eliminate the extras when you are «un bon vivant» 🙂

Little relaxaxion with the music of L’ensemble JOGLAR before jumping into the second part.

I can only share how I personally lived the tournament.

The mission of the jury is the sweetest one! We have to appove the wines by tasting them bofore the service to competitors. We could also suggest food & wine pairings. Sitting right next to David DELIEUVIN (Président du Jury) from La Maison DARROZE and to Alexandre DE MONTESQUIEU, the most experienced among the members of the jury! Going deep into gastronomy! And on the finale are:

> 1 : Team 19 – MARNIESSE / BORDAS
> 3 : Team PRO 57 – LE MENN / REDON

PRIX DU JURY (food & wine pairing)

And Le Final! The both teams with such different profiles:  MARNIESSE / BORDAShighly experienced enological tandem of wine taster belonging to Le Tire Bouchon Attitude Club (one of the best tasting clubs in France) & the very young and in fact already experienced team CROSET / DELBARRE, representing KEDGE Business School, Bordeaux. They became the winners in two other categories: RED & WHITE Scarf- the best tasting team on red & white wines!

I can only THANK to all of these amazing people who make possible Open Chateau Piron to be! The tournament by itself wheted my appetite of a wine taster and competitor. And the happy news came at the end: from now on the «classic» editions of Open Chateau Piron will be held every two years, so the next edition on which I could participate is in 2020 and I have whole two years to prepare myself and to find a team partner 🙂

The 2019 Open Chateau Piron edition is reserved only for the winners of the previous « vintages».

I can’t hide also that the wine of Château Piron inspired my tasting receptors! And I took my time to develop a Sunday family bruch concept. Here it is:

Sunday family brunch 2

Crab leg meat & home mayonnaise paste & Steamed mackerel & cheese:

P1090548 (2)

  1. Fresh Spring salad:

With Château Piron Blanc, 2015

  1. Fish croquettes:

With Château Piron Blanc, 2015

I really enjoyed tasting both Château Piron Blanc! Juicy, fresh & playful Sauvignon in the traditional cuvée. More roundness & complexity in the second. <3

With Château Piron Blanc, Cuvée traditionnelle, 2015

With Château Piron Blanc, Cuvée traditionnelle,2015

In  this  competition  the  WINNER  is ME 🙂

Sunday family brunch 1


Natural Born Wine Lover (NBWL)


14 février 2018
Saint Trifon



Toc-toc-toc. Et une deuxième fois- toc-toc-toc: la langue d’une sonnette plutôt que le bruit de claquement sur la coque de la nuit…

À peine la tête levée et le corps sorti de son noyau friable, je te vois, Saint Trifon à apparaître devant moi, la main tendue et bénie, et là-dedans, la serpe à tailler: brillante. Et ta voix guérissante illumine le creux céleste, et tes propos résonnent profondément dans mon cœur:

«Coupe les bras de ténèbres troublants

 et les jambes de la souffrance pesante.

Coupe les mains de la carence

  et la langue de la malveillance!

  Abondance, joie et vie parfaite

  pousseront là, où ces coupures sont faites.

  Trois gorgées de la boisson secrète

  de vitalité cachent la recette.

  Coupe la queue de la tristesse

  et de la joie allume les mèches!»

Je copie l’image de ton sourire mystérieux, Saint Trifon, je prends la serpe dans mes mains et décidée, je coupe le cordon qui lie encore la nuit au jour.

Libérée, je te laisse voyager, mon âme! Sur les champs, où dans une bataille infantile se roulent encore le sommeil et le réveil. Cours, importée par le courant de la mémoire! Traverse les montagnes de souvenirs, glisse sur les corps lisses des fleuves- les artères qui t’amèneront vers le cœur d’un paysage.  Vole avec les ailes d’oiseaux qui chantent la fête! Et une fois arrivée là, où le sang de mes ancêtres coule encore et nourrit les racines des vignes  plantées, prend une gorgée d’immortalité et sois heureuse, mon âme, que tu es là, avec tes proches pour une autre fois.



Le soir de ce même vécu j’ajoute les derniers ingrédients dans mon met; les mains rejoignent l’âme dans une sorte de lévitation. Un esprit tourne autour de la «trapèza»*- tout comme une danse rituelle qui accompagne l’ouverture de la bouteille, secrète.

«He he, ton poème porte le sentiment d’un vrai éveil! Quelle exaltation!», s’exclame ma fille. Elle en train de lire les notes de ma vision matinale.

«Mais je te comprends très bien: vu l’image sérieux de ce Saint Trifon et sa serpe pointue!…En tout cas, il n’a rien à voir avec Bacchus et la légèreté de sa gaîté!» _ pas besoin de vin pour se réjouir, heureusement,  à cet âge!_

Saint Trifon est «notre» saint patron du vin et des vignerons! Chaque année, le 14 février (selon le calendrier grégorien), les vignerons bulgares se rendent dans leurs vignobles et annoncent le début des festivités en coupant 3 branches de 3 vignes différentes, en faisant le signe de croix et versant du vin sur les branches et les vignes du vignoble. Le vin coule dans les verres, tout comme les souhaits d’une abondante récolte. Car Saint Trifon est connu aussi comme celui qui apporte l’abondance et fertilité.

Le vin que nous allons goûter ce soir à l’honneur de «notre» Saint Trifon et pour orner la fête des vignerons est un vin bulgare, né d’un terroir sacré.


«Ce vin est né là, où dans une période de l’année la Terre est envahie par l’amour brûlant du Soleil. Et le Vent, jaloux, se précipite à calmer cette passion.»

«Car le Vent, lui même, aime beaucoup la Terre! Prêt à valser avec elle jour et nuit, jusqu’au dernier vertige amoureux!» _elle a tout compris!_

Je remplis un verre de vin et je le laisse vivre, respirer. C’est une sorte d’extase, cette délibération qui rythme inhalation, exhalation, inhalation… Avec le rythme de son cœur.



Je vous invite maintenant à une promenade douce, dans les montagnes Rhodopes, en Bulgarie.

Dans mes souvenirs d’enfance la nature avait couvert la terre d’un tapis de mousse toute verte- un tremplin naturel qui soulageait nos pieds pris sur les longs labyrinthes de marche. Et les forêts- roulées en lumière et fraîcheur; les formes corporelles- arrondies.

Les plus vieilles montagnes en Bulgarie, le pays des Thraces, d’Orphée et d’orphisme.

Première gorgée: nous y sommes, et c’est en été (et l’été est chaud!). Dans un extrait de terroir, vivant entre le Soleil et le Vent, à EOLIS.  Une propriété familiale- petit grain de perle dans l’ensemble du vignoble bulgare! Le fruit de la passion et du savoir de deux personnes impliquées: Kremena Dimova et son époux Laurent Wunderli. Le nom qu’ils ont choisi pour cet assemblage en parle déjà: composé de deux éléments hérités du temps des Thraces – Eole pour le Vent et Solis- pour le Soleil.

Les vignes plantées sur 2,2 ha d’un sol sablo-argileux donnent naissances aux vins racés et complexes, dotés d’un fruit sain et intense.


Les pieds posés dans ce paysage, et je sens comment l’énergie terrestre trouve son chemin   dans mon corps, et ouvre tous mes sens: il fait chaud mais pas lourd- on respire déjà les montagnes. La brise, légère et rafraîchissante, plane au-dessus des vignes et les salue par une caresse des bras; les oiseaux  glorifient l’air pure et la liberté.


C’était un soir en février que nous étions en train d’apprendre les règles d’un nouveau jeu de cartes appelé HanaFuda (traduit littéralement du japonais il signifie: Jeu de Fleurs). Et comme le nom le suggère, les personnages principaux que l’on y trouve sont des fleurs et des plantes- toutes réunies dans un monde de paysages, de poèmes et de légendes.

Selon le livre qui introduit le jeu («HANAFUDA/Le Jeu des fleurs», Véronique Brindeau, Édition «Picquier poche») c’est le prunier qui règne au mois de février.

«À peine vient-il d’arriver de Chine, en ce début du VIIIème siècle, cet arbre de  lettrés et de nobles, et déjà l’anthologie du  Manyôshû («Recueil de dix mille feuilles»), un demi-siècle plus tard, lui consacre cent dix-huit de ses poèmes – contre quarante-deux au cerisier. C’est dire l’attrait pour ce nouveau venu, qui nimbe un souffle de raffinement plus approprié à l’art du jardin que son voisin de printemps, le cerisier, qui croit à l’état naturel au Japon et paraît auprès de lui presque sauvage et commun», lit-on. Et puis:

«La senteur du prunier

s’est mêlée

à la couche de neige

qui donc saurait

laquelle cueillir»

– Ki no Tsurayuki, Kokinshû – (traduction par Véronique Brindeau)

C’est un instant éphémère, cette lecture. Importées par la brise de mon imagination, les pétales de fleures du prunier se volatilisent dans l’espace. La légère transparence du moment. Quelques gouttes d’un parfum subtil pénètrent dans ma peau, une fine sucrosité s’installe au palais.

 «Peut-on goûter finalement ces pruneaux!», le côté «latin» de ma fille. Et on ouvre une boite.

Pruneaux CABOS

J’explique: c’est une recette secrète de la famille CABOS qui depuis 1920 (bientôt 100 ans déjà!) fait des merveilles de ce fruit. Leur vergers de prunes se situent en Tarn-et-Garonne, sur les coteaux déclives dans la commune de Mirabel. Quatre générations de passionnés qui transmettent leur savoir-faire avec nous !



Le Vin

EOLIS  Merlot – Cabernet sauvignon – Cabernet franc 2014

Depuis un bon moment mon âme ‘vini’ sent la vive soif pour ce vin! C’est un blend classique bordelais de 3 cépages et de pouvoir goûter l’expression de «notre» terroir bulgare ici à Bordeaux me rend spécialement heureuse.

Rubis profond cristallin.

Au nez le vin déploie un bouquet complexe aux notes de très mûres cerises noires et  cassis, de poivrons rouges grillés avec leur fumé fine et volatile, de pruneaux suaves.

Au palais on est agréablement surpris par une attaque ample et vive, marquée par la fraîcheur (souvenez-vous d’Eole & Solis!) et qui apporte une vraie élégance au vin! On y retrouve les fruits arrivés à une maturité optimale, sans être «cuits», des notes de ces célèbres poivrons rouges grillés au feu de bois, mais aussi poivrées, torréfiées, de pruneaux macérés, de tabac et de feuilles séchées. …Les tannins fondants, le final- je m’en souviendrai longtemps!

Le Met

DAUBE de bœuf aux pruneaux, poivrons grillés et noix



(pour 4 personnes)

800 g de noix de bœuf

150 g de pruneaux de Pruneaux Cabos

2 poivrons rouges grillés au feu de bois

50 g de noix
1 grand oignon ou 2 plus petits

4 gousses d’ail

25 cl de vin rouge

 2 brins de thym, 2 brins de romarin, 2 brins de sarriette

2 clous de girofle

4 grains de poivre

1 pointe de noix muscade

sel, poivre

Pour la garniture:

200 g de riz rond

4 belles pleurotes

1 noix de beurre

sel, poivre


  1. Couper la viande en morceaux
  2. Peler et découper en rondelles l(es) oignon(s), peler les gousses d’ail.
  3. Faire mariner la viande avec le vin, les herbes, les oignons et les gousses d’ail.
  4. Dans un petit sachet en tissu (à trouver dans les (para)pharmacies enfermer les épices, ajouter-les à la marinade.
  5. Laisser reposer 2 heures.
  6. Égoutter les aliments de la marinade et les faire revenir dans une cocotte au feu moyen. pendant 5 minutes. Verser ensuite la marinade, ajouter 25cl d’eau chaude.
  7. Couvrir et laisser mijoter au feu tout doux pendant ~2h.
  8. Dénoyer les pruneaux, hacher finement les poivrons. 15 minutes avant de servir ajouter-les.
  9. Écraser les noix afin d’obtenir de grosses miettes, ajouter-les.
  10. Assaisonner de sel et poivre.
  11. Faire bouillir 30cl d’eau et une fois arrivée à l’ébullition, verser le riz préalablement rincé 5-6 fois.
  12. Découper les pleurotes en gros juliens, faire revenir dans le beurre.
  13. À l’aide d’une spatule en bois mélanger le riz et les champignons, servir en tant que garniture.

Bon appétit!

Information pratique:


Address:  2W Anton Marchin Str.
BG-6001 Stara Zagora,
Telephone: +359 888 866 484 (bg)
+359 884 077 741 (en)

1098 route du Foyt
82440 Mirabel

Tél : 05 63 31 04 16


Natural Born Wine Lover (NBWL)


28 septembre 2017


   Cette histoire raconte le mouvement magistral que j’ai entrepris il y a plus de 10 ans maintenant. Il s’agit d’un envol au départ de notre maison familiale dans mon pays natal, la Bulgarie: un nid embaumé aux parfums et aux saveurs et soigneusement «cuit » sous la main de ma mère, un véritable gastronome.

   À la fin de ma douce jeunesse marquée par le goût- autant traditionnel que divers- international, ma vie a pris une nouvelle direction: j’ai posé mes ailes ici en France, dans cet univers gastronomique hors norme. Je ne crois pas avoir été prête pour mon envol. On apprend à voler quasiment seul, en s’exerçant sur le chemin. Et sans aucun regret ou complexe j’ose le dire: de notre «restaurent familial» je suis partie avec un palais très expérimenté, pourtant sans pratique dans la préparation culinaire.

   À mon arrivée en France parmi les cadeaux reçus de ma « nouvelle » famille j’ai trouvé deux livres: «La Cuisine du marché» de Paul Bocuse et «Traité de Cuisine Bordelaise» d’Alcide Bontou. Un clin d’oïl discret d’un bienveillant qui n’a pas laissé une note, ni son nom! Drôle de circonstance aussi: j’avais apporté avec moi les deux cahiers de recettes que ma mère m’avait préparé: de mes mets préférés et d’autres à son goût. Il a été évident: il fallait que je me lance!

   La découverte de la cuisine traditionnelle française a été longue et intensive: les voyages dans le pays, les marchés des produits du terroir, la restauration à tous niveaux, ma formation en vins & spiritueux et surtout: la rencontre avec Monsieur Marchanseau, le propriétaire de la «Ferme du Ruisseau» dans la commune du Haillan, près de Bordeaux. Fin connaisseur de la cuisine française, cet inspirateur-gourmet m’a offert un long voyage au-dessus de la carte gastronomique du pays en me racontant ses «recettes et histoires- trésors» pendant 6 ans! Celle d’Antoine Parmentier m’a marqué pour toujours. J’ai trouvé que la persévérance et la passion avec lesquelles il avait poursuivi ses «affaires de tubercule», sa curiosité de novateur et sa générosité ont été exprimées dans la fameuse recette ‘Hachis Parmentier’- un des mets les plus aimés par les Français et adorés par ma famille

   En 2014, le jour lorsque j’ai dû quitter la France pour entamer un nouveau voyage, cette fois en Chine, j’ai pris mon temps pour expliquer à Monsieur Marchanseau ma vision sur la cuisine. À mon avis, elle doit porter sur la curiosité pour les produits, d’être basée sur la propreté (physique et mentale) de son créateur, de présenter ce mariage complexe entre la joie, l’harmonie, l’imagination et l’amour: ce que l’on trouve dans la bonne cuisine! Car tout ce que nous transmettons donne du goût! À la fin de ma « déclaration » et pour me souhaiter « Bonne chance », mon maître m’a offert un joli petit bouquet de fleures de pommes de terre. De ma part, j’ai partagé avec lui ma version de la recette de Hachis Parmentier, celle que je vous présente aujourd’hui.


Tous les ans, tous les mois et tous les jours- il me semble depuis loin plus que toujours- je goûte La Fête de la Gastronomie et j’invite ma famille à la table d’une féerie à la française- savoureuse, traditionnelle et en même temps… imaginaire!

Et chaque fois j’ajoute des mots pour orner cette préparation minutieuse. Car je considère que les mots, les expressions, les histoires en général possèdent un véritable goût! Il dépend comment parle-t-on, cela veut dire: si vous décrivez une mousse à la framboise il faut absolument savoir transmettre sa légèreté, son onctuosité, son air… « framboisement voluptueux ».

« Mmmmm! », diront les gastronomes qui connaissent bien les saveurs de ce poème framboisien!

« Mmmmm! », je répondrais sans hésitation. Prendre le temps de déguster et de discuter autour la table: c’est tellement FRANÇAIS!

Mais chut! En parlant de cela et je me vois à rentrer dans un monde où je danse comme magicienne autour les fourneaux avec une toute petite cuillère en main et je goût-, goût- goûte: inspirée, heureuse…

On a de la chance- les enfilages des jours ensoleillés dans le Bordelais nous amènent beaucoup de touristes et le travail ne cesse pas. Et néanmoins je trouve le temps pendant le week-end de La Fête de la Gastronomie pour mettre la table!

L’idée m’est venue spontanément: il y a à peu près un an depuis ma participation au concours culinaire de notre région Nouvelle-Aquitaine pour lequel j’ai créé la fameuse recette Envol Vers Mille Saveurs. Fameuse, car elle a attiré l’œil et a mis l’eau à la bouche d’une multitude de personnes, uniquement par son apparence! À l’époque nombreux étaient ceux qui ont voté pour elle sans l’avoir goûté, même sans avoir lu sa description!

Car selon la réglementation, nous, les participants au concours n’avons pas eu le droit de dévoiler nos recettes.

Je me rappelle très bien combien de fois je l’ai dû l’avoir cuisiner afin d’obtenir la recette exacte: 7. « Je ne peux plus me répéter, je prends le risque d’être mangée« , j’ai pensé. Donc, il faut la modifier. Et sans trop d’hésitation, j’ai mis mon tablier et je me suis mise au fourneaux.


Le nom que j’ai choisi de donner à mon plat évoque à la fois la légèreté et la complexité, celles que je considère très importantes pour rendre un met savoureux et pas pesant. Dans le mien la légèreté est apportée par le choix de viande de poulet, par la fraîcheur des parfums citronnés de la purée et sa texture aérée et onctueuse, mais aussi du gingembre, tandis que la complexité: par la présence du cèpe, du vin et des épices, de la graisse de canard aussi.

J’ai cherché à exprimer un envol qui se prolonge sur le palais et dans la mémoire. Un voyage sur les ailes de mille saveurs, et pourtant tout en gardant les repères terrestres. Et les racines donc ? Oh, on les sent ancrées dans les saveurs de la sauce qui accompagne l’envol !




Bon Appétit!


Natural Born Wine Lover (NBWL)


25 août 2016

Fragments on the NOSE:

—-> The NOSE is the first key to the soul. Or if I have to go into details: the NOSE is the key to the WINE soul.

—-> Sometimes, when I deeply inhale with my NOSE, I trully believe that pineapples, blackcurrant, mangos, candied fruits, violets, safran, black                   cherries, black pepper, raspberries, nuts, toasted bread, chocolate, leather and more² will pass through my mouth, by exhaling!

—-> My NOSE, these are my arms! But it happens, sometimes, that I need PEACE, please! Do not provoke it in a bad way!

—-> My NOSE does exercisesevery day.

—-> I love to put my NOSE only in my glass (or in the glass of my chéri).

—-> I only trust MY NOSE!

—-> The only time when I touched my NOSE in order to check whether it was on its place, it was after reading Gogol. Long time ago…

Let Your Nose Be Your Pilot! It will guide you well!