Just a little over a month ago I posted regarding the unexpected departue of Sylvie Cazes from her position at Pichon-Lalande, in Sylvie Cazes: End of a Very Short Era. At the same time she resigns from her role as president of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGC). Today I was pleased to learn from Decanter that the new UGC president is to be Olivier Bernard, of Domaine de Chevalier.
Olivier was the only candidate for the post, so this isn’t exactly a ‘shock’ result. Nevertheless he had an interesting prospectus, which included a plan to enhance the co-operation between the châteaux and the négociants; I was unaware that Olivier’s brother was Patrick Bernard, of the négociant Millésima. This co-operation, which may lead to us seeing some changes in the way Bordeaux is marketed, will be encouraged by the creation of a new eight-person commission, which will included four members each from the body of châteaux and négociants.
I like Olivier Bernard; he has always seemed friendly and approachable, and I wonder if that reflects his family’s relatively recent entry into the little world of Bordeaux château-ownership. The Bernard’s original business was distilling, and it was only in 1983 that Olivier acquired Domaine de Chevalier. It has been Olivier, aided by Claude Ricard for many years, who has catapulted the domaine towards the top of the Pessac pile. I would expect, even with Olivier’s new commitments, that these high standards will be maintained.
Although seemingly immutable, the UGC has not been around forever. There is a tendency to look at how Bordeaux is today and think that it has always been that way, but it is not so. The primeurs tasting circus, and the futures ‘campaign’, for example, are both relatively recent phenomena, having been born – I am reliably informed – in the early 1980s. The UGC is only slightly older, having been created in 1973. Next year, Olivier will have the privilege of presiding over some celebratory events as the organisation marks 40 years of existence.
In his new role he steps into shoes that have been worn by some prestigious names, as follows:
2008 – 2012 Sylvie Cazes
2000 – 2008 Patrick Maroteaux
1994 – 2000 Alain Raynaud
1991 – 1994 Anthony Perrin
1989 – 1991 Peter Sichel
1975 – 1989 Pierre Tari
1973 – 1975 Jean-Bernard Delmas
Somehow I don’t expect Olivier to call an end to the primeurs circus, (which president would?!) but it will be interesting to see what effect his other proposals have on life in and around Bordeaux. It would be especially interesting to see some novel ideas when it comes to Sauternes, although I expect we will have to look to the Sauternais themselves for that.