Sunday, June 29, 2014

Val d'Orbieu means 'Unity, Ethics and Excellence'--A wine growers cooperative (association) that stretches from Bordeaux to Languedoc by Philip S. Kampe




                                                            Olivier Dauga

At a recent luncheon,wine expert and businessman, extraordinaire, Oliver Dauga, from Val d’Orbieu, the first French wine cooperative (winegrowers association) in existence, elaborated on their mix of premium wines from Bordeaux and  Langueduc.

Mr. Dauga, a tall man, full of humor and intrigue explained the Val d’Orbieu story. “Over forty years ago, a handful of winemakers, who believed their land and their wine were totally unique, came together to create a business that was founded on three important beliefs: Unity, Ethics and Excellence. Val d’Orbieu was born”.  

He further explained that Val d’Orbieu is a company that is of the people, where the vision of its founders to the present day make-up hasn’t changed at all. The inherited pioneering spirit and vision combined with hard work has put Val d’Orbieu on the map.

And the map is large.
Over two-thousand, five hundred  members from eleven wine cooperatives and sixty estates/chateaux. This group makes up Val d’Orbieu, the single biggest wine region in the world and the largest still wine cooperative in France.



                                      Val d'Orbieu CEO  Bertrand Girard

CEO Bertrand Girard, former Danon yogurt executive, explained that the mission of Val d’Orbieu is to suit the needs of the end client, through making wine in a style that they, the customer, approve of, thus creating the desire to purchase more. Mr. Girard said that the same philosophy was that of Danon yogurt, hence, his successful conversion to run the operations at Val d’Orbieu.

The luncheon took place at Orsay restaurant in Manhattan, where Isabelle Vermorel from Val d’Orbieu and Brinda Bourhis from Speechmark (Bordeaux) addressed the afternoon session with words of encouragement regarding the wines that we were going to sample alongside our French focused meal.
CEO Bertrand Girard presents a factual slide show about Val d'Orbieu


Facts that I learned about  the Val d’Orbieu group:
42,000 acres of vinyards.
2.500 winegrowers
11 million case production
10 million bag-in-box
20 million tetra pac (bag innov)
33% of wines produced are exported
60 Domaines and Chateauxs
12 wineries
72 medallions(awards) in 2013

Generally speaking, according to Susannah Gold of Vigneto Communications, the Val
D’Orbieu group produces wines that appeal to a large number of consumers throughout the world. The wines that the Val d’Orbieu group produce are known for their character and approachable price points.

At the luncheon I sampled a wonderful array of wines from the Black Reserve line of Val d’Orbieu and the Treasured Bordeaux Selections. My favorites, all well-priced, included:
Avant-Garde (white) 2012 ($15)  a crisp and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc that is great for seafood or can easily be an aperitif. (Treasured Bordeaux)

Domaine Sainte Croix Rose 2013 ($20) is my all-time favorite rose from Val d’Orbieu. It is a true food wine that is intense (70% Grenache, 30% Syrah), yet not heavy.

Roche Darjac 2012 ($14) This red blend of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from Treasured Bordeaux is an exceptional, elegant, light and velvety red wine that can be poured to compliment many entrees, thanks to its mild tannins..

Avant-Garde (red) 2012($15) is made from 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. This outstanding fruit-forward, complex blend is another great selection from Treasured Bordeaux. The ripe tannins allow for a long, lingering finish.

Chateau Les Gravieres De la Brandille 2010 ($28), a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon blend was absurdly elegant, yet complex. This wine can be consumed on its own, as well as with a juicy steak. Its versatility and fair price deserve attention.

Chateu McKay 2011 ($20), a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvigon and Malbec. This classic Bordeaux style red combines ripe, sophisticated dark fruit with silky tannins that create an elegant wine with a long finish.

Chateau La Pirouette 2011 ($34) is a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Ripe fruit, generous tannins of good quality and 25-30 year old vines make this wine very special. Ageing potential is suggested.




  The wines of Treasured Bordeaux and Black Reserve by Val d'Orbieu


Th Black Reserve wines of Val d’Orbieu are a must buy. High quality and fair price points make these wines from Languedoc desirable. All bottles are priced in the $23 range. Winemaker Olivier Dauga, accompanies winegrowers and oenologists to create these ‘exceptional’ wines with the Black Reserve signature.
My favorites:
Chateau De Jonquieres 2012 ($23), a blend of 59% Grenache and 41% Syrah

Chateau de Pouzols 2012 ($23), a blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache & 20% Mourvedre

Chateau Festiano 2013 ($23) is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan

Domaine de Cazelles-Verdier 2013 ($23), a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan andMourvedre.

Chateau Notre Dame du Quatourze 2013 ($23), a mix of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.

The Vald d’Orbieu group is an interesting company. It is a growers association essentially, not a cooperative in the usual sense. Each winemaker makes wine separately, only calling on the association for specific help when needed. Pooled marketing helps the smaller wine houses have a presence in the marketplace, one that would not exist if it weren’t for the Val d’Orbieu group.
From my experience with the wines from this group, the Treasured Bordeaux and Black Reserve lines of Val d’Orbieu excel with high quality products at affordable prices. They have achieved their goal of satisfying customer demands with superior products.

Philip S. Kampe
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