How do you define modern Bordeaux? - Interview, Xavier Milhade, Château Tour Bayard
This week marks Bordeaux Day – two days of tastings hosted by the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB). The London session is on Wednesday 8 September at Camden House, while the Manchester session takes place on Thursday 9 September at Oglesby Atrium, Stoller Hall.
The tasting features the 2021 Bordeaux Hot 50 – a range of wines priced between £6 and £25 – as well as Bordeaux Undiscovered – a selection of modern wines from producers seeking UK representation.
As the CIVB looks to champion modern reds, we caught up with Xavier Milhade from Château Tour Bayard in Saint-Émilion satellite appellation Montagne Saint-Emilion, to talk younger drinkers, modern reds and the next generation of winemakers. He's pictured above with Agnes and their children Marc & Elodie - the 4th generation to manage the estate.
Can you tell us about Bordeaux Day and what you’re looking to get out of it?
Xavier Milhade: Our presence at this event is important because it contributes to promoting the renewal of Bordeaux. We are part of the young generation, with new ideas and sensitive to environmental issues. It is our role to show our clients the dynamism that exists today in Bordeaux.
This dynamism is characterised by the wines produced with a greater emphasis on the people who produce them, but above all by original approaches with beautiful stories to tell.
How do you define modern Bordeaux/modern reds?
‘Modern’ Bordeaux wines are obviously wines that follow trends such as the environmental approach, fruit-forward wines... but what makes Bordeaux modern is the young winegrowers with their stories, their backgrounds, their character, their experiences, their tastes.
There is a very strong emphasis on the human element today, with very personal labels. People talk about their terroir, their private lives, their passions, their grape varieties... Social networks have made it possible to communicate these themes.
How can retailers explain modern reds to younger drinkers – and attract the younger generation?
The best way is to talk about the people who make the wines and how they make them. The attachment to a wine is less dependent on the brand as it was in the past, but more on the humanbeing who made it. The younger generation wants to know what is behind the bottle: is the winemaker environmentally friendly? Does he use particular methods? Does he have passions that the consumer can relate to?
It's important that retailers want to talk about us, to come and see us, too. We do our best, but it's difficult to get the message across with a simple label.
What attributes of modern Bordeaux do you think are important to younger drinkers?
The younger generation is, of course, sensitive to the environment, to natural and healthy approaches. But the younger generation expects above all to be considered capable of tasting and appreciating wines. The wines must be complex but not complicated. We make wines for pleasure, for which there are not thousands of qualifiers to use.
And for that, we have to put forward simple and fun messages that they can relate to.