In­ter­view,

The new Pres­i­dent of the Bordeaux Wine Coun­cil un­locks a few of the mys­ter­ies sur­round­ing our fa­mous wines

Bordeaux J'Adore - - Contents - CARO­LINE MATTHEWS

Al­lan Sichel, an English­man in Bordeaux ........ . .

SICHEL IS A NAME WHICH HAS BEEN SYN­ONY­MOUS WITH THE BORDEAUX WINE WORLD SINCE THE LATE 19TH-CEN­TURY.

An An­glo-french fam­ily, the Sichels played an im­por­tant role in re­build­ing post-war trade of Bordeaux wine and also the for­tunes of es­tates such as Château Palmer, which they part own. Un­sur­pris­ingly then that the CIVB (Bordeaux Wine Coun­cil) ap­pointed Al­lan, the el­dest mem­ber of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion, as its pres­i­dent in July 2016.

Many in the wine trade con­sider the Sichel fam­ily to be more English than French. Would you agree?

In my nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, it is nor­mal to speak a mix­ture of French and English, a legacy from my par­ents who were Bri­tish-born but who set­tled in Bordeaux, which is where I was born. This du­al­ity is com­pounded by the fact that my wife is English and my three chil­dren spoke their mother tongue be­fore they learned French. It is telling that our English friends

af­fec­tion­ately call us frogs whilst in Bordeaux, we are re­ferred to as les Anglais.

How do you man­age your time be­tween the CIVB and your role at Mai­son Sichel?

The idea is to spend 50%/50% at the CIVB and our fam­ily mer­chant house. As there are only a few tram stops be­tween them, I man­age to be at both lo­ca­tions through­out the day. My com­mit­ment with the CIVB is over a three-year pe­riod, there­fore I have be­come bet­ter at del­e­gat­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to my broth­ers, all 4 of whom work for our ne­go­ciant busi­ness. Both of my sons have also joined the team so it re­ally is a fam­ily af­fair!

What would you like to achieve dur­ing your time as pres­i­dent?

Our wine re­gion can no longer just rely on con­sumers that only drink Bordeaux. Given that our vine­yards rep­re­sent 2% of wine pro­duc­tion world­wide, our aim is to have an equiv­a­lent share of ev­ery wine con­sumer’s con­sump­tion! To achieve this will in­volve de­mys­ti­fy­ing the mis­con­cep­tion that Bordeaux wine is too com­plex and ex­pen­sive.

Of equal im­por­tance are our ef­forts to re­in­force the long-held be­lief of Bordeaux as the Wine Cap­i­tal of the World. The in­au­gu­ra­tion of La Cité du Vin was the ideal cat­a­lyst for this ini­tia­tive and con­sid­er­ing the role that re­search, ed­u­ca­tion and tourism have to play in achiev­ing this ob­jec­tive, the CIVB is now work­ing more closely than be­fore with the town hall and the tourist of­fice.

And when you are not at work?

Our of­fice is on the quays and when I am in Bordeaux, I tend to not stray too far from the Garonne. Fa­vorite lunch spots in­clude the Basque-themed Mak­ila Kafé or the more tra­di­tional La Belle Epoque, both of which af­ford views of the river while the gas­tro­nomic restau­rant Le Gabriel on Place de la Bourse has the added at­trac­tion of over­look­ing the Miroir d’eau foun­tain. My de­ci­sion to live in the vil­lage of Mar­gaux re­flects my pref­er­ence for a more ru­ral land­scape and here too, be­ing near wa­ter is a fa­vorite pas­time, whether it be tak­ing a mo­tor boat trip from the port of Ma­cau or cy­cling along the D2 to­wards Pauil­lac, glimps­ing the es­tu­ary along the way. Our fam­ily château – Angludet – is of­ten the start­ing point for these ex­cur­sions. In­for­mal fam­ily gath­er­ings of a Sun­day can de­velop into bike rides with my broth­ers through the vine­yards and pine forests, to Lac d’hourtin or the coast. Al­though we all work to­gether, we also en­joy spend­ing time to­gether whether it be do­ing sport or going on hol­i­day.

‘I tend to not stray too far from the Garonne.‘

PHOTO JB NADEAU

Tast­ing at the CIVB wine bar.

PHOTO D.R.

The Gabriel.

PHOTO GUIL­LAUME BONNAUD

The Mak­ila Kafé.

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