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