The 'Varied Puzzle' of the Right Bank: An interview with Eloise Maurel
When we were offered the chance to host Eloise Maurel for an exclusive seminar on Right-Bank Bordeaux, we didn't hesitate. As Merlot and Cab Franc lovers, we're a little obsessed with the Right Bank, from the region's tremendous everyday values all the way up to the most collectible wines in the world. Eloise lives and breathes these wines. Based in Bordeaux, she's an export manager for Wings Wine, a family négociant owned by the Thienpont family, and she is the perfect presenter to lead us through a flight that presents an exciting cross-section of Flatiron's Right Bank program. Still don't have your ticket? Act fast—they're selling out!
We caught up with Eloise to ask her a few questions about her fascinating work in advance of the seminar.
What do you think are the main differences the US market perceives between Right Bank and Left Bank Bordeaux? Are these perceptions fair?
The Left Bank is perceived as much spread out and bigger, so could be a bit confusing for the consumer—that's a lot of wines and appellations. But this part of Bordeaux is very interesting because it includes a multitude of terroirs.
The Left Bank could be perceived as a bit more high-end or classical, with a more old-school style with regard to its architecture, classification, prices, etc. And the profile of Left Bank wines could be perceived as more classic, more focused on seriousness (with the use of Cab Sauv) rather than Right Bank "gourmandise" (with the more generous Merlot and Cab Franc).
The Right Bank is automatically associated with Saint-Emilion, of course! But the Right Bank is much more than Saint-Emilion, with many small satellite appellations, from entry-level prices like Castillon/Côtes de Francs to high-end prices like Lalande de Pomerol/Pomerol. It's a very varied puzzle.
What is uniquely wonderful about the Right Bank?
Definitely the Cab Franc, 100%! This grape is really important for the Thienpont family. We like to add it in the blend and we think it makes a huge difference. You’ll find Cab Franc in Vieux Chateau Certan, Gravette, Pavie Macquin, Larcis Ducasse, Puygueraud… Merlot brings flamboyance and fruit, and Cabernet Franc which is more floral and gives smoothness and persistence, plus a great aromatic finesse.
What is the biggest challenge in your work as an ambassador for Bordeaux?
The biggest challenge for me would be to help the consumer understand all the details and subtleties of Bordeaux, the differences between all the terroirs, appellations and styles of wines. Bordeaux is a huge playground, on which very different wines emerge, with styles for all consumers, which is a great strength. Bordeaux has developed and modernized a lot. There is a constant interest in discovering new approaches to preserving the environment and the wines are constantly refining and increasing in quality. The idea of the old-school Bordeaux wine, rustic and very woody, has changed a lot. Balance, gourmandise and finesse are the key words. My biggest challenge is also to make consumers interested in entry-level and mid-range Bordeaux understand that the best quality/price ratio is indeed in Bordeaux! Here is what differs from other regions of France or of equivalent quality, where prices are soaring!
And what is the best part of your work?
The best part of this job is able to join you for this seminar! Indeed, being able to travel with these bottles of wine and share them together is my greatest luck. Being there on the market, to understand the consumer, to guide him or her is extremely important for me and for us, as négociants. We need to be connected to the market as closely as possible in order to understand and be understood.
The reason why I chose this job is that in any situation, there is always one point in common with my interlocutor: the passion for wine. And from there, a never-ending discussion can begin. Wine is a unifying element, subject to infinite questions, knowledge that multiplies, and above all the possibility of learning every day about wines, producers, sommeliers, wine merchants and consumers from around the world.
Questions about upcoming events? Get in touch.