Hubert de Boüard is best known for being the co-owner of Château Angélus, where he was born and famously given a pair of secateurs on his seventh birthday. Always destined to be a winemaker, de Boüard also runs Château La Fleur de Boüard and Hubert de Boüard Consulting, his company consulting for 80 wineries, primarily in the Bordeaux region, making him a key player there. As part of The Buyer’s ongoing series on bouncing back from the pandemic, Peter Dean hears from him as to how life has changed post-COVID.
“In terms of new projects, a new vintage of Syrah will see the light of day, as well as a Pinot Noir and finally a 100% ‘Provencal’ rosé in Bordeaux, made from Grenache and Syrah,” says de Boüard.
How has life been for the past 18 months?
Both in the vineyard and in the cellar, life continued just like before, in a very organised way. At the very beginning of the pandemic, we had a couple of concerns, but we quickly got back on our feet, and our teams organised themselves to adapt in the best possible way to the new pressures.
How has the pandemic affected your winery?
We had to limit access to our visitors and suppliers. We implemented remote working in offices, and we developed our digital communication.
Has life returned to normal yet?
Yes, with the appropriate precautions in place to protect our workers in the vineyard and in the wine cellar. Visits of the estate have picked up again, in small groups.
What has been the hardest thing about adapting to the ‘new normal’?
Respecting social distancing while sticking to our usual work rhythm.
Has anything good come out of it? If so what?
Our teams were strengthened to battle together in overcoming this hurdle.
What lessons do you think have been learned in the past 18 months?
On both a professional and personal level, you must learn to adapt to whatever situation you face and appreciate the value of living in the present.
Has it led to anything new in the pipeline? Cuvées, varietals, styles etc?
In terms of new projects, a new vintage of Syrah will see the light of day, as well as a Pinot Noir and finally a 100% ‘Provencal’ rosé in Bordeaux, made from Grenache and Syrah.
In terms of the effect on your winemaking – how impactful has COVID been compared to Climate Change?
The pandemic didn’t influence the winemaking process. We were a little late in supplying products, but activity was not interrupted.
Is 2021 going to be a good harvest?
In terms of yield, it will be an unpredictable harvest (because of mildew), but it will be a good quality harvest as always.
How have you changed your business model over the past 18 months? (distribution channels, importers and distributors you work with?)
Without being able to travel, we have multiplied our virtual contacts (through video conference) in order to maintain relationships, as well as sending out samples and ‘wits’ (phials of wine) on request.
Did you go Direct To Consumer? If so what were the lessons learned?
We have been putting our contacts first as well as strengthening our links with our distributors throughout this crisis. And now, dating from a couple of weeks, some of our clients and distributors have started to come and visit us in person.
Are you going to continue with a different trading model moving forwards?
We are going to continue in parallel to maintain digital contact with clients.
Have you changed which countries you are distributing to?
No, but for a couple of months, we have been developing the Asian market.
Has exporting to the UK changed at all – is it logistically more difficult and if so – are other countries more attractive/ profitable?
It’s not more complicated for the UK market, if it’s not to do with Brexit administration.
The wines of Château La Fleur de Boüard are imported into the UK by Mentzendorff, which is a supplier partner of The Buyer. To discover more about them click here.