The main headings in this newsletter are shown below.
As you could imagine, life was not easy for us over a couple of weeks recently. With the three magic ingredients of Operation Stack, migrants as well as occasional striking ferry workers, the media was handed an irresistible cocktail of news headlines during an otherwise quiet time of the year.
When some migrants first made serious attempts to get through the tunnel, I believe it's safe to say that Eurotunnel was caught off-guard. Since its opening in 1994, before anyone had thought that there human beings might wish to walk through the tunnel, the prime security concern was that of letting rabid foxes through into the UK! By consequence, fences and other security arrangements were not adequate for the new and rather different situation.
Both the tunnel and the port are now much better managed by the several additional security measures that took a little time to implement. The British tabloids of course still talk about "the migrants" but this should not be confused with travel problems, of which there are none, and have been none recently caused by "the migrants". There have been very few serious delays for some weeks now, and certainly any delay has been no worse than occurred from time to time in the past, and it is important to remember that this is prime holiday season when every year there are occasional travel delays owing to increased volumes. All sense of perspective had been buried by the media!
As I have told some wavering customers, even at the height of the "problems", I had three return journeys under the channel in 10 days. Of my six single journeys, four were on time, one was delayed by 20 minutes and the other by 90 minutes. Maybe I was especially lucky but I have heard similar stories from customers who arrived in Ardres asking what all the media fuss was about!
At the moment the euro rate is at around 1.41 to the pound.
As you may know already, the rates of UK duty before VAT are £2.05 per bottle of still wine and £2.63 on each bottle of sparkling wine. This tax forms part of the cost price, so retailers have to calculate their margin on that higher cost, so the difference becomes even greater. Add 20% VAT then to both the duty and to the value of the wine and you have ... a really unhappy situation for UK wine drinkers.
In France there is only a negligible rate of duty on wine, thanks to the country being a major supplier of wine. So, its tax remains at a comparatively non-existent rate of around 3p per bottle! You get a lot more wine for your money in France.
With the average sale price of a bottle of wine in the UK being £5.03, this means that around 65% of the cost of that bottle is now consumed in tax.
Some of you enjoy the lower expenditure while others spend the same on your bottle as you might in the UK, but by buying at Boursot's Wine Collection in France, you get a far superior quality and value. With a range starting at under £3 per bottle, Boursot's has developed a reputation for offering a wide range of French wines of reliably good quality and value. Boursot's Wine Collection has taken some of the confusion and risk out of seeking and buying decent French wines, and with its British owner and English speaking staff, you will always receive good advice. And most of the time you can taste the wines as well.
On our list you get a good selection of French wines here in Ardres with some huge savings over UK prices. You can rest assured that all the wines on this list, starting at just 3,80€ (around £2.70) per bottle, have been tasted and selected by me as being "good" in their own different ways - it's then simply a question of your personal preferences and of course everyone has different tastes.
Many of you say the same thing - voiced by one happy customer not so long ago "One has to be crazy to buy wines in England. Virtually no choice on the high street and when you can find something interesting, it's ridiculously expensive... This (coming to Ardres) is so much fun, it's so easy, we make a day of it and everyone is happy".
We host a number of high quality wine dinners at some top local restaurants - and we have some especially entertaining events coming up over the coming months. You should come, so please look in the relevant section below for more details.
Remember: according to HM Customs & Excise you can take back as much wine as you like from France to Britain, provided that it's for your personal consumption. If you want to take back a lorry full of wine for your own use at weddings and parties, you are perfectly within your rights to do so.
Our new Marquise Shop and Warehouse
Our new shop warehouse is less than a minute off the A16 motorway at Marquise, north of Wimereux and Boulogne, and just 15 minutes from the tunnel. It is very easy to access and it has ample free parking. If you are headed to Boulogne, Le Touquet, Montreuil, Normandy or Paris, why not pre-order your wines which we can get ready for your arrival so that you can be loaded up and on your way again within seconds?
There are several attractions to Marquise, being only 10 minutes away from the picturesque seaside village of Wissant with its various restaurants and one of the finest sandy beaches of the northern coastline. You will find a list of local places to eat and places to stay on this link.
Work on the façade of our building is in progress right now, and we will keep updating its photo on the home page of www.boursot.co.uk as it changes. Signage will be up shortly but you can find detailed directions on www.boursot.co.uk/directions.html complete with a Google map. Work should be finished by the third week of September.
As one of our established customers said recently "The new outlet is larger, lots of parking, so convenient to get to, three supermarkets very close by. The town has good shops, the butcher is a must. The bar opposite the butchers is very friendly." (JB, Glos)
Opening hours for Marquise are marginally different, being Monday to Saturday 10.30 - 5.30 and it is NOT open on French bank holidays.
Boursot's Reduced Cross Channel Fares
We have arranged for you as a Boursot customer reduced fares with P&O until 31st March 2016. For a day trip or overnight trip (meaning returning before midnight the following day), your return fare will be just £23. There is normally a small supplement between £3 and £5 for travelling on a Saturday.
The Afternoon Return Fare is £19, meaning departure after midday and returning before midnight. So, after buying your wines in Ardres, you should also be able to fit in some fine dining!
These special rates are exclusive to Boursot's and apply to on-line bookings for a car and up to 4 passengers and can be accessed through this link or on the Offers page of our website. Our promotional code is BOURSOT (case sensitive). As always, there may be some specific £5 supplement days but provided there is availability and that you're travelling in a standard car, you will pay these low rates.
P&O has had some trouble with its recently revitalised website and so if you do not succeed as above, please call 01304 448888 (high phone charges will not apply) to make your booking and you will not be charged the £5 telephone booking fee.
You should book at least 24 hours in advance so as to take advantage of this P&O offer. We hope you find this helpful.
In case you didn't know it already, we should point out that Tesco clubcard points can be exchanged for Eurotunnel tickets, although it may not be possible to use these in conjunction with any other Offer.
Boursot's Hotel Offers
We have a list of local hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, golf clubs and places of interest on our website under the Local Info button from our Home Page. You will also now find a list of similar places close to our Marquise store.
Whilst talking about Local Info, we also list the Bank Holidays so that you do not find, on getting here, that everything is closed (except Boursot's Wine Collection of course which remains open every day except Sundays and certain days over the Christmas period).
We are very fortunate to be in an area with many good eating establishments at all different price levels, so do ask us if you would like a recommendation.
We are pleased to bring you a new partnership with the Michelin starred Hôtel La Matelote opposite Nausicaa on the sea front in Boulogne sur Mer where as well as its great position, the food is of notably high quality. The hotel also has a swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and hammam. The Offer comprises dinner for 2 (the Saveurs de la Mer menu) and a night in a "Superior" double room with 2 breakfasts. From Monday to Friday, the all-in price of dinner, bed and breakfast for two at 230€ (instead of their normal 283€) or on Saturdays and Bank Holidays at 310€ (instead of their normal 330€).
Also, if you are a "foodie" you should enjoy our Special Offer from the 4 star Hostellerie de 3 Mousquetaires which is just 30 minutes' south of Ardres on the outskirts of Aire sur la Lys. Here you will enjoy a cosy atmosphere and fine innovative cuisine as many of you have discovered already. Chef proprietor David Wojtkowiak worked at the Berkeley Hotel in London before setting up his own restaurants in northern France and so speaks good English. There is also a gymnasium.
This offer is available to you Mondays to Thursdays. Normally a room for two would cost from 115€, breakfast 15€ per person and dinner typically 45€ per person: total 235€. The offer to Boursot's Wine Collection customers is an all-in price of dinner, bed and breakfast for two at 192€. Dinner is a set option and we have heard many glowing reports from those of you who have taken up this Offer; we should point out however that if the selected choices for the dinner do not suit, you can ask for a change. When you book, you must mention Boursot's Wine Collection to get these special terms. You can call on +33 321 39 01 11 or there is a booking form on:-
Also, as a Boursot's Wine Collection customer, you have access to reduced rates at the 4 star Hôtel Château Tilques between here and Saint-Omer. The hotel has a swimming pool. Here they are giving you a special price on their superior "Luxe" room at 159€ per double or twin room (or 135€ per single room) any night of the week. While you may see a "special price" on their own or some other websites, that price excludes breakfast at 16€ per person whereas our Offer includes it.
When booking any of these Offers, please be sure to mention Boursot to get your special rates.
Wine Related Giftware
We have a great range of gifts for wine lovers or for your own self-indulgence, accessible on this link.
For example, our own design of Cellar Books is proving popular for those who wish to keep a record of their purchases or cellar contents. These are practical as well as aesthetically pleasing. Unlike many other types of cellar book on the market, ours are loose leaf so that you can simply take out or re-file pages of wines that have been finished. Our books are also hand bound with marbled paper and are available in three different colours. A Boursot's Cellar Book makes a fantastic gift for any wine lover.
Our gifts are also available from Boursot's Wine Collection in Ardres, and there are some fun items such as USB flash drives in the form of corks, framed and unframed copies of our exclusive Nick Newman wine cartoons, wine map tea towels as well as our own design of silver tastevin cufflinks. We also have decanters, Screwpull wine accessories and many more items. There is a present for anyone who enjoys wine.
Your Own Wine Events in France
Regularly we are asked to help organise various social events with a wine theme - for groups such as Golf Clubs, Rotary Clubs, U3A, Wine Clubs, Car Clubs, birthday parties, office parties, pre-wedding parties etc.
When planning your event, typically we would discuss your desired objectives and work out everything from there. We can liaise on your behalf with local restaurants and if required, hotels.
We use restaurants in and around Ardres that can happily accommodate your needs and provide great quality food at a sensible price, while we can provide our wines at shop prices with no cost of "corkage" to you. Typically a four course lunch or dinner starts at 29€ all-inclusive and six wines work out at 8€ per person.
Depending on whether you should like it, one of us can talk a little about the various wines being served, probably concluding with some entertaining words about what's going on currently behind the scenes in the wine world. These events are always fun and they are different: with only 23 miles across that English Channel, yet a million miles away in cultural terms, people always seem delighted to get away for a complete change of scenery and for a bit of French life.
"Many thanks for arranging our recent visit to Ardres. Everyone enjoyed themselves so much they want to come again." CW, Fetcham U3A.
You can also enjoy tastings, presentations or general events in the vaulted cellars under our shop. If you should be interested in holding a tasting or other event for up to 35 people in our cellars, do say and we will be pleased to discuss your requirements and reserve the space for you.
Additionally we have been pleased to incorporate some accompanied vineyard visits for some groups as part of their overall trip to France. Typically a visit to Champagne going behind the scenes and meeting the producers involving two nights, two dinners, two lunches and all visits starts at around £380 per person. So do ask us if a visit to a French vineyard area could be of interest for your group.
And finally, as always I am of course happy to travel to you to present wine related events, or simply to be your after-dinner speaker with a difference! I have a lot of experience in this, and this is one reason, I imagine, why many clients ask me back to speak year after year.
Do please contact me on +33 321 36 81 46 or through my speaker website firstname.lastname@example.org to explore all your options.
Forthcoming Boursot Events
Boursot's dinners are held for its British customers and so of course are conducted in English. They usually feature a wine-related guest speaker, whether a winemaker, a vineyard proprietor or even a wine writer! We organise everything, starting with pointing you towards our advantageous crossing rates with P&O, through to a bubbly reception, followed by a four course dinner designed to accompany at least five more wines. Usually we can also arrange accommodation for you, so all you need do after dinner is totter upstairs (perhaps via the bar?)!
All in all, the Boursot events are designed to be friendly and enjoyable while offering unbeatable value. We take a private room where we normally restrict numbers to around 40, so as to retain a convivial atmosphere: great food, great wine and great company. Dress is not formal and we suggest that you dress as if you were going out to a smart restaurant - which we hope you will be! All you need to do is to come along and enjoy!
Vegetarian and alternative food options can of course be provided, as long as we receive some advance notice. If a planned guest speaker is unable to attend, we will endeavour to find another speaker and if none is available, Guy Boursot will present the talk. All our events are arranged to be enjoyable, interesting and of course, relaxed.
Boursot's Wine Collection is open on the Sunday mornings after a Saturday evening dinner.
Perhaps you have an anniversary to celebrate or you just want to get away for a quick change of scenery? You are of course most welcome to bring some friends to make up a small group (maximum of eight please).
Saturday 17th October: "The Highs and Lows of winning Best Wine of the World" by Frantz Venès of Château Massamier la Mignarde at Hotel Les Trois Mousquetaires
Frantz Vènes is the owner of Château Massamier la Mignarde and we had told him that his topic was to be "The Grands Crus of the Minervois". However we will be asking him to widen his topic to talk about the highs and lows of having one of his wines elected the International Wine Challenge's Best Wine of the World in his category. Frantz is a most engaging character and we know that he will entertain us with his various experiences.
The four course dinner will be provided by the ingenious David Wojtkowiak, chef patron of Les Saveurs du Parc at Les Trois Mousquetaires in Aire sur la Lys, and of course care will have been taken to provide a good marriage to the six Minervois wines on show which will course include the Domus Maximus, the wine that created such a whirlwind back in 2005 .
Tickets are 86€ per person to include four courses and six wines, and all entertainment. We have blocked off a number of rooms at the hotel so please do say if you would like us to let you have a room from our allocation. This dinner is 90% sold already, so we recommend that you contact us shortly if you would like to attend.
Saturday 14th November: "A château owner's view of the Bordeaux market" with Pierre Brousse of Château Kirwan, 3ème cru Margaux at Hotel Château Tilques
Some of you may recall the highly enjoyable evening hosted three years ago by Pierre Brousse of the highly reputed Château Kirwan, 3ème cru Margaux. He provided some magnificent older vintages of Château Kirwan.
In our view, the Bordeaux market over-inflated with its 2010 harvest but since then, prices have been more restrained. Château Latour has opted not to take part in the annual "en primeur" merry-go-round and there are rumblings of other châteaux following suit. Are some of Bordeaux's traditions finally being broken and what can the world's customers expect for the future?
Tickets are 89€ per person to include four courses and six wines, and all entertainment. We have blocked off a number of rooms at the hotel so please do say if you would like us to let you have a room from our allocation. The hotel has an indoor swimming pool that you might wish to take advantage of during your stay.
Sunday 6th December: Ardres Christmas Market Lunch at the Restaurant François Premier, Ardres
So easily accessible from Britain, the town of Ardres always injects some fun and colour into an otherwise grey time of the year.
As last year, the annual Turkey Festival held about 20 minutes away in Licques, will NOT be happening on the same day but on the following Sunday. So, in place of that entertainment, we will have wines available to taste in the cellars under our Ardres shop from 10.30 on the morning of Sunday 6th, and then we will go across to lunch at 12.30 at the François Premier which hardly needs any introduction, being one of the finest restaurants of this area. Being situated on Ardres' main cobbled square, you will be in front of much of the afternoon's action, so you may be able to watch some of it from the warmth of the restaurant!
The informal three course lunch will be preceded by a bubbly reception and then accompanied by a further five Boursot wines, and everything costs just 62€ (around £43 at today's rate). I will tell you about the backgrounds of the wines being served
We suggest you "do" the Ardres Christmas Market after lunch by which time everyone's spirits will have been warmed up! Père Noel is normally found to be abseiling down the outside of the church at around 6pm, throwing goodies to many of the local children gathered below!
Always popular, we recommend you book early. This event is already 55% sold.
Views on the World of Wine
You often ask me as a wine presenter and writer to tell you my thoughts about what appears to be happening currently in the global wine market. Here is a collection of my latest thoughts.
I talked in the first section of this newsletter about how travelling over to Ardres and Marquise is still as easy (and yes, it is safe!) as ever. If you should need information about travel on the day, you can always look at the following sources on your mobile devices. Traffic reports for the Kent roads are on http://www.bbc.co.uk/travel/8714996/incidents/road and Eurotunnel is on http://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/traveller-info/latest/.
Around some parts of France the harvest is starting early as I write. Hot and dry weather moved over to cooler and wet weather which has not done any harm - in fact it may be giving some additional juice to the grapes. And now, it's back to warm dry weather. Vine damage this year has been minimal and I believe, barring any last minute catastrophes, that we should see a plentiful and very good quality harvest.
In Champagne, Monsieur Richard of Richard-Dhondt reports that he is excited about the prospects of very high quality this year with a decent yield. The sales of champagne have stabilised over the previous 12 months and the recent cooler weather was welcomed as the vines were becoming "stressed" from a shortage of rainfall this year. There have been similar worries about the dryness in Bordeaux.
As many of you will know, my wife and I live five minutes outside Beaune in Burgundy and when I am not in one of the two shops in the north, I may be found around the various wine villages of the Côte d'Or. This enables me to talk to various vignerons and to eke out parcels of wines that probably I might not otherwise have been able to. We are also planning on opening a gite at our home, and we hope that this will become available to visiting Boursot's Wine Collection customers from next year. Watch this space.
Further to my writing here last month about UK supermarkets and their honesty in pricing, comes the news that Tesco is abandoning the practice of so-called "half-price" deals. This follows Sainsburys' earlier decision to abandon this marketing tool, which was becoming increasingly mocked by weary consumers who preferred the "honesty" of pricing by the likes of Aldi and Lidl. The possible knock-on effects to the companies who have been involved in the supply of such wines could be dramatic and I believe we shall see some turbulence in the wine markets over the coming months. Another element of the rationalisation by these mass retailers will be a significant reduction of choice for consumers.
It has recently been announced that the USA has overtaken Australia to become New Zealand's largest market for its wine exports. $1.42bn worth of wine is exported in total, of which the UK in third place takes $354m. It seems that the New Zealand wine exporters have succeeded better than their Australian counterparts to export with both a premium image and profitably. 2015 has been a difficult harvest and at 85% of the country's production, the Sauvignon Blanc grape dominates the industry. As far as vineyards are concerned, the Marlborough area is now full and several producers are looking to fill in some of the remaining vineyard sites in Hawkes Bay which has been less well known. It's a rising area.
There should be a more lengthy news section in September!
Whilst much of Europe has been relatively slow to catch on, nowadays France's vineyard areas in particular have really embraced wine tourism. You just have to visit Epernay, Beaune or Bordeaux to appreciate how wine tourism has been accepted and developed and whilst you can try dropping in on whoever might see you, increasingly many top domaines will only see you as part of an officially recognised group. In addition, many of the large producers have managed to dumb down their tours for visitors with absolutely no wine knowledge to such an extent that you would probably feel disappointed if you know anything about wine, as clearly you do. It is increasingly clear that you need a specialist to get you behind the doors that are closed to everyone else.
Having visited the quality vineyards over many years, I set up Over The Top Tours Ltd 12 years ago to share my experiences with groups of interested customers. So if you should like to visit one of France's viticultural areas, have a look at www.overthetoptours.net - you will be taken behind the scenes in many of the great vineyard areas where you will meet and often dine with some of the producers.
Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc, Loire, Rhône and the South West are all areas that we visit and where we have great contacts who are happy to greet and inform you, as well as invite you to taste a wide selection of their wines.
Fine dining is also included as it goes hand in hand with good wine!
We tailor private tours specifically to your preferences, so if you have a group of friends or colleagues whom you would like to get together on a vineyard tour, please do contact me through email@example.com and we can start working out a schedule and budget. Do remember however that weekends, and especially Sundays, are often not good times for visits, as so many vineyards are small hands-on enterprises and do not employ teams of PR personnel to show you around!
Ideal sized groups are between 12 and 26 adults and typically two nights away with all meals and visits start at around £370. We plan the trip with you and make the bookings for you, so all you need do is to come along and enjoy a thoroughly memorable trip.
As you will see from our website, we also organise battlefield tours around northern France.
A couple of testimonials:
TripAdvisor, and E-mail
In case you thought that TripAdvisor was only for hotels and restaurants, think again! It has "Things to do" and "Attractions" sections so if you are particularly happy with what we do, please help us by telling others - by posting your comments on TripAdvisor. This link will take you directly to our page. Your positive input will be most gratefully received. In most cases, one does not know who the contributors are because they use a pen name, but to those 52 people who have already put up favourable reviews, thank you very much. It all helps.
Hotmail.com and aol.com have particularly vicious spam filters which reject many mailshots, even though you might have requested to be mailed. So if you know of another Boursot customer who is not receiving our monthly e-mails, please ask him or her to check with us - perhaps it's because of these filters that they are not receiving our mailings, but we can also check the address that we have on file. Also, if you are about to change your e-mail provider, please don't forget to advise us of your new address so we can update your records.
In case you should be travelling to France and wish to have some good wines available for you to enjoy while you are away, you can have your requirements delivered to your French address by going to our French e-commerce website www.boursot. fr. You will see the English language option available and the process should be self-explanatory but do call or e-mail us if you need help.
If you are returning from a holiday, Boursot's Wine Collection Ardres is situated just 7 minutes off Junction 2 of the north-south motorway, the A26. Then from Ardres to the port or the tunnel in Calais takes 15 minutes. Boursot's Wine Collection Marquise is sited just 2 minutes off the A16 between Boulogne and Calais and going on to the tunnel will then take you 15 minutes.
Boursot's Wine Collection does not close for holidays and is open as usual every day except Sundays. The Ardres shop is also open every Bank Holiday - French or British (with the exception of a few days around Christmas).
Boursot's Wine List
You can always see Boursot's latest list on this link and if you would like to print it, it's available on this link.The list is updated monthly but in the event that you see a previous version of the price list, try pressing Ctrl and F5 simultaneously on your computer so as to refresh the page.
If there is something that attracts your eye now, and that you'd like us to put on one side for you, just say and we'll be happy to arrange it.
We also have a range of unusual sized bottles in wooden boxes, making smart gifts. For example, we have magnums, jeroboams (double magnums) and imperials (quadruple magnums) of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and Minervois, many of which are in wooden boxes at very sensible prices. As with our wine-related accessories, these make impressive and unusual gifts.
We are constantly being told that our offering is so much more exciting and wide ranging than the equivalent retail operation in Britain. We are proud of our wine selection which, thanks to your support, has been growing and is finding a wider audience with each passing month. Thank you.
We do not advertise and it is unlikely that you will read a review on us in the British media. We have found that your word of mouth continues to be our best source of new customers. So, if you are happy with what we do, please help us by telling your wine loving friends, or you could refer your friends to our "Receive Monthly Newsletter" button on the home page of www.boursot.co.uk. And mention us on TripAdvisor. We will be very grateful to you.
As with all our wines, we stand by our guarantee to take back any resaleable bottles if you find that the wine is not to your taste or if you have too many bottles left over after a party.
If by chance you are worried about the status of the port or the tunnel, call or e-mail us and (without guarantee!) we can pass on any current news. As I said earlier, it seems currently that Monday is the day of the week that is most likely to be clear for travel but having said that, one can never tell. For us, we are very much looking forward to business as normal.
Jean-Bertrand, Antoine, Bruno and I hope to see you in Ardres or Marquise again very soon, whether it's for our delicious and easy to enjoy Petit Pont Réserve wines at around £2.80 a bottle or whether it's for something more exclusive for your special dinner parties. We have them all.
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A très bientôt!
With all best wishes