May I wish you a very Happy New Year and I hope that you have enjoyed a good break. Some of you have written in to ask whether you are still on our mailing list -well, as you can see you are still there, but I regret to say that too often last year the work of compiling newsletters was started but not completed. So here is our first for 2015!
The main headings in this newsletter are shown below.
At the moment the euro rate is around 1. 28 to the pound.
As you may know already, the rates of UK duty before VAT are now £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 still 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 Brit owner and English speaking staff, you will always receive good advice. Often you can taste the wines too.
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, 70€ (around £2. 90) 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 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.
Boursot's Reduced Cross Channel FaresThere has been mention in the UK tabloid press that ferry prices are about to leap out of all proportion due to the EU's insistence that ships now switch to more expensive low-sulphur fuel. This changeover had in fact been long anticipated and P&O has confirmed to us that your special advantageous day and overnight return rates will hold until 31st March 2015.
So - we have arranged for you as a Boursot customer reduced fares with P&O until 31st March 2015. For a day trip or overnight trip (meaning returning before midnight the following day), your return fare will be just £22. There is normally a small supplement between £3 and £5 for travelling on a Saturday.
The Afternoon Return Fare is £17, 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 class=MsoHyperlink> 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.
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.
There is an ongoing appeal over the operation of Myferrylink.com but for the moment the old SeaFrance fleet, which was smartened up and leased to a workers' group based in Calais, continues to operate as normal. You get no prizes for guessing the web address of this ferry operator and you can find some attractive prices with them.
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 - or directly here.
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.
Specifically, if you are a "foodie" we are pleased to bring you 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.
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 96€ per person. 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. 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, please mention Boursot to get your special rates.
Boursot's Wine Related Giftware: www.grapesandvines-giftdesigns.co.uk
We have a great range of gifts for wine lovers.
For example, our Cellar Books that we specially designed are proving popular for those who wish to keep a record of their purchases and cellar contents. Made for us in Britain, these are practical as well as aesthetically pleasing. Unlike many other types of cellar book on the market, ours are loose leaf and 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. Click on the Cellar Books link above to view more information.
Our full selection of items is also available in the Ardres shop, and includes wine-related gifts 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, silver tastevin cufflinks, decanters, Screwpull wine accessories and many, many more.
Do also take a look at the G&V Blog, which includes articles about wine, recipes using wine and product information. Please feel free to add your comments and suggestions, as we welcome your interaction.
New items appear regularly so do please keep coming back or sign up via this page to receive direct updates via ezine or Twitter.
Your Own Events in France
You may know it already but we are often 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.
Typically, when planning your event, we would discuss your desired objectives and work backwards 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 good 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 would 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 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 £350 per person. So do ask us if a visit to a French vineyard area could be of interest for your group.
And finally, I am of course always happy to travel to you to present wine related events to your groups or dinners, 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.
Forthcoming Boursot Events
Boursot's dinners are held for its British customers and so of course are always conducted in English. They usually feature a wine-related guest speaker. Pretty much everything is taken care of, starting with our advantageous crossing prices with P&O, through to a bubbly reception, followed by a four course dinner designed to go well with at least five more wines. Generally, we also arrange nearby accommodation for you, so that most of the time 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 phenomenal 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 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, unstuffy.
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 8).
Please contact us on email@example.com or on +33 321 36 81 46 to book for any of our events below.
Saturday 24th January: Boursots' Blues Buster Afternoon and Evening: Les Trois Mousquetaires
Just when you thought that winter couldn't get any more grey and bleak at the end of January, here's something to introduce a bit of colour and entertainment!Our Blues Buster event is a combination of a culinary class, a wine session and a Gourmet Dinner all rolled into an afternoon and evening event.
The idea is not so much to be taught how to cook but to experience the kitchens of a Michelin starred restaurant and to pick up several useful culinary tips in the preparation of the dinner that you would come to enjoy that evening. This is tutored by David, chef proprietor of the hotel who speaks good English having cheffed at the Berkeley Hotel in London.
Also, there will be a wine class presented by Guy Boursot during which you can taste and compare wines from several different areas across France and learn about what is going on behind the scenes in each of these areas and more generally with current global trends. There is no need to know anything about wine – all you need to do is to relax and try a few styles and discover for yourself why these wines taste the way they do. I'm told it's fun and it's illuminating!
The price of the four course dinner with six wines is, as last year, 79€ (about £62) per person. We have blocked off bedrooms at the hotel, so please say if you would like to take up a room from our allocation. For this occasion they are giving a special rate of 125€ per double room plus 12€ per person for breakfast.
There are places remaining for this event.
Saturday 21st March: A Fine Burgundian Evening with Maison Faiveley: Hotel La Matelote, Boulogne
We are delighted to welcome Philippe Ochin, a director of Maison Faiveley, the prestigious family owned producer based in Nuits Saint-Georges, to talk to us this evening. As mentioned here previously, the new generation of Faiveley, represented by Erwan, has steered the company in a more progressive and acquisitive way. Within the last 12 months, the company has bought two major wine producers to boost its portfolio. Philippe will tell us about the special wines at our dinner and about what is behind this drive for expansion and as always, he will be open for questions.
The Hotel de la Matelote hardly needs any introduction and we have found over recent dinners that their attention to detail, whether it be in the very high quality of food or the professional service has been a delight.
Our dinner will comprise four courses, and at least six wines and tickets are available at 88€ (about £69).
We have blocked off bedrooms at the hotel, so please say if you would like to take up a room from our allocation. For this occasion they are giving a special rate of 165€ per superior double room with breakfast included.
If you appreciate good Burgundy, this is a dinner for you. There are places available.
Saturday 25th April: Bordeaux or Languedoc: Venue to be Arranged
We are awaiting speakers to announce their intentions and depending on their responses, the Bordeaux dinner will be either in April or in May.
Saturday 23rd May: Bordeaux or Languedoc: Venue to be Arranged
We are awaiting speakers to announce their intentions and depending on their responses, the Languedoc dinner will be either in April or in May.
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.In general, By contrast, Italy fared poorly as a result of bad weather. I believe that you should hear much positive news about French wines in the media over the coming months.
Thanks to new emerging economies developing a taste for wine, global consumption continues to rise and there is simply not enough good wine to go around, so you should not expect any major price falls thanks to this year's better yield.
Wine consumption in the UK , in common with other mature markets around the world, continues to decline while it appears that people are drinking better quality. The percentage of wine drinkers who are happy to spend over £8 on a bottle to enjoy at home has risen to 40% and there are fewer people who are now choosing the sub £4 bottle. Such figures can of course be skewed by what the supermarkets, as the major providers of wine, decide to sell. In Ardres despite you being able to buy good wine at £3 a bottle, we have seen over the last 12 months strong growth in the £4 to £8 sector -add an average £3 tax and additional profit on the tax to each bottle and that will give you an idea of the equivalent price in the UK.The British market for wine seems to be polarising with the independent wine retailers appearing to be doing well, focussing on offering wines of quality albeit at a higher price and by leaving the cut-price market to others. It seems to me that the best known mass wine retailer in the UK is entering some choppy waters at the moment, as it quests for an ever larger number of stores across the country. While its sales increased, its margins have been squeezed by competition from the supermarket sector. I am watching that space. As an aside, I was amused to read the other day how much the BBC's wine consumption has changed -20 years ago I had the contract to supply wine to all the BBC units in the country and in those days, just one of the several London units would buy in a year what the entire corporation buys now! The modern statistics seem to me to reflect a better use of taxpayers' money. Many of you have seen or heard me opine about cork versus screwcap or plastic bottle closures and I admit to modifying some of my views now, as the new generation of screwcap comes on to the market permitting a more measured ageing of wine within the bottle. The multi-national Guala Closures Group has 25 production plants across the world turning out 14 billion closures per year, whether they be for bottles of spirits or for wines. Ordinarily the relatively niche wine market has not been a natural match to the multi billion euro screwcap business but after the poor quality control of traditional Portuguese cork producers a decade ago, the proverbial door has been left wide open to a more modern and precise alternative. Some might argue that variability between bottles was part of the fun of wine but in a world of commercial pressures, any form of spoilage from cork tainted bottles cannot be acceptable. While in general the French public has not readily embraced anything aside from the traditional cork, this year you should see us taking some more wines, especially light whites, with screwcap. We will be interested to hear your reactions. As you may know, we offer a handling service for those of you who like to order some of your favourite wines directly from the vineyards. With our French website now readily visible to producers, a new phenomenon to us is that of producers contacting us, asking that we increase our prices so as to be more in line with their cellar door prices!The French market in general tends to operate on higher margins than the competitive UK market and while we accept that most producers want to position their products in the market as favourably as possible, we respond that we are happy with our margins on the prices they charge us. It's up to the vineyard to get its pricing policy right. One of our customers who recently collected his ex-cellars wines from us was shocked to find that we sold the self same wines at less than he had paid "en directe", so the message here is beware, you do not always find the best value at the vineyard where you are considered to be a captive market. As a retailer of a sensual product, one respects the fact that everyone has different tastes and people buy different wines for various different reasons. Appreciation of wine can also be affected by many other factors that can have little to do with the contents in the bottle and our senses can be affected or even altered by a happy (or sad) experience, music or even the colour of a particular environment! Self deprecatingly, many years ago I was guilty of having an environment affect my senses; I was on a buying expedition in Italy's sunny Piedmont where one particular vineyard did a very good job of looking after me. We tasted several wines and then enjoyed a long lazy lunch among the vines and olive groves. All the wines tasted beautiful and I decided there and then to order a pallet of a red wine to be shipped back to the UK. On its arrival in the cold grey that was Blighty, I tasted a bottle and thought "how on earth could I have thought that this was nice wine?". Re-tasting only confirmed my fears that this was not my best ever purchase! Fortunately this was not a huge order, but that experience taught me that I should never again buy wine for resale based on one experience in the vineyard -ever since, I have always requested a sample to be sent back to the office so that I can taste it in the light of reality! And before you ask, yes those 600 bottles did go eventually, but it took a year and their price just kept going down until being sold off at cost!
Wine TourismWhilst 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 some 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 info@overthetoptours. net 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:
Our group of eight recently spent three days in Burgundy with the hope of trying to broaden our understanding of the wines and the region. Having used guides before we had found that guides can be overly technical and insist on telling you what they know rather than what you are interested in. Through Over The Top Tours we struck 'gold' and found their guide Ursula and in doing so found someone who really knows their subject matter but also someone who was all about making sure we enjoyed ourselves during the process as well which given our diverse group was not easy. It's fair to say that Ursula made our trip to Burgundy and we would all unreservedly recommend her and Over The Top Tours to anyone thinking of visiting Burgundy. ND -September 2013
TripAdvisor, and E-mail
In case you thought that TripAdvisor was only for hotels and restaurants, think again! It has "Things to do" and 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 44 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. The process should be self-explanatory but do call or e-mail us if you need help.
Boursot's Wine Collection does not close for holidays and is open as usual every day except Sundays. It is also open every Bank Holiday - French or British (with the exception of a few days around Christmas).
Boursot's New 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.
Jean-Bertrand, Antoine, Bruno and I hope to see you in Ardres again very soon, whether it's for our delicious and easy to enjoy Petit Pont Réserve wines at around £3 a bottle or whether it's for something more exclusive for your special dinner parties. We have them all.
A très bientôt!
With all best wishes