think I have a job. I’m mostly sure – I have an email in my inbox which seems to suggest I’ve been offered a stage, or internship. There’s still an interview to come, but it sounds like it’s more to confirm details than to ascertain whether I’m an axe murderer (I’m not, I promise….Although that’s exactly what an axe murderer would say… oh dear. Nobody tell the folks in Alsace about this.) There’s nothing to negotiate, really. All interns are paid the same – a minimum of €500 per month (roughly a month’s rent in Bordeaux) – and this particular offer includes lodging, so this is a pretty good deal. I’ll tell you more about it when I’m sure that I have this stage.

In the meantime, I definitely have a new apartment. It’s even closer to the Marché des Capucins, and sits in an eclectic neighbourhood with Chinese supermarkets, African hairdressers, Ethiopian kebabs and Halal fried chicken…it’s more colourful than my current neighbourhood, despite being just around the corner. It should prove to be an adventure all on its own, though due to the stage, I will only live there for 9 months out of the next 14.

I'm going to feel quite at home with the nearby Asian content; not sure how I feel about the restrictive drinking hours, but a bar called Le Petit Prince? It cease being a bar when I contemplate it bearing within me the image of a cathedral, surely. (although, bar works for me too...)

I’m going to feel quite at home with the nearby Asian content; not sure how I feel about the restrictive drinking hours, and a bar called Le Petit Prince? It will cease being a bar when I contemplate it, bearing within me the image of a cathedral. (Although, bar works for me too…)

For some unknown reason, this week has only afternoon classes. It means there’s time to sneak in a vineyard visit, and a few of us head off to Cos d’Estournel, in Saint-Estephe, Haut-Médoc. This is an unusual place – it certainly doesn’t look like the other châteaus, as its original owner was hugely inspired by travels to India, and which we can see in the elephant logo of the wine as well as the spires of the main building.

Beyond the Asian inspired decor, many of the other elements are hugely influenced by innovation and logistics: the triangle-shaped tanks are designed to break and disperse the cap (layer of grape skins on the top of the tank when it begins to ferment) during an entirely gravity-fed pumpover. (Sorry if I lost you there, but the gravity-fed bit is really interesting because Cos d’Estournel has actually built tank elevators to facilitate the flow of the wine without introducing any pumps – potentially excess oxygen – into the process.) The elevator shafts also take the wine from the tanks above to the barrel room below, and further below that, to the bottling room. It’s very clever, even if you can’t see it demonstrated particularly well in my photos. Ok, I’ll stop with the nerdy bits – suffice it to say I found the design fascinating.

Cos d'Estournel's signature elephant guards the entrance. PanAsian influence is seen outside and inside. An underlit walkway leads across the barrel room. The first label from when Cos decided to go rogue and sell their own bottles (gasp!) instead of going through the négociants. And we're finally ready to start tasting.

Cos d’Estournel’s signature elephant guards the entrance. PanAsian influence is seen outside at the entrance(s) and inside on the doorway to the tank room. An underlit walkway leads across the barrel room. The first label from when Cos decided to go rogue and bottle and sell their own wine (gasp!) instead of going through the négociants. And we’re finally ready to start tasting.

The afternoon classes are at Kedge Business School for the first time. This school is technically a partner in our Masters program, providing the business credentials, and is just down the road from our campus.  This week we have a Russian professor teaching us all about Supply Chains and Distribution Channels for the wine industry. (Ah, old stomping grounds, it’s good to see you again.) For Kedge, it’s also the week for students to campaign for election, so music is blaring and random flash mob dance parties seem to crop up out of nowhere. (In other news, student elections have changed a lot since my day…)

Kedge looks a bit like an alien mothership (that or I'm watching a little too much Doctor Who these days). 'Memories' of the OV Boogie come flooding back, and some serious work has gone into these infographics!

Kedge looks a bit like an alien mothership (that or I’m watching a little too much Doctor Who these days). ‘Memories’ of the OV Boogie come flooding back, and some serious work has gone into these infographics!

The classes are a good refresher on things I’ve been trying desperately to forget; there are some good readings on the theory behind luxury supply chains, and the importance of country of origin on consumers’ decisions to buy wine. We also have a few case studies: which distribution channels are best for organic wines; and whether or not a young vigneronne should join the Cru Bourgeois after recently inheriting her father’s estate. It’s interesting to see how quickly we put ourselves in the shoes of the producers for the purpose of these discussions, and then realize that the consumers are likely to think quite differently about the importance of each distribution channel and accreditation.

Yup.

Yup.

The free time in the mornings is a good excuse to explore the quartier for my morning café and croissant. I find myself going back to La Cabane à Bagels to see if the other bagels are any good. As they’re all named after Canadian cities, I feel obligated to keep returning until I’ve tried all of them. That said, I keep being distracted by the bagel of the month: last month it was the Santa Claus (of course), with foie gras and duck (of course x2); this month it’s the Outaouais, an area of Québec near the Ontarian border. Eventually I’ll make it to the Toronto bagel – turkey, salad and cream cheese with a spicy honey ginger sauce. Sounds enticing!

I haven't decided if I feel completely at home here, or mostly amused at the decor. It's hard to say no to a laser cut deer head. Firewood that will never be used. A pretty neat sittery, and this never-to-be-used axe is probably related to the never-to-be-used firewood.

I haven’t decided if I feel completely at home here, or amused at the decor. It’s hard to say no to a laser cut deer head. Firewood that will never be used. A pretty neat sittery, and this never-to-be-used axe is probably related to the never-to-be-used firewood.

We wrap up the week with an exam, and a paper to write on the supply and value chains of the wine industry in our own countries. I actually like this paper. The value chain model was my favourite analytical tool from the MBA (please try not to hold this against me…) and it’s analysis that I need to do for my future vineyard site, in Prince Edward County, so this is really useful for me. With several papers and tests on our minds, it’s another quiet weekend, mostly studying economics, with a dash (but only just) of studying the local nightlife (it’s all very scientific, you see).

It’ll be an interesting week coming up, as I have three days off before the econ exam, and a few more château visits lined up. I will also be in the new apartment and perhaps even know exactly what’s happening with the stage by the next post, so loads of things to look forward to!

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One thought on “livin’ on the kedge

  1. Pingback: farewell tour de france: bordeaux and the rest – when wine sings

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