With 2.5 million bottles of Bordeaux wines (more than 30% of which are classified growths), Millésima is the largest Bordeaux merchant in the world. Founded in 1983 by Patrick Bernard, with its emphasis on mail order (and now online) sales, Millésima continues to be a family business to this day.
Based near the banks of the Garonne River in downtown Bordeaux, Millésima’s warehouses date to 1840. The cellars are crammed with crates upon crates of high end Bordeaux wines, some of which have been packaged specifically for Millésima. Adjacent to the cavernous warehouse space, the Imperial Library houses over 10,000 large format bottles as they age.
Most of the transactions happen online, but the on-site shop offers 400 wines and is open weekdays from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Moreover, while the company is first and foremost a seller of Bordeaux wines, they do open their doors to tourists, offering guided tours and formal tastings, upon reservation.
As a key element of its business model, Millésima only deals directly with the châteaux, thereby maintaining provenance and authenticity for all of its wines. Moreover, unlike other wine merchants which must legally buy from a négociant, wines purchased through Millésima change hands only twice before you take ownership.
Beyond Bordeaux, Millésima operates wine shops in both Saint-Tropez and New York. Located on the Upper East Side (1355 Second Avenue @ East 72nd Street), the New York-based shop was opened in 2006. It offers a full range of Bordeaux wines, of course, but also features top producers from Champagne, Rhône, Burgundy and Alsace as well as the rest of France, Europe and the New World.
To further ensure the quality of the wines, they are sent from Bordeaux to the U.S. via boat, with delivery taking three to six months. Wines purchased as Futures are only sold in their original case as either 6 or 12 bottle packages, depending upon the estate.
The store is overseen by General Manager, Hortense Bernard, a post she has held since June 2012. Hortense previously worked for Moët Hennessy before joining the family business in 2010.