CHAMP | Michaël Llodra, from tennis courts to cellars

We all know the grace of his serves and volleys on a tennis court. But Michaël Llodra is a man with many hats. The former world number one in doubles, an inveterate lover of wine, is an accomplished entrepreneur who now lives from this passion. It was in Bordeaux that he developed his wine club, with tailor-made service.

Michael Llodra is in second class when he decides, with his father, to stop studying to prepare for his passion: tennis. Quickly sponsored by Nike, which helps him financially to travel around the world during tournaments, the young tennis player climbs into the top 100 in the world. Number 20 in singles and, above all, number one in doubles, he won no less than 28 titles in this specialty, including three Grand Slams, a silver medal and a Masters in doubles. A fine career that will last fifteen years.

An old passion

When he hangs up the racket, Michael Llodra will continue to live from his passion. More tennis, but wine. His interest peaked at the age of 23, when he started on the ATP circuit. Transmitted by his trainer at the time, his love of wine grew to such an extent that when he traveled to the end of the world for the Australian Open, he took with him an entire suitcase of magazines on the terroirs, grape varieties or again the history of wine. “I spent four to five hours a day documenting the world of wine. It’s a passion that has never left me”, explains the champion, who meets in his sporting career winegrowers in Bordeaux and Burgundy in their fields. He sets out to discover wines and, through wonderful encounters and tastings, the desire to embark on the profession is born.

In 2012, he opened with Arnaud Clement, his doubles partner, a wine bar in Dijon. A case that will last three years. When Michael Llodra put an end to his career in 2015, he moved to Bordeaux where he opened the Clandestine Cellar, a custom-made table located in his own cellar. The idea: a cuisine based on food-wine pairings cared for by his wife Camille, passionate about cooking, with a selection of more than 12,000 bottles. In 2019, he launched his wine distribution activity, Chai Micawith his partner Christophe Jacquemin Sablon. He builds made-to-measure cellars for individuals passionate about wine. “I make cellars listening to the customer, the idea is to offer them a range of wines selected upstream by me. The goal of this club is to also meet around tastings or dinners in the company of winegrowers in the greatest conviviality. The success is with go for the Olympic medalist since it brings together today more than 120 finely selected members. In addition to constituting cellars for individuals, it represents distinguished estates by placing their wines in the finest establishments in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. “The adventure is slowly gaining momentum before taking off two years ago. When we speak from the heart of a passion that lives in us, people feel it and trust us. »

In 2020, Chai Mica opens a shop in the city center of Bordeaux, while continuing his club. The three-year-old company has six employees for a turnover of 2.8 million euros. A commendable affair, its founders not being remunerated during the first two years. “I wanted to capitalize on the company and create a large stock of bottles. I am careful with the weather because if tomorrow there is no production, I have no wine. I must always be able to continue to offer wines to my customers. »

Charity actions

Today, Michael Llodra is a happy and fulfilled man. The club Chai Mica delights him and he has no intention of changing that. And if his Bordeaux shop is doing well, he does not count the franchisor for the moment. “You have to take your time. Today, I have properties that trust me and I don’t want to cut corners. I prefer to continue to do well, because I offer tailor-made service. Responding to the demands of demanding clients is what drives the former tennis player. Some winegrowers even create their own cuvée. “It’s a real pledge of trust with my clients and a real pride to designate the domains that trust me. »

voluntary, Michael Llodra doesn’t count his hours and always remains force of proposal when he discusses the different strategies of the company. A resilience and tenacity that he undoubtedly inherits from his career as a professional sportsman. But if he was alone on the tennis court, he plays collectively through his company and his association. A different approach that involves a lot of responsibility. Every year, he organizes the Mica Challenge. A mix between sport and wine, his two passions, the objective of which is to live a weekend among wine lovers, the winegrowers who come to taste their finest cuvées and sportsmen whose cellar he constitutes, who share their own experiences. of life.

The role of Michael Llodra does not stop there, because he also wears the charity hat through Sport a du cœur, an association created by former athletes like him, which helps athletes in precarious situations. It creates events with in particular auctions where many athletes are solicited to donate their jerseys or accessories for the association. Last year, the association made more than €250,000 in mica challenge thanks, among other things, to the Zinedine Zidaneon skis from Martin Fourcadein the helmet of Tessa Worley or even in the jersey of Roger Federer. This associative aspect is very important for Michael Llodra, haunted by an obsession: “Give others what sport has given me. »

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