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Sauternes second wines: Why they’re worth a look

Decanter Magazine - 18 hours 42 min ago

Accessible and affordable, second wines offer the chance for a wider audience to experience the unique sweet character of Sauternes. James Lawther MW explores how these second wines are made and recommends bottles to try...

The first thing I was offered at La Chapelle, the recently opened restaurant at Château Guiraud in Sauternes, was a tasting glass of the estate’s second wine, Petit Guiraud. It arrived with a tiny, savoury amuse-bouche, a delicious concoction made with Bayonne ham. This was all part of the new charm offensive that Sauternes is currently laying on for visitors to freshen the traditional image of this sweet wine appellation. Forget the age-old ‘pudding wine’ concept and think aperitif, appetiser, wine by the glass, wine bar, relaxed atmosphere and immediate gratification via the more accessible second labels. Scroll down for Lawther’s pick of second labels from Sauternes Sauternes has long been accused of being dusty and outmoded, but there’s a shake-up going on. Down the line, second growth Château d’Arche is set to complement its hotel with a new spa. Simultaneously, an increasing number of châteaux, including Yquem, are now open to the public by appointment. Further afield the problem is persuading consumers to take the plunge and experience the delights and complexity of this great wine – and that’s where the second labels play a part. This is not to say the grand vin is being sidelined. All producers agree that their ultimate goal in any given vintage is to make as much of the top wine as possible.

And with the increasing sophistication of viticultural and winemaking practices (pruning methods, selective harvesting, control of sulphur dioxide, barrel fermentation, ageing), as well as the botrytised potential of recent years, this has become more and more feasible.

But these are great wines that need time to open and develop in bottle. They also have the potential to age for a considerable length of time. The product of a natural phenomenon, botrytis cinerea or noble rot, they require skill, patience and experience to produce, so naturally there is a price to pay. Enter the second wine. New intentions

Until the new millennium most Sauternes classed-growth second wines were what Pierre Montégut, technical director at first growth Château Suduiraut, describes as ‘a typical Bordelaise second wine, made without a clear guideline to production and style, from young vines and batches that were unwanted in the grand vin’.

Most producers look to their second wines as a more open interpretation of their top wine, but these days extra thought goes into the shape and form and how it is achieved. The second wine, after all, serves as both an introduction to Sauternes and a stepping-stone to the top wine.

Château d’Yquem in Sauternes.


Château Suduiraut even has two second labels – Castelnau de Suduiraut and Lions de Suduiraut.

Montégut explains: ‘As the selection for Suduiraut became increasingly rigorous from 2001 onwards, our tastings began to identify batches of wine that expressed themselves earlier than those for Suduiraut.

‘Some were more classical in style so are now aimed at Castelnau, while others were fruitier and flattering which is the style of Lions. The batches were then traced to individual parcels, which enabled us to draw up a map identifying the plots for each of thethree wines. It doesn’t always work 100% this way, but gets us very close.’

Castelnau, which was originally created in 1992, evolved like this, with Lions taking on a separate identity from 2009. As Montégut points out, it’s not necessarily a question of young vines but terroir, as there is a parcel of 60-year-old vines on sandier soils which is usually destined for Lions.

Nor is it a question of residual sugar: the three cuvées from 2013 all hover around 143g/l to 150g/l of sugar. ‘You need a certain concentration to allow the botrytised aromatics of Semillon to develop,’ he argues. Length of barrel-ageing and the percentage of new oak do, however, vary for the three wines.

In a structured way Suduiraut has created three cuvées for three different profiles:

  • Suduiraut for the connoisseur with deeper pockets who is willing to bide his or her time;
  • Castelnau for the eager, classical palate;
  • Lions for the freewheeling, debutant consumer.

The last two are half the price of the grand vin. In a certain way this democratises decent Sauternes, allowing the first-time buyer a taste of good botrytised wine.

Style choices

While Suduiraut and Château Rabaud-Promis, with its second wine Promesse, have opted for a more full-blown, richer style for their second wines, Château Guiraud has taken the opposite tack.

‘We wanted a wine that was more spontaneous in style, something sapid and aromatic, which gives instant pleasure and is limited in its concentration, the idea being that it would bring new consumers into the fold,’ explains Xavier Planty, manager of Guiraud for the past 32 years and co-owner since 2006.

Consequently, the previous second label, Le Dauphin, was abandoned and Petit Guiraud was introduced in 2011. The 2013 version, which is presently being poured from magnum at La Chapelle restaurant, weighs in at 76g/l residual sugar.

As at Suduiraut, certain parcels at Guiraud have been identified for making the second label. But two other factors are brought into play when it comes to the balance of the wine.

Guiraud has more Sauvignon Blanc planted than many estates and the blend of 65% Semillon and 35% Sauvignon Blanc in the 2013 reflects this feature.

The other characteristic is that the search for concentration is less extreme. ‘Whereas we will never harvest grapes for the grand vin under 20% or 21% potential alcohol, those for Petit Guiraud are picked at 17% or 18% when the botrytis offers aroma but less concentration,’ explains Planty.

There are, of course, other factors such as pH and acidity that have an influence when it comes to judging the balance and concentration of a Sauternes.

Vintage, too, plays a part, with years like 2013 and 2014 offering greater acidity and perceptive freshness than richer, ‘solar’ years like 2015 and 2016. That being said, the majority of second wines I tasted from a range of vintages had a residual sugar level of between 113g/l to 127g/l and came across as balanced, with just the right degree of sweetness.

‘Our style is one of lightness and finesse with less residual sugar and our second wine, Lieutenant, mirrors this character,’ says Laure de Lambert, owner of first growth Château Sigalas Rabaud.

Fresh approach

Another tip, if you are searching for a little more freshness, is to take a look at the second wines from Barsac, one of the five Sauternes communes.

Located on a lower-lying plateau, Barsac – which has the right to label its wines as Barsac or Sauternes – has a reputation for acidity and freshness, a feature provided by the red, clay-like sand and limestone soils found in this part of the appellation.

Château Climens is the leading estate here and its second wine, Cyprès, is as good as it gets. Calling it a second label is almost abusive.

Created in 1984, the name Cyprès (‘cypress’ in English) was inspired by the fact that way back in the Middle Ages a cypress branch was issued as a receipt to prove that the tax for shipping wine from Barsac to Bordeaux had been paid. These days cypress berries have a more practical use as they are included in a preparation used to spray for grapevine moth at the biodynamic-certified Climens.

The production of Cyprès is based uniquely on tasting, with both the grand vin and second wine receiving exactly the same treatment when it comes to vinification, maturation, percentage of new oak and time of bottling.

The quality of the harvest is the fundamental factor at the outset. ‘There are no flying winemakers in the cellars tweaking the wines, as it’s all down to nature,’ says technical director Frédéric Nivelle. Thereafter the various batches of wine (between 15 to 25 batches, which is the equivalent of 150 to 200 barrels depending on the year) are tasted on a regular basis and the blend for the two wines is made gradually during the period of maturation, dependent on how each batch evolves.

The eventual result gives an average in terms of volume of 60% grand vin, 40% second wine – and on the evidence of tasting the 2015s side by side, it produces a Cyprès that is open and expressive early on, compared to the more intense but reticent Climens.

Of course, there is no second label at the great Yquem, but in a way this is just as well, as it would probably be another vehicle for speculation.

Essentially, the second wines being produced by the classed growths today are for drinking, the objective being to encourage a new clientele.

And with a slight change in mindset and the comprehension of quality and value they could help win the day for Sauternes in its battle for viability and global appreciation.


Sauternes at a glance

Area under production: 1,978ha (2016)

Communes: Barsac, Bommes, Fargues, Preignac, Sauternes

Production: 43,178hl or 5.8 million bottles (2016)

Yield: 21.8hl/ha (2016)

Growers: 142

Classed growths of 1855: 26 (45% surface area, 40% volume)

Grape varieties: Semillon (80%), Sauvignon Blanc (17%), Muscadelle (3%)

Soils: Sand, gravel, clay, limestone


Lively, fresh with good acidity and citrus notes (still with botrytised concentration): 2014, 2013, 2011, 2007.

Richer, rounder with tropical fruit notes: 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009.

Lighter and more uneven: 2012 (sometimes no grand vin made), 2008

See Lawther’s pick of second labels from Sauternes


Read more Decanter magazine articles online here

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Top Barolo Riserva 2012 wines

Decanter Magazine - June 16, 2018 - 1:00am

Stephen Brook takes a look at the latest vintage of Barolo Riserva to be released. Read on for tasting notes and scores...

The farmhouse of Franco Conterno overlooking Monforte d'Alba.Barolo Riserva 2012

Drink or keep

Sunburn and hail were just some of the problems this year, and growers had to respond adroitly in the vineyards. Some fine wines, but others are soft and forward.


2012 was an inconsistent vintage, complicated by a cool and rainy spring, sporadic summer hailstorms, and rainfall in late August and early September.

Variable weather in the spring had led to an uneven flowering, which complicated the vintage and required growers to be vigilant and attentive in the vineyard. There were periods of intense heat, and there were reports of sunburn in some exposed vineyards.

Quick link: See all of Stephen’s Barolo Riserva 2012 tasting notes Back to Piedmont new releases: Full report

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What is Chianti Rufina? Ask Decanter

Decanter Magazine - June 16, 2018 - 12:55am

A brief introduction to this high altitude, Chianti DOCG sub-zone.

What is Chianti Rùfina? Ask Decanter

Chianti Rùfina is one of the smallest DOCG sub-zones in Chianti, Tuscany.

There are seven Chianti sub-zones, including Rùfina – but not including Chainti Classico DOCG.

Chianti Classico is it’s own DOCG, generally with vineyards planted at higher altitudes than Chianti, and the wines must be aged for at least 12 months before being released on to the market.

‘Chianti Rùfina is arguably the most famous of the Chianti sub zones,’ said Peter McCombie MW in his masterclass at the Italy Fine Wine Encounter, held at the Landmark hotel in London on 2 June 2018.

‘People think only Classico is where the really good wine is made, but I want to show that other areas can [do this as well].’

For Premium members: Full report and tasting notes on Chianti Classico new releases 

Published April 2018

Rùfina’s high altitude

Chianti Rùfina is known for its high altitude sites, and it is a very small sub zone.

‘It’s a continental climate almost, it’s much higher and it’s the smallest zone in Chianti around the town of Rùfina. It’s in the foothills of the Apennine mountains,’ said McCombie.

‘The high elevation means the Sangiovese can ripen slower, this makes more enjoyable tannins, and allows the wine to age more slowly,’ said Cesare Code Nunziante from Colognole.

‘Also, Rùfina is a small area. It feels exclusive – there are only three million bottles [produced each year]. ’

Rùfina is also the furthest from the coast, and the highest, of the Chianti appellations, said McCombie.

The high altitude is significant because it means a big diurnal temperature difference, he said.

‘It helps to retain acidity, freshness and give more intense fruit aromas and perfumes.’

What to eat with a typical Chianti Rùfina wines

‘In Italy people don’t drink wine without eating food. Remember, when acidity can seem a bit much, think about having it with food,’ said McCombie.

‘Because it’s Tuscany, I’m thinking a slow cooked wild boar ragu. And really good quality beef.’

‘I’d argue beef is more delicate than we give it credit for – and then throw something big at it. I think something more delicate works well, like this Sangiovese.

‘Wild game bird would work well too.’

From the Decanter archive

Stephen Brook wrote of Rùfina wines in 2010:

‘The wines, overwhelmingly Sangiovese, tend to be quite austere in their youth and well structured. As a group, they probably age better than many other Chiantis, and bottles from the 1960s are, apparently, still enjoyable.’

Find more wine questions answered here

The post What is Chianti Rufina? Ask Decanter appeared first on Decanter.

Argentina's Vintners Say 2018 Wine Harvest Delivers Best Quality Since 2013 (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - June 15, 2018 - 2:00pm
A dry sunny year leaves winemakers feeling very good about their young wines' potential

Wine Retailers Are Out Numbered At The Table

Fermentation Blog - June 15, 2018 - 10:57am

Every state in America has some sort of Commission, Agency, Department or Board that oversees the state’s alcohol production, distribution and sales. What’s notable about this is that alcohol is the most highly regulated industry in America. As a result, the commissioners, agents, department heads and board members almost never garner an “attaboy” from either those they regulate or those that watch them regulate. The primary problem these regulators face is they are tasked with overseeing what is in most...

The post Wine Retailers Are Out Numbered At The Table appeared first on Fermentation.

Sommelier Talk: Charming Guests and Championing the Finger Lakes: A Day in the Life of the NoMad's Thomas Pastuszak (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - June 15, 2018 - 9:00am
Overseeing a top restaurant, launching a new canned bubbly, and playing bread somm to his 2-year-old is all in a day's work for this New York City wine director

The World Cup wine quiz – Test your knowledge

Decanter Magazine - June 15, 2018 - 8:28am

The Russia 2018 World Cup is inescapably here, whether you enjoy football or not. Can you use your wine knowledge to pick your way through our World Cup-themed quiz?

Can you win our wine World Cup?Start the World Cup wine quiz below 


More wine quizzes here

The post The World Cup wine quiz – Test your knowledge appeared first on Decanter.

Great value wines for the weekend under £20

Decanter Magazine - June 15, 2018 - 6:00am

Not heading on holiday just yet? Dive into Mediterranean white wines instead...

Great value wines under £20

If you’re looking for summery white wines there’s value to be had in Mediterranean wine regions, from southern France’s Picpoul de Pinet to Bolgheri Vermentino, Catalonian Cava and Assyrtiko from Santorini.

Find your favourite in the top 10 wines in the collection below…

Each week we bring you new wines, so you can branch out from your usual choices, without breaking the bank – especially if you’re one of the wine drinkers who stick to the same wine for a decade.

Don’t forget to also look at our selection of supermarket wines.

The post Great value wines for the weekend under £20 appeared first on Decanter.

Hugel Schoelhammer: The first three vintages compared

Decanter Magazine - June 15, 2018 - 4:00am

Stephen Brook tastes all three vintages of Hugel's new single vineyard Riesling, Schoelhammer, including the new 2009 release...

Where Schoelhammer Riesling comes from. Grand cru or not grand cru?

Ever since Alsace established its grand cru system, some of its leading producers, such as Hugel, Trimbach and Leon Beyer, have resisted it, refusing to bottle their wines under the grand cru labels to which they are entitled.

Scroll down for Stephen’s Schoelhammer tasting notes You might also like: Producer profile: Hugel Alsace Riesling: Comparing grand cru sites Dry German Riesling Grosses Gewächs: Panel tasting results


The post Hugel Schoelhammer: The first three vintages compared appeared first on Decanter.

Unfiltered: Chambord Showdown: Castle vs. Liqueur in Trademark War (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - June 14, 2018 - 1:00pm
Plus, Dwyane Wade launches rosé, Warriors ball out with Moët, and Walmart enters retail wine wars

The Newest Rothschild in Wine (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - June 14, 2018 - 12:35pm
Saskia de Rothschild hopes to build on her father's legacy at Lafite Rothschild and the other wineries in her family company

The True Significance of Robert Parker, Jr.

Fermentation Blog - June 14, 2018 - 10:26am

The fact that one has a vested interested in an issue in no way diminishes the power of their argument concerning that issue. I wanted to get that fact out of the way as I address one of the most interesting articles of 2018: Lisa Perrotti-Brown’s “The Big Parkerization Lie”. Ms. Perrotti-Brown is a longtime associate of Robert Parker, editor-in-chief of The Wine Advocate and a part owner of this publication at which she has penned a stout pushback against...

The post The True Significance of Robert Parker, Jr. appeared first on Fermentation.

Piedmont new releases: Full report

Decanter Magazine - June 14, 2018 - 7:15am

Stephen Brook provides individual reports on the latest releases from Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero, with tasting notes and scores for more than 170 wines...

Sunset over Serralunga d'Alba.

The great Nebbiolo wines of Piedmont have an avid following, so the release of new vintages always generates some excitement – and occasionally some disappointment.

The starting gun is triggered at an event in Alba now known as Nebbiolo Prima. It’s not an official launch, but is the first opportunity for the press and sommeliers to taste the new releases of Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero at a leisurely pace.

 Scroll down to see Stephen’s Piedmont reports
Other articles you might enjoy: The cru-isation of Barolo Barolo 2013: Top wines and vintage review Brunello di Montalcino 2013: Report and top wines

The post Piedmont new releases: Full report appeared first on Decanter.

New Bordeaux 2017 releases: Lafite launches primeur wine

Decanter Magazine - June 14, 2018 - 7:00am

  • Bordeaux 2017 releases 'coming thick and fast' says Liv-ex.

  • Château Lafite Rothschild 2017 initially released at an 8% discount to 2016 price, ex-château, making it among the cheapest recent vintages of the first growth on the market in sterling terms

  • Château Haut-Brion red wine down 17% on 2016 release price ex-Bordeaux

  • Château Angélus and Pavie 2017 both down 6.1% on 2016, with Margaux down 17%
  • Lafite Rothschild is poured for guests at a masterclass during the Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter.

    Château Lafite Rothschild has released a first wave of its 2017 wine in the Bordeaux 2017 en primeur campaign. The wine was launched ex-château – prior to mark-ups by Bordeaux and overseas merchants – at 350 euros per bottle, 8% cheaper than the equivalent price for the 2016 release, according to Wine Lister

    Millesima UK was selling Lafite 2017 on Thursday afternoon (14 June) for £2,538 per six-bottle case, in bond. For comparison, it was selling the same amount of 2016 for £3,330 in bond.

    However, as in previous years, Lafite was understood to be releasing in more than one ‘tranche’, said Liv-ex analysts.

    The release means that Lafite has followed a broader trend among top châteaux for cutting 2017 release prices.

    A significant number of estates have priced themselves somewhere between the 2014 and 2015 vintages, although it is hard to generalise and, as ever, it is important for buyers to consider the availability and particular circumstances of each estate.

    Lister said of the Lafite 2017, ‘Given the wine’s imperious performance in last year’s campaign, and in general, there should be strong demand at this price, despite being at the tail end of a lacklustre campaign.’

    Liv-ex added that the 2017 vintage could represent a ‘considerable opportunity to buyers’.

    Decanter’s Jane Anson rated Lafite 2017 at 98 points, making it one of the wines of an uneven Bordeaux vintage.

    For comparison, Premium members can read Jane Anson’s recent tasting of 150 years of Lafite Rothschild wines Update 14 June, 9am (UK time)

    Château Haut-Brion has joined a flurry of high profile Bordeaux 2017 en primeur releases this week, with its red grand vin launching onto the market at 348 euros per bottle ex-Bordeaux.

    That marks a 17% drop on the 2016 release price, mirroring a similar move by Château Margaux yesterday (13 June) and is in-keeping with an overriding trend for price cuts on the 2017 primeur wines versus the previous vintage.

    In its early analysis this morning (14 June), Wine Lister noted that, although Haut-Brion 2017 would likely be available at a discount to the 2016 and 2015 wines, ‘2014, 2012 and 2008 all look appealing in comparison’.

    La Mission Haut-Brion 2017 was released at 240 euros per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 29% on the 2016 release price.

    Haut-Brion 2017 white was also released, at 600 euros per bottle ex-Bordeaux. That is roughly the same as the 2016 release, with dry whites earning high praise in Bordeaux in the 2017 vintage.

    See Jane Anson’s top scorers from the Bordeaux 2017 barrel tastings Update 13 June

    Margaux 2017 released its 2017 wine at €348 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 17% on its 2016 wine.

    This is the same price as Mouton Rothschild, which released the 2017 price yesterday (see update below).

    Margaux was being offered the trade at £4,320.

    Jane Anson said the wine had ‘some of the best aromatics in the business this year’ in her Bordeaux 2017 en primeur tasting notes.

    Wine Lister suggested that the 2012 and 2014 vintages look ‘attractive by comparison’ – but added that Margaux’s status ‘means that there will always be demand.’

    Angélus also released the 2017 price, at €276 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 6.1% on the 2016 release price.

    It was being offered by the international trade at around £3,360 per 12 bottle case.

    Anson said ‘It’s a beautiful wine, voluptuous but elegant.

    Liv-ex called this pricing ‘a very brave price.’

    ‘It is pitched among the more expensive vintages on the market but without the critical acclaim to match.’

    Both the 2010 and 2014 vintages can be bought for less.

    Pavie 2017 was also released today, at €276 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, which is down 6.1% on the 2016 release price.

    Anson said it was ‘a very good wine for the vintage, with impressive texture.

    Liv-ex advised caution as this ‘release [is] more expensive than the higher scoring 2016… but also the “perfect” 2009 and 2010 vintages.’

    Wine Lister also said it is ‘well above market price for the higher-scoring 2015 and 2014, in its continuing repositioning bid to edge ever closer to the left bank first growths.’

    Figeac 2017 was released at €120 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 20% on the 2016 release. Anson called it ‘an excellent wine.

    ‘This 20% discount year on year should spark sufficient interest to carry it through,’ said Wine Lister – although, again in this campaign, the 2014 vintage is cheaper.

    La Conseillante 2017 has been released at €120 per bottle ex-negociant, down 20% on 2016.

    Ducru-Beaucaillou 2017 released at €120 a bottle, ex-Bordeaux.

    Wine Lister called this an ‘ambitious release price,’ putting it below 2016 in the market, but above 2015, 2014 and 2012.

    Pavillon Rouge 2017 has been released at €132 per bottle ex-negociant, an increase of 16% on the 2016. Only Le Petit Mouton 2017, released yesterday, is also an increase on last year’s price.

    Update by Ellie Douglas.

    Decanter Premium members can find Jane Anson’s full Bordeaux 2017 en primeur notes here or in the July 2018 issue of Decanter magazine, on sale now. 

    Update 12th June

    Mouton Rothschild has released their 2017 wine, at €348 ex-Bordeaux, which is a 17.1% decrease on the 2016 opening price of €420. They are the first of the left bank first growths to release.

    It is being offered by UK merchants for £4,320 per 12 bottle case.

    ‘There’s no doubting that this is a great Mouton,’ said Jane Anson, in her Bordeaux 2017 en primeur tasting notes.

    ‘It’s a beautiful, persistent, gorgeous wine that will age gracefully.’

    ‘Today’s opening price is quite punchy,’ said Liv-ex analysts.

    Le Petit Mouton has also released, at an increase on the 2016 price, at €144 per bottle ex-Bordeaux – a rise of 9.1%.

    Although this is a higher release price, it is the cheapest current vintage of Petit Mouton on the market, according to Liv-ex, which makes it ‘look attractive to collectors of the Mouton brand.’

    Wine Lister also noted ‘Petit Mouton’s excellent post-release price performance’.

    This is accomplished and lovely, but has a little less of a Petit Mouton signature than usual,’ said Anson on the 2017 wine.

    Château Montrose also released, at €96 per bottle ex-negociant, down 5.9% from the 2016 release.

    Jane Anson called the wine ‘correspondingly powerful with a robust accompanying acidity that promises a long life’.

    However, Wine Lister suggested that the Montrose 2014 vintage would be a ‘more inviting buy’.

    ‘Buyers perusing back vintages have a range of higher scored wines such as the 2014, a wine noted as one of the finest Left Bank wines of the vintage,’ said Liv-ex analysts.

    La Dame de Montrose 2017 has also been released today at €26.40, the same as last year.

    Pontet-Canet has released, at €80 ex-Bordeaux, which is 26% down on 2016.

    Anson called it a ‘very charming Pauillac with texture, rippling energy and undoubted finesse.’

    Wine Lister called this pricing ‘a significant gesture in the spirit of the 2017 campaign.’

    Other châteaux that have released at this level price drop include Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, at 25% and Palmer, at 20% (see earlier updates below).

    Haut-Bailly released its 2017 price at €72 ex-Bordeaux, down 14% on 2016.

    It’s hugely pure and restrained, with great aromatics and extremely well placed bilberry, cassis and mulberry fruits,’ noted Jane Anson.

    But Wine Lister points out ‘the higher scoring 2014 and 2012 are available at lower prices.’

    The ‘three Léovilles’ have also all released.

    Léoville Las Cases released €144 ex-négociant, which is down 20% on 2016.

    Anson called it ‘an exceptional wine – Léoville Las Cases just knows how to knock it out of the park again and again’.

    However, Wine Lister said ‘as is becoming a pattern in the 2017 campaign, the higher scoring, lower priced 2014, and in this case 2015, look appealing in comparison.’

    Léoville Barton 2017 has been released at €52.80, down 17% on the 2016.

    ‘It might offer value compared to the similarly scored 2015 and 2016 vintages, however does look overstretched compared to 2014,’ said Liv-ex analysts.

    Wine Lister also remarked that the ‘2014 looks appealing.’

    Léoville Poyferre 2017 was released today at €54 ex-Bordeaux, down 18.2% ex-Bordeaux, which puts it priced below the ‘duo of great vintages 2015 and 2016,’ according to Wine Lister.

    Those looking for more value ‘might consider the higher scoring 2014,’ said Liv-ex analysts.

    Update by Ellie Douglas. 

    Update 7th June

    Pichon Baron has released its 2017 wine priced at €96 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 16% on the 2016 release of €114.

    Jane Anson called it ‘a wonderfully rich and beautiful wine, intense and concentrated but with real generosity of spirit and huge persistency.

    Looking at price versus critical scores, both Liv-ex, and Wine Lister suggest that other vintages, such as 2015, may prove to be better value buys.

    Smith Haut Lafitte has also released today, at €67.20 per bottle, down 12.5% on the 2016 release price.

    Anson said ‘this wine is a real success, and a testament to their attention to detail.

    Wine Lister said that whilst it doesn’t match the quality of the past two vintages, the release price looks more reasonable than some.

    However, Liv-ex analysts advised looking at other vintages for value.

    ‘Buyers looking for value may wish to consider the 2012, which carries a higher score and is available at a 24% discount to today’s release. The 2016 also offers relative value,’ said Liv-ex analysts.

    Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2017 was released at €80.40, up 12% on the 2016 release of €72.

    The white is ‘full of personality, zip and complexity, and is clearly going to age beautifully,’ said Anson.

    Cos d’Estournel 2017 has released its 2017 price, at €108 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 10% on its 2016 price.

    Jane Anson called the 2017 wine ‘exceptional’ in her Bordeaux 2017 en primeur notes.

    According to Liv-ex, it is being offered to the international trade at £1,308 per 12 bottle case.

    However, looking at value in terms of price and critical scores, Liv-ex reports the higher scoring 2014 as the better value buy.

    Wine Lister reports the same, stating ‘yet again in this year’s campaign, the 2014 looks like good value.’

    Les Carmes Haut Brion 2017 also released its prices today.

    Anson called this wine ‘rather gorgeous’ and said it will age well. 

    It has been released at €54 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 4.3% on 2016.

    Wine Lister said it looks a ‘very attractive proposition en primeur’, as this price is below both the 2016 and 2014.

    Liv-ex said it is ‘widely recognised as a brand on the move, this is likely to attract attention from collectors.’

    Pavie Macquin 2017 has released at €51.60 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 12.2% on 2016.

    Larcis Ducasse has been released at €48 ex-Bordeaux, which is down 9% on the 2016 price.

    Clos Fourtet 2017 has been released at €72, a 13% decrease on the 2016 price of €82.80.

    Update by Ellie Douglas.

    Update 6th June

    Calon Ségur in St-Estèphe has released its 2017 price, at €60 a bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 3.8% on 2016.

    On the wine, Jane Anson said ‘The fruit is on the elegant side, and this should be earlier to drink than the 2016 and even the 2014.’

    According to Liv-Ex, it is being offered by merchants at £738 per 12 bottle case, although many are already sold out. Volumes released are down 25% on last year.

    Looking at the critical reception, and the price, Calon Segur 2017 looks like one of the best value on the market, said Liv-Ex analysts.

    ‘After several sluggish weeks, today’s release of Calon Segur, and yesterday’s release of Pichon Lalande, (see below) bring some optimism to the 2017 campaign,’ said Liv-Ex analysts.

    Canon 2017 was released today at €66.00 ex-Bordeaux, which is 8% down on the 2016 release price.

    According to Wine Lister ‘Canon was the wine trade’s fifth most successful en primeur release last year and the 2017 should follow suit given the wine’s rising star status. It is worth purchasing en primeur, if you can get it.’

    Anson said the 2017 wine was ‘another successful year for Canon‘.

    Château Giscours 2017 also released at €41.40 ex-Bordeaux, which is down 7% on the 2016 wine.

    Anson called it a ‘An accomplished, enjoyable Giscours‘ and with a ‘juicy frame that will age well.’

    Margaux estate Château Brane-Cantenac came out today at €46.80 ex-Bordeaux, down 9.3% on the 2016 wine.

    It is being offered by UK merchants for £576 per 12 bottle case.

    Although less powerful than the past two vintages, Anson said it ‘doesn’t sacrifice the excellent quality that this estate has been producing.’

    Update by Ellie Douglas.

    Update 5th June

    Pauillac second growth, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, has released its price for the Bordeaux 2017 en primeur, at €90 a bottle ex-Bordeaux.

    This is 25% down on 2016, continuing the trend for prices dropping for Bordeaux 2017 – and one of the more significant price jumps, along with the early-released Château Palmer.

    Jane Anson called Pichon Comtesse one of ‘my wines of the vintage, no question’ in her Bordeaux 2017 en primeur tasting note, and predicted that it will ‘age extremely well.’

    According to Liv-Ex it is being offered by the international trade at £1,116 per 12 bottle case.

    The analysts said ‘it has entered the market below the current values of the ‘great’ vintages, but at a premium to several others.’

    ‘The new vintage is around £100 [a case] above the wine’s “fair value“, which followers of the estate may consider acceptable.’

    Château d’Issan 2017 also released today, at €46.80 per bottle ex-negociant, a 10.3% decrease on the 2016 price of €46.80.

    Jane Anson praised it for ‘plenty of Margaux elegance, precision and touches of florality.

    Château Lynch-Bages released on 22nd May, at €75 ex-Bordeaux, 21.9% down on 2016.

    It is another well performing Pauillac in our Bordeaux 2017 en primeur scores, with Anson praising its ‘great finesse.’

    St-Estèphe Château Phélan Ségur released on 23rd May, at €28.80 ex-Bordeaux, down 11% from 2016 and Domaine de Chevalier is down 20.5% at €40 ex-Bordeaux.

    Update by Ellie Douglas.

    Update 16 May

    Château Talbot dropped its release price for its Bordeaux 2017 en primeur wine by 11% versus the 2016 release, to 37.20 euros per bottle ex-Bordeaux.

    Beychevelle also released its 2017 wine on Wednesday (16 May), priced at 52.8 euros ex-Bordeaux and down by nearly 7% on the 2016 release price.

    There has been a general movement towards price cuts on 2017 primeur releases so far, although few have ventured as far as the widely praised Château Palmer, one of the earliest out of the blocks and down by 20% on last year’s release.

    A number of UK merchants have also been frustrated at the relatively slow start to this year’s campaign.

    Liv-ex cited Beychevelle 2017 as being offered by UK merchants at £650 per 12-bottle case, making it the St-Julien estate’s cheapest grand vin on the market, in sterling currency terms.

    This ‘could make today’s offer attractive, especially for buyers in Asia where the wine is widely followed,’ said Liv-ex analysts.

    Wine Lister said Beychevelle’s release was ‘characteristically well-judged’.

    Its analysis showed that the estate was one of the top performers in terms of price appreciation post-en primeur release between 2009 and 2016.

    Decanter’s Jane Anson said that Beychevelle 2017 was ‘certainly a wine to recommend’ from an uneven vintage, even if it lacked the full expression of the exceptional 2016. She gave the wine 92 points.

    Talbot’s 2017 release price pitched the wine as slightly cheaper than the current market price for the 2016 in sterling terms, according to Liv-ex.

    The estate is known as a popular seller and came sixth when Wine Lister asked its founding members to name which wines sell most consistently year-on-year.

    But, Liv-ex analysts questioned whether the 2017 release price would prove tempting enough.

    Jane Anson praised the ‘great balance’ of the 2017, rating it 89 points, but she rated the 2016 wine at 94 points in a recent vertical tasting.

    Other releases this week have included Marquis de Terme at 30 euros per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 4% on the 2016 release price and following an emerging trend among several estates to price the 2017 vintage between their 2014 and 2015 wines.

    Gazin was one of the estates that kick-started this week’s leg of the campaign, releasing on Monday 14 May at 57.6 euros per bottle ex-Bordeaux, also a 4% drop on the 2016 release price. In sterling terms, Gazin 2017 was more expensive than the most recent market price for every vintage since 2010, according to Liv-ex.

    Rieussec and Suduiraut in Sauternes have also released their 2017 wines this week, at 42 euros and 45.6 euros per bottle ex-Bordeaux respectively – both equal to the 2016 release price.

    Update 11 May

    Lafleur has seen demand outstrip supply following its 2017 en primeur release. Decanter’s Jane Anson said the wine was one of the triumphs of the Right Bank after it managed to avoid frost damage that hampered several estates in the area.

    Read the full story on the Lafleur 2017 release here

    Coming soon: A vertical tasting of Lafleur wines, to be published exclusively for Premium members.

    Update published on 4 May

    Châteaux injected some pace into the Bordeaux 2017 en primeur campaign on Thursday (3 May) with several releases hitting the market.

    Many estates have increased prices over the previous three vintages and, this week, there continued to be signs that some properties were rolling some of this back for a frost-hit 2017 described as great in parts but considerably uneven.

    It’s early days, but it still appears as if Palmer set the initial tone for the campaign last week by pricing its 2017 wine somewhere between the 2014 and 2015 release.

    ‘Palmer made the right move,’ said Gavin Smith, head of fine wine at Fine & Rare merchant, on Wednesday (2 May). ‘The price reduction judged the mood of the consumer well following two big campaigns in 2016 and 2015.’

    He said that he was confident that the most highly regarded 2017 wines would sell, and that it could be an exciting campaign if others follow Palmer’s lead. But he added that several big names may have ‘missed an opportunity’ by not releasing early in a relatively quiet period.

    Thursday 3 May releases 

    Malartic-Lagravière 2017 red was down by 21% ex-Bordeaux, to 32.4 euros ex-Bordeaux.

    For consumers, Malartic-Lagravière 2017 red was just under the current 2014 price at Millesima USA. It was offering 12 bottles of Malartic-Lagravière 2017 red – rated 93 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson – for $570 in bond with the 2014 at $576 and the 2015 at $696.

    In the UK, Fine & Rare was offering the Malartic 2017 red at £395 per 12-bottle case in bond. The 2014 vintage was available for £343 per case in bond on Fine & Rare Marketplace, with the 2012 available direct from the merchant at £359 per case. The 2016 was sold out and the 2015 was available on Marketplace for £418 per case.

    Search all of Jane Anson’s Bordeaux 2017 en primeur scores

    Exclusive to Premium members

    Langoa Barton in St-Julien released its 2017 with an ex-Bordeaux price cut of 15% versus last year, at 31 euros per bottle. Its 2015 wine was released en primeur at 32 euros ex-Bordeaux and its 2014 vintage at 29 euros.

    Liv-ex said that it was being offered by UK merchants at around £390 per 12 bottles, down 7% in sterling terms versus the 2016 release.

    Château Pape Clément also released its 2017 wine on Thursday (3 May), at a 7% discount to the 2016 release and at 61.2 euros per bottle ex-Bordeaux.

    Liv-ex reported that Pape Clément had released around 50% less wine than last year, mainly due to frost damage.

    BI Wines & Spirits was offering Pape Clément 2017 at £760 in bond for a 12-bottle case. For comparison, the 2014 and 2015 vintages on BI’s LiveTrade platform were priced at £670 and £840 in bond respectively for 12-bottle cases.

    Jane Anson rated both Pape Clément and Langoa Barton 2017 at 92 points, describing the two wines as having good structure yet lacking some of the fruit concentration of 2015 and 2016.

    This week has also seen a primeur campaign debut for Trotte Vieille, which saw its 2017 wine available at 60 euros ex-Bordeaux. Jane Anson rated the wine at 94 points, praising its balance, power and good ageing potential.

    Berry Bros & Rudd was offering six bottles of Trotte Vieille at £369 in bond, with the 2015 vintage also available on the merchant’s BBX trading platform, in bond, for £1 more per case.

    La Lagune’s 2017 release, down 14% ex-Bordeaux versus 2016 to 30.6 euros per bottle, saw it join a number of estates that have opted to price within a range roughly between the 2014 and 2015 vintages so far.

    Other releases so far this week have included Marquis d’Alesme, Dauzac, Vray Croix de Gay and Cos Labory, as well as Pape Clément and Malartic-Lagravière white wines.

    Ex-Bordeaux pricing data by Liv-ex and Wine Lister

    Read about more releases, plus scores and an exclusive vintage report via Decanter’s Bordeaux en primeur homepage

    The post New Bordeaux 2017 releases: Lafite launches primeur wine appeared first on Decanter.

Sotheby’s launches ‘instant wine cellar’ service

Decanter Magazine - June 14, 2018 - 6:49am

Fine wine lovers can buy an instant wine collection and have bottles delivered within 24 hours in New York and Hong Kong as part of a new service launched by Sotheby's.

Sotheby's launches advice and cellaring services.

Starting at $5,000 for 50 bottles, Sotheby’s said that its new ‘Instant Cellars’ service offers an immediate, curated wine collection.

Wines have been hand-picked by it experts, the company said, adding that it has also launched a collection management and advisory service.

Bottles within the Instant Cellars scheme will be available for delivery within 24 hours in New York and Hong Kong, said the auction house and retailer, pitching the move as ‘just in time for father’s day‘ – 17 June in the US and UK.

New York edition

As well as the ‘introductory cellar’ for $5,000, there is also a 72-bottle ‘intermediate’ cellar for $10,000 and a third option for more ambitious collectors that offers 168 bottles for $25,000.

A fourth cellar contains 90 bottles specially curated for investment and is also priced at $25,000.

In the $5,000 option, each bottle has an average price of $115 and collectors will get 25 different wines; so, two bottles of each wine, Sotheby’s said. Highlights include Malartic-Lagravière 2010, Napa’s Ulysses 2013 and Dom Ruinart blanc de blancs 2004.

Hong Kong edition

For wine lovers in Hong Kong, the introductory cellar comprises 46 bottles for HK$33,000, while an ‘intermediate’ cellar has 62 bottles for HK$70,000.

Purchase of cellars a free consultation with a member of the Sotheby’s collection management and advisory team, or a senior specialist from the auction or retail teams, the firm said.

Jamie Ritchie, global head of Sotheby’s wine, said, ‘As the wine market continues to rapidly evolve, it has become clear that there is a growing need for additional services that provide advice and guidance, both for those who are just beginning to enjoy wines and wish to build a collection, as well as for those who want to refine their existing cellar.

‘To address this demand, we are delighted that Julia Gilbert will lead our collection management & advisory service.’

The service will include customised tastings, portfolio analysis and installation of wines.

Gilbert is a Sotheby’s vice president and senior wine adviser, who joined the group in 2017. She has been involved in the fine wine auction industry since 2005.

Find exclusive wine reviews on Decanter Premium


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Barolo 2014: Vintage report and tasting notes

Decanter Magazine - June 14, 2018 - 4:41am

Stephen Brook reports on the tricky 2014 vintage in this renowned appellation. Read on for his top recommendations, plus dozens more tasting notes and scores...

Autumnal sunrise in Barolo, Piedmont.Barolo 2014 at a glance:


After a stormy summer, a fine September saved the vintage, although hail did much damage. Yet top growers produced fine, elegant wines. Better in Barbaresco.


For growers in the Barolo zone, 2014 would offer a summer of anxiety. Although spring was early, there was little frost. Temperatures were normal in early summer, but there were some spells of localised rain.

In late July, when rainfall was particularly fierce, some vineyards were drenched, while a couple of kilometres away the vines received a mere sprinkling.

Quick link: See all of Stephen’s Barolo 2014 tasting notes
On high alert

Looking out over the vineyards of Boscareto (foreground), Ornato and Briccolina. Better autumnal weather helped to combat a cool summer in Barolo country in 2014. Credit: James Button / Decanter, 2017.

An update of Stephen’s Barolo 2014 preview, published in late 2017

Back to our Piedmont new releases homepage

The post Barolo 2014: Vintage report and tasting notes appeared first on Decanter.

Discover Katnook Coonawarra

Decanter Magazine - June 14, 2018 - 3:18am

Promotional feature

An odyssey of history and heritage

Katnook Cellar DoorPromotional feature Katnook Coonawarra

It is no wonder that the Ferrer family fell in love with Katnook. As a family with a strong sense of the importance of tradition, they were attracted by Katnook’s long history. It is the oldest existing winery in Coonawarra – one of Australia’s foremost wine regions, an extensive estate, and with two icon wines, Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon and Prodigy Shiraz, at the pinnacle of its portfolio and listed on the prestigious Langtons classification. Katnook also produces its flagship Katnook Estate wines and contemporary Katnook Founder’s Block range.

The winery dates back to 1861 when the entrepreneurial Scottish immigrant John Riddoch arrived in Penola and began to purchase extensive parcels of agricultural land, recognising its exceptional quality. In 1890 he established the Penola Fruit Colony, selling 10 acre blocks of land to encourage others to invest in the settlement. He planted 140 hectares of vines. His first commercial vintage was made in the woolshed in 1896.

Katnook’s contemporary history begins in 1971, with extensive planting of new vines and a new strategy to develop and enhance the wines. Initially wine production began in the original historic woolshed, but with the reorganisation the woolshed was transformed into what is now the barrel room.

In June 2001, recognising the need for strategic global alliances, 60% of the shareholding was sold to Freixenet Spain, the world’s biggest sparkling wine producer and 10th largest wine company. In January 2008, Freixenet purchased the remaining shareholding and has since then facilitated the investment of A$8 million in renovating and improving Katnook’s vineyards, winemaking facilities and heritage buildings.

Katnook’s historic “The Stables” building

Starting a new chapter

Winemaker Tim Heath joined Katnook in June 2018. He worked at Mountadam in the Barossa before moving to Cloudy Bay in New Zealand, where he has spent the last 14 years. Heath takes over from the award-winning Wayne Stehbens, who died suddenly in 2017. Wayne Stehbens joined Katnook in 1979, and went on to become one of Australia’s longest serving winemakers. He established the character and style of Katnook as it is today and won many accolades for his achievements, including two highly coveted Jimmy Watson trophies. In taking on the mantle, Tim Heath brings a wealth of international expertise and creative flair that is certain to build on Wayne Stehbens’ great legacy and take Katnook into an exciting future.

Katnook and Coonawarra

When it comes to terroir in Australia, then Coonawarra with its terra rossa is the textbook example. This well-draining, very distinctive red-brown topsoil over limestone is what attracted the first farmers, John Riddoch among them. (‘Katnook’ is the Indigenous word for ‘Fat Land’ referring to the fertile character of the soil.)

Coonawarra, one of Australia’s smallest regions at only 20km long and 2km wide, is 370km south-east of Adelaide and 450km west of Melbourne. Importantly, it is south of latitude 37 degrees, and only 60 metres above sea level, with a maritime climate cooler than many of Australia’s grape-growing regions. With its long warm summers and cool autumns it has been compared to Bordeaux in climate. It’s this cooling character that guarantees the elegance and natural acidity of the wines.

The Katnook vineyards are in the heart of Coonawarra, within the Limestone Coast geographic indication. Senior viticulturist Chris Brodie manages 200 hectares, divided into 100 separate parcels. The terra rossa is 20-60cm deep. Below that is a calcrete layer – a hard calcium rich layer – which forms a distinctive boundary between the terra rossa and the limestone below. It’s this limestone which holds the freshwater aquifers.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the king in  Coonawarra and the main variety (56.5%) grown at Katnook. The three Cabernets in the portfolio are all available in the UK – Odyssey and Katnook Estate (www.Auswineonline.com) and Katnook Founders Block Cabernet (Waitrose and Ocado) The two dominant white varieties are Chardonnay 9% and Sauvignon Blanc 5.8% with some Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Semillon. Amongst the reds there’s a good proportion of Shiraz and Merlot with a little Pinot Noir, Malbec, Pinot Meunier, Tannat and Tempranillo. The vineyards have Entwine accreditation, which is Australia’s official sustainability programme.

Coonawarra’s distinctive terra rossa soil

Visiting the Cellar Door

It’s well worth making the detour to Katnook, especially if you are doing a trip along the Great Ocean Road. The welcome is especially warm, and it is fascinating to step back into the days of John Riddoch, to learn the early history of wine in Australia, and to see what terra rossa is all about, and just how red it is. With wine tasting and local cheese platters on offer, it’s not surprising that Katnook’s Cellar Door won tourism awards in 2015 and 2017 from Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine.

Katnook Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

This 20th vintage release is Wayne Stehbens’ last vintage in his 39 years as Katnook’s winemaker. This benchmark ‘Coonawarra Cab’ is only made in the very best vintages, and is a hand selection from specific rows in specific blocks. The first vintage was 1991, released in 1996 to commemorate the centenary of the first vintage made in the Katnook woolshed. Odyssey has won many international awards and is listed in the ‘Outstanding’ category of the prestigious fine wine Langton’s Classification of Australian Wines. It is aged for 37 months (two thirds in French oak, half of which was new) and one third in older American oak. The wine shows an alluring interplay of typical Coonawarra dark berries and plums interwoven with notes of mocha and cedar from the barrel ageing. This will mature gracefully for 20 years.


Distributed in the UK by Berkmann Wine Cellars www.berkmann.co.uk

The post Discover Katnook Coonawarra appeared first on Decanter.

The greatest Bordeaux vintages that never were

Decanter Magazine - June 14, 2018 - 1:01am

How Bordeaux came to embrace the idea of vintage wines.

The Mouton Rothschild barrel room.

The idea of vintage in Bordeaux has been fetishised slowly but surely over the years. It’s easy to see why.

It suits everyone to have a simple route in to such a big, complicated region.

An oceanic climate means producers are ecstatic whenever there are years with very little rain. And merchants are happy to find a simple message to go to market within a region populated with thousands of estates and dozens of different terroirs – even if (or perhaps especially because) they don’t all react in blanket fashion to changing weather conditions.

Like the 1855 classification with its five easy steps, selling the allure of an individual vintage is both smart and powerful.

But it wasn’t always this way. Until the 1970s, many châteaux would only bottle the best plots of the best years.

The rest would be sold to négociants in bulk, who did their own labelling, bottling and blending – and often chose to sell the wine without specifying the year.

Instead, the notion of a Bordeaux vintage was similar to that in Champagne or in Port – which means it was a reflection of excellence, not something that was seen every year.

I caught up with Jean-Claude Berrouet, one of the true historians of Bordeaux, to talk about this evolution. He’s a man who has known the vagaries of an oceanic climate intimately, having made some of the most beloved wines of Bordeaux for close on 50 years while at JP Moueix, and whose personal archives at his Vieux Château Saint André in Montagne-St-Emilion are full of details heading right back through the 19th century, alongside his winemaking notes and memories.

I always love visiting here. His front room is exactly as you would expect. Warm, welcoming, well-cluttered with books and family photographs, the odd original art work suggesting there’s a little bit more than your average home going on.

‘Certain years were bottled for historical reasons,’ he tells me, ‘so in 1945 nearly everyone bottled their wine because it was the end of the war. It was particularly good on the Left Bank, and Mouton is rightly recognised to have bottled an historic wine with an historic label in an excellent year – although you will find lots of different bottle shapes because of shortages of glass after the war.

‘In contrast it has always been extremely difficult to find any bottles from 1946 (the year that Christian Moueix was born coincidentally), because the vintage was less good and because most importantly it was less celebrated as an historical moment so châteaux didn’t go to the trouble of bottling it’.

The same thing was true even with what was perhaps the best run of vintages of the 20th century – 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950.

‘This was an exemplary series of harvests,’ Berrouet says, ‘and if it happened today would be huge deal. But back then no one could believe that there would be interest in even two good vintages in a row. So a lot of châteaux bottled their 1947, which was particularly good on the Right Bank – particularly Cheval Blanc and Petrus – and then took a break when 1948 arrived, even though it was again an excellent vintage.

‘They simply sold it on to négociants, because they just couldn’t imagine that there were enough clients to buy a ‘vin millesimé’ for a second year running. This was followed by 1949, which was the heatwave vintage with the huge forest fires that raged across Les Landes in August (they killed more than 80 people, and destroyed 52,000ha of pine forest).

‘In the vineyards, despite this, it was an abundant year and the quality meant that everyone put a lot of wine in bottle. You can still find some today if you’re lucky, But when 1950 came around and delivered yet another excellent year in terms of quality, once again nobody bothered to bottle it.’

We can only imagine what treasures have been lost this way, but it did mean that vintages were inexorably associated with quality, as they still are in regions such as Champagne. Berrouet remembers his grandfather asking for ‘a Pauillac millesimé’, or a ‘St Julien millesimé’ when he wanted to buy a good quality bottle from a local wine shop, never mind which estate or even which particular year it came from.

It was only really in the mid 1970s, when château bottling became far more systematic, that the idea of a specified year changed from being the mark of exception to the reflection instead of a specific character – so both good and less good. Perhaps, global warming aside, this is one reason why vintages of the century were a little less commonplace in the past century than in this one?

Things began to really change in the 1970s. The oil crisis bankrupted a lot of négociants, meaning there were simply less of them to take large quantities of wine, and the Châteaux began widespread bottling themselves (this also converged with the region making more and more red wine, that could age in bottle).

From here on, vintages became the thumbprint of a year. Inevitably that meant that there was more diversity in quality, and the notion of climate became more important. It also arguably meant that quality began to rise, because if châteaux put their names to vintages year in year out, they needed to take greater responsibility for quality.

‘Even so, until 1982 there was less external pressure,’ remembers Berrouet.

‘Wine writers such as Harry Waugh didn’t talk about comparative quality. There were no scores, no competition really and facing the challenges of a vintage was much more of a collaborative effort between winemakers. The 100 points scale that Parker introduced inevitably had the effect of increasing competition. Steering your wine through the vagaries of each year became more of a personal challenge.’

Today, because the idea of vintages referring to character as well as quality is so widespread, examples of châteaux choosing not to bottle them is rare. But it still happens – and not just in clearly disappointing years such as 2013.

‘One of the more unusual side effects of the frost in the 2017 vintage,’ consultant Thomas Duclos told me recently, ‘was that it was suddenly more profitable for many estates to sell their wine off in bulk rather than bottling it. This was particularly true on the Right Bank, where the extremely low yields meant that the price of bulk wine doubled, and at the same time the quality for many across St Emilion was not good enough for them to see added value by bottling in-house’.

It was a reminder that even today there are certain conditions when a château will still say to itself, ‘you know what, I’d rather sit this one out’.

More articles like this:  Wine Legend: Mouton Rothschild 1945 Tasting 150 years of Lafite Rothschild wines

The post The greatest Bordeaux vintages that never were appeared first on Decanter.

Top 10 Father’s Day wines: Which wine persona does your dad have?

Decanter Magazine - June 14, 2018 - 1:00am

Is your dad a Rioja Rogue or more of a Châteauneuf-du-Papa ? We realise fathers come in all shapes and sizes, with preferences ranging from the suave whites to bold and muscular reds, or even a delicate rosé. Use our persona guide to find the perfect fine wine gift for Father's Day...

Top 10 wines for Father’s Day

Use our persona guide to decide which wine gift your dad deserves…

 The Lovable Rioja Rogue 

This headstrong spicy red with a smooth edge that can only come with age is popular among many dads of the same nature. Treat yours to a bottle 96-point Valenciso Reserva 2008, fantastic value at £17.59 per bottle and a good few years into its recommended drinking window.

Valenciso, Rioja Reserva 2008 | £17.59

The Rhône Wolf

Pamper your Châteauneuf-du-Papa with a gorgeous bottle of Clos des Papes 2013 — given 96 points by our expert John Livingstone-Learmonth. Good to drink now, or leave for another decade.

Clos des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône, France 2013 | £37.31

Champagne Charlie

Is your dad the life and soul of the party? It’s worth spending the extra cash when it’s a gift made for sharing. Like this 97-point bottle of Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne 2006. Give it to him in person, then hang around and hope he pops the cork for the occasion.

Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Champagne, France 2006 | £75

Piedmont Papa

An offering for those regal patriarchs who identify with what’s often referred to as the ‘king of wine’ — Barolo. There are no half measures with this example from Vietti, given a whacking 97 points by regional expert Ian D’Agata, who described it as ‘like liquid silk but powerful’.

Vietti, Barolo, Rocche, Piedmont, Italy 2010 | £195

Malbec Man

Maybe your dad’s a man of simple pleasures; a man who loves a juicy steak with a glass or two of red. Get your old man over for Father’s Day dinner with this 94-point Argentinean Malbec – the perfect macho match with meat.

Trapiche, Finca Ambrosia Terroir Series Single Vineyard Malbec 2013 | £28.50

Suave Sancerre Sipper

Eloquent, erudite and a dab hand at the pub quiz. Serve your sophisticated father some crisp 93-point Sancerre from Vincent Pinard. Plus at under £20 a bottle, you could earn serious filial credits with a case load…

Vincent Pinard, Flores, Sancerre 2015 | £19.95

Old School Francophile

Those classic gents who’ve held a lifelong devotion to the noble reds of Bordeaux will forgive all your teenage trespasses with a Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2010. Rated at 97 points by Decanter’s editor John Stimpfig and it’s just reached its optimum drinking window.

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France, 2010 | £122.50

Pink-loving Pater

Just as many dads love a salmon pink shirt, many also love to crack open a cool Provence rosé on a sunny afternoon. Deckchairs and BBQ at the ready, with a bottle of Rock Angel from Château d’Esclans.

Château d’Esclans, Rock Angel, Côtes de Provence 2016 | £30.05


Montrachet Maestro

If your dad’s been really good this year – or you’ve been a little awful – you’d better push the boat out and give him a bottle from the legendary white Burgundy region, Puligny-Montrachet. Snap up this 94-point bottle from Domaine Leflaive’s premier cru ‘Les Combettes’ – it’s just entered its recommended drinking window…

Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 1er Cru 2015 | £193

Inspector Gadget

So it’s not a wine, but for a dad who has a shed-load already (or prefers to choose his own) — give him the latest in geeky wine gadgetry with the Coravin Model 2 Elite Wine System. Allowing him to open his prized bottles, savour a glass and then reseal them as before.

Coravin Model 2 Elite Wine System | £279


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The post Top 10 Father’s Day wines: Which wine persona does your dad have? appeared first on Decanter.

Ballot Proposal over Napa County Hillsides Remains Undecided (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - June 13, 2018 - 12:00pm
A week after the election, the votes on Measure C, which could sharply restrict wineries and hillside vineyard planting, are still being tallied
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