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Top Barcelona tapas and wine bars

Sun, 26/05/2019 - 11:00
Park Güell, BarcelonaXurreria Trébol

A perfect Barcelona day – or night out – wouldn’t be complete without a quick fix of xurros (the Catalan for churros), the long, thin fried doughnuts with or without fillings of cream or chocolate, but always best dipped into a thick, sticky cup of dark drinking chocolate. For variety and sheer fatty satisfaction, few are better than Gracia’s Xurreria Trébol. +34 932 18 36 54

L’Anima del Vi

The original, and (competition from the excellent Bar Brutal notwithstanding) still the heartbeat of Barcelona’s natural wine scene, this El Born bar run by a Franco-Catalan couple has a brilliantly chosen list of European natural wines, to be enjoyed in a cosy wood-panelled space featuring a reproduction of Picasso’s Guernica.

Bar Bodega l’Electricitat

A properly local and, for want of a better word, authentic, atmospheric old-time Barcelona institution in La Barceloneta where you take your place among the locals on wooden benches and order simple tapas (black sausage; anchovies) from a rough-and-ready menu, alongside medicinal house vermut from the barrel.


For those of us who never got to experience the legendary surrealist Catalan molecular gastronomy of El Bulli, the exuberantly decorated Tickets in the Eixample is the next best thing: a tapas take on the funky creativity of brothers Ferran and Albert Adrià. Enjoy such deconstructed delights as crunchy octopus with kimchi mayonnaise or liquid olives.

Can Vilaró

The place to come for perfectly cooked traditional Catalan food made from the freshest ingredients sourced, naturally enough, from the Sant Antoni market located just across the road – and at very reasonable prices, too. The fideu à la cassola is a particular favourite: a thickly, richly satisfying dish based on the popular local pasta – a kind of pasta paella. +34 933 25 05 78

See also: Top Barcelona restaurants: Where the winemakers eat Viblioteca

The name riffs on the Catalan for wine (vi) and library (biblioteca) and that gives you a fair idea of what to expect from this delightful Gràcia wine bar, which provides a bright and airy space in which to work your way through the 150-odd vinous selections and – just as impressive – its selection of more than 50 varieties of cheese.

Casa Mariol

If you’re visiting Barcelona’s most famous landmark, Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia cathedral, then it’s worth popping by this unassuming nearby local bar run by Terra Alta-based producer Casa Mariol, for a quick pick-me-up. There’s a range of wines from the Terra Alta DO, but it’s the vermut (particularly the gorgeously herbal white) that’s the star.

Dos Palillos

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city, with a large immigrant population. And that mix of cultures had led to some very fine gastronomic fusions, such as Dos Palillos, which plays on Spanish (or Catalan) tapas culture with Japanese small-plates in a buzzily informal (and yet Michelin-starred) space.

Els Sortidors del Parlament

With a homey, cosy Catalan charm, Els Sortidors del Parlament in the Eixample is a local shop-cum-bar with an impressively deep wine list. You can choose your bottle from the shop to either take away or drink in at a very fair €4 mark-up, along with olives and ham or something a little more substantial from the creative tapas menu. +34 934 41 16 02

Vila Viniteca

Run by one of Spain’s leading fine wine importers, Barcelona’s best wine shop is stuffed with a fine international collection – if you’re a local starved of French or Italian wine, this is the place to go – complemented by one of the best pan-Spanish selections around.

David Williams is a widely published wine writer, author and judge. He is a founding member of The Wine Gang. This guide appeared in the July 2019 issue of Decanter. 

More wine travel guides

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Steven Spurrier’s wines of the month – July

Sun, 26/05/2019 - 07:10

Decanter’s long-standing consultant editor and 2017 Decanter Hall of Fame Award recipient picks fine wines to drink now and others to lay down, all priced from £25 upwards...

The Spurrier Selection


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Top Uco Valley sub-regions: Panel tasting results

Sat, 25/05/2019 - 08:00

Phil Crozier, Paz Levinson and Patricio Tapia tasted 99 wines from the Uco Valley sub-regions of Altamira and Gualtallary, with 12 Outstanding and 37 Highly Recommended.

Originally published in the October 2017 issue of Decanter magazine

Entry Criteria: Producers and UK agents were invited to submit their latest-release reds from Altamira and Gualtallary in Argentina’s Uco Valley, in which 85% of the grapes must be sourced from a single sub-region.

The verdict

The rationale for grouping these two micro-regions of the Uco Valley together for this panel tasting was that both are producing some of Argentina’s most exciting Malbecs and other reds. That fact is confirmed by a fantastic set of results – no fewer than 12 wines rated Outstanding, and a further 37 Highly Recommended.

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The Decanter interview: Jamie Kutch

Fri, 24/05/2019 - 13:00

At a sprawling Sonoma warehouse complex, I look for the secret sign, Opal Moon, that lets me know I’ve arrived at Kutch Wines, one of the top producers of elegant, new-style California Pinot Noir.


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Decanter World Wine Awards 2019: Top trophies revealed

Fri, 24/05/2019 - 11:08

We reveal the wines that have won the prestigious Best in Show award at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2019.

Full results for DWWA 2019 will be announced on 28 May.

Of the more than 16,500 wines tasted, only 50 (0.3%) received the esteemed Best in Show medal.

 Coming soon: Full DWWA 2019 results will be available, with tasting notes, from 28 May Scroll down to see how a wine wins Best in Show

France held onto the lead for another year receiving 13 Best in Show awards, the most in this year’s competition. Spain claimed second place receiving eight and in joint third place with six Best in Show medals each were Australia and Portugal. Close behind with five was Italy.

One of the more surprising countries to prove itself among the top tier of wine producing countries was the UK, winning three Best in Show medals, a first for the British wine industry. West Sussex winery, Wiston Estate won Best in Show for its Blanc de Blancs Brut 2011. Chapel Down won for not one but two of its wines, the Kit’s Coty Chardonnay 2016 and Kit’s Coty Coeur De Cuvée 2014.

Other unexpected wins came from Georgia that won a Best in Show for Teliani Valley’s Glekhuri Qveri Kisi 2017 and Greece for Ktima Biblia Chora’s Ovilos 2018.

Michael Hill Smith MW, Co-Chair of the Decanter World Wine Awards, said: ‘2019 has yet again seen some exciting wines with revelations coming out of Greece, Madeira and China.

‘The Decanter World Wine Awards really helps producers to raise their profile internationally and for consumers faced with the prospect of such choice; choosing a bottle with a DWWA sticker on it, particularly a Gold or Platinum should reassure them that the wine has been through a rigorous judging process, against much competition and you can trust the quality. With more education on wine so widely available nowadays, and plenty more opportunities to travel, now really is the time to have an interest in wine.’

About the judges

The 2019 edition saw a panel of over 280 judges from 30 countries, including 70 Masters of Wine and 23 Master Sommeliers.

Find out who judged in 2019

The Best in Show winners, ordered by country: Argentina:

  • La Luz del Vino, Iluminado Vinos de la Luz Single Vineyard Malbec, Altamira, San Carlos, Mendoza, Argentina 2015
  • Brokenwood, Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia 2017. Stockist: Bancroft, £160 –
  • Shingleback, The Gate Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia 2017
  • Campbells, Rare Merchant Prince Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia NV. Stockist: Alexander Hadleigh, £64.5 –
  • Kilikanoon, Attunga 1865 Shiraz, Clare Valley, South Australia, Australia 2014. Stockist: Oz Wines, £115
  • McGuigan, Bin 9000 Semillon, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia 2007
  • Dawson James, Chardonnay, Derwent Valley, Tasmania, Australia 2015. Stockist: Liberty Wines, £46.99 –
  • SCE Vignobles Fillon, Château Queyron Pindefleurs, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France 2016. Stockist: Castang Wines, £23.95 –
  • Château de Meursault, Les Charmes Dessus, Meursault 1er Cru, Burgundy, France 2017. Stockist: Justerini & Brooks, £71.68 –
  • Château de Meursault, Clos des Epenots, Pommard 1er Cru, Burgundy, France 2017. Stockist: Justerini & Brooks, £79.68 –
  • Domaine de la Vougeraie, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru, Burgundy, France 2016. Stockist: Berry Bros & Rudd, £315 –
  • Domaine Laurent Habrard, Sainte Epine, Saint-Joseph, Rhône, France 2017. Stockist: Amathus Drinks, £39.95 –
  • Charles Heidsieck, Blanc des Millénaires Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne, Champagne, France 2004. Stockist: Hedonism Wines, £150 –
  • Piper Heidsieck, Rare Rosé Brut, Champagne, Champagne, France 2008. Stockist: Liberty Wines –
  • De Saint-Gall, Orpale Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru, Champagne, Champagne, France 2004
  • Domaine Brusset, Les Hauts de Montmirail, Gigondas, Rhône, France 2017. Stockist: Enotria & Coe –
  • Christian Moreau Pére et Fils, Les Clos, Chablis Grand Cru, Burgundy, France 2017. Stockist: Thorman Hunt, £40 –
  • Domaine La Suffrene, Bandol, Provence, France 2018. Stockist: Les Caves de Pyrène, £19.95 –
  • Dopff-au-Moulin, Gewurztraminer, Grand Cru Brand, Alsace, France 2017. Stockist: Hallgarten & Novum Wines, £35.49 –
  • Bergerie du Capucin, Larmanela, Languedoc Pic Saint Loup, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 2016
  • Teliani Valley, Glekhuri Qveri Kisi, Kakheti, Georgia 2017
  • Weingut von Winning, Ungeheuer, Grosses Gewächs, Pfalz, Germany 2017. Stockist: Humble Grape, £42.25 –
  • Ktima Biblia Chora, Ovilos, Pangeon, Macedonia, Greece 2018. Stockist: Hallgarten & Novum Wines, £29.99 –
  • Cantina Bolzano, Mumelter Riserva Cabernet, Alto Adige / Südtirol, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy 2016
  • Cigliano, Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy 2016
  • Cenatiempo, Kalimera, Ischia, Campania, Italy 2017. Stockist: Great Western Wine, £28.5 –
  • Domìni Veneti, Vigneti di Jago, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Veneto, Italy 2013. Stockist: Sunday Times Wine Club, £38 –
  • Claudio Alario, Sorano, Barolo, Piedmont, Italy 2015. Stockist: Bibendum, £50 –
New Zealand:
  • Craggy Range, Te Kahu Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon-Cabernet Franc-Petit Verdot-Malbec, Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand 2016. Stockist: Bibendum, £20.99 –
  • Villa Maria, Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Taylors Pass, Marlborough, New Zealand 2018. Stockist: Majestic Wine Warehouses, £17.23 –
  • Te Kairanga, John Martin Pinot Noir, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand 2017
  • Henriques & Henriques, 20 Year Old Verdelho, Not Applicable, Madeira, Portugal NV. Stockist: Hedonism Wines, £70 –
  • Quinta de Ventozelo, Late Bottled Vintage, Port, Portugal 2014
  • Kopke, Colheita, Port, Portugal 1979. Stockist: Hayward Bros, £115 –
  • João Brito e Cunha, Quinta de S. José Reserva, Douro, Portugal 2016
  • Quinta dos Castelares, Superior, Superiore, Douro, Portugal 2016. Stockist: Portugueses Vinhos Limited, £12.4 –
  • Agri-Roncão, Dr Port, 30 Year Old Tawny, Port, Portugal NV
  • Lustau, Almacenista Antonio Caballero y Sobrinos Del Castillo, Amontillado, Sherry, Spain NV. Stockist: Berry Bros & Rudd, £31 –
  • Lustau, 30 Years Old V.O.R.S, Oloroso, Sherry, Spain NV. Stockist: Hedonism Wines, £89.95 –
  • Bodegas y Viñedos de Cal Grau, Les Ones Samsó, Not Applicable, Priorat, Spain 2015. Stockist: Moreno Wine, £59.95 –
  • Bodegas Fillaboa, La Fillaboa 1898 Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain 2010
  • Finca Azaya, Castilla y Léon, Spain 2017. Stockist: EWGA, £25 –
  • El Coto, Coto de Imaz, Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain 2012. Stockist: Liberty Wines, £24.99 –
  • Ramón do Casar, Nobre Treixadura, Ribeiro, Spain 2017
  • Torres, Grans Muralles, Conca de Barberà, Spain 2014
United Kingdom:
  • Chapel Down, Kit’s Coty Chardonnay, Kent, United Kingdom 2016. Stockist: Chapel Down Winery, £30 –
  • Chapel Down, Kit’s Coty Coeur De Cuvée, Not Applicable, Kent, United Kingdom 2014. Stockist: Chapel Down Winery, £100 –
  • Wiston Estate, Blanc de Blancs Brut, Not Applicable, West Sussex, United Kingdom 2011. Stockist: Butlers Wine Cellar, £42.5 –
  • Cornerstone Cellars, Benchlands Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, California, USA 2015
  • Three Sticks, Price Family Estates Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California, USA 2017. Stockist: The Wine Treasury Ltd, £59.95 –
Find out how the DWWA works





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Bordeaux 2018 releases: Pontet-Canet 2018 makes market ‘gesture’ with release price 22% lower than 2016

Fri, 24/05/2019 - 10:45
Bordeaux en primeur tasting

The biodynamic, fifth-growth Pauillac estate has released at €84.00 ex-Bordeaux per bottle, a 5% increase on the 2017 release price and 22% decrease on 2016. It is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended onward selling price of £86.50 (£1,038 per 12x75cl), an increase of 5% on 2017 and decrease of 24% on 2016, according to Wine Lister data.

Like many properties during the growing season, Pontet-Canet suffered from mildew and heat stress with a final yield of 12hl/ha, producing around a third of its usual volume. Decanter’s Jane Anson rated Pontet-Canet 2018 among the best Pauillac 2018 wines tasted en primeur, scoring it 96 points and describing it as ‘clearly impressive’ with a fruit quality that ‘is dark and knitted, with a creamy texture if you give it a minute to settle, an obvious tannic structure and a menthol finish that lets in some juice, bramble and hedgerow pleasures.’

In its analysis today, Wine Lister said: ‘[Pontet-Canet] is an unusual wine that will garner attention and so a price 9% below the 2016 should be enough to sell through.

‘It has made a significant gesture in releasing well below its 2016 release price, under the new sales director David Ornon.’

Château Phélan Ségur 2018 has released at €31.20 ex-Bordeaux, an increase of 5% on 2017 and 4% down on is 2016 opening price. It is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended onward selling price of £35.40 (£424.80 per 12x75cl), a 10% increase on 2017.

Anson scored this wine 94 points describing the 2018 as ‘good quality, as it has consistently been over the past few vintages’ with the wine displaying ‘plenty of concentration…but it’s hidden, latent, reserving its energy for the long haul.’

Also released today was Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse 2018 at €26.40 ex-Bordeaux, a 5% increase from 2017 and 8% down on the 2016 opening price. It is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended onward selling price of £27.20 (£326.40 per 12x75cl), an increase of 5% on 2017 and decrease of 7% on 2016.

With a score of 92 points, Anson said the 2018 ‘is impressive with toasted smoky caramel notes and clear gourmet edging to it’.

Written by Georgie Hindle.

Buying wine en primeur: How to approach it  Update 10/05: Canon and Rauzan-Ségla 2018 see ‘significant’ price rises

The two properties, owned by luxury fashion house Chanel, have both released their en primeur 2018 prices today (22 May), up 27% and 36% on 2017 respectively.

Château Canon 2018 was released at €84 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up 27.3% on the opening price for 2017 at €66 and 17% up on the level of its 2016 release. It is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended UK onward selling price of £87 (£1,044 per 12x75cl), an increase of 29% on 2017 and 19% on 2016, according to Liv-ex data.

The Premier Grand Cru Classé B property was among Jane Anson’s top St-Émilion wines, scoring 97 points and described as ‘a wine that carries its finesse with great skill’ and one that ‘just gets better and better’.

Regarding the release, Liv-ex managing director James Miles Tweeted: ‘Canon 2018 is an obvious buy if you can find it’.

Also scoring 97 points and rated as ‘among the wines of the year in Margaux’ by Jane Anson is Château Rauzan-Ségla 2018 which released at €72 per bottle ex-Bordeaux seeing a 36.3% increase on 2017 (€52.80) and 20% on 2016.

The 2018 vintage at Rauzan-Ségla, overseen by managing director Nicolas Audebert, saw vineyards struck by heavy rain and mildew resulting in low yields at 32hl/ha and a blend featuring a higher than usual proportion of Merlot.

Jane Anson describes it as ‘great quality’ with ‘its mix of elegance and confidence matched by perfectly ripe, Cabernet-dominant fruit’. It is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended UK selling price of £75 (£900 per 12x75cl), up 38.8% on 2017 (£648 per case) and 23% on 2016.

‘Canon, Rauzan-Ségla, and Berliquet…have gained so much momentum that they could afford to raise prices significantly and still present value to consumers.

‘These are wines collectors will want to have in their cellar in five years’ time, and if they can get their hands on them now, they should,’ said Wine Lister in its analysis today.

Liv-ex director and co-founder Justin Gibbs said: ‘Both wines [Canon and Rauzan-Ségla] are widely considered brands on the move, yet both have seen their allocations cut back this year – by 20% and 40% respectively.

‘Supply is therefore limited, but demand has not backed down. Canon has been one of the best en primeur purchases in the past three years and has gathered somewhat of a cult following.’ He added: ‘Some merchants are not offering the wines for general release and are instead only giving direct allocations.’

On a wider note, Gibbs continued: ‘More generally, merchants have reported that sales figures for this campaign are running at or just above the 2017 levels, but well below the 2016. It seems that the pricing of the majority of 2018 wines has lacked appeal.’

Also released

Other releases include Château Gruaud-Larose 2018 at €55.20 ex-Bordeaux, an increase of 6.6% on the 2017 opening price of €51.80 and 5% up on the 2016 release price. The wine, which Anson scored 94 points and said ‘will age well without question’ is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended UK selling price of £57 (£684 per 12x75cl), up 12% on the 2017’s release of £615 a case.

In the context of the current market prices for Gruaud-Larose, Liv-ex reports that ‘the 2016 vintage (95 points by Jane Anson) looks particularly attractive as it is 15.3% cheaper’ and those looking for older vintages ‘might want to consider the 2010 which is also available at a small discount.’

Similarly released at a price above the current 2016 level is Château Du Tertre 2018 at €29.40 ex-Bordeaux. It is an increase of 4% up on the 2017 release price and the same as the 2016 opening price with a UK offering of £30.00, up 3% on both the 2017 and 2016 prices.

Earlier this week

A number of other châteaux were released on Wednesday 22 May including Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2018 at €55.00 ex-Bordeaux, up 4.1% on the 2017’s opening price of €52.80 and 8% down on 2016’s of €60.00, and Château Léoville Barton 2018 at €61.80 ex-Bordeaux, an increase off 17% on 2017 and 3% decrease on the 2016 release price.

Anson scored Grand-Puy-Lacoste 95pts, one of the best Pauillac 2018 wines tasted en primeur, describing it as ‘bright and full of juice, prioritising vibrancy over power’. Léoville Barton 2018 was scored at 96pts and described as a wine that ‘is going to age exceptionally well, but there’s a freshness and juiciness to the structure already that suggests it’s going to be great fun to drink along the way’.

Margaux’s Château Kirwan has released at €31.50 ex-Bordeaux, up from €31.00 in 2017 and the same as 2016. Château Talbot in St Julien has released at €42.00 ex-Bordeaux, up from €37.20 in 2017 and also the same as 2016. Pomerol’s Château Beauregard has released at €45.60 ex-Bordeaux, up from €42.00 in 2017 and €46.00 in 2016.

Written by Georgie Hindle.

Update 10/05: Palmer goes big on small supply

One of the best rated Bordeaux 2018 wines, Château Palmer, has entered the en primeur campaign with a significant price increase versus last year and less wine than normal.

Palmer 2018 was released at €240 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up 25% on the opening price for 2017 and putting it back at the level of its 2016 release, according to Liv-ex data.

It follows a trend for price increases in the Bordeaux 2018 en primeur campaign, but Palmer’s circumstances have been widely described as atypical in the vintage.

Decanter’s Jane Anson said Palmer 2018 was one of the wines of the vintage, scoring it 99 points and describing it as ‘an exceptional wine that will clearly be discussed and enjoyed for years to come’.

For prospective buyers, a helpful comparison could be with the highly rated 2016 vintage, which Anson scored 98 after re-tasting in-bottle recently.


‘Perhaps the unusual context of this 2018 Palmer will carry this audacious price,’ said Wine Lister in its initial analysis today (10 May).

Unprecedented mildew attacks cut 2018 yields at biodynamically-farmed Palmer to 11 hectolitres per hectare, compared to an average 37hl/ha across the Margaux appellation, before a ‘hot, dry, restorative summer’ helped surviving fruit to kick-on.

Palmer has released more than its customary 50% of stock, but there was still 30% less wine available en primeur than normal, said Wine Lister.

Anson also warned prospective buyers that there will be no Alter Ego.

A closer look at Palmer 2018 pricing

Currency appeared to be affecting relative pricing of Palmer 2018 versus 2016. Millesima USA was selling six bottles of Palmer 2018 in bond for $2,016, with the same amount of 2016 priced at $2,340.

In the UK, Farr Vintners had a 12-bottle case of Palmer 2018 listed at £2,890 in bond, with the 2016 vintage at £2,750. BI Fine Wine & Spirits was selling six magnums of the 2018 to registered buyers for £2,902, with the 2016 available in the same format via its LiveTrade platform for £2,900.

A BI spokesperson said that Palmer 2018 had sold well so far. ‘Collectors will always come knocking for the best things, especially when they are going to have increasing rarity value in the future,’ he told

Also released

Other releases to emerge late this week included La Croix de Beaucaillou, at €33.6 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by 12% on 2017, according to Liv-ex.

Lafon-Rochet and Gloria 2018 were also released, at €31.20 and €28.80 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by 4% and 12% respectively on 2017, according to Wine Lister.

Read Jane Anson’s full Bordeaux 2018 verdict Update 09/05: Pape Clément enters the campaign

Château Pape Clément 2018 red wine has been released at €66 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by nearly 8% on its equivalent 2017 release and back to the price of its 2016 primeur offer, according to Liv-ex data.

Jane Anson rated Pape Clément 2018 at 95 points in her Bordeaux 2018 primeur review, equal to her recent in-bottle rating for the Pessac-Léognan classified estate’s 2016 vintage. She praised the careful extraction and fleshy fruit of the 2018.

Millesima was offering six bottles of the 2018 for £397.20 in bond, while it was selling the same amount of 2016 for £700, including sales tax and duty.

Berry Bros & Rudd was selling six-bottle cases of both the 2018 and 2016 for £396 in bond. It was also selling the 2015 vintage, rated 94 points by Anson, at £420 in bond for six bottles.

Pape Clément white wine was also released this week, at €98.40 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by around 1% on 2017.

Château d’Armailhac 2018 was released at €34.80 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by 11.5% on 2017 and slightly ahead of the 2016 release price, which was €32.40, according to Liv-ex, which said the trade was offering 12 bottles of the wine for around £420 in bond.

Jane Anson rated the 2018 wine at 94 points, one ahead of the 2016 and 2015. She said it was one of the most concentrated d’Armailhacs of recent decades, primarily due to the heat of the vintage, but also ‘one of the best, with clear personality and power’.

For comparison, Berry Bros was selling d’Armailhac 2015 on its BBX platform for £260 per six-bottle case in bond, while Farr Vintners had the 2018 and 2016 vintages available at the same price.

Ex-Bordeaux prices sourced from Liv-ex unless otherwise stated. 

Read Jane Anson’s full Bordeaux 2018 verdict Update 7 May: Price hikes for Calon Ségur and Carmes Haut-Brion

Châteaux Calon Ségur and Carmes Haut-Brion have both issued statements of intent with significant price increases for their 2018 en primeur releases.

Calon Ségur 2018 was released at €70 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, which is 20% higher than the 2017 release.

That is a record release price for the St-Estèphe estate, according to Liv-ex, but analysts at Wine Lister said the 2018 price was far enough below the highly rated Calon 2016 vintage as to be a ‘no brainer’ for prospective buyers.

Farr Vintners appeared to have sold out of initial Calon Ségur 2018 stocks in the UK by Tuesday morning (7 may), while Millesima was selling six bottles for £474 in bond. For comparison, Farr’s was selling 12 bottles of the 2016 wine for £1,080 in bond.

Bordeaux 2018 has been widely praised on the Left Bank, but a key dividing line between it and the lauded 2016 crop could be the perceived classicism of the latter.

Decanter’s Jane Anson gave Calon Ségur 2018 96 points and praised it as a ‘stunning wine’, but she added that, if pushed to choose, she would rather cellar the 2016 vintage ‘because it’s more in character for what is one of my favourite properties in the [St-Estèphe] appellation’.

Further south, Carmes Haut-Brion 2018 was released en primeur at €69 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by around 28% on 2017, according to Liv-ex. The 2016 vintage was released en primeur at €56.40.

‘The march of Carmes Haut-Brion continues in 2018,’ said Anson in her review of the wine, giving it 98 points.

Again, the price hike appeared steep but still kept the 2018 vintage at a significant discount to 2016, which has been widely viewed as the other recent Left Bank vintage of comparable quality – albeit 2015 comes close to rivalling these years for some estates in Pessac-Léognan and Margaux.

Millesima was offering six bottles of Carmes Haut-Brion 2018 at £414 in bond, while Berry Bros & Rudd listed six bottles of the 2016 vintage at £800 in bond, for example.

Wine Lister said of the Carmes Haut-Brion release, ‘Along with Beychevelle and Calon-Ségur, it is therefore one of the few Bordeaux crus that can afford to increase on last year’s release price and still have a 2018 that makes sense.’

Beychevelle 2018 was released this week at €60 ex-Bordeaux. ‘At this price, it is the second cheapest Beychevelle vintage currently in the market,’ said Liv-ex.

The St-Julien wine is known to have a strong following among Asia-based buyers. Anson said that the fourth growth estate has ‘raised its game over the last few years’, giving its 2018 vintage 94 points.

Other releases so far this week include Haut-Batailley, at €44.40, up by nearly 6% on its initial 2017 primeur price, and Malartic Lagravière, at €34.80, up by just over 7% on 2017.

Ex-Bordeaux prices sourced from Liv-ex unless otherwise stated.

Update 2 May 2019: Lafleur shows confidence with price rise

Château Lafleur 2018 has been described as ‘a steal’ by one analyst, despite again increasing its en primeur release price, while fellow Pomerol estates Clinet and Gazin have also entered the campaign.

Château Lafleur 2018, rated 98 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson, was being offered at the equivalent of £5,800 for a 12-bottle case in bond. That’s an 8.6% increase on the en primeur release of its 2017 first wine, said Liv-ex today (2 May).

Strict allocations mean that merchants often sell the vaunted Pomerol estate’s wines in smaller quantities; in the UK, Justerini & Brooks was offering three bottles of the 2018 for £1,450, for example.

‘An absolute steal’

Early Bordeaux 2018 releases have seen most estates increasing their en primeur prices versus the 2017 vintage, with St-Emilion’s Angélus being the most high-profile exception to date.

Lafleur’s pound sterling release price has risen by varying degrees in each of the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 vintages.

Yet, value is relative and the estate has a strong recent track record of improving on its release price.

Ratings and price analysis group Wine Lister said of Lafleur 2018, ‘This is an absolute steal and you should buy it if you can.’

Its reasoning was that 2018 has critical acclaim and is still around half the current market price of the Château’s 2016 first wine, albeit Anson recently handed Lafleur 2016 the full 100 points after tasting it in-bottle.

Farr Vintners was this week selling Lafleur 2016 for £10,800 per case in bond, and the highly rated 2015 vintage at £12,000, for example.

Liv-ex said that Lafleur 2014 might be an option for those looking at back vintages. In early March 2019, the trading platform said the ‘14 was trading at £4,908 per 12-bottle case, which was still up by 41% on its release price.

Gazin and Clinet released

Pomerol estates Gazin and Clinet also both entered the en primeur campaign today (2 May).

Clinet 2018, highly praised by Anson at 97 points, was released at €65 ex-Bordeaux, up by 14.5% on the 2017 release but down by around the same margin on the 2016. Liv-ex said that the estate has released 15% less wine en primeur this year.

Gazin 2018, at 92 points, was released at €62.40 ex-Bordeaux, up 8.3% on 2017, which drew caution from some quarters.

‘At the same price or higher than the two recent high-quality vintages (2016 and 2015), which are available to buy in the market, it is hard to understand the value of buying 2018 en primeur,’ said Wine Lister.

Update 30 April 2019: Demand there is price is right

Batailley and Haut-Bages Libéral, two fifth growths of Pauillac, both released their 2018 wines on Tuesday morning (30 April).

UK merchants were selling 12 bottles of Batailley 2018 for £408 in bond, 3.8% up on 2017. Haut-Bages Libéral was released at €29.70 ex-Bordeaux and was being sold at around £366 for 12 bottles in the UK. That’s up around 9% on the 2017 sterling price and 7.6% on an ex-Bordeaux basis, according to Liv-ex.

Both of those estates followed Langoa Barton and Branaire-Ducru in St-Julien, released in the last few days at €36 and €38.40 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, which means rises of 14.3% and 16% versus 2017 respectively, according to Liv-ex.

In quality terms, the best 2018 wines have drawn comparisons with the highly rated 2016 vintage on the Left Bank and the 2015 vintage on the Right Bank.

Some merchants believe that demand will be strong for the very best wines of 2018, if the price is palatable.

‘What’s clear is that the strength of reporting from the region, from both critics and merchants, has generated excitement and a no little demand,’ Giles Cooper, of BI Fine Wine & Spirits, told

‘A number of clients have given us quite serious mandates for positions on the right wines, should the prices be in the right areas, so we are looking forward to the top cru classé [estates] starting to release.’

However, while the best 2018 wines are top drawer, this is a vintage that struggles for consistency across all regions, according to Decanter’s Jane Anson in her en primeur verdict.

That makes it ever-more important to look at individual estates’ scores and also to consider the historical pricing strategies of those châteaux.

A key question among market observers is the extent to which consumers remain enthused about the en primeur system, both in terms of its economic rationale and in the context of an expanded secondary market that offers in-bottle vintages ready for delivery.

Batailley 2018 received strong praise from Jane Anson, but she also compared the wine in style to the highly rated 2009, which was available for around £50 per bottle at retail in the UK.

On the Left Bank, a key tension could emerge between the 2018 and 2016 vintages, with Anson noting that the latter may be more in-keeping with typicity in the major Médoc appellations; for all that she also praised the rich, approachable qualities of the best 2018s.

In terms of price, Liv-ex said that Branaire-Ducru and Langoa Barton 2016 were available at a discount to the 2018 vintage in sterling currency.

Farr Vintners was this week selling Branaire-Ducru 2018 at £462 in bond per 12 bottles, and a small number of cases of the 2016 at £450, for example.

Other estates that have released their Bordeaux 2018 wines so far include Suduiraut in Sauternes, at €40 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 12.2% on 2017, and Coutet in Barsac, at €30 ex-Bordeaux, up 8.7% on 2017. Sociando Mallet 2018 was released at €24 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by 11.1% on 2017.

Ex-Bordeaux prices sourced from Liv-ex. 

Search all Bordeaux 2018 wine ratings Back to the main Bordeaux en primeur page


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Best wines for a barbecue

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 16:00
What should you open at a barbecue?

Summer is a time to take to the coals, when the sun is shining and the weather is sweet.

Friends and family gather al fresco bringing an array of salads, sides and condiments to accompany the classic, yet varied, barbecue choices.

Scroll down for wine recommendations

Wine plays a central and important part in rounding off the perfect barbecue, but are all too often served incorrectly or with completely the wrong food – you should count yourself lucky if you have escaped holding a plate with a burnt item resembling meat holding a plastic cup of warm Chardonnay.

What are classic barbecue (BBQ) wine pairings?

Here are some of the top matches for classic barbecue dishes. For ease of use, we’ve overlooked the uses of marinades and sauces.

All-rounder wines

Of course it would be simply impractical to purchase so many different types of wine.

There are some good all-rounders that tick many of the boxes needed for a great barbecue; it can match a multitude of foods, it’s easy to find, in-expensive, can be chilled yet with enough punch to push through any food that has been above the white hot coals for a length of time.

These include:

  • Malbec
  • New World Pinot Noir
  • Vins de pays whites and reds
  • Dry Rosé
  • New world Riesling
  • Methode Champenoise sparkling
Top tips for serving

If it’s above 20°C, 68°F, outside chill your red wines. Red wines are best at “room temperature” which is between 13-18°C, 55-65°F. Find some recommendations here.

A cooler red offset against piping hot, flamed meat, is the only way to serve wine at a barbecue. And avoid plastic cups if possible.

Great BBQ wine picks, tasted by Decanter experts

First published in August 2016. Wines have been updated in May 2019.

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Anson: Château Malartic-Lagravière – A ‘powerhouse’ of Pessac-Léognan

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 14:41

The briefest of glances over this vertical tells you why Pessac-Léognan is such a great appellation to fall in love with. You get to explore both red and white wines that more than stand up to serious ageing, from an area that is still young enough (32 years old as of 2019) to feel exciting, but with enough time under its belt to feel confident and trustworthy. And not just the years since its inception in 1987, but the 2,000 years prior to that when vines have continually been grown in this part of Bordeaux.

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What does Sancerre wine taste of? Ask Decanter

Wed, 22/05/2019 - 16:15

Sancerre is an appellation in the Upper Loire Valley, France, producing mostly white wines, made from Sauvignon Blanc, and also some reds from Pinot Noir.

‘In the UK, Sancerre is the Loire’s most ubiquitous wine,’ said Jim Budd, DWWA regional chair for the Loire, in the September 2016 issue of Decanter.

‘Like Chablis, its relatively close neighbour, you can expect to find Sancerre listed on many UK restaurant wine lists.’

Climate and soils

The climate is cool continental, so the grapes have high acidity and crisp flavours.

‘There are three different types of soil in the Sancerre region – caillottes (pure limestone), terres blanches (clay limestone) and silex (flint),’ said Budd.

‘The caillottes and terres blanches each account for 40%.’

Sancerre wine flavours

Sancerre white wines have refreshing flavours including lemon, lime, elderflower and some grassy notes. You can also detect flint in some examples.

According to Decanter‘s Tasting notes decoded, ‘Flint, flinty or even gunflint are terms used to describe the minerality note that is found in dry, austere white wines, notably Chablis and Sancerre.’

Although Chablis is made from Chardonnay in Burgundy, this mineral character is found in both wines.

Andrew Jefford called Sancerre and Chablis ‘climate-and-soil twins, which just happen to find themselves growing different grape varieties.’ 


‘You can enjoy Sancerre when it’s young and fresh, but if you buy a top Sancerre you will get additional complexity with 10 or 15 years in the cellar that you couldn’t find in other Sauvignon Blancs,’ said Budd.

Sancerre red wines

Sancerre chiefly produced red wine from Pinot Noir and Gamay, until the arrival of phylloxera in the second half of the 19th century.

Today, Sauvignon Blanc now accounts for approximately 80% of production, with Pinot Noir just 20%.

But, they are worth seeking out, as ‘an increasing number of Sancerre producers are making serious, weighty reds that can stand shoulder to shoulder with top cru Burgundy’, said Decanter’s Tina Gellie in 2015. 

White Sancerre wines to try See also: Loire vs Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – Tasting the difference

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Top Super Tuscan wines

Wed, 22/05/2019 - 15:13

You may have seen the term ‘Super Tuscan’ before, and that’s because it’s used to describe some of Tuscany’s top red wines, such as Tignanello, Sassicaia and Ornellaia.

They are high quality red and white wines, normally with a price to match, made from non-indigenous varieties or using blends not allowed under Tuscan appellation law.


Back in the 1960s, some Tuscan producers began experimenting with non-indigenous varieties from Bordeaux, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

Sassicaia is considered the first Super Tuscan. Marchese Mario Incisa della Rochetta had been making the wine for private consumption since 1948 from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vines planted in Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast, not previously considered particularly worthwhile wine country but ideal for the French varieties.

The first commercial release was the 1968 vintage, but due to Tuscany’s strict appellation laws the wine had to be labelled as Vina da Tavola or ‘table wine’.

These laws not only restricted the use of non-indigenous varieties, they even prescribed a Chianti Classico recipe that was detrimental to the wine’s quality: 100% Sangiovese Chianti was banned, and the blend had to include certain lower quality varieties, including at least 10% white varieties.

A movement therefore began with quality-minded Chianti producers. One of the first was Antinori, whose 1971 Tignanello was a Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon blend from the Classico zone, but declassified to Vino da Tavola.

As these wines from within and beyond Chianti punched well above their lowly Vino da Tavola status, they collectively became known as Super Tuscans. The term became synonymous with adventurous winemaking, with producers experimenting with French barriques and new viticultural methods.


Nowadays, Super Tuscans can have IGT, DOC or DOCG status. For instance, Sassicaia has its own sub-appellation, Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC, and the IGT classification was created in 1992 specifically to recognise the quality of these ‘outsider’ wines.

Chianti laws have since changed in an effort to attract the three Super Tuscans from the Classico zone – Tignanello, Cepparello and Flaccianello – back into the appellation, resulting in adjustments to the blend requirements and eventually banning white grapes completely in 2006.

While these three wines can be labelled as Chianti Classico DOCG, they have so far remained under the IGT classification.

Top Super Tuscan wines reviewed by Decanter’s experts: You may also like: Chianti Classico new releases: A buyer’s guide Il Poggione: Tasting four decades of Brunello Best Italian wines: A selection of the greatest

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Over £100,000 worth of Burgundy wine stolen from winery

Wed, 22/05/2019 - 10:24

The wines, including 998 bottles, nine magnums and 43 jeroboams, have a market value of well over £100,000, and include a number of large-format Grand Cru library vintages.

The theft from Domaine Forey’s warehouse, which took place on the night of 9 May, was described as ‘devastating’, and is said to have left domaine owner Régis Forey ‘heartbroken’.

Now importers of Forey wines – including UK-based Georges Barbier and L’Imperatrice in Hong Kong – hope that people in the wine trade will look out for the stolen bottles and report anything suspicious to the authorities.

Two pallets of wine were stolen, including large quantities of 2017 Forey wines from Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Les Gaudichots, Echezeaux Grand Cru and Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru.

The thieves also took examples of Forey’s Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Les Petits Monts, Nuits-Saint-Georges Premiers Crus Les Saint-Georges and Les Perrières, Morey-St-Denis Premier Cru, as well as village wines from Nuits-Saint-Georges and Vosne-Romanée.

Describing the theft as ‘devastating’ in an Instagram post, L’Imperatrice said: ‘For Régis Forey, the detrimental event was heartbreaking – the stolen bottles were of the rarest of the estate, including many jeroboams of museum Grands Crus and hundreds of normal-size current release Grands Crus.

‘In addition to the economic damage, the cost included the work that went into making these wines, along the vision and the patience to cellar them for over 20 years.’

Georges Barbier said he understood that the theft was just the latest of a spate of similar recent incidents in the Burgundy region.

Domaine Forey has been contacted for comment on the theft.

The missing wines, list supplied by L’Imperatrice:

Bouteilles Capsules congés de 75 cl
Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2017 6 bouteilles
Echezeaux Grand Cru 2017 84 bouteilles
Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2017 92 bouteilles

Bouteilles Capsules neutres de 75cl
Vosne Romanée 1er cru « petits Monts » 2017 96 bouteilles
Vosne Romanée 1er cru « Gaudichots » 2017 240 bouteilles
Echezeaux Grand Cru 2017 240 bouteilles
Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2017 240 bouteilles

Magnums capsules neutres de 150 cl
Echezeaux Grand Cru 2017 6 magnums
Clos Vougeot Grand cru 2017 3 magnums

Jéroboam caisse bois de 3 litres
Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 1999 1 jeroboam
2004 1 jeroboam
2005 2 jeroboams
2006 2 jeroboams
2007 1 jeroboam
2017 3 jéroboams
Echezeaux Grand Cru 2004 1 jeroboam
2006 2 jeroboams
Vosne Romanée 1er cru « Gaudichots » 2006 1 jéroboam
2017 3 jéroboams
Vosne Romanée 1er cru « Petits Monts » 2005 1 jéroboam
2006 1 jéroboam
Nuits st Georges 1er cru « St Georges » 1998 1 jéroboam
1999 2 jéroboams
2002 1 jéroboam

Nuits st Georges 1er cru »St Georges » 2005 1 jéroboam
2006 1 jéroboam
Nuits st Georges 1er cru « Perrières » 1998 1 jéroboam
2002 1 jéroboam
2006 1 jéroboam

Morey st Denis 1er cru 2005 1 jéroboam
Nuits st Georges 2002 2 jéroboams
2004 3 jéroboams
2006 1 jéroboam
2007 1 jéroboam
Vosne Romanée 2002 2 jéroboams
2004 3 jéroboams
2007 1 jéroboam

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Hart Davis Hart Burgundy auction nets US$7.7m

Tue, 21/05/2019 - 16:30

The two-day sale from the Chicago-based auction house on 17-18 May was its largest Celebration of Burgundy auction to date, with more than half of lots exceeding their pre-sale high estimates.

Highlights included 73 vintages of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) wines, dating back to 1942 and featuring all of the domaine’s Grand Cru vineyard sites, which fetched a total of $1.8m and claimed nine out of the top 10 lots by value.

A jeroboam of DRC Romanée Conti was sold for $95,000, against a pre-sale estimate of $60,000-90,000, while six bottles of 2014 Romanée-St-Vivant from Domaine Dujac netted $20,315, easily outstripping their pre-sale high estimate of $5,500.

The sale included 89 lots of Domaine Dujac, which beat their pre-sale high estimate in fetching nearly $400,000, and 87 lots from Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier, which sold for $377,058, versus a high estimate of $354,450.

Hart Davis Hart reported bidders from across the US, as well as from Hong Kong, Japan, China, Taiwan, Denmark, Switzerland and Brazil.

‘The saleroom bustled with determined collectors who competed vigorously with absentee and live bidders throughout the country and world,’ the company said.

Hart Davis Hart’s next sale will be held on the weekend of 22 June, featuring a host of European and New World wines.

See also: DRC sets new record at wine auction


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Pio Cesare: Introducing Mosconi

Tue, 21/05/2019 - 13:00

Pio Boffa is the fourth-generation owner of the Pio Cesare estate. He and his relatives are the only winemaking family still based in Alba, the main town that divides the Barolo and Barbaresco zones. Many other wineries were established by growers close to their farms in the surrounding hills.

Pio Cesare: Factbox

Founded 1881 by Cesare Pio

Current owners Cesare’s great-grandson Pio Boffa runs the winery along with his cousin Augusto, his nephew Cesare, and his daughter Federica.

Vineyards The estate owns around 70ha in total, including 31.78ha in Barolo and 26.9ha in Barbaresco. The single-vineyard bottlings are made from 16ha in Ornato, Serralunga d’Alba, 9.7ha in Mosconi, Monforte d’Alba and 18ha in Il Bricco, Treiso.

Wines Pio Cesare produces the full gamut of Piedmont wines, from Langhe Chardonnay, Moscato d’Asti and Gavi, to Dolcetto, Barbera, Barolo and Barbaresco. The estate even produces a Barolo Chinato and a Vermouth from an original 1950s recipe.

You may also like: Best Piedmont wines: Latest-release Barolo & Barbaresco Ten of the best Italian vineyards & terroirs Gaja Barbaresco crus: Costa Russi & Sorì San Lorenzo verticals

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Majestic Wine closing in on potential £100m sale, according to reports

Tue, 21/05/2019 - 11:43

A small number of potential bidders for the company’s 200 stores, including private equity firm OpCapita, a US-based investor and another turnaround firm, are in the running to acquire Majestic’s retail network, Sky News reports.

Majestic Wine announced in April that it was considering selling off its entire UK store network as one of a number of possible plans designed to transform the business, focusing instead on online sales and developing its Naked Wines arm.

Majestic said today (21 May) that it was continuing ‘to explore methods of releasing capital from its Majestic Retail and Commercial business to accelerate the growth of Naked Wines, with this release of capital to be explored through a range of potential options’.

It added: ‘Following recent press speculation, the Group confirms that the sale of the Majestic branded retail business, including its related B2B operations … is one of the possible options being considered, and the Group has received a number of expressions of interest.’

More details are expected to be released soon, and certainly by 13 June, when Majestic is due to announce its full-year results and reveal full details of its transformation strategy.

In March, the company announced that it would be renamed Naked Wines plc, adding that it would try to minimise any job losses from the transformation of the business by transferring staff to Naked Wines.

Majestic’s share price, which has almost halved in value over the past year, rallied this morning after the company confirmed interest in its retail business.

Majestic bought Naked Wines for £70m in 2015 in what amounted to a reverse takeover deal, with Naked Wines founder Rowan Gormley installed as CEO of the new group.

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Best Chardonnays outside Burgundy

Mon, 20/05/2019 - 18:00

Chardonnay, most wine lovers agree, is the noblest white grape variety (we’ll allow Riesling enthusiasts a dissenting voice), and today it’s widely planted throughout the world.

You may also like: Best white Burgundy: Top-rated & top value Burgundy: Premier cru status, grand cru quality Decanter buyer’s guide: Australian Chardonnay Top South African white wines

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Highlights – DWWA 2019 Judging and Platinum week

Mon, 20/05/2019 - 13:30
Judging was organised by region, with each panel judged by experts in that region.

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Wine Buyer’s Guide to Calais – Is a booze cruise still worth it?

Mon, 20/05/2019 - 12:00
Calais Wine Superstore

Mention of a ‘booze cruise’ is a very 1990s concept in the UK. Excitement about the Channel Tunnel finally opening led to convoys of grey Volvo Estates heading across the English Channel to take advantage of lower taxes on mainly French wine.

It felt exciting and exotic to be physically linked to continental Europe.

But, the flow of Volvos eventually dried up with the rise of ‘New World’ varietal wines available at low prices in the UK supermarkets. Calais suffered as stores that once thronged with thirsty Brits had to close.

Fast-forward to the present day and it seems that, despite many Britons’ penchant for leaving the European Union, Brexit is being blamed for re-opening the road to Calais.

Millennials – many of whom voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, of course – are reportedly taking advantage of their last bit of free movement and stocking up before forecast price rises kick-in after Brexit.

So, is the booze cruise worth it?

We took the journey and, below, we’ve considered it based on two motivations for a day trip:

  • Stocking up for a special occasion, whether it’s a wedding or party
  • Wine lovers looking for something a bit different and not just a warehouse of brands
The party planner

On our trip, four of us set out at 05.45 from London to get an early crossing into Calais. With the roads clear, and no queues at Folkestone, we were in France before we knew it.

First stop, the industrial park that houses The Calais Wine Superstore, Majestic Calais, or ‘Naked Calais’ as it may become known, and The Pidou Wine Superstores.

These stores aren’t set up for wine enthusiasts and certainly follow the model of pile ‘em high and flog ‘em cheap.

The tasting area of the Calais Wine Superstore has a distinct smell of bleach, suggesting an overly enthusiastic tasting party may have passed through early that day.

Having a look at the prices around these air hangars of branded wine, the Champagne prices were on par with Christmas discount sales in the UK supermarkets, so were an easy pass.

You might once have reached for a keenly priced Crémant, but these alternative French sparkling wines are becoming easier to find in the UK, so again it was a pass.

There were, however, some good deals. Porta 6, of Saturday Kitchen Fame, was showing a big saving at £3.30 a bottle in The Calais Wine Superstore and £3.79 in Majestic.

Top names such as Guigal and Whispering Angel seemed to be able to keep their prices a little higher and deals looked less attractive at the £10-a-bottle mark. However, many of the branded reds and whites below £10 showed good savings.

To make things a little easier to evaluate, here’s a little comparison table with savings:

Cost of Travel:
  • Eurotunnel: £60+
  • Petrol from London: £60
Wine Example: Côtes du Rhône, E. Guigal
  • The Calais Wine Superstore: £7.99
  • E. Leclerc: €8.50
  • Waitrose: £11.99 (£8.99 when 25% off sale is on)
Saving: £4-a-bottle when at full price in the UK, but only £1 when discounted Wine Example: Porta 6
  • Majestic Calais: £3.79
  • Majestic UK: £8.99 (£7.99 as part of six)
Savings: £5.20-a-bottle at full price, but £4.20 discounted

To break even, you will need to buy 36 bottles or more, which is no problem for most weddings.

It’s still a great day out if you do need to cater for a mass of friends and family, and well worth the adventure if, after you’re done, you can nip in the car and drive along the coast.

For wine lovers

The Calais we’ve described above won’t cut it for wine aficionados.

But, step beyond Calais and there are some fantastic spots offering broader ranges. After a lot of driving driving around, we’ve whittled the stops down to offer a suggested itinerary for the day.

Boursot’s, Ardres

Head 25 minutes south-east of Calais to Ardres. This small, beautiful, French village feels a million miles from the wine warehouses of Calais. There’s a carpark in the centre, with a boulangerie that is great for breakfast if you took the early train.

Just a short walk from the centre we found Boursot’s – a wine store with a brilliantly interesting and curated selection.

The owner, Guy Boursot, is an Englishman who’s been in France several years and has a rich history in the wine trade.

Among the wines we picked out were Morrillon Blanc for £8.50, a Chardonnay from Languedoc-Roussillon that included a small percentage of Noble Rot-affected grapes blended in; think Ken Forrester’s FMC but a little sweeter.

We also found a lovely, light, biodynamic Pic-St-Loup at £6.50 and a St-Estèphe with 12 years of bottle age for £13.40.

After leaving with a number of wines under-arm in a mish-mash of cases, we stopped off for a coffee outside the beautiful Hotel de Ville – Ardres’ Town Hall – for a well-earned rest.


A drive due west across the beautiful Haut de France countryside for 35 minutes will bring you out at the busy seaside town of Boulogne-sur-Mer.

South-west of the town is a huge E. Leclerc, a French supermarket known for low prices. This isn’t the sort of place you’d expect to find real variety, but its huge wine section has a Bordeaux offering better than many fine wine stores in London. It is a mini-tour around France’s best known regions and names, which we thought was great for people on a day trip with limited time to shop around. You can also pick cheese to go with your selections, of course.

We picked out an aged Château d’Armailhac for under €40, a white Faugères and red Savigny-lès-Beaune for under €16.

Once happy with our haul, we took a short drive back to the centre of Boulogne-sur-Mer and found ourselves on the seafront.

Be careful here, because parking is hard to come by and the car park on the front, we were told, is permanently full.

Having navigated the parking challenge, we headed for lunch at the Michelin-starred La Matelote.

With an extremely reasonable set price set lunch at €28  and a bottle of Batailley 2006 at €60 to wash it down, everyone was feeling happy with life; not that our designated driver could enjoy the wine too much, of course.

Other recommendations for that area include Wimereux, another short drive along the coast and home to Michelin-standard restaurants. We passed that up for a walk on the beach and to watch the sun set at a local bar.

Sitting there, the group sipped beers and started to ask the question, ‘do you think we could change the train back and stay the night?’. A sign of not wanting to leave, and testament to a great day out.

Find more wine travel guides here

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