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Colchagua producers: six names to watch

1 hour 27 min ago

Colchagua is home to some of Chile’s biggest names in wine. Alistair Cooper MW picks six producers to watch...

Viu ManentColchagua producers: six names to watch Beso Negro

A venture between Kiwi winemaker Grant Phelps (ex-Viu Manent and Casas del Bosque), Princess Tunku Soraya Dakhlah of Malaysia and her husband Sharif Majid (who bought land here a decade ago), plus business partners. Two wines are currently made from differing blends of Carmenère, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah: El Libertino and El Decadente. They are full-bodied and powerful yet with real elegance.

Clos Santa Ana

Luiz Allegretti and Roberto Ibarra’s young organic project is already producing stunning wines. The talented duo of Luca Hodgkinson and José Miguel Sotomayor (‘the Wildmakers’) are consultants, with three wines currently produced. Old foudres made of raulí (a type of beech wood) and amphorae are used for fermentation and the wines are unfiltered. The flagship is Aralez, a blend of Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec; while Velo is a flor-aged, old-vine blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.

Fanoa

Raúl Narvaéz and Angeles Ovalle bought 11ha in 2009 in Palmilla, 8km north of Santa Cruz, but didn’t plant until three years later so they could get biodynamic certification. Just 2.3ha are under vine – mainly Malbec and Carmenère – yet they are experimenting with Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Grenache and Carignan among others. Fanoa’s aim is to produce fresher styles, with little or no oak used in the winemaking. Currently it produces the Seis Tintos blend, plus a Sangiovese and Malbec – all show great promise.

Koyle

Founded in 2006 by the Undurraga family in Los Lingues, in the Andean foothills. Thanks to head winemaker Cristóbal Undurraga, great purity shines throughout the range, and the coastal project in Paredones is producing compelling Sauvignon Blancs under the Costa label. Koyle makes excellent-value Syrah, while the premium Auma is a muscular blend of Carmenère, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It also has an excellent Muscat and Cinsault from Itata under the Don Cande range.

OWM

Own Wine Makers was founded in 2009 by cousins Jaime Núñez (viticulturist) and José Antonio Bravo (winemaker). Today they make five wines – a total of 20,000 bottles. Carmenère, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon are the main focus. The wines are classically Colchagua: ripe, succulent, deep and brooding but with great focus and acidity.

Viu Manent

Under head winemaker Patricio Celedón, Viu Manent has pushed towards lighter styles over the past five years, picking earlier and using older foudres and less new oak. It owns 254ha over three sites in Colchagua, and Malbec is a focus, though the ViBo Punta del Viento GSM blend is worth seeking out.

Alistair Cooper MW spent years working for wineries in Argentina and Chile. He is a regular Decanter contributor and judge, and the resident wine expert for BBC Radio Oxford

This first appeared as part of the Colchagua regional profile in the June 2018 issue of Decanter. Decanter Premium members can read the full article here. 

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Royal Wedding wine: Pol Roger Champagne served

Sat, 19/05/2018 - 15:31

Pol Roger Champagne has been confirmed as one of the wines served to hundreds of guests at the official lunch reception following the Royal Wedding between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Champagne Pol Roger wines lined up for Masterclass guests at the Decanter Fine Wine Encounter 2015.

The Palace and Royal Household confirmed on Saturday (19 May) that a non-vintage Champagne, Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV, will be one of the names on a Royal Wedding wine list that has remained a closely guarded secret.

The Pol Roger Champagne, a blend of 30 base wines across at least three vintages, was on Saturday available for £45 per bottle from Waitrose and for £40.99 if bought as part of a mixed case of six wines at Majestic.

Pol Roger already has a Royal Warrant and is notorious in wine circles as the favourite Champagne of Sir Winston Churchill, Britain’s famous wartime Prime Minister.

Pol Roger non-vintage Champagne was also served at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, back in 2011.

Other wines to be served at the reception for Harry and Meghan, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, remained a mystery on Saturday.

There has been speculation around the possibility of a Californian wine making the cut, with Markle understood to enjoy the wines of several producers in her home state.

It has also been thought likely that an English sparkling wine could be served. Camel Valley in Cornwall was recently awarded a Royal Warrant, while Chapel Down was on the table at William and Kate’s wedding.

There is also Great Windsor Park sparkling, dubbed the ‘Queen’s English wine’ because it is made on the Windsor Park estate, near to where the newly-weds are celebrating.

Markle, meanwhile, has previously expressed a liking for Tignanello, the ‘Super Tuscan’ wine produced by Antinori.

However, only Pol Roger had been confirmed as on the list by the time of the reception, which was to be held for 600 guests in St George’s Hall in Windsor Castle.

Canapes to be served:
  • Scottish Langoustines wrapped in Smoked Salmon with Citrus Crème Fraiche
  • Grilled English Asparagus wrapped in Cumbrian Ham
  • Garden Pea Panna Cotta with Quail Eggs and Lemon Verbena
  • Heritage Tomato and Basil Tartare with Balsamic Pearls
  • Poached Free Range Chicken bound in a Lightly Spiced Yoghurt with Roasted Apricot
  • Croquette of Confit Windsor Lamb, Roasted Vegetables and Shallot Jam
  • Warm Asparagus Spears with Mozzarella and Sun-Blush Tomatoes
For Premium members: See Decanter’s Champagne tasting notes and ratings Take our Royal wine quiz

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Spanish wine and tapas pairing guide

Sat, 19/05/2018 - 13:30

Planning a trip to Spain? Learn how to pair wine and tapas like a local with our expert guide, featuring advice from three of Spain's top sommeliers...

Tapas and wine Appetizers + Sherry or Cava sparkling wine

A match made in tapas heaven: Manchego cheese and chilled Fino Sherry… Credit: timeincukcontent.com

The tapas: Manchego cheese, jamón ibérico, olives, anchovies

The wines:

‘As these dishes are generally serve as an aperitif, opt for either a dry Fino or a Manzanilla Sherry,’ advised François Chartier, sommelier and co-founder of SOFIA Be So restaurant in Cadiz.

Custodio López Zamarra – head sommelier at  Spain’s first three Michelin starred restaurant, Zalacain, for over 40 years – explained why tapas with jamón, salami or chorizo can be tricky:

‘Traditionally it is recommended to pair meat with red wine, but saltier meat dishes like these are more complicated as they enhance tannins and acidity. Instead I advise pairing a dry still or sparkling white wine like Cava.’

José Martínez, the long-standing sommelier at Via Veneto restaurant in Barcelona, agreed:

‘The lactic aromas you can find in some Cavas, due to malolactic fermentation, balances the acidity. Plus the oily texture of olives and anchovies blends perfectly with sparkling wine.’

SEE ALSO: Wine and charcuterie pairing Peppery tomato tapas + Rosado or light red wines

Galician octopus, served with potatoes and plenty of paprika. Credit: Porto de Rinlo / WikiCommons

The tapas: Pan con tomate, patatas bravas, padrón peppers, Galician octopus

The wines:

‘These tapas are dominated by the presence of tomato and peppery spices like paprika’ explained Chartier.

‘Therefore they belong to the realm of the rosado (rosé) wines, including pink Cava.

‘Also light red wines – especially those that are fresh and unoaked in style. Look out for wines made from indigenous Catalonian grape varieties like Trepat or Sumoll – these match perfectly with the perfume of the small delicious pimientos de padrón.’

SEE ALSO: Great rosé wines with food Fried tapas + Sherry or dry white wines

Sommeliers say you need a refreshing white wine style to pair with rich tapas like tortilla… Credit: timeincukcontent.com

The tapas: Tortilla, croquetas, calamares

The wines:

‘With the fried calamares (squid) and croquetas, as well as the oily element of the tortilla, you need a wine that can refresh the palate,’ advised Chartier.

Martínez recommends Sherry:

‘Oloroso or Amontillado are dominated by toast aromas from long periods of oak ageing, ideal to combine with fried tapas like calamares or Andalusian fried fish tapas, known as pescaíto frito.’

‘I recommend playing with the temperatures of these wines’, said Martínez, ‘enjoy them a little colder, as they usually have 15-20% abv.’

Not a Sherry fan? Try pairing a dry and youthful white wine, such as Albariño from Rías Baíxas, ‘it has a citrus element that compliments the flavours of these tapas’, said Martínez.

Final golden rule

In Spain, the wine and food cultures have grown intertwined over thousands of years, meaning that your best bet could be simply pairing wine and tapas from the same locale.

‘The most important factor to take into account is the region,’ said Martínez.

‘Combining tapas with wines from the same place is sure to be a hit. Nature is very wise.’

A bit about the sommeliers

François Chartier, sommelier and co-founder of SOFIA Be So in Cadiz. The self-styled ‘molecular sommelier’ and former winner of the Best Sommelier in the World competition, Chartier has written prolifically on finding ‘harmonies’ between food and wine, based on their shared chemical compounds.

Custodio López Zamarra, consultant sommelier at Restaurante Azáfran in Castilla-La Mancha. Custodio is one of Spain most respected sommeliers, he worked for over 40 years at Zalacain – the country’s first ever three-Michelin restaurant. Though retired, he consults at Restaurante Azáfran in Castilla-La Mancha.

José Martínez, sommelier at Via Veneto, a Michelin-starred Catalan restaurant in the heart of Barcelona, which has served the likes of Salvador Dalí, Gabriel García Márquez and Richard Nixon.

 

Written by Laura Seal for Decanter.com

 

Related content:

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What does it mean when a wine ‘tastes green’? – ask Decanter

Sat, 19/05/2018 - 08:28

Heard wine tasters referring to a wine ‘tasting green’ or ‘green flavours'? We ask the experts.

How can a wine taste green?What does it mean when a wine ‘tastes green’? – ask Decanter

A wine tasting ‘green’ is not the same as having flavours from the ‘green fruit’ category, such as green apple, pear and grape.

It is also not the same as ‘Vinho Verde’ (or green wines) in Portugal.

A wine tasting ‘green’ commonly refers to underripe characteristics; suggesting that some grapes could have been picked slightly before full ripeness was achieved. The wine could smell or taste slightly green vegetables, like green bell pepper, for example.

‘All wines can display this character if the grapes are picked before they are ripe, just like with any other fruit.,’ said Julia Sewell, sommelier at Noble Rot and Decanter World Wine Awards judge.

‘In cooler climates or challenging vintages, this flavour character can be more likely to occur, as the winemaker can sometimes be forced by weather conditions to harvest earlier than is ideal, or indeed the grapes may never ripen fully if the cold part of autumn arrives early.’

This can be a problem with Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, which needs enough heat and time to ripen fully. It has also been associated with Carmenère, a well-known late ripener.

In Decanter’s tasting notes decoded series, it is explained that such green notes in some wines from certain vintages are believed to be caused by a chemical compound called pyrazine.

Why does this matter?

There is some debate over the extent to which green flavours in wine should be seen as a serious problem.

Jane Anson addresses green flavours in her guide to tasting wines en primeur.

When examining the fruit, ‘it’s not just how much fruit there is, but what type of fruit’, she writes.

‘They might be slightly underripe, which means slight green flavours…. If you’ve got fruit that is underripe and green flavoured, then it might never get to the point that it tastes good to drink.’

Sewell added: ‘A ‘green’ wine tends to become even more green as it ages, perhaps indicating that it is not advisable to purchase if these characteristics are not appealing.’

More wine questions answered

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‘Cru Artisans’ wine classification re-launched in Médoc

Fri, 18/05/2018 - 17:25

Bordeaux has this week seen the re-launch of a classification designed to give recognition to some of the smaller-scale wine producers beyond the Médoc's more famous names.

Maxime Saint-Martin is the new president of the Cru Artisan ranking.

The Cru Artisans du Médoc, a grouping of small family run estates found in all appellations across the Médoc peninsula, has launched a new list where the number of estates has shrunk from 44 to 36 estates.

This is a reflection, according to the press release, of how many ‘Cru Artisan’ estates have been sold over the past 10 years since the previous ranking was compiled in 2006, as well as a number of producers who have retired.

These include Château Beheré in Pauillac that has now been incorporated into Château Pedesclaux and Château La Pèyre in St-Estèphe that was bought by Bernard Magrez and has become Clos Sanctus Perfectus.

There are however eight new estates: Châteaux Andron, Haut Brisey, Haut Couloumey in AOC Médoc, Pey Mallet in AOC Haut-Médoc, Ch Dacher de Delmonte in AOC Listrac-Médoc and Châteaux Marceline, Linot and Graves de Pez.

The average surface of the estates remains unchanged at 10ha but the ranking will be renewed every five years from now (so this holds up to 2021) instead of the previous ten.

Admission to Cru Artisan depends on visit of the estate (40% of mark) and a blind tasting (60% of the note) by a jury of brokers, merchants and oenologists.

Maxime Saint-Martin, president of Crus Artisans du Médoc and owner of Ch Graves de Pez, told Decanter.com at a recent tasting, ‘These are small-scale wineries where the owner is present at every stage of production, from the vineyard to the cellar.

‘There is no minimum or maximum size for membership, and it is a philosophical choice in many ways. These owners want to be close to their vineyards at every step of the process.’

The full Cru Artisans list is: Médoc

Château Andron,

Château Béjac Romelys,

Château Gadet Terrefort,

Château Garance Haut Grenat

Château Haut Blaignan

Château Haut Brisey

Château Haut Couloumey

Château Haut Gravat

Château La Tessonnière

Château Les Graves de Loirac

Château Vieux Gadet

Haut-Médoc

Château de Coudot

Château Moutte Blanc

Château Pey Mallet

Château de Lauga

Château d’Osmond

Château du Hâ

Château Grand Brun

Château Grand Lafont

Château Lamongeau

Château Le Bouscat

Château Micalet

Château Tour Bel Air

Château Tour du Goua

Château Viallet Nouhant

Château Vieux Gabarey

Listrac

Château Dacher de Delmonte

Margaux

Château Clos de Bigos

Château des Graviers

Château Les Barraillots

Château Moutte Blanc

Moulis

Château Lagorce Bernadas

St-Estèphe

Château Marceline

Château Linot

Château Graves de Pez

St-Julien

Château Fleur Lauga

The post ‘Cru Artisans’ wine classification re-launched in Médoc appeared first on Decanter.

Top Sauternes 2017 wines

Fri, 18/05/2018 - 14:56

Jane Anson's scores and tasting notes for the Sauternes 2017 wines, exclusive to Decanter Premium members...

The Sauternes 2017 en primeur tastingSee all Sauternes 2017 wines 

 

Some wonderfully rich and ripe Sauternes and Barsac wines can be found in the Bordeaux 2017 vintage, but unusually the brilliant dry white wine vintage does not quite so easily translate to a truly exceptional sweet wine one this year.

 

 

 

Back to the main Bordeaux en primeur page

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The Royal wine quiz – Test your knowledge

Fri, 18/05/2018 - 13:53

To mark a certain Royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, this week's quiz is on wine with a regal link. See if you are fit to wear the crown...

Queen Elizabeth II and Colombia's president Juan Manuel Santos at Buckingham Palace. Start the Royal wine quiz below

 

More wine quizzes here

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Hugh Johnson: When bottles surprise you

Fri, 18/05/2018 - 09:09

Hugh Johnson considers those times when your highly anticipated bottles end up a disappointment...

‘Two very prestigious Burgundies failed to light any fires.’

Oenogenius Len Evans (who kickstarted modern Australian wine) was so convinced of the importance of great wines that he endowed a course for young wine professionals that included tastings of the first growths, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines and the ultimate icons in each ‘style’, as Australians call them. The Len Evans Tutorials are still going strong 17 years later.

Writers sometimes feel a duty to genuflect in the direction of ‘the greats’. Perhaps Andrew Jefford expresses their achievements best: ‘Wines of outstanding beauty and resonance, leaving the drinker with a sense of wonder.’ These are our aspirational models; or are they? I’m not so sure anymore. The existence of Rembrandt doesn’t devalue less exalted painters, or detract from our enjoyment of them, or discourage us from having a little daub ourselves.

You can be so in awe of a first growth, though, waiting for a miraculous revelation, that you cease to think of it as a drink. And the downside, of course, is as precipitous as your hopes are high. It is the reason I avoid multi-starred restaurants: if they’re less than perfect, I feel conned.

The other night I opened what I hoped would be a pretty snappy line-up for, among others, Steven Spurrier. He was too polite to say so, but two very prestigious Burgundies failed to light any fires.

Both were Chambolle-Musigny premiers crus; Les Fremières 2007 from Leroy, and Les Amoureuses 1999 from Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier. The first had the expensively wild note that makes Domaine Leroy wines Burgundy’s most exciting – but this was snapping at its cage, and losing energy in the process. The Amoureuses, my favourite vineyard of all – and not just for its name – simply tasted muffled, soft-focused. A top vintage, 19 years old, has no business doing that.

‘There are no great wines; only great bottles’ is always true. The corollary is that there are also great bottles of not-great wine, and that these are the ones that double your pleasure by adding surprise. We had proof that evening: a left-field wine that no one would ever identify. ‘Yquem?’ was the first suggestion.

The answer? Château Lion, Noble d’Or 1985 from… wait for it… Japan’s Suntory. The Yamanashi region wins. For complete satisfaction, your mind should be as open as your mouth.

Hugh Johnson OBE is a world-renowned wine writer

Read more articles from Decanter magazine’s June 2018 issue

For Premium members

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Great value wines for the weekend under £20

Fri, 18/05/2018 - 08:30

Watching the Royal Wedding this weekend? Make sure you have one of these English wines to toast to the occasion...

Great value wines under £20

English still and sparkling wines are going from strength to strength.

Whether you’re watching the Royal Wedding this weekend, or just enjoying the sunshine, pick one of the 10 top wines below, all great value and tasted by our experts.

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.

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Premium English sparkling wine to try this summer

Thu, 17/05/2018 - 10:07

Susie Barrie MW picks out her top 15 English sparkling wines to see you through the summer...

2017 was a significant year for the UK wine industry: a million vines were planted, a new competition its wines was launched, and the WineGB organization was formally announced.

One of the first events for the newly formed WineGB was the annual trade tasting held in April, where there was a palpable buzz of excitement in the air. There were also more wines than ever, with over 200 in 2018 compared to just 68 back in 2002.

Several of my English sparkling wine recommendations below are from this tasting, with the remainder coming from other recent tastings and vineyard visits earlier this year, when I was researching a new book. The list could have been two or even three times as long, but I’ve tried to limit myself mostly to wines from brand new projects, new cuvées from more established producers, and older wines that are at their peak of drinkability.

 

Read more:

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Top Bordeaux dry whites from 2017

Thu, 17/05/2018 - 08:40

En primeur tastings may have shown Bordeaux 2017 to be uneven for red wines, but it's shaping up to be a five-star vintage for the region's dry whites, says Jane Anson. See her scores and tasting notes, exclusively for Decanter Premium members...

Bordeaux dry whites 2017.Top Bordeaux dry whites 2017

Bordeaux 2017 is an exceptional dry white vintage, as noted in my Bordeaux 2017 vintage overview.

You can feel hugely confident buying Pessac-Léognan and other big name whites, although sadly volumes are often way down.

All Graves whites 2017    All Pessac whites 2017     All Bordeaux Blancs 2017   Back to the Bordeaux en primeur main page

 

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Champagne growers hit by violent hailstorm

Thu, 17/05/2018 - 07:23

Hailstones bigger than golf balls have caused at least some damage to 500 hectares of vines in the Côte des Bar area in the south of the Champagne region, according to initial estimates.

Côte des Bar area map.

A violent hailstorm hit the Champagne region on Saturday 12 May.

Growers reported hailstones five centimetres in diameter raining down on vines in Côte des Bar, in the south-east of the Champagne region and predominantly planted with Pinot Noir. Early estimates suggested 500 hectares of vineyards were damaged.

The hail corridor extended from Les Riceys to Vitry-le-Croisé, with the village of Neuville being the most badly affected.

Hailstones hit roughly ‘20% of the Côte des Bar area’, said Bruno Duron, from the Comité de Champagne, the trade body.

‘Of the 500 hectares affected, 250 to 280 hectares are located on the Riceys terroir,’ he told Decanter.com.

‘We had already had an episode [of hail] with lots of wind on 29 April, but this one has had a bigger impact.’

Hail fell on growing vines. ‘The Pinot vines were at seven to eight leaves while the Chardonnays had reached 9 to 10 leaves,’ Duron said.

However, the damage remained very localised in the context of the Côte des Bar vineyard area. ‘The Côte des Bar is 8,000 hectares (24% Champagne),’ Duron said.

But for the winegrowers affected, it was another disaster after the damaging spring frosts in 2016 and 2017.

There were concerns that some small-scale growers might no longer have individual reserves in their cellars, placing them under extra financial pressure.

Editing by Chris Mercer.

Read also: Extreme weather becoming the new normal, warns major report

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New Bordeaux 2017 releases: Talbot, Beychevelle out

Wed, 16/05/2018 - 21:17

  • Price cuts dominate early stages of Bordeaux 2017 en primeur campaign, although some frustration at a slow start.

  • Talbot, Beychevelle and Gazin drop ex-Bordeaux release price by between four and 11% versus 2016.

  • Rieussec and Suduiraut also released in Sauternes.

Château Talbot, the St-Julien fourth growth.

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

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Domaine de Chevalier vertical: 2000 – 2017

Wed, 16/05/2018 - 11:47

Jane Anson tastes a vertical of Domaine de Chevalier wines, exclusively for Decanter Premium members.

The Bordeaux 2017 vintage was no doubt a bittersweet vintage for Domaine de Chevalier. For once, they were not alone in being affected by frost, and in many ways were far better prepared than almost any other property in the region.

Owner Olivier Bernard has long used wine machines and even helicopters in certain vintages because its location, with vines on the far west of Léognan in a single 45ha gravel, black sand and clay plot surrounded by forest gives it a very particular micro-climate where budding begins earlier than many local properties, and its swings in temperature (warm days, cold nights) often make it particularly vulnerable to low temperatures in springtime.

 

See Jane Anson’s overview of the Bordeaux 2017 vintage, plus all of her en primeur tasting notes

 

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Bordeaux makes way for Burgundy and whisky at Sotheby’s

Wed, 16/05/2018 - 08:54

Bordeaux’s share of sales has fallen to a record low at Sotheby’s as consumers, especially in Hong Kong, have switched to Burgundy and whisky, shows a new report from the auction house.

Richebourg Grand Cru in Burgundy's Côte de Nuits.

For the first time since Sotheby’s started selling wine in 1970, Bordeaux accounted for less than 50% of Sotheby’s auction and retail sales in 2017, dropping to 40% from 52% in 2016 – something the company said was ‘unthinkable’ only three years ago.

The Sotheby’s 2017 Wine Auction Report attributes Bordeaux’s fall to ‘a significant decline in Bordeaux’s share of sales at auction in Hong Kong, and to a lesser extent in London’.

‘For Sotheby’s Wine, the secondary wine market has been dominated by Bordeaux ever since we started auctions in 1970, with Bordeaux sales representing over 60% year-on-year,’ Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of Sotheby’s Wine, told Decanter.com.

‘The dynamic growth in both value and sales of Burgundy and whisky showed that demand has broadened significantly, driven by buyers from North America and Asia.

‘We expect demand for both to remain consistently strong, and are likely to witness new benchmark prices during the rest of this year.’

Burgundy’s share of Sotheby’s sales in 2017 was 39%, up from 34%, with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti securing the leading producer spot for the fifth successive year. Its sales of $11.6m were greater than Lafite, Pétrus and Mouton-Rothschild combined.

But whisky was the biggest mover on the global auction scene, at least for Sotheby’s, where it took a 6% share of revenues in the fine wine and spirits division, up from 1% in 2016.

This increase was led by The Macallan single malt, which recorded $2.6m in sales, up 4,000% on the year and making it number seven on the top 10 producers list.

Two Macallan lots and one of Japan’s Ichiro Hanyu Card Player Series accounted for the three most lucrative auction lots of the year, led by The Macallan in Lalique Legacy Collection, an 18-bottle lot sold in April 2017 in Hong Kong for just under $1m – a new world record for a whisky lot.

The report also illustrates the continued dominance of Asian buyers, who were responsible for 58% of Sotheby’s worldwide sales in 2017, up 2% on 2016. For auctions alone, they took a 50% share of available lots, but 60% of value, including nine out of the 10 most expensive lots.

Read also: How to approach buying wine en primeur

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Buying wine en primeur: How to approach it

Mon, 14/05/2018 - 14:45

Colin Hay, a professor of political economy with a special interest in the Place de Bordeaux, considers the different ways of approaching en primeur purchasing, as the Bordeaux 2017 campaign gets underway.

The cellar room at Château Pavie.

En primeur is a rather strange and, arguably, arcane system of buying and selling wine in which the consumer purchases the wine typically in the early summer following the vintage even though it will not be bottled and delivered for a further 12-18 months.

It is, in effect, a futures market. Money changes hands and a stake in a wine is purchased before the commodity has become a finished product.

In the period between purchase and delivery the price of the wine is likely to change, giving this market (like other futures markets) a certain speculative character.

See our Bordeaux en primeur homepage for ratings, analysis and release prices on 2017 wines

People buy en primeur for rather different reasons. Amongst these it is easy to differentiate between the following:

  • (i) for investment (the aim being to secure a return on the outlay between the point of purchase and delivery);
  • (ii) out of a sense of emotional attachment to the property or properties one is ‘backing’ by buying en primeur;
  • (iii) to guarantee securing a case of a rare commodity for which demand is high and/or to guarantee securing a case in an unusual format (halves, double magnums etc.);
  • (iv) to secure a wine which is ultimately for drinking at the best available price;
  • (v) some presently unresolved combination of the preceding factors (‘I am almost certainly buying this wine to drink and I have an emotional attachment to the property, but it is likely to prove a sound investment anyway’).

Of these reasons arguably the second is the best – and this article has least to say to those of you whose en primeur choices fall primarily into this category. My advice, in so far as I have any for you at all, is to carry on doing what you do – and perhaps not to read any further. This article is really for the rest of us (for what it is worth, my own rationale for en primeur purchases is in fact a combination of all five).

Let’s perhaps begin with the third motive – the acquisition of a rare commodity whilst it is still available. This is certainly a good motive (if wine is rare, supply limited and demand high, the sensible choice is to acquire it whilst supply is at its greatest).

But for the majority of en primeur purchases this is simply not the case. Properties typically do not sell out en primeur and those that do tend to do so because they have strategically managed supply by holding back wine for subsequent release. In short, it is a myth (if, sometimes, quite a convenient one) that one needs to by en primeur to secure a case of the one craves from any given vintage.

Yet there are exceptions to which we will come back to in a moment.  But to understand those exceptions it is useful to consider the first and fourth motives in my list. These might not seem connected, but they are.  Buying exclusively for investment and buying to secure a wine for the best price it will ever be available rely on the capacity to differentiate between those wines that will appreciate in value (because supply at the release price exceeds demand) and those that will not.

This is the holy grail of the en primeur market. A reliable mechanism for identifying what to buy does not exist. But there are a number of things one can say about wines that have proven to be good en primeur investments.

Five factors stand out from the academic analysis of this that I and others have conducted.

1. They need to be well-backed by the critics – and, ideally and increasingly, by a range of critics.

2. They will ultimately need to be backed again by the critics once re-tasted in bottle.  In order to retain their value – and hence their investment potential – a high scoring wine en primeur will need to have it score confirmed once the wine is in bottle.  One-off high scoring wines en primeur tend to peak in price just before they are re-tasted.

3. Wines from up-and-coming properties are more likely to be under-priced relative to their value and to represent a better investment.  Look out for properties on an upward curve in terms of the critical evaluations they have received in recent vintages but whose release prices still have yet to catch up with their new found status.

4. The case for purchase is stronger if there is a compelling story to tell about the quality trajectory of the property.  Where a property has changed hands, wine-maker, consultant oenologist or, more simply, style to critical acclaim, the upward trajectory in quality would appear to be less of a one-off.

5. Scarce wines for which one needs an allocation are likely to be sure-fire investments.  There are a number of wines ostensibly offered en primeur which it is practically impossible for you or I to buy if we do not have a history of buying them (an ‘allocation’ is the term typically used).  Some of these are long-standing (such as Petrus, Le Pin and Lafleur in Pomerol).  But a number of new cuvees (especially in Pomerol and St-Emilion) have similar characteristics (tiny properties sparing no expense to make the best wine possible).  Identifying these is not always easy.  But clear examples include L’If in St-Emilion and La Violette and L’Enclos Tourmaline in Pomerol.

These five points hopefully provide useful guidance in how to think about en primeur from the consumer’s perspective.

But the brutal reality is that most of us will not make money – or certainly not very much – from our en primeur purchases.  That is not an argument for forgoing en primeur; but it is an argument for going into it with open eyes.

See our Bordeaux 2017 en primeur page for the latest releases and analysis

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DWWA judge profile: Vincenzo Donatiello

Mon, 14/05/2018 - 14:33

Vincenzo Donatiello is a judge at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)

Vincenzo DonatielloVincenzo Donatiello

Vincenzo Donatiello hails from Vulture, Italy, and rose through the ranks in hospitality, developing professionally between Puglia, where he attended the hotel management school of Vieste and Romagna.

In 2009, he joined La Frasca in Milano Marittima under the guidance of Gianfranco Bolognesi, the first of a series of Michelin-starred experiences including restaurant Pascucci al Porticciolo in Fiumicino and Piastrino in Pennabilli.

Since February 2013, he has been at the 3 Michelin starred Piazza Duomo in Alba, with chef Enrico Crippa.

He was Best Junior Sommelier of Italy in 2004 and Best Sommelier of Romagna in 2010, Sommelier of the Year 2013 for Italia a Tavola Magazine, Best Restaurant Director 2016 for Touring Club Restaurant Guide and Maitre of the Year 2018 for L’Espresso Italian Restaurant Guide.

Follow Vincenzo on Twitter: @donvino85

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DWWA judge profile: Victoria James

Mon, 14/05/2018 - 14:33

Victoria James is a judge at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)

Victoria JamesVictoria James

Victoria James has worked in restaurants since she was thir­teen. She fell in love with wine and when she was twenty-one became certified as a sommelier.

She has worked at some of the most prestigious restaurants in New York City including Marea and Aureole.

Currently, Victoria is the beverage director at Cote, a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City.

Victoria’s name has appeared on many notable lists: Forbes ’30 Under 30′, Zagat’s ’30 Under 30′, Wine Enthusiast’s ’40 Under 40′, Wine & Spirits’ ‘Best New Sommeliers’, and The Back Label declared her ‘New York’s Youngest Sommelier’.

She is also the author of DRINK PINK, A Celebration of Rosé (May 2nd, 2017, HarperCollins) and a contributor to Cosmopolitan, Munchies and The Daily Meal.

In her free time, she makes Amaro from foraged plants.

Follow Victoria on Twitter: @Geturgrapeon

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DWWA judge profile: Tim Jackson MW

Mon, 14/05/2018 - 14:33

Tim Jackson MW is a judge at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)

Tim Jackson MWTim Jackson MW

Tim Jackson MW is a wine drinker whose hobby got sufficiently out of hand when he took WSET Level 3 in 2004, got the WSET Diploma with Distinction in 2010 and finally became a Master of Wine in September 2017.

Born and raised in London, Tim’s wine journey began in Chablis at 9am on a late June morning in 1994, between his first and second years at Oxford, followed by touring various parts of France and many other wine regions around the world since, from Argentina to Otago; Healdsburg to Wurttemburg.

In late 1998 he began keeping labels and notes from interesting bottles of wine drunk, in his first wine book. Now up to Book 7, he is progressively putting these online alongside other writing on his website, winebook.co.uk.

In addition to writing about wine, Tim holds corporate wine tastings and is passionate about teaching consumers about wine – the subject of his MW research paper.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @ABNegative

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DWWA judge profile: Stefan Metzner

Mon, 14/05/2018 - 14:33

Stefan Metzner is a judge at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)

Stefan MetznerStefan Metzner

Born in Germany, Stefan Metzner is currently co-owner and educator at Das Weininstitut in Munich.

He has held previous sommelier roles as well as being head of wine at Le Gourmet restaurant in Munich.

He then spent 4 years as managing director of a wine retail and wholesale company.

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