articles tagged: Left Bank

Hail Forces Early Start for Lafite as St-Estèphe Takes a Battering

September 5th 2011, by

This article appeared on the Liv-ex Fine Wine Market blog and in ‘Inside Information’ on JancisRobinson.com.

Gavin Quinney reports from Bordeaux on an unscheduled start to the harvest for one of the world’s most famous estates, and the severe misfortune that fell on an illustrious neighbour.

Lafite's parcel in St-Estèphe, 3 Sept

‘It’s an early vintage, and not an easy one,’ said Charles Chevallier, the Director of Château Lafite-Rothschild, as he checked the Cabernet Sauvignon from their parcel in St-Estèphe in his new harvest reception area. He certainly never thought that he’d be bringing in this late-ripening variety exactly one week before the Médoc Marathon, when over 8,000 runners in fancy dress pass through the vineyards on the second Saturday of September. (In 2010, they started picking their Cabernet on 4th October.)

Unlike this coming Saturday, this is no laughing matter – even if the locals can’t resist a bit of black humour. “They can start the pruning at Cos d’Estournel, because there aren’t any leaves left on the vines,” was the gag made separately by two tractor drivers – one at Lafite, the other at Château Montrose to the north.  Neighbours, as well as nature, can be cruel.

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En Primeur Insights: The Château MD

August 22nd 2011, by

I recently interviewed a fellow ‘Brit in Bordeaux’ for the subscriber section of JancisRobinson.com. There’s a great deal of free content on the site but for any wine enthusiast, the ‘Purple Pages’ are well worth £69 a year. Jancis has kindly allowed me to publish the article here:

This is the second in a series of articles looking back at the 2010 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign.

Christian Seely

Englishman Christian Seely is the managing director of the AXA Millésimes group of estates, based at Château Pichon-Longueville in Pauillac. Besides this ‘Super Second’, Seely looks after Châteaux Pibran, also in Pauillac, Petit Village in Pomerol and Suduiraut in Sauternes, as well as estates in the Languedoc, Burgundy, Portugal and Hungary. He is also president of the Compagnie Médocaine, AXA’s Bordeaux négociant business.

Gavin Quinney, the owner of Château Bauduc (a recent Wine of the week), interviewed his compatriot about the 2010 campaign. Here is the transcript.

GQ: Why does the campaign have to take so-ooh long?

CS: Everybody agrees it should be quicker and start sooner – it is very annoying for customers. But each campaign has its own rhythm, and each property is waiting for the right moment. It shouldn’t be like that, of course. The timing though is key and it’s an incredibly important decision. There is an unofficial order, or hierarchy, and each property has their own idea of where they’re situated in that order. It’s their decision – and there are hundreds of individual decisions.

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En Primeur: A Rare Show of Dissent (and Be Careful What You Tweet)

June 28th 2011, by

One Bordeaux story that flew around the internet this month was a Bordeaux negociant’s public refusal to buy a top Chateau’s 2010 because the price was ‘ludicrous’. At that price the wine ‘deserved to tank in the market’, I tweeted. So guess who I sat next to at a black-tie dinner, given by the leading Châteaux, two days later?

Let me explain.

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Bordeaux 2010 Bandwagon: Running Out of Puff?

June 20th 2011, by

Harpers Wine and Spirit Trade Gazette published my article on 3rd June, with my photo of a picker at Château Troplong Mondot on the front cover:Massive prices for the 2010 First Growths, Super Seconds and Flying Fifths won’t deter investors, and buyers from the Far East, but will the Bordeaux en primeur bandwagon run out of steam further down the line?”

001 cover 3 june.inddIt’s been a long haul, and we’re still not there. I’ll report back fully as the campaign draws to a close in the next fortnight. Here are my opening paragraphs from the article.

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Bordeaux 2010 Part Three: The Verdict

May 5th 2011, by

I wrote this piece for Livex, “the insiders’ guide to the global fine wine market”, and was published on 3rd May.

Having previously reported on the wines and weather of Bordeaux 2010, my latest contribution covers this year’s en primeur tastings.

There was something different in the air this year, and it wasn’t just the constant tweeting of what the stuff tasted like.

dsc_0058En primeur attendances were higher than ever at the top estates, according to Paul Pontallier of Château Margaux (right).  Much in evidence there, and at all the Firsts, were the Chinese translations of the brochures, to add to the long-standing piles of English and French versions. Based on visits to the leading properties the week after the UGCs, these were still being snapped up by Bordeaux’s new best friends.

dsc_0033_2Perhaps that’s what’s changed. Opinions about many of the great wines no longer matter. For the top Châteaux, even huge Parker points or double asterisks won’t be required to sell the iconic brands and for most of us, some of the tastings were academic.

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Bordeaux 2008 Grands Crus Classés: Final Call for Value

May 3rd 2011, by

Having posted my scores of 2008 Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés from the bottle, I’ve taken a look at the prices on the UK market (via Liv-ex and wine-searcher) to see what values there are before Parker releases any moment now. Spend a few moments checking the current price of the 2008 v the 2009 (2010 won’t be cheaper) and you could nab some top wines from great estates at reasonable prices. V? = Value? y = yes, p = possibly.

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Bordeaux 2008s: Those were the Days

May 2nd 2011, by

Having just posted my 2008 scores for the Grands Cru Classés in bottle, I made the mistake of flicking through the article I wrote for Harpers Wine and Spirit for the 1 May 2009 issue, just before Parker posted his scores from the barrel tastings.

img_5462Here it is, in full. Let me say that, from the bottle, I can confirm that ‘St-Julien and Pauillac produced some top flight efforts’ but probably more than a ‘few really exceptional ones’. As for the prices, especially of Lafite and Mouton – now trading at £13,500 and £8,000 a case respectively – I think I’ll go and weep. For the wines, patience is required for all those Left Bank wines from the top estates, contrary to what some critics have said.

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The Bordeaux 2008 Grands Crus Classés from bottle

May 2nd 2011, by

The top Chateaux in Bordeaux bottled their 2008 reds last summer, from May onwards. Since the autumn I’ve popped into all the Grands Crus Classés of the Left Bank (i.e. those in the 1855 classification) to taste them.

img_4608Given that you can only taste the First Growths and others in situ, it seems the fairest way to assess all the wines on a level playing field, even if it’s time consuming. It also gave me a chance to taste the increasingly relevant second wines, and a few other wines that are owned by the Crus Classés (such as Pibran being in the same ownership as Pichon Baron).

I also tasted the St-Emilion Premiers Grands Crus Classés  (excluding Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Belair Monange and Magdelaine) in a single sitting. Although I’ve tasted plenty of Pomerols, these tastings are incomplete so I’ve left them out (Le Pin and Clinet are very good, though…). Likewise Pessac-Léognan and other wines from St-Emilion.

Robert Parker is about to release his scores on 2008 from the bottle, in tandem with his initial 2010 scores from barrel. Here are my scores for the 2008 in bottle, alongside Parker’s original scores from barrel. Many of these wines are substantially less expensive than their 2009 and 2010 counterparts, so there are some deals to be had outside the First Growths. Further reports to follow.

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Bordeaux 2010: 300 Top Reds, A-Z, with Price Guide

April 28th 2011, by

I’ve sifted through all the red barrel samples that I scored over 85 points out of 100 and here are my 300 or so favourites (A-Z), from over 600 tasted in April 2011. Of other leading wines on the Right Bank, I’ve yet to taste Chateau Lafleur in Pomerol and, in St-Emilion, the wines of my friend Jonathan Maltus (including Le Dome and Teyssier), Valandraud, Tertre Roteboeuf and Pavie Decesse.  On the Left Bank, I should go to Boyd Cantenac, Pouget, Pedesclaux and Sociando Mallet.

I have published them here for my April e-newsletter, shortly before Robert Parker publishes his scores. I’ve yet to look at any others but I’m sure we’ll all agree to disagree. As a price guide, I have included the En Primeur price, in sterling from the UK trade, of the same Chateau LAST year for their 2009 – another great, and possibly better, vintage. Do not expect prices to fall when prices are released over the coming weeks and months.

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Bordeaux 2010: 300 Top Reds, with Price Guide

April 28th 2011, by

I’ve sifted through all the red barrel samples that I scored over 85 points out of 100 and here are my 300 or so favourites (top down), from over 600 tasted in April 2011. Of other leading wines on the Right Bank, I’ve yet to taste Chateau Lafleur in Pomerol and, in St-Emilion, the wines of my friend Jonathan Maltus (including Le Dome and Teyssier), Valandraud, Tertre Roteboeuf and Pavie Decesse.  On the Left Bank, I should go to Boyd Cantenac, Pouget, Pedesclaux and Sociando Mallet.

I have published them here for my April e-newsletter, shortly before Robert Parker publishes his scores. I’ve yet to look at any others but I’m sure we’ll all agree to disagree. As a price guide, I have included the En Primeur price, in sterling from the UK trade, of the same Chateau LAST year for their 2009 – another great, and possibly better, vintage. Do not expect prices to fall when prices are released over the coming weeks and months.

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