articles tagged: Left Bank

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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A First-Timer’s Guide to the En Primeur Week in Bordeaux

March 23rd 2011, by

I wrote this post for Livex – “The insiders’ guide to the Global Fine Wine Market.”

Robert Parker and other critics are in Bordeaux this week, getting to grips with the new vintage from barrel.

dsc_0676The rest of us – trade and press alike – will have to wait until the first week of April, traditionally the week hosted by the Union des Grands Crus or ‘UGCs’. Scores of other groups have sprung up over the years, while at least 30 of the most sought-after wines can only be sampled at the Chateaux themselves.

So here’s a list of the most popular tastings and those exclusive Chateaux, with the dates and the number of wines in brackets. At the end, I’ve jotted down my ten top tips.

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Bordeaux 2010, Part Two: The Wines

February 18th 2011, by

This post was written for Liv-ex, “the insiders’ guide to the global fine wine market,” and was published today. It follows on from “Bordeaux 2010, Part One: The Weather.”

dsc_0022_2There’s an embarrassment of riches in the best barrel cellars of Bordeaux right now. The relatively inexpensive 2008s are being shipped out (the first tranche offer of 100€ ex-cellars for First Growths in April 2009 seems a long time ago), leaving row upon row of French oak barriques bearing the precious, pre-paid 2009 vintage. And, currently being assembled in the ‘first year’ cellars, there’s another great vintage waiting in line.

Time will tell if Lilian Barton Sartorius was right when she said at the start of the harvest, “However well the 2010s turn out, they are going to be cheaper than the 2009s.” At the time I nodded sagely in agreement but now, following an outstanding harvest and with more names being touted as the next big thing in China, I’m not so sure. Meanwhile, a few wise old heads are keeping shtum about 2010 as they want their wines to do the talking in the spring. Nobody wants to hear about another vintage of the century. At least, not just yet.

dsc_0323_2Robert Parker, after concerns that he would be unable to travel following knee surgery, has indicated that he will be coming to taste the new vintage next month. Significantly, his friend Michel Rolland, the renowned consultant oenologist, believes that most estates that he works with have made, er, better wines in 2010 than in 2009, and for those who prefer wines at the other end of the structure spectrum, Denis Dubourdieu quietly agrees – at least, for reds and dry whites.

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Bordeaux 2010 Part One: The Weather

February 11th 2011, by

This article was written for Liv-ex – ‘the insider’s guide to the global fine wine market’ – and published today.

As wine merchants and critics make travel arrangements for the En Primeur barrel tastings in late March and early April, many wise old heads in Bordeaux are keeping shtum about the 2010 vintage. (After the massive prices achieved last summer for the top 2009s, owners and managers would prefer their wines to do the talking in the Spring, as buyers don’t want to hear that it’s another vintage of a lifetime. At least, not just yet.)

As a grower in Bordeaux and dedicated vine-spotter, and being British, the weather is something I like to keep an eye on. I also visited scores of leading Chateaux during the growing season and throughout the harvest. Here are some conclusions, with the help of a few charts, about 2010.

In summary

1. 2010 was a very dry year.

2. 2010 was sunny…

3. … but not too hot.

4. Uneven flowering, lower yields?

5. Top terroirs shine, again.

6. Rain in the nick of time.

7. A later harvest (than 2009 and 2005).

8. Harvest ‘à la carte’.

1. 2010 was a very dry year.

002271_rain_2010-01

I live 15 miles east of Bordeaux and 15 miles SW of St-Emilion between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. Bordeaux is a vast wine region, and the weather can vary significantly from one end to the other. It’s fair to say though that 2010 was a dry year across all areas.

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