June 28th 2010, by Gavin
For those who like lists: with the massive ‘en primeur’ price increases from 30 of the famous Bordeaux Châteaux last week – 196% up on average on 2008 – I thought it would be useful to compare points and prices of the top 2009s with both the 2008s and the last great vintage, 2005.
The table below shows my scores (GQ) and Robert Parker’s (RP) for the 2009s and 2008s from barrel, and the price in British pounds En Primeur (EP) from UK merchants. On the right hand side, I tasted all the top 2005s in bottle for Wine & Spirit magazine for the Dec 2007 issue, five months before Robert Parker released his final scores. Buyers are dipping back into the market for the 2005s and 2008s against the more expensive 2009s: there’s a lot of sense in that.
2008 was a very good vintage, even if, in many people’s view, Robert Parker was a little generous with some of his scores. It makes for some bizarre comparisons: Ducru Beaucaillou 2008 was rated 96-98 and the 2009 96-98+, yet the the latter is three times the price of the ’08. I’ll be re-tasting the 2008s from bottle in the autumn – follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/GavinQuinney for updates.
Meanwhile, the better deals on 2009s were to be found on wines released earlier in the campaign, so it’s worth searching them out as many are still available. See also my separate post to follow for my ‘Best Buys of Bordeaux 2009′ and my summary of tweets throughout the campaign.
May 27th 2010, by Gavin
Updated 8th June. Here are my (GQ) scores for my Top 200 Bordeaux 2009 alongside those of US guru Robert Parker (RP), using the 100 point system, plus Jancis Robinson’s scores out of 20. I tasted all the top wines, except Château Ausone and a few garage/boutique wines from St-Emilion, and Le Gay and Le Bon Pasteur from Pomerol.
BUY: as prices are released in June 2010, I have noted down the left hand side the wines I would BUY (or BUY* for best buys). Follow me on Twitter for daily Deal or No Deal tips as wines are released.
R: Recommended but the prices are as yet unknown. Many will have to be pre-ordered. Prices in £ are for the UK buyer In Bond (ex-duty and Vat).
V: Value, for affordable drinking. L is for Left Bank, R is for Right.
May 25th 2010, by Gavin
Such is the demand for top Bordeaux from great years that the best wines from the two previous outstanding vintages, 2000 and 2005, have gone up substantially in value, despite the economic downturn. Here are my answers to 20 questions about the much-hyped 2009s.
1. Is Bordeaux 2009 ‘the vintage of a lifetime’?
I hope so, because we lost 80% of our crop in two hailstorms in May 2009. Apart from this minor detail, the weather was brilliant, all the way through to the end of the harvest in mid-October. I suppose that makes me well qualified to say, after watching the weather and tasting wines ‘En Primeur’ for ten years here, I have never witnessed such superb conditions for the harvest in Bordeaux and sampled so many outstanding young wines the following Spring. Many leading Châteaux have made their greatest ever wines, especially on the Left Bank.
That doesn’t mean to say you should buy the wines, if prices are too high. Fortunately, outside a relatively small circle of estates that could sell their 2009 production several times over regardless of price, there are many outstanding wines that are worth buying in 2009.
May 24th 2010, by Gavin
Updated 8th June. Look away now if you think wine and points don’t go. Here is a top down list of my (GQ) scores alongside those of US guru Robert Parker (RP) – both using the 100 point scale – and Jancis Robinson’s scores out of 20, plus my estimate of anticipated maturity. There are 130 90+ point wines in my book, with 90 meaning outstanding. I tasted all the top wines, except Château Ausone and a few garage/boutique wines from St-Emilion, and Le Gay and Le Bon Pasteur from Pomerol.
It’s fair to say that RP and I agree on many of the top dogs, only he’s given higher points, with a stash of potential 100s (in 2005, he awarded just two wines 100 pts). I think he’s slightly underrated the 2009s from Palmer and Pichon Baron but that’s splitting hairs.
December 10th 2009, by Gavin
Here’s a sobering thought at this time of year, especially if you’ve been drinking your stock of old Lafite. A report in the Guardian, entitled ‘How alternative investments have fared since 2000′, showed that the top wines from Bordeaux have been the best investment since 2000, ‘earning returns that far outstripped equities, gold and property.’
In short, the ‘Big Eight’ – Lafite, Latour, Margaux, Mouton, and Haut-Brion (the five First Growths from the Left Bank) along with Pétrus from Pomerol, and Cheval Blanc and Ausone from St-Emilion (all Right Bank), have all proved to be solid performers.
October 14th 2009, by Gavin
This post was also written for the Liv-Ex blog. The London International Vintners Exchange is the leading exchange for fine wine, and their site is a superb resource for knowing the value of top Bordeaux. They kindly asked me for ‘An Insider’s View‘ on 2009.
“Exceptional”. That’s the refrain at the leading châteaux in Bordeaux in 2009. Since mid-June, it has been warm, dry and sunny, and the glorious weather in the last ten days of September and the first week of October has allowed the top estates – on both Banks – to pick their Merlot and Cabernets in perfect condition.
September 5th 2008, by Gavin
One perk of being an accidental wine critic (for Wine & Spirit magazine) is that I get invited to taste some very good wines in lovely surroundings. This time it was a line-up of mature (or maturing) vintages of Premiers Grands Crus Classés from Saint Emilion in a private dining room at the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris. With the TGV taking just 3 hours from Bordeaux – and costing around €60 each way for a first class ‘IDTGV’ ticket booked over the web – it’s an easy and affordable day trip. The lunch was arranged by the Groupement de PGCCs de St-Emilion for a handful of wine writers from around the world to meet the owners of the 14 chåteaux involved. For me, there was the added advantage of catching up with people like Neal Martin (above right, chatting to Philippe Castéja of Château Trottevielle, with Nicolas Thienpont of Pavie Macquin looking on). Neal has had a meteoric rise to wine-writing stardom since his Wine-Journal website was merged into erobertparker.com a couple of years ago.
August 12th 2008, by Gavin
July was a great month for sunshine in Bordeaux and very little rain – much less than in 2007 and 2006. In fact, we’ve enjoyed lovely weather since mid-June, right up until yesterday at the start of what looks to be a rainy week. But in this corner of south west France, whenever there has been a build-up of heat over a prolonged period, a storm might follow; we’ve witnessed exciting bouts of thunder and lightning during the hottest periods in previous years. Usually, there’s no harm done, but if there’s a mix of strong winds and the much-dreaded hail, the results can be catastrophic. We were badly hit in June 2003 and it wasn’t pretty.
This time it was the turn of several unfortunate growers and Chateaux in Lussac Saint-Emilion, one of the satellite appellations to the north of the famous, medieval wine town. Hundreds of acres were hit, and some estates have lost all their crop for this year.
July 6th 2008, by Gavin
The long running saga concerning the re-classication of the top estates of St-Emilion took another twist this week when a court in Bordeaux ruled against the recently revised rankings. The whole affair has been widely reported, as in The Daily Telegraph, and by Sophie Kevany on decanter.com. Wikipedia’s current entry on this debacle is now right up-to-date and includes the useful, but now suspended, 2006 classification.
June 10th 2008, by Gavin
We’ve just spent a great weekend with some friends from Norfolk who rented our farmhouse. Dinner at the château on friday evening – local Agneau de Pauillac served with, er, Pauillac – was followed by two leisurely days on the Right and the Left Banks of Bordeaux.
On Saturday, Otto Rettenmaier showed us around his chai (winery) and his vineyard at Chåteau La Tour Figeac, right next door to Cheval Blanc in St-Emilion on the border with Pomerol. La Tour Figeac is one of the many up-and-coming estates in Saint Emilion making terrific wine at a fair price, and Otto is a very genial host. After a light lunch in the old town, and an opportunity in a restaurant to sniff what a ‘corked’ wine smells like, we drove around some top spots – Pavie, Ausone and so on – and then trod some of the hallowed ground around the plateau of Pomerol. The most eye-opening part is the 100-fold current price difference of wines from the 2005 vintage, between one vineyard and its next door neighbour – Pétrus and Gazin in Pomerol, with almost as much of a gap between Ausone 2005 and Belair 2005 on the hillside above St-Emilion.