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20 June 2014Barbaresco, Produttori del Barbaresco 2008

James Read

by James Read

I met up with a few friends in the wine trade last night to watch the England-Uruguay match and to drink a few good bottles of wine. As we all know, the match didn't go in our favour but fortunately, we had some delicious wines to console us. Of the wines we had, I would like to highlight one which really impressed me, the 2008 Barbaresco from Produttori del Barbaresco.

This was my offering to the evening as we have some in stock and I have never had a chance to try it. On first smell, pure aromas of red fruits and fresh herbs eminated from the glass. The palate had a firm structure but the amount of fruit hid the tannins well and the finish was both elegant and silky. I came back to it a little later and a decadent note of bitter/dark chocolate appeared which made the wine even more enticing. Needless to say, it went down very well with the group, all of us commenting on what great value it is at £19.50 on the table.

It was an evening of ups (the wines) and downs (the match) but an enjoyable one nonetheless.    

If you would like to order this wine, please find below a special offer: 

2008 Barbaresco, Produttori del Barbaresco – £170 In Bond per case (£160 for 3+ cases)

£19.46 per bottle inc. duty & VAT

'The Produttori's 2008 Barbaresco is simply fabulous. A sweet bouquet melds into expressive fruit in a Barbaresco that is exceptionally polished and refined. The 2008 boasts striking sweetness and inner perfume to match its understated, elegant personality. Quite frankly, the 2008 is very hard to resist today, as the tannins are quite polished. Unusually sweet, silky and refined, the 2008 will take the better part of a decade to show the full breadth of its pedigree. At $37, it is one of the very finest values in ageworthy wine from anywhere in the world. This is a magnificent showing from the Produttori and a great introduction to the 2008 harvest at this historic house. 91+ points.' Antonio Galloni, Vinous

 Categories: Blogs

14 May 20142004 White & Red Burgundy

James Read

by James Read

The 2004 vintage in Burgundy is a tale of two colours… Since they were first released, the reds have been largely derided and described mainly as light to medium-bodied with high acidity and lacking the fruit found in more generous vintages (and in the worst cases, having green, stalky flavours which totally overpower the fruit). The whites, however, were very much lauded and were described as being classic and pure with firm acidities and direct, mineral palates.

To see if this was truly the case, a group of eleven of us in the wine trade gathered last week to taste the wines with 10 years under their belt. We all provided at least one bottle of white and one bottle of red, assembling an impressive collection of the following 12 whites and 14 reds:

 

Whites

2004 Macon Verze, Domaine Leflaive

2004 Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru La Romanee, Fontaine-Gagnard

2004 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon, Domaine Leflaive

2004 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Perrières, Louis Carillon

2004 Puligny Montrachet Les Enseigneres, J-F. Coche-Dury

2004 Meursault Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir, Guy Roulot

2004 Meursault 1er Cru Poruzots, Francois Jobard

2004 Meursault 1er Cru Charmes, Domaines des Comtes Lafon

2004 Meursault 1er Cru Goutte d’Or, Domaine d’Auvenay

2004 Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet, Louis Carillon

2004 Batard-Montrachet, Marc Colin

2004 Corton Charlemagne, Louis Jadot

 

Reds

2004 Charmes Chambertin, Denis Bachelet

2004 Charmes Chambertin, Armand Rousseau

2004 Charmes Chambertin, Christian Serafin

2004 Charmes Chambertin, Domaine Dujac

2004 Griotte Chambertin, Laurent Ponsot

2004 Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques, Armand Rousseau

2004 Clos Vougeot, Hudelot-Noellat

2004 Clos Vougeot, Thibault Liger-Belair

2004 Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes, Laurent Ponsot

2004 Bonnes Mares, Nicolas Potel

2004 Bonnes Mares, Comtes de Vogue

2004 Musigny Vieilles Vignes, Comtes de Vogue

2004 Echezeaux, Jean Grivot

2004 Echezeaux, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti

 

Admittedly, these wines do not exactly constitute the full range of quality levels in Burgundy but instead they are made up of what should be some of the best examples of the vintage.

We tasted the wines in flights of two, made our notes and then briefly discussed each wine to see what everyone thought. In general, most of the group was in agreement about the overall quality and style of each wine but there were some very interesting disagreements about some of the wines, making for a very thought-provoking evening.

We started with the 2004 Macon Verze, Domaine Leflaive and the 2004 Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru La Romanee, Fontaine-Gagnard. Firstly, the Macon Verze showed caramel and spice notes and a refreshing yet slightly tired palate. Not bad for Leflaive’s first vintage of this wine but it was a little over the hill and displayed a slight bitterness on the finish. The Fontaine-Gagnard, however, was singing. Lovely peach and orange peel aromas eminated from the glass and the wine was forthright yet mouth-watering on the palate. A lovely glass of wine.

Next we had the 2004 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon, Domaine Leflaive and the 2004 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Perrières, Louis Carillon. On first smell, the Leflaive was overwhelmed by a struck match aroma, which was not entirely unpleasant, but then aromas of caramel and spice came through. I was not that impressed with it actually, describing the nose as heavy (which is what one does not want from a classic White Burgundy). The palate was similar in that it lacked a bit of zing and the finish had a bitter note. I feel this too was a bit over the hill. The Perrieres from Carillon was completely different in that it was fresh, showed citrus aromas on the nose and had refreshing acidity on the palate.This should all point to a very good White Burgundy indeed, except that it was, well…. boring. Everything in place but lacked real character.

We moved on to two wines from perhaps my two favourite growers in Burgundy, 2004 Puligny Montrachet Les Enseigneres, J-F. Coche-Dury and 2004 Meursault Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir, Guy Roulot. The Coche was absolutely classc, showing the tell-tale mineral and apple aromas common to his wines and lovely definition and structure on the direct palate. A very good wine indeed. We then moved on to the Roulot which was the first wine which really divided opinion. I and some others thought the nose had a strange, cheesy smell whilst others thought this was classic Roulot on form. There was no disagreement on the palate though, which had lovely texture and balance.

Both the 2004 Meursault 1er Cru Poruzots, Francois Jobard and 2004 Meursault 1er Cru Charmes, Domaines des Comtes Lafon were unfortunately a disappointment for different reasons. The Jobard was pretty awful. I thought it smelled and tasted more like White Rhone than White Burgundy and had an odd note of Coca-Cola on the nose, not something I generally look for in Chardonnay…. Needless to say, we moved on rapidly to the Charmes from Comtes Lafon, which was annoyingly corked. We were all very disappointed as Lafon wines have gained an unfortunate reputation for prematurely oxidising so we wanted to see if this was in good condition or not, but the cork taint was so strong that any attempt at trying to judge it was impossible.

The next pair were the 2004 Meursault 1er Cru Goutte d’Or, Domaine d’Auvenay and the 2004 Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet, Louis Carillon. They couldn’t have been more different. The d’Auvenay had an incredible nose of buttered popcorn with hints of spice and toffee. The palate was near-perfect with lovely texture, balance and richness. This was generally thought to be the white wine of the tasting with everyone raving about its individuality and outright quality. The Bienvenues from Carillon was very much like the Perrieres we had earlier in the tasting – all the constituent parts were there but it didn’t show proper Grand Cru quality nor did it prove to be a very interesting wine.

The final whites were the 2004 Batard-Montrachet, Marc Colin and 2004 Corton Charlemagne, Louis Jadot. I don’t know the wines of Marc Colin very well but this was a brilliant wine. The nose was very complex with notes of spice, flowers and white fruits. The palate was very broad and had a lovely balance. I will have to try some more of his wines in the future. We finished with the Corton Charlemagne from Jadot which was, sadly, oxidised. Jadot’s whites are known for prematurely oxidising and this showed all the attributes – total lack of fruit, sherried aromas and a sickly, dead palate.

Having finished tasting all the whites, we had a quick breather and moved on to the reds. We started with 2004 Charmes Chambertin, Denis Bachelet and 2004 Charmes Chambertin, Armand Rousseau. I wasn’t expecting great things from the Bachelet as the house style incorporates heavy extraction which produces dark colours and dark fruits. I thought this, combined with a light, green vintage like 2004, would produce a wine lacking in body and fruit. I was wrong. The nose bursted with ripe red and black fruits with herbal notes and the serious palate was very savoury with great texture and structure. A very good wine in any vintage. The Charmes from Rousseau which followed was completely different. Admittedly, it was more Charmes-esque with pretty, strawberry fruit on the nose and a very more-ish palate of soft red fruits but it didn’t have the seriousness or complexity of the Bachelet.

Two more Charmes to go with the 2004 Charmes Chambertin, Christian Serafin and 2004 Charmes Chambertin, Domaine Dujac. Neither of these really worked for me. The nose on the Serafin was OK (my exact note from the night…not exactly a ringing endorsement) with good ripeness for the vintage but the fruit was non-descript and simple. The palate was dry and short which I think can only come from Serafin not making allowances in the winery for the vintage (in other words, a producer has to change what he does in each vintage to ensure they get the best out of the grapes). In the case of 2004, less extraction, less oak and less intervention seemed to be the key to making better wines. The Dujac which followed suffered from exactly the same problem. Dujac used to regularly leave all the stems in the must which in a good to great vintage, give a certain structure and flavour to the wine. However, in a vintage like 2004 where the wines are already lacking fruit, it has given the wine a stalky, green, herbal nose with an overly acidic, bitter palate. It was pretty awful, actually.

Next we had the 2004 Griotte Chambertin, Laurent Ponsot and 2004 Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques, Armand Rousseau. In my humble opinion, I don’t believe Ponsot made very good wines between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s and this wine confirmed my beliefs… The nose was lacking fruit and showed simple, coffee notes and weirdly, I could actually smell the acidity. The palate was even worse with spiky acidity and a dirth of any interesting fruit. Not good. The Rousseau which followed brought a smile to my face. The Clos St Jacques had lively and pure red fruits on the nose and a charming and refreshing palate. It was a great example of what could have been produced in a vintage like 2004. It does not have the power of a 2005 or 2009 or the elegance of a 2008 or 2010, but it does have honest, pure flavours.

We then tasted the 2004 Clos Vougeot, Hudelot-Noellat and 2004 Clos Vougeot, Thibault Liger-Belair. I tried all the 2004s from Hudelot-Noellat en primeur and tried many of them again about three years ago and I was not a huge fan. They all had the same stalky, green characteristics of the vintage and the acidities were elevated to the point where it cancelled out the fruit. This was very different though – the green notes had disappeared and interesting spicy and gamey flavours had appeared. Very strange indeed. The palate has completely changed since I last tried this wine as well, showing pure red fruits and refreshing acidity. It is still a relatively light-bodied wine and I couldn’t describe it as being a blockbuster, but it had finesse and a great deal of charm. Next was the Clos Vougeot from Thibault Liger-Belair. This was similar to the Serafin in that the winemaker does not seem to have changed any techniques to suit the vintage. All this wine had was a weird note of bacon on the nose and high acidity and no fruit on the palate. Enough said, I think.

The 2004 Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes, Laurent Ponsot and 2004 Bonnes Mares, Nicolas Potel followed.  Like the Griotte from Ponsot tasted earlier, this was not a very good wine. In fact, they were so similar I could have used the same tasting note. The only real difference between the two wines is one is three times as expensive as the other. I feel I would be a tad disappointed if I bought either… The Bonnes Mares from Potel showed everything that is wrong with 2004 – vegetal aromas dominated the nose and the palate was clipped and acidic. A bad pair, I think it is safe to say….

And we moved swiftly on to the 2004 Bonnes Mares, Comtes de Vogue and 2004 Musigny Vieilles Vignes, Comtes de Vogue. There was some lively discussion before we even tried these wines about firstly, Bonnes Mares the appellation and secondly, the expectation that these wines were going to be in the normal mould of de Vogue wines (which is characterised by quite hard structures and sometimes, a lack of charm). One doyen of the wine industry declared to the group that Bonnes Mares was the least interesting Grand Cru in the Cote de Nuits and that he would be non-plussed if he never had another one again. His final question to the table was, ‘have any of you ever had a great Bonnes Mares ?’. Following this comment, we put nose to glass to find a relatively fine nose of red fruits but it didn’t unfortunately excite. The palate was similar and lacked fruit. Not a terrible wine but I think we all secretly agreed with our fellow taster’s earlier comments… The Musigny was altogether a different animal. The nose was very Chambolle with fragrant and pure red fruits and the palate was silky and fine. I will steal a fellow taster’s comment here and agree that the wine had real ‘energy’. This was a lovely wine with loads of charm and very different from my expectations.

We finished with 2004 Echezeaux, Jean Grivot and 2004 Echezeaux, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. And it was a very fine way to finish… I wasn’t totally with the group on the Grivot – we all agreed it had a ripe nose of red fruits and some complexity but I thought it was a little bitter on the finish which spoiled the palate. Most of the group didn’t notice the bitterness and thought the wine was well-structured and well-balanced. There was no disagreement on the next wine though…. The Echezeaux from DRC was excellent. The nose had gorgeous red fruits with the classic DRC note of Asian spice. The palate was round, well-balanced and finished with sweet fruit, a commodity not found in most of the other reds we tried. It is amazing how the DRC can make such fantastic wines in every vintage.

After some discussion and subsequent thought I have come up with a few conclusions: the whites were not as good as I thought they would be though they suffered less from premature oxidation than I had expected. The reds were generally better than I thought they would be and that most of them have somehow lost the green, vegetal notes of the vintage which I had noticed on previous encounters. However, one important thing to note is that Burgundy prices have risen considerably over the past few years and many of these wines sell for hundreds of pounds. As a result, save for the d’Auvenay and DRC, I would prefer to buy lesser wines from better vintages than better wines from 2004. This presented an interesting conundrum for me: I have always thought that the grower trumps the vintage in Burgundy. In other words, a great producer can make great wines in any vintage. I still generally adhere to this theory but 2004 has put some doubts in my mind – maybe when the vintage is this difficult, it is better to seek lesser wines from another, perhaps more generally expensive vintage, which will give more pleasure but which might not have as illustrious a name…

Many thanks to ML for organising such an interesting evening and to the group for providing such an array of wines and for adding so many inciteful and amusing comments! You learn a lot at evenings like these.

 Categories: BurgundyBlogsWine Tasting

10 May 2014An evening of interesting wines

James Read

by James Read

This is officially my first blog post…. I have never been much of a blogger as I come from the generation that narrowly missed the internet revolution. However, I thought I would finally put pen to paper (or keyboard to internet…) in the hope that I will be able to add some insight into wines and the wine trade and hopefully provide some interesting and entertaining stories along the way.   

As such, I thought I would use a very memorable dinner I attended a couple of weeks ago to start. A few wine trade colleagues and I met up to share some great food (lamb cooked sous vide for two days which was absolutely delicious) and 13 different wines. They were:

Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, JJ Prum 2007, Mosel, Germany

Meursault Grands Charrons, Boisson-Vadot 2009 (Magnum), Burgundy, France

Meursault, Boisson-Vadot 2007, Burgundy, France

Laville Haut Brion 1992, Bordeaux, France

Ducru Beaucaillou 1986, Bordeaux, France

Grand Puy Lacoste 1982, Bordeaux, France

Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, Clos des Papes 2003, Rhone, France

Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee, Pegau 1989, Rhone, France

Tertre Rotebeouf 1999, Bordeaux, France

Gazin 1982, Bordeaux, France

Dominus Estate 2001, Napa Valley, USA

Mr K Noble Man 2003, Central Valley, USA

Rieussec 1998, Bordeaux, France


 

An interesting selection to say the least! We kicked off with the Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, JJ Prum 2007 which showed lovely purity and lime fruit. Perfectly balanced and mouth-watering, it served as a good primer for the two excellent White Burgundies which followed. Firstly, we had the Meursault Grands Charrons, Boisson-Vadot 2009 from magnum. Boisson-Vadot has made quite a name for himself over the past few years by making delicious, serious Chardonnays from his multitude of lieux-dits and 1ers Crus in Meursault. I am not really a fan of 2009 White Burgundies as I feel they have a bit too much fat and not enough refreshing acidity, but as is usual in Burgundy, a top producer can defy the general style of a vintage. This was certainly an example of a wine which has retained freshness and purity in an otherwise difficult vintage for whites. We then moved on to the Meursault, Boisson-Vadot 2007which was drinking perfectly on the night. 2007 is a lovely white wine vintage in Burgundy and the wine had it all – subtle use of spicy oak, minerality, great balance and a very interesting nose which benefited from its age. Excellent.

We then adjourned to the table and opened the Laville Haut Brion 1992 which sadly had had its day. Mature Laville Haut Brion can be one of the most interesting white wines in the world – the combination of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc intermixed with oak can produce some stunning wines. Unfortunately, this was not to be on the night and the wine had completely oxidised.

With the whites over and the lamb served, we moved on to the reds. To begin, we poured the Ducru Beaucaillou 1986. This was a perfectly stored, ex-chateau bottle which showed its provenance. A very well made wine, it had classic St Julien flavours of dark cherries and blackcurrant with the usual hints of spice and smoke. I was not completely enamoured by this – an example of a very good wine with all the parts in place but unfortunately the sum of the parts was just a little dull.

Next we had the Grand Puy Lacoste 1982. I am unashamedly a huge fan of Grand Puy Lacoste and this lived up to all my expectations. It was nothing short of absolutely delicious. Everything one would want in Pauillac – dark brooding fruit and a full-bodied, ripe palate. I could have drunk this all night…

But alas, with the bottle finished, we moved on to the Chateauneuf du Papes. I will commence this paragraph by stating that as a rule, and contrary to most of the wine-drinking public, I don’t really like Grenache. In my opinion, it lacks purity and as it ages, the leather and spice take over and all fruit is lost. There are of course exceptions to this rule, notably Chateau Rayas, but in general, I don’t really buy wines made from Grenache unless they are cheap and cheerful like a good, young Cotes du Rhone. The first wine was Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, Clos des Papes 2003. This was awarded 97 points by Robert Parker and 98 points by Jeb Dunnock, the new Rhone critic for the Wine Advocate. They certainly tried something very different to us. The nose smelled of nail polish remover (a tell-tale sign of volatile acidity, a common problem in a vintage like 2003 where the pH and alcohol level are high making the wines unstable) and the wine was pretty much undrinkable. Rumour has it that there are two batches of this wine (due to two different bottling runs), one which is excellent and one which has completely fallen apart. Unfortunately, it seems we had the displeasure of having a bottle from the latter! The next wine, Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee, Domaine de Pegau 1989 was very good. Grenache the way it should be – hints of leather, spice, garrigue but importantly, it had ripe, juicy fruit on the palate and a normal alcohol level – something which is pretty rare nowadays.

We then moved on to Tertre Roteboeuf 1999, which was on impeccable form. Lovely, silky and ripe Merlot fruit dominated both the nose and palate. This was so easy to drink it was verging on dangerous. Francois Mitjavile makes great wines year in and year out and the 1999 was no exception.

Next we had Gazin 1982. Gazin is an odd Pomerol in that I find it usually lacks the hedonism and ripeness of most Pomerols but it does always show the breed that comes from proper terroir. Though it is a 1982, this was no blockbuster and I don’t think I would have placed it as a 1982 if I had had it blind. It tasted more like a 1988 to me – a classic Bordeaux vintage with refreshing acidity and good structure. A food wine, it went very well with the various cheeses which accompanied it.

We finished off the reds with Dominus Estate 2001. The reason we drank this was largely down to me – I argued that Dominus did not make great wines between 1994 and 2007 and this was vehemently refuted by pretty much everyone at the table. Fortunately, our host remembered he had a bottle of the 2001 in the cellar and promptly opened it in an effort to prove me wrong. When first opened, all I could smell was Bovril and not a hint of ripe Californian fruit. I quickly declared myself the winner of the argument but I had spoken to soon…. The wine started changing rapidly in the glass and within minutes it showed lovely dark red fruits and pencil lead on the nose. The palate was structured yet broad and had a lovely balance – a real mix of the New and Old World. It was delicious and I had to concede defeat...   

And then, the sweet wines. First we had the Mr K Noble Man 2003 which was excellent. This is made from botrytised Chardonnay which you don’t come across very often. A joint effort by Manfred Krankl (of Sine Qua Non, producer of some of the US’s greatest wines) and the late Alois Kracher (producer of some of the greatest sweet wines made anywhere in the world), it showed an unctuous, honeyed and caramel nose with a thick, oily textured palate. This is heady stuff with 278 grams per litre of sugar but it is balanced by good acidity which in my book makes for a very good sweet wine indeed. And finally Rieussec 1998. 1998 is not a particularly great Sauternes vintage but Rieussec always delivers rich and ripe honeyed fruit and this was no exception.

All in all, a very fun evening with great conversation, food and wines. One of the many perks of working in the wine trade is having evenings like this…. Thank you very much to EB for hosting and cooking, TM for organising and to all for providing some great wines. 

 Categories: BlogsWine Tasting

3 April 2014Bordeaux 2013: Why buy En Primeur?

Ben Grosvenor

by Ben Grosvenor

It was no pretty picture that had been painted before we headed out to Bordeaux to try the much maligned 2013 vintage earlier this week. The press have not been scared to jump on the usual band-wagon before any wine had even been tasted, reporting that 2013 was a tricky growing season for Bordeaux. A fact that, rather unusually, the majority of the Chateaux owners have not been afraid to admit to also.

 

'With this type of vintage, nature reminds you that she's the boss in the end, you know you won't make the vintage of the Century’ said Olivier Berrouet, head of winemaking and vineyards at Petrus.

While consultant Stephane Derenoncourt told Decanter.com 'It was a war against nature, and it's very difficult to win.'

Tasting at a Negociant

We must remember though, that at the time they were released, 2002 & 2007 were considered poor vintages. Now however, many respected critics are praising those vintages as a joy to drink. It could be another 10 years before the 2005’s are fulfilling their promise, while it is vintages like 2013 that will sooner rather than later provide pleasure. If 2013’s are released somewhere lower than 2011 & 2012, and the wine made our list (or your preferred critic’s list), then it will certainly be worth looking at. We should not judge a wine by its vintage, and that is an important thing to remember.

Even a poor vintage does not have to mean it will be a poor En Primeur campaign. Especially if the pricing is correct.

 

Where wine merchants have in recent years boasted up to 90% of their turnover coming from Bordeaux, a more recent picture shows that this figure is dropping fast, due to what is seen as insignificant price decreases on release. Rather than making money on the vintages of the century (2009 & 2010), those who were prepared to put their money in to a product that wouldn’t be physically available for a further 2 years, have actually lost money.

The ‘average vintages’ of 2011 & 2012 didn’t help much either, as pricing was cut, but not by nearly enough.

It would seem a pretty simple problem to solve right? Cut prices enough and the wine will sell. And when better a time to do that than in the average vintages, especially where quantities are lower and it will cost less to do so.

 

The 3 key reasons for buying En Primeur:

  • To obtain a better price for investing your money in a product that is not physically available another 2 years.
  • To obtain future allocations. (Particularly useful in vintages such as this, where demand will not be as great).
  • To get the formats you like (Halves; Magnums & Double Magnums etc.). 

The new barrel room (Chai) at Montrose

The truth is that for the private customer, En Primeur is an exciting time in the calendar – as it gives the consumer an opportunity to purchase the wines they want at a cut price, in return for their early investment. We, the UK wine trade, would love to be involved in the trading of Bordeaux. Traditionally the strongest & most revered of all wine producing regions, it is with great hope that the Chateaux in Bordeaux price this campaign to work.

A couple of releases already have hinted that the campaign may not go the way we would like, but it’s too early to call yet, and we remain hopeful of some prices that will make sense to the consumer to come back to Bordeaux En Primeur.

One thing that does need to be understood however is that as long as there are cheaper vintages readily available in bottle, more expensive Primeurs will not sell.

One of our favourites: Calon Segur

But, let’s not write off the 2013 Bordeaux campaign just yet. It’s difficult to call a particular region, or a left/ right bank vintage, every appellation has produced some lovely wines, just not very many of them. Some of the Chateaux may well surprise us with their pricing – there were some very good wines produced, and if you’re not bothered about which vintage is on the label, and you’re more concerned with the quality in the bottle – provided the prices are right, these would be our top picks:

Excellent

Margaux*

Calon Segur (& it’s cheaper stable mate, Capbern Gasqueton)

Cos d’Estournel

Pape Clement

Yquem

Domaine de Chevalier

Leoville Las-Cases*

Pavillon Rouge de Margaux

l’Eglise Clinet*

Grand Puy Lacoste

* Top 3

Very Good

Mouton Rothschild

Pontet Canet

Sociando Mallet

Leoville Barton

Langoa Barton

D’Issan

Rauzan Segla

Chapelle d’Ausone

Saint Pierre

Beychevelle

Domaine de Chevalier

Haut Batailley

Clinet

Conseillante

Montlandrie

Cruzelles

Petit l’Eglise

 

Of course, we haven’t tasted all of the wines that Bordeaux has to offer, and the above only applies to the top 150 or so Chateaux in Bordeaux. The remaining 90% of Chateaux will have found the vintage very difficult without the expensive harvesting teams and sorting equipment.

If you would like to be kept informed on any particular Chateaux during the campaign, please do let us know. Our regular updates will be going out throghout the course of the campaign: If you would prefer not to receive these, please do let us know.

 Categories: InvestmentBordeauxEn primeurBlogsValue

26 March 2014En Primeur 2013: Kick off

Ben Grosvenor

by Ben Grosvenor

An odd start to the 2013 En Primeur releases from Bordeaux, with one of their stars releasing well ahead of the rest.

We're due to head out there next week, along with the rest of the UK wine trade, to taste the wines. So, why couldn't they wait?


Pontet Canet have released their wine at the same price as last year, and told us that we cannot sell it for under £675 per case. No one's tasted it yet either.

We're offering the 2012 at £660 per case, and the 2007 at £500 per case. We have tasted the 2012 and loved it – in fact, we felt it was one of the best wines of the vintage, in our humble opinion, and also that of Neal Martin. The 2007 remains a great value Pontet Canet that's ready to be drunk now.

The 2013 could be stellar, it could be a 100 pointer, after all, Pontet Canet's bio-dynamic & meticulous vineyard management makes it very difficult for them to produce a bad wine. But, no one's tasted it yet – so our advice would be to hang on (at least until there's some idea as to the quality), and if you'd like some brilliant Pontet Canet, for now, take the 2012, or the 2007 which is ready to drink...

Pontet Canet 2013 – £675/ case (12x75) EP
£70 per bottle inc. duty & VAT

No tasting notes available

Pontet Canet 2012 – £660/ case (12x75) EP
£68.46 per bottle inc. duty & VAT
What is a primeur report without one of Pauillac’s most dynamic estate? I made the trip through the rain to taste their 2012. A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot and 30% Merlot, the latter was cropped from 4th October and the Cabernet Sauvignon from 11th October, finishing six days later. The 50% of the crop once aged in new oak and one-year old barrels are now matured in concrete vats whilst 35% of the crop is aged in clay amphora quarried from their own vineyard. There is certainly great purity and terroir expression on the nose: blackberry, briary and background scents of fresh raspberry and cold stone. The definition is very impressive. The palate is interesting – quite different from the previous vintages. I love the tannins here – very fine but lending the Pontet-Canet great backbone It is utterly harmonious but I feel more understated, perhaps more controlled than recent vintages. The finish is much more introspective – a Pauillac politely informing you to go away and wait before bottling before making any judgement! This is a divine Pontet Canet – very succinct.
94-96 Points, Neal Martin
91-94 Points, Robert Parker


Pontet Canet 2007 – £500/ case (12x75) IB
£52.46 per bottle, inc duty & VAT
Tasted at Bordeaux Index’s Pontet-Canet dinner at The Ledbury. The 2007 continues to be a great Pauillac considering the vintage. Here the nose closed at first back opens up nicely with blackberry and graphite, less of the Margaux element that I noticed a few months ago. The palate has volume so atypical for the vintage with soft caressing tannins and a very harmonious blackcurrant, mulberry and vanilla tinged finish.
93 Points, Neal Martin
91-94 Points, Robert Parker


Offered subject to remaining unsold.

2013 shipping spring 2016;
2012 shipping spring 2015;
2007 shipping 3-4 weeks.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts

 Categories: InvestmentBordeauxEn primeurBlogsValue

18 March 2014Fear not: This is not Bordeaux 2009 & 2010

Ben Grosvenor

by Ben Grosvenor

Pricing in Bordeaux is often one of the most delicate of subjects. Especially now more than ever before, as prices continue to plummet, burning those that sought to invest in the ‘life-changing’ vintages of 2009 & 2010.

 

The Liv-Ex Fine Wine 50 Index showing the last 6 months

 

The prices will come around again, and those prepared to hold long enough will certainly see an upside. Prior to the unprecedented number of 100 point scores Parker gave out in the 2009 vintage, the best priced 100 pointer you could have picked up, in red Bordeaux, would have been Pavie 2000, which at the time the 2009 Bordeaux scores were released, was trading at around £4,000 per case of 12 bottles. It now trades slightly over this at £4,500, which isn’t too bad considering it has since also been promoted to the same status as Ausone and Cheval Blanc.

So, relatively speaking, that 100 point Second Growth at £2,000 looks pretty well priced. Or, it will do, at some point.

Until then though, what should we be looking at? We’ve been to Italy with Super-Tuscans, and we’ve pushed Burgundy prices through to the next level too. Champagne? Perhaps, but again, prices are on the up, and the wines don’t really satisfy a palate hell bent on some good old Cabernet.

 

It’s an old idea, nothing original about it. But, the secret is in identifying the specifics.

Older Bordeaux.

 

 

We all want to drink that 2009 Beausejour Duffau Lagarosse. It scores 100 points. The only other Beausejour with the same score and drinking now, the 1990, will cost you about £800 per bottle on the table. The 2009 around £320 per bottle.

But, do we really need a Parker 100 pointer? I know we’d like one, but is it necessary for our enjoyment of a bottle. Arguably, we’re still being fickle in seeking the label anyway – do we really need the perfect score too? Isn’t 9 out of 10 good enough? (One can convert 90 points to 9 out of 10 right?)

For the price of one bottle of the 2009, you could have an entire case of the 2004. The Beausejour Duffau 2004 still scores an impressive 90 points from Parker.

At £39 per bottle on the table for the 2004, compared to £320 per bottle for the younger, less approachable 2009 – is there any doubt as to which we should be snapping up as soon as possible, before everyone missing their Bordeaux fix cottons on?

Other such examples are listed below, and we advise you to fill your boots. And then buy more boots, and fill those too.

All prices below are inclusive of duty & VAT, and available in cases of 12 bottles.

Beausejour Duffau

2009 – £320/ bottle – 100 Points

2004 – £39/ bottle – 90 Points

Cos d’Estournel

2009 – £215/ bottle – 100 Points

2006 – £85/ bottle – 94 Points

Vieux Chateau Certan

2009 – £210/ bottle – 99 Points

2004 – £90/ bottle – 93+ Points

Clinet

2009 – £250/ bottle – 100 Points

2001 – £72/ bottle – 90 Points

Haut Bailly

2009 – £100/ bottle – 98+ Points

2008 – £58/ bottle – 96 Points

 

If you’d like to secure any of the above, or discuss others, please do get in touch –

We can be reached on 020 8 339 9112, or info@dittonwinetraders.co.uk

 

 Categories: InvestmentBordeauxEn primeurBlogsValue

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