Ditton Wine Traders’ fine wine blog
20/11 Dinner with Ducru-Beaucaillou • 04/12 Jancis Robinson – Top Holiday Wines • 18/03 Fear not: This is not Bordeaux 2009 & 2010 • 26/03 En Primeur 2013: Kick off • 03/04 Bordeaux 2013: Why buy En Primeur?
3 April 2014Bordeaux 2013: Why buy En Primeur?
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:
Calon Segur (& it’s cheaper stable mate, Capbern Gasqueton)
Domaine de Chevalier
Pavillon Rouge de Margaux
Grand Puy Lacoste
* Top 3
Domaine de Chevalier
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.
26 March 2014En Primeur 2013: Kick off
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
18 March 2014Fear not: This is not Bordeaux 2009 & 2010
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.
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.
2009 – £320/ bottle – 100 Points
2004 – £39/ bottle – 90 Points
2009 – £215/ bottle – 100 Points
2006 – £85/ bottle – 94 Points
Vieux Chateau Certan
2009 – £210/ bottle – 99 Points
2004 – £90/ bottle – 93+ Points
2009 – £250/ bottle – 100 Points
2001 – £72/ bottle – 90 Points
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
4 December 2013Jancis Robinson – Top Holiday Wines
by Ben Grosvenor
For those that don’t read the FT on a weekend, we thought we’d share the good news with you! And for those that do, no harm in repeating it.
During December, Jancis Robinson is writing about her top tips for Christmas drinking. It just so happens that one of our favourite fizzes made it on to her list over the weekend – ‘Le Moulin,’ Blanquette de Limoux by Domaine J Laurens.
This is a bottle of bubbles many of our customers are very familiar with, as we continue to spread the gospel of our favourite wines. We do still have bottles in stock, and ready to reach you in more than enough time to feature on your Christmas list – but we advise you to act quickly! Our next shipment from France will not arrive until the New Year…
All prices below are inclusive of duty & VAT.
Le Moulin, Blanquette de Limoux – £12.08 per bottle
Nice bit of development. Very fresh and really quite special for the money. Quite delicate on the palate. Good Value.
16/ 20, Jancis Robinson
As well as writing up the Blanquette, Jancis has had a few compliments for some of our other wines – including the wines of Domaine Janotsbos. Please see below for her notes on our wines featured in her Autumn Collection. The Chateau Verdignan 1998 is worth a look too – a truly exceptional value in mature Bordeaux!
Bourgogne Blanc 2010 – £14.40 per bottle (available in 12’s)
Grower based in Meursault. Very pale indeed. Fresh and clean.
15/ 20. Drink to 2014, JR
Bourgogne Rouge 2010 – £14.40 per bottle (available in 12’s)
Very pale ruby indeed. Light and fresh – really delightfully gentle and refreshing. Very pure and direct. Good Value
16/ 20. Drink to 2014, JR
Chassagne-Montrachet 2010 – £30 per bottle (available in 6’s)
Very pale gold. Light scent of wet stones. Clean, very lightly honeyed. Fairly evolved for a 2010 white – so it could be quite useful? Not especially intense but very nicely balanced. Not a bad price for white burgundy fans. Light to medium bodied and pleasantly chalky.
16/ 20. Drink to 2016, JR
Meursault 2010 – £28.20 per bottle (available in 6’s)
Herby nose. Quite light – not that intense. Gentle and already quite evolved.
16/ 20. Drink to 2016, JR
St-Aubin Premier Cru En Créot 2010 – £25.40 per bottle (available in 6’s)
Quite rich and buttery – almost Meursault! Decent enough for the money though a tad pinched on the finish.
15.5/ 20. Drink to 2017, JR
Other wines available in time for Christmas
Chateau Capbern Gasqueton 2009, St-Estephe – £16.40 per bottle (available in 6’s)
Blackish ruby. Solid and dense. Classic combo of the austerity of St-Estèphe and the ripeness of 2009. Good stuff! Good Value.
17/ 20. Drink to 2023, JR
Chateau Verdignan 1998, Cru Bourgeois Haut-Medoc – £11.60 per bottle (available in 6’s)
Good price for this maturity! Dark crimson with a pale rim. Attractive lift. Sleek fruit and nicely evolved. Firm and savoury but an excellent price. Very Good Value.
16/ 20. Drink to 2016, JR
If you'd like any of these lovely wines on your table this Christmas – do let us know by calling us on 020 8 339 9112, or by emailing email@example.com
20 November 2013Dinner with Ducru-Beaucaillou
by Ben Grosvenor
A week ago this Wednesday eve, some of Ditton Wine Traders’ customers met with Bruno Borie of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, at the Vintners Hall, the original home of the English wine trade.
The evening started upstairs in the drawing room with a few glasses of an excellent Blanquette de Limoux – the other Limoux, not the Cremant, made predominantly from a grape that rarely graces the flutes of the UK, Mauzac. Produced by Domaine J Laurens, this wine recently scooped a Silver at the Decanter World Wine Awards, scored half a point lower than the Dom Perignon 2003 with Jancis Robinson, and had our guests asking which Champagne house it was. For £12 a bottle, that’s not too shabby.
Ducru-Beaucaillou is one of Bordeaux’s best loved Chateaux, and Bruno, one of Bordeaux’s most loved characters. On the left bank of the Gironde estuary, the estate was classified as a second growth in the 1855 classification, but in recent years has been producing wines which vie in quality with the First Growths.
Decanting in the basement at Vintners
After a glass or two of bubbles, waiting in the dining room for us were glasses of Lalande Borie 2010 and Croix de Beaucaillou 2005, served alongside chicken & duck liver pate. The Lalande Borie was super fresh and needed a minute to open up, but when it did, it showed better than most estate’s efforts at a second wine. Red fruit, medium bodied, and a cracking acidity!
The second wine, Croix de Beaucaillou, for which the grapes could be used in the Grand Vin (M. Borie feels strongly enough about the individual characteristics of the wine to give it its own place), got people talking. Had this been served blind, there’s a good chance it may have been mistaken for the Ducru itself. So good, one of our guests asked if they could buy it all, literally. All the nuances of its noble sibling, but drinking excellently now. Both of these wines warrant a place in any Ducru lover’s cellar.
As the evening progressed, we were happier to discuss with Bruno what we liked and didn’t like – fortunately there wasn’t a lot we didn’t! With the main course of grouse, we had the 1986, 2000 and 2004 Ducru Beaucaillou. Not too many an opinion was divided here – the 2000 stood out and reminded us why Parker sometimes refers to this estate as the “Lafite Rothschild of St-Julien.”
“It’s about the Cailloux,” – the stones that make up the soils of Ducru, “that add to the ‘minerality’ of the wines” added M. Borie. So important are these stones, that he sought out the daughter of one of the original Stones, in Jade Jagger, to design the label for the Croix de Beaucaillou from 2009 onwards.
The 1986, which had taken a bit of a bashing prior to our dinner, from those that had tried it in the past, was not showing 27 years of age. It might lack the complexity and balance of the later wines but it has held up remarkably well and still shows lots of dark fruit with no sign of this fading any time soon. Very good balance, and some great tannins – this is a big bold Ducru.
The 2004, perhaps under-rated in my opinion, showed great promise. Difficult to fully get to grips with now, this is a wine to stick away for a few more years. Redder fruits, ‘minerality,’and a lovely herby/ flowery complexity – this is only lacking in balance which should come in time, and will really reward those that can wait.
Seated for dinner
“For the English…” stated Bruno, for the 2000… This is what it’s all about. This is what makes you choose Ducru Beaucaillou as one of your desert island wines. All sorts of fruit here, red, black and blue, plus a few others that I can’t place. Almost text book perfection, but quirky enough to make it better than that. Chocolate & coffee, a hint of sweet smoke, this has it all, and will only get better with another 2-3 years as the tannins settle. If you ever fall out of love with Bordeaux, this should help to repair the damage.
Another successful evening at the Vintners concluded: Bruno’s first presentation of his wines in the UK; a deeper understanding of how the property works, especially since Bruno took over in 2003; and a reminder that Ducru-Beaucaillou is up there with the best Chateaux in Bordeaux.
Thanks to all of our guests for joining us for this special evening; Raphael & Sophia, Giles at the Independent Vintner, and of course, Bruno Borie of Ducru Beaucaillou.
All of the wines from the evening are available to purchase – please email us firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 020 8 339 9112
19 November 2013Mouton Label News: Guy de Rougemont
by Ben Grosvenor
With a recent history of being able to start a market rally with their wine label releases, especially after the Chateau announced Chinaman Xu Lei would design their 2008 label, today’s news of Mouton Rothschild’s ‘art-work’ for the 2011 vintage has fallen somewhat short in terms of excitement generated.
French painter & sculptor, Guy de Rougemont, joins the list of artists to design the label for the Chateau, a tradition started in 1945.
The last Frenchman to produce a label for the château was Bernar Venet, who designed the 2007 label. Last year’s artist, Jeff Koons, has been more heavily involved with the design around bottles and labels in recent months, producing the ‘balloons’ design for Dom Perignon earlier this year.
A member of the Academy des Beaux Arts, Guy de Rougemont’s work encompasses “the clarity of vines in sunshine to the darkness of the cellars – all the stages of the birth of a great wine,” according to the Chateau.
His previous works & achievements have included the courtyard at the front of the Musée d’Orsay, as well as much admired modern furniture designs.
‘Guy de Rougemont is an old friend of mine,’ Chateau owner Baroness de Rothschild told decanter.com. ‘We first met when I was 18 years old, and I have followed his career ever since.’
One of the stars of the 2011 vintage, and a wine Parker has described as “significantly more powerful, rich and textured than… Lafite Rothschild,” the Mouton Rothschild 2011 is currently trading at £3,800 per 12 bottles under bond.
For more information on Mouton Rothschild, please see our feature on Mouton here.