by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-04-17
A secret of the greatest wines of the world is their balance of glucose and juicy fruit, offset with a certain amount of balancing natural acidity. Perception of sweetness is affected by additional factors beyond fruit acidity, such as oak barrels and amino acids.
The French have a word for a sweet-fruited, succulent mid-palate – sucrosité.
Even the most classic palates enjoy wines that show a crunchy sucrosité. Cross the line in a hot vintage though, and that perfect pitch sweetness turns sugary.
So what are the challenges behind trying to preserve the all-important mid palate character and aromatic profile in a vintage that’s the hottest in more than 50 years?
Feel vs numbers
Extreme climatic conditions challenged the current winemaking playbook by numbers. We suspect looking at the numbers alone to decide perfect phenolic maturity this year will not have worked as well as trusting in human judgement based on daily tasting of berries from across the myriad plots that make up a typical Château’s vineyard holdings.
In 2016 Figeac’s stunning success was in part down to an ultra-gentle infusion to minimise extraction. It was a year, like 2018, where polyphenals (tannins and colorants referred to as 'IPT' for short) were huge and needed gentle handling. Combine high IPT numbers with high alcohols and the potential to create an out-of-balance wine increases.
High sugar levels in super-ripe fruit can be a worry in a vintage like 2018. Fermentations are prone to stall where high sugar levels feed rapidly rising alcohol levels. In many instances stuck fermentations can be kick-started by tipping in musts from other vats where the fermentation has already successfully completed. But there’s no getting away from the atypical character of the resulting wine. Of course extra sweetness can be offset with acidification in the cellar - permitted in Bordeaux as elsewhere.
To the manor born
It’s a year where terroir appears to have played a significant part in cutting the grade. However unfair this may seem, the best soils and expositions tended to deliver the best wines. A bit like a heat sink regulates and dissipates excessive temperatures, somehow so do the greatest vineyards.
As reported by Jane Anson in Decanter, Eric Kohler put it like this: 'even after 25 years of working at Lafite I continue to be full of admiration for this terroir. Other plots that we own reacted to the heat at times, but Lafite just kept sailing on as usual'.
One lump please
Away from top terroir, there were a lot of sugary mid-palates in 2018. You either enjoy the extra sweetness or you don’t. We’ll be avoiding the wines with more than one lump.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-04-08
Much has been said of the hot, drought conditions of 2018 from July onwards and the consequent high alcohols, higher than normal pHs and high polyphenols (colorants and tannins) that resulted in dense, rich, darkly coloured wines.
A warming planet we are told is likely to get warmer and wetter – in which case the sort of challenges posed by the weather in 2018 are likely to become a more common occurrence. Might whole bunch fermentation be a rational response to these increasingly extreme conditions?
Whole bunch fermentation is a bit of a nouveauté in Bordeaux, practised by producers with a leaning towards Burgundy style and weight.
There are a number of arguments in favour of whole bunch:
Stems act as a sponge in fermentation and leach colour out of the wine by absorbing some of the colorants. In a really hot Bordeaux vintage such as 2018 this helps make the wine’s robe less black and more attractive.
Stems in a very hot vintage are more likely to be fully lignified and a higher percentage can be used without imparting unripe flavours into the wine.
Stems give a perception of greater freshness, apparently because of additional molecules that have ‘attractively astringent properties’. In reality they don’t actually lower the pH; they tend to do the opposite since the pH of stems is higher than in grapes.
Stems marginally lower alcohol levels in the finished wine.
Two estates in Bordeaux stand out for their practise of vendanges entières:
Chateau Rouget in Pomerol is owned by Domaines Labruyère who famously own Jacques Prieur in Burgundy. The wine was exceptional, very rich yet beautifully balanced, a gorgeously controlled mid-palate and with alcohols of 14 degrees (low for 2018 given a 85% merlot dominant blend) and with a pH score of 3.62. That’s low for the vintage, where other Chateaux were boasting about how low their pHs were at 3.65-3.69. Small differences in pH can make a very significant perceived difference.
Chateau Carmes Haut Brion appears to also be a fan of Burgundian weight and style, and have used whole bunch for the last few vintages very successfully, having produced a shockingly good 2017. In a much hotter year than any of the preceding 4 vintages how would it fare? Very well, with a perfumed nose, croquant fruit, stacked for sure, yet with real presence and poise fin de bouche.
In our view both these Chateaux produced wonderful wines in 2018, and insomuch make an argument for how whole bunch can work well in a hot vintage where balance and constraint are the watchwords, and where finesse and focus are much harder to achieve than in a more normal, temperate year.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-04-08
Given the climatic conditions of the Bordeaux 2018 vintage described in an earlier post here – what impact did this have on the wines produced?
The new chai in Beychevelle which was used for the first time in 2016 and which helped to manage the 2018 vintage.
©Fabian Cobb / Wine Owners
The generic statistics fail to reveal the arduous nature of the vintage for the vine growers and whilst the widespread difficulties left their imprint on the wines the essentially dry and hot summer which lasted through to the autumn brought a phenolic ripeness to the fruit and permitted the chateaux to harvest in conditions almost unseen for decades.
The three main issues in the Bordeaux 2018 vintage:
Devastating phenomena such as hail which continued late into the year
Mildew – a threat which persisted until early summer
Drought-like conditions in the summer and autumn
Hail, as large as tennis balls, arrived in Bordeaux in May. The devastation it wrought on some vineyards was total and some estates will produce no wine from this vintage. Others were luckier although it reduced their crop. Some vines, incredibly, although struck by hail, managed to repair themselves. For one estate this was only the third time in 30 years hail had struck the vineyards – not an easy phenomenon to manage.
Given the persistent rain the mildew was extensive in Bordeaux in 2018. The warm almost tropical weather in June followed by further outbreaks in July brought huge casualties across Bordeaux. This was a year of firsts. Managers had rarely if ever seen such extensive ground rot and one estate in Margaux lost two-thirds of their crop overnight. This reduced the remaining crop to one bunch per vine. A common way for estates to deal with the threat of mildew is to de-leaf the vine permitting air to circulate and dry out the plant. However, the canopy might be needed later (as it turned out) and if this effeuillage was too drastic the consequences would be felt later on. Maintaining a canopy might also help to maintain the freshness and fruit. As it turned out, the second half of the year needed to use the resources (water) of the first part. Without this water it would have been a very different vintage.
Once the anti-cyclone established itself over the region the grapes matured with a richness unseen before. This in itself meant additional care at harvest time. One estate manager commented that the change in conditions from the end of July to when people returned from their holidays in August was ‘spectacular’. Something he ‘had never witnessed in the 25 years or working on the estate’. Not only that but the meteorological forecast was ‘extraordinary’ – and was fulfilled.
Given the replenishment of the water table the remaining harvestable crop was of outstanding quality. Merlot berries were normal size because their growth cycle coincided more with the presence of water in the soil but the Cabernet Sauvignon were small and concentrated – but not ‘cooked’ nor ‘confit’.
Some estates might produce normal or near-normal yields but 20-30% less was common, 50% not uncommon, with some reduced to 10hl/ha - a volume not seen since the 60s.
Judging maturity is probably the most important factor to produce a good wine. Undoubtedly, given the richness of the grapes this was going to be another area of distinction for the various estates – when to harvest? Ironically, some estates decided to harvest early to preserve acidity (one source of freshness). But it’s not clear this was a functional objective. As one technical manager told us, ‘some estates near them were harvesting 10 days earlier than them, when normally they would be harvesting a week later. Clearly, a disparity in vision. When the harvest did come in, there were still summer conditions and, if they could, estates cooled the fruit down before it was processed. Realising the grapes were rich, extraction would need to be managed ‘almost by itself’. Reducing the temperature of fermentation was a more common technique along with less pigeage or remontage, for example, and other techniques often employed to extract more. This helped to preserve the fruit and freshness. Tannins dissolve more in higher alcohol solutions - extracting the polyphenols wasn’t going to be a problem in 2018. Some estates had the highest IPT (Indice de Polyphénols Totaux) of any year on record.
The successful red wines from the Bordeaux 2018 vintage (and there are a lot less of those than expected) are dense, deep coloured almost opaque in cases. The benchmark 2018 nose is red fruit driven with some chocolate and coffee aromas. The pallet is full and round, and the tannins have the potential to be silky. Surprisingly, the wines have maintained a degree of freshness. The wines are structured with unusual body. It is a good year for the dry whites which have preserved good acidity and are perfectly ripe. The sweet whites are concentrated and rich but lack the complexity of really good years due to the late arrival of botrytis – it was simply too dry.
A model of the new chais currently underway at Chateau Figeac
©Fabian Cobb / Wine Owners
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-04-08
To compare with the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux visit our post 2016 vintage conditions
Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron – 2eme cru classe ©Fabian Cobb / Wine Owners
Looking over the weather stats for the Bordeaux 2018 vintage one is struck by several positive features and, unfortunately, a couple which are likely to cause some difficulties for winemakers. There are certain key weather conditions which the vine needs to perform well. Bearing in mind, always, that generic weather data does not focus on an individual terroir and the way it might cope with the weather nor does it reveal winemakers’ attitudes and decisions.
Bearing in mind the chart above, there are 5 essential conditions for a good vintage:
A calm, warm and relatively dry period in the Spring to permit healthy flowering and
similar conditions for fruit set a little later;
Gradual introduction of dry summer conditions to induce hydric stress no later than veraison (when the grapes change colour)
Warm weather for even maturation with adequately dry (but not too dry) conditions in August and September, and
Optimum harvest conditions in September and October without rain.
Looking at the chart above one can see that many of these conditions appear to have been met except that although cumulative precipitation was beneficial in the first few months, the wet conditions in June and July plus the warm weather encouraged the onset of aggressive mildiou which provided very difficult conditions for many and particularly estates managed on biodynamic principles. It was an unusually sunny and dry summer fulfilling the criteria for a good vintage although a hail storm in late May affected a few properties in the Medoc. The resulting long period of hot and dry conditions might be referred to as a ‘drought’ – it hardly rained at all for 4 months. The year which had started late for vine development reversed itself and it became an ‘early’ vintage – a rare enough occurrence in Bordeaux.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-04-05
Weather-wise the 2018 growing season was a game of two halves; the first half was excessively wet and was followed by a hot drought through to harvest.
As well as the drought, mildew pressure affected the left bank and Graves, in some cases wiping out 60-80% of the potential crop. The right bank fared better on this front as the clay soils had the upper hand on fighting the drought due to higher levels of water retention.
Merlot was always most likely to be affected by the vintage’s heat, with some properties seeing alcohols rise quickly through fermentation, topping out at 15-16 degrees. Because of this it is assumed that this is a left bank vintage. But merlot came in with the highest alcohols off warmer gravel beds of the left bank than it did on the predominantly cooler clay soils of the right bank.
2018 has produced a singular vintage and one of the most heterogeneous we have tasted en primeur. Estates that tamed the heat, sugar, pHs and tannins resulted in bold expressive wines with massive aging potential, the very best of which may well become legends. Concentration was the word most employed by scribes.
Maybe more than ever, it’s a year where terroir appears to have played a significant part in cutting the grade. However unfair this may seem, the best soils and expositions tended to deliver the best wines and the 1855 classification played out well. As such it’s a year in which Petrus, the First Growths and the best bit of the St. Emilion plateau (Canon, Cheval Blanc, Clos Fourtet) all excelled.
As usual, there were plenty of superlatives being thrown around; Monsieur Tesseron of Pontet Canet claimed “this is clearly the best modern day vintage we have produced, better than ’16 which was better than ’10”. There is little doubt there will be some huge scores from the naturally ebullient.
There are also great disappointments and plenty to avoid. Margaux, Graves and St. Estephe were probably the most inconsistent appellations whilst the others all had their ups and downs.
It’s a hot vintage with big, bold and powerful wines: an absolute joy for some palates but maybe just too much for others. We look forward to the in-bottle tastings but in the meantime let us wait, with bated breath, for the prices!
Top picks by appellation followed by the ‘ones for the notebook’ wines:
St. Estephe: Cos d’Estournel, Montrose, Lafon Rochet
Pauillac: Grand Puy Lacoste, Lafite, Latour, Pedesclaux, Pichon Baron
St. Julien: Branaire Ducru, Gruaud Larose, Lagrange, Leoville Barton, Leoville Las Cases, Talbot
Margaux: Malescot St. Exupery, Margaux, Pavilion Rouge, Rauzan Segla
Graves: Carmes Haut Brion, Clarence de Haut Brion, Domaine de Chevalier, Haut Bailly
St. Emilion: Canon, Cheval Blanc, Clos Fourtet, Petit Cheval, Quinault L’Enclos, Villemaurine
Pomerol: Gazin, Rouget, Petrus, Vieux Chateau Certan
And ‘ones for the notebook’ (good value and/or under the radar): Chantegrive, Chateau de Pez, Croizet-Bages, La Dominique, Lagrange, Langoa Barton, Monbrison, Segla
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-03-25
Vieux Chateau Certan 2011
Neal Martin Score: 96-98
Price: £1,300 per 12
Vieux Chateau Certan (VCC) needs very little introduction and in recent years it has been shooting the lights out. Its reputation as a superstar is confirmed yet it still seems to be going from strength to strength. This is clearly attributable to the stewardship of the popular and modest Alexandre Thienpont. The last ten vintages have averaged a score of 96 – that is remarkable in itself.
We have identified the 2011 as an excellent opportunity to achieve exposure to this magnificent estate at a really attractive price level (only the disastrous 2013 vintage is cheaper).
There is a reason for the cheap price, it was a difficult vintage and Mr. Parker scored the wine with a paltry 91 points. We think he’s got it wrong – and so do many others. Neal Martin scores it 96-98, James Suckling and Tim Atkin 96 and James Lawther MW 19. Recent price performance would suggest the market disagrees with him too, the price rising by nearly 40% in the last three years:
The 2009 and 2010 vintages Parker scored 99 points and were presumably a bit more in keeping with his tastes. These vintages contained no Cabernet Franc, even though the vineyards are planted 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2011 contains 29% Cabernet Franc and as Neal Martin comments “this is more what I consider to be a classic VCC nose, unlike those previous vintages that gives you everything up front, this is far more intellectual and enigmatic”.
This chart uses only Neal Martin’s scores – if you believe in the critic, the data does the rest of the talking for you:
2011 was not a great vintage and suffered as it came behind the overpriced blockbusters of ’09 and ’10. En primeur was not working and to add to the woe, this also coincided with the ‘Great Wall of China Corruption Clampdown’ meaning the market was already in an unusual state of flux. The positive spin here is all of this has helped bring about this opportunity, as today’s price is only a little above the original release price.
Pomerol is widely regarded as the appellation of the vintage. VCC ’11 has been described by some as wine of the vintage and by others as wine of the right bank. Either way, a slice of VCC with a great future for a little more than £100 a bottle has plenty of upside potential - please refer back to the prices above of the ‘09, ‘10, and ’16.
Neal Martin’s tasting note from the Wine Advocate:
The Vieux Chateau Certan was cropped between 6th and 7th of September and from 14th until 20th September. That's what you'll read everywhere, although I was filming Alexandre when he was picking the final Cabernet around the 29th September! Cropped at 37hl/ha, it is a blend of 70% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon and (yay!) 29% Cabernet Franc. It delivers 13.6 degrees alcohol with a total acidity of 3.5gms/L and an IPT of 83. After the Cabernet Francless 2009 and 2010, this is more what I consider to be a classic VCC nose and as Alexandre, unlike those previous vintages that gives you everything up front, this is far more intellectual and enigmatic with hints of mineral laden fruit, limestone and small dark cherries. It is beautifully defined yet distant. The palate is succinctly balanced with crisp acidity, exceptional balance and superb backbone. There is an undercurrent of masculinity, a saline tincture, crushed stone and a touch of dried herbs and yet these are just fleeting hints. It has enormous length and it is one of the very few that could be on the same ethereal plateau as the 2009 and 2010 and perhaps one day...even better. Tasted April 2012.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-02-28
Following recent ’10 years on’ tastings, one held at Bordeaux Index whilst the ‘Southwold group’ met at Farr Vintners, there have been various write ups, reports and blogs appearing. Jane Anson’s write up in Decanter can be found here, Farr Vintner’s Chairman Stephen Browett’s blog here and the mighty Joss Fowler on Vinolent here.
The initial reaction from the time, which can so often can be over-hyped, has now been confirmed (which is nice) – this really is ‘a vintage of the century’! Most people view it alongside the famous 2005 vintage in terms of overall quality although the ’05 is regarded as a rather more grown up vintage with the ’09 being a more confident and flamboyant younger sibling. In due course and following years of maturation, they will both have to overcome 2010 and 2016 for the absolute title and neither of these two are going to be pushed over lightly. As well as being exceptional, 2009 was a consistent vintage and did well on the left and right although it has now showed a tad disappointingly in Sauternes, certainly when compared to earlier indications.
The following wines have been mentioned in more than one dispatch from respected commentators so have made it into this condensed list of really top picks, with market price scores (MPS) and relative value scores (RVS) to follow:
St. Emilion: Ausone, Canon, Cheval Blanc and Pavie
Pomerol: Le Pin, Petrus, Le Gay
Pessac-Leognan: Haut Brion, La Mission Haut Brion, Fieuzal, Smith Haut Lafitte and Pape Clement
Margaux: Margaux, Palmer, Rauzan Segla (and 2nd wine Segla), Issan
St. Julien: Ducru Beaucaillou, Leoville Poyferré, St. Pierre (big surprise)
Pauillac: Latour (strong claims for WotV), Lafite, Mouton, Grand Puy Lacoste, The Pichons and Pontet Canet
St. Estephe: Montrose, Lafon Rochet, Les Ormes de Pez
Medoc: Cantemerle, Bernadotte
Broken into comparable peer groups, starting with the stratospheric right bank set:
The first growths are still below their release prices and continue to underperform both the WO150 index (not surprisingly, given Burgundy’s ascent) and the WO Bordeaux Index. They will outperform at some stage, but we don’t think it is yet judging by the supply side of the equation.
Generally speaking, a relative value score (RVS) in double figures for a first growth signals a buy, so nothing doing here.
And now on to the arguably more interesting second liners. It is interesting to note that they have not suffered from the over-priced releases (compounded by some crazy speculation shortly after) in the same way as the first growths and have performed much better in the secondary market as a result, many generating decent returns.
A lot of these wines have pleased the critics and are punching way above their £££ weight. Look how the relative value scores reach double figures and soar. A score of over 20 for this group should cause a loud bark of approval.
And now on to the real cheapies, which will make for exceptionally lovely wines at really attractive prices, mainly for the drinker but with some likely upside on the prices of the posher names to be enjoyed too!
A special mention should go to Grand Puy Lacoste (RVS 37.6), a Grand Vin from grand appellation (Pauillac) from a lovely branch of grand Bordeaux family. The wine came in first equal with Pichon Baron (21.3) and not that far behind Latour (4.3)! it even looks cheap in this ‘lowly group’ here!
We have covered the ‘marmite’ wine that is Cos d’Estournel ’09 here and have come down on the side of the .
You can argue the case to buy any of the wines listed in this post, given the quality of the vintage, but here is the Strong Buy list:
Croix de Beaucaillou
For drinkers and investors alike:
Grand Puy Lacoste
And if money is no object:
Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Le Pin and Petrus
Latour, Haut Brion and Margaux
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-02-19
Price: £32,000 per 12
WO average score: 97
Robert Parker: 98
Neal Martin: 98+
There is a compelling case to be made for Petrus ’98. Petrus is Petrus and trades in a rarefied right bank bracket, with the only other occupant being Le Pin. Their following is immense, with prices to match yet these have now been sustained for decades. These are properly premium wines.
’98 was very much a right bank vintage and only 2,400 cases of Petrus were produced compared the normal 4,000. The wine is now approaching its prime and satisfies the most important of current investment criteria, namely scarcity, in spades.
Some of Neal Martin’s (admittedly more exuberant) notes:
"The 1998 Petrus is the best Right Bank of the decade and here, against the 2000 and 2001, there is no contest. The aromatics are a masterclass of control and precision, yet it is also one of the most intense bouquets that has ever been produced at the estate. This is a "complete" Petrus that is magnificent in every department."
It makes one wonder why it has not been accredited the full 100 points but maybe Neal has reverted to being more conservative in his scoring having left WA? Parker and Robinson are equally effusive about the wine at various points over the course of its development, but Martin’s notes are by far the most recent. The slightly ridiculous premium that the 2000 vintage enjoys means that Petrus ’00 currently trades at £45,000 per 12. It is interesting to note that since the summer of last year the ’98 has begun to outperform the ’00 and both the WO150 Index and the WO Bordeaux Index. We think this is set to continue.
The tasting notes and the scarcity together with the more regular analysis of MPS (market price versus score) and RVS (relative value score), as viewed in the charts above and below, further the investment case.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-02-12
Cos d’Estournel 2009
Robert Parker: 100
Lisa Perrotti-Brown: 100
Neal Martin: 91
Jancis Robinson: 16.5,17,17.5
Price: £2,400 per 12
The crux of the matter here appears to be the U.S. of A. versus the U. of K. Big Bob wades in with the magic three digits (100 points) whilst Mr. Martin offers a much more modest 91 points. Our very own Mr. Martin’s words on this wine are not fit to publish. L. P-B. doffs her cap to her superior with another magic number whilst Jancis sways in a middle sort of division, yet she correctly describes it as famously controversial. So, it’s fair to say: the jury is out!
The early intelligence (thanks go to Bordeaux Index) and the biggest story from their last week’s ten years on tasting is that Cos was the big disappointment (Chateau Margaux was the star performer). Looking at the chart below there appears to be a huge amount more potential downside than upside, the ’09 being more expensive than anything in its peer group and what is the score?? Everyone seems to like the ’16, especially Mr. Martin, not best known and normally associated with magic numbers but attributing it to this vintage with gusto! Likewise, the ’10, not perfection but very highly rated. Both trading at close to £1,700 per 12- without the controversy.
The 2009 price has substantially underperformed the Wine Owners Bordeaux Index, perhaps because it has always split the camps:
RP: One of the greatest young wines I have ever tasted, the monumental 2009 Cos d’Estournel has lived up to its pre-bottling potential. The wine hits the palate with extraordinary purity, balance and intensity as well as perfect equilibrium, and a seamless integration of tannin, acidity, wood and alcohol. An iconic wine as well as a remarkable achievement, it is the greatest Cos d’Estournel ever produced.
LP-B: Wow—the full-bodied palate bursts with powerful, hedonic black fruit preserves and spices, completely coating the mouth with decadent fruits that are perfectly framed by very firm yet very ripe, grainy tannins and bold freshness, finishing with a veritable firework display of floral, spice and red fruit notes. Just stunning.
NM: It is glossy, dare I say almost “slutty”. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannins on the entry. There is good weight and volume to this wine, the Merlot more expressive than elsewhere with a lovely rich, decadent, weighty finish that is a hedonistic treat, but chooses not to translate the terroir of this great property. I prefer the 2010!
JR (a selection gleaned from 3 different notes): A youthful wine still dominated by tannins. First-growth structure. Bone dry. Classic-issimo. Went downhill in the glass however. Exotic but overdone. Alcohol intrudes. Awkward tasting experience. The tannins stick out. This continues to be a difficult wine. Famously controversial wine, one of the latest picked. Hugely ripe on the nose with a streak of very astringent dryness on the end. Scrubbing brush effect. A very extreme wine that strikes me as pretty brutal at the moment. Doesn't follow through; just stops on the palate rather than delivering any lingering finish. But it may all come together eventually...?
Recommendation: Sell ’09 and switch into the far less controversial vintages ’00, ’05, ’10 or ’16.
Relative value chart with other highly rated vintages of Cos d’Estournel:
Haut Brion has always been referred to the connoisseur’s choice amongst the upper echelon and indeed it averages the highest scores across multiple vintages within its peer group. Yet strangely, and more often than not, it trades at a discount to its peers.
Looking at this Relative Value Score the 2006 (£3,500 per 12) stands out but good investment rationale can be argued for the ’90, ’95, ’96, and ’01 also.
The case for the ’90 (£8,900) is that it is currently trading at its widest ever discount to its chart-topping sibling of ’89 (£25,000) and the scarcity force is strong!
1995 (£4,300) because it’s getting on a bit now, is not that challenging in price terms and is drinking very nicely, as personally witnessed at Thanksgiving.
Last week the ’96 (£4,200), in my view a better wine than the ‘95, gave an effortless history lesson in classicism and has a long and charming life ahead. It was allowed five hours in the decanter which was richly rewarded and is a stupendous wine albeit not so overtly fruit driven as Mouton ’96, but that wine is £1,000 more per case at a similar rating level.
The ’01 is £3,700, so very low for a first growth and has been drinking well for some time. Its relative value score above 8 makes it look interesting.
The giants of ’05, ’09 and ’10 are exactly that and deserve to trade in another price bracket altogether. This commentator’s view, however, is that’s where they will stay for the time being and price performance in the short to medium term will evade them, as it has done in recent times:
Buy: Haut Brion ’90, ’95, ’96, ’01 and ‘06
Sell: Haut Brion ’05, ’09 and ‘10
Haut Brion 2000 will be included in a separate post.
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