Shock news torpedoes St Emilion classification system?

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2021-07-11


Will Cheval Blanc and Ausone no longer be Grand Cru Classé ‘A’ as from the 2021 vintage?

If so, it won’t be because of the Commission de Classement. The closing of the Saint-Emilion classification applications took place on June 30 and neither Cheval Blanc nor Ausone returned their copies.

Unlike the left bank classification system of 1855 that is pretty much immutable (with the exception of Mouton’s promotion to Premier Cru in 1973), the St Emilion classification is reviewed approximately once every 10 years, permitting a periodic revaluation of quality and performance. It’s not all been plain sailing; the 2006 reclassification was plagued by accusations of impropriety and was eventually annulled. Consequently, tastings conducted for the 2012 reclassification were outsourced to independent groups from across France to rehabilitate the process.

Cheval Blanc and Ausone, the first St Emilion producers to be awarded Classé A classification in 1954 when it was created, are effectively leaving the classification system.

The Classé A incumbents evidently concluded that the system is no longer sufficiently discriminating to reflect the ranking of their respective properties compared to their peers.

This bombshell threatens to undermine the kudos and financial benefits of promotion to Classé A, and in turn the market pricing potential of those that are elevated. Not to mention it raises questions of the credibility of the St Emilion classification system more broadly.

So what does the two colossus’s departure say about the process of decennial review? How does this reflect on the composition and process of the Commission de Classement?

Is Grand Cru Classé A about to lose its lustre; devalued by ambitious properties busy erecting glitzy edifices? Concrete and stone, some say, matter more than they ought to compared to the brilliance of the wines and their track record.

Or, is Classé A promotion a reflection of the qualitative transformation we see taking place in St Emilion - given the strongly weighted preconditions of a sustained track record of exceptional results and market recognition - and therefore are not elevations thoroughly deserved?

Let’s see what happens over the coming weeks. Can Cheval Blanc and Ausone be courted back into the fold, or is their departure (by omission of submission) a fait accompli? Assuming the latter, perhaps we'll see more promotions next year than we might have otherwise. What effect this all has economically on those producers who attain Classé A classification is now more uncertain than ever.


Italian values

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2021-06-30


As mentioned in our recent and well received offer of the incredibly well priced Montepeloso Eneo 2010 (there are a few left), we promised a closer look into the relative value of Italian wines. I know I have been banging on about Italy for quite a while now but there is every reason for it – there is some terrific value to be had, and so on will I bang!

The facts are that there are only a handful of Italian wines that trade at, what we are going to call here, ‘silly money’ compared to vast swathes of wines from their rather posher neighbour - namely La Belle France. It is true that the same can be said for Spain, and for most of the New World. The U.S. is an exception, as like France, it has many an offering at ‘silly money’. But for my pound, I say sweepingly, these regions do not offer such a vast variety of quality wines that appeal in quite the same way (I should qualify at this point I am really talking about top quality red wines).

What Italy offers, unlike everywhere else, is a multitude of wines at relatively affordable prices with absolutely massive ratings. There are two variables here, the prices and the ratings; the simplest explanation for the comparatively lower pricing is that Italian wines have not yet been recognised, and accordingly priced, as truly international brands. Put another way, Asia has not got to grips with it yet. Other than a few ‘Super Tuscans’ and the top labels from the likes of Giacomo Conterno, Bruno Giacosa and Gaja from Piedmont, very little starts life close to £100 a bottle. There have been half a dozen EP releases every day last week from Bordeaux that qualify for that prize! In Burgundy a hefty percentage of premier crus start there and for some more sought-after growers, your £100 only buys you a taste of a lowly village wine.

The ratings are, rather obviously, dished out by the critics. It is worth remembering that each region is scored on its merits in a peer group fashion. The wines, as are the vintages, are reviewed in the context of that individual region or vintage. What has happened, however, is that tones have been set for different areas which do seem to vary from each other. Burgundy, for example, tends to harbour rather conservative scoring where anything over 95 is a massive achievement. Prices for these trophies are also massive. It is different in Italy. There are countless Brunelli with huge scores and even people in the trade ask, ‘how come there are so many 100 pointers we’ve never heard of’?

A possible explanation is that the bar has been set so high, and for so long, by the likes of DRC and Rousseau that a mere premier cru from someone like Dujac or Roumier is only worthy of 90/91 points. So, perhaps a cleaner canvas for the critics to assess has led to some more generous brushstrokes? Or perhaps it is a more generational thing; France has long been understood, consumed, and pontificated upon by the old guard, who might not quite understand the Italian way? An old friend of mine, an experienced wine merchant recently said to me “I don’t really get Italian wine” (Burgundy and Sauternes are more his bag!) and then confused me further by saying “except I couldn’t possibly eat Italian food without Italian wine”. I understand exactly what he means with the latter statement (but not the first), and this goes from pizza level all the way to Piazza Duomo, a three star Michelin in Alba – quite good by the way! Either way, some of the scores in recent times and particularly for the amazing ’16 vintage, in all of Italy, and the ’15 vintage in Tuscany, have drawn truly flamboyant landscapes from the young masters – and for not many Lira either!

The other thing to remember is that the critics live and die by their reputations, so if they are going to award high nineties or even the magical triple digits, you know the wines are going to be very good indeed – within the context of their peer group.

Obviously, we would love to hear from you to discuss the opportunities further and there will be offers to follow based on this theme. In the meantime, you may want to engage with the ‘Advanced Search’ button or take in some of these names which spring to mind:

Piedmont: Alessandria, Cavallotto, Grasso, Sandrone, Scavino, Vajra

Tuscany: Fontodi, Fuligni, Grattamacco, Il Poggione, Isole e Olena, Pertimali, Montepeloso

Ciao for now! Miles 07798 732 543



Producer Spotlight - Fratelli Alessandria

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2021-06-17


Luke MacWilliam, June 2021

It is well documented that Piedmont is attracting more attention than ever before and activity in the secondary market has become increasingly frequent. 

Comparisons can be drawn between Burgundy and Piedmont in terms of quality and scale (no politically motivated 1855 classification here). Your regional Nebbiolo or Barbera (Langhe, d’Alba etc) equate to a Bourgogne rouge, your straight Barolo to a village cru and then your single vineyards to Premier Cru Burgundy. The most lauded single vineyards from the best producers can mix it with the Grand Cru big boys!  Pay particular attention to Cannubi, Bussia, Brunate and Rocche dell’Annunziata and Monvigliero.

One producer I’d like to place under our spotlight is Fratelli Alessandria. A 150 year old estate, Fratellis Alessandria  has 30 acres to its name, and produce a portfolio of wines from “simple” Langhe Nebbiolo right up the Premier and Grand cru equivalents in San Lorenzo, Gramolere and Monvigliero.

Wine Owners


Last January - following a trip to Piedmont our very own Miles Davis noted the following:

Wine OwnersThe same week, I attended a Monvigliero focused Barolo tasting at 67 Pall Mall and was blown away by the ethereal elegance, approachability and precision of Fratelli Alessandra’s wines (Diego Morra, Roset and Sordi also shone, but I’ll leave those for another day). Don't mistake “youthful approachability” as “lack of ageability” - it’s still Nebbiolo we are talking about - the structure is there to go 20-30 years. The killer combination of approachability, ageability and affordability is exactly why any self-respecting wine lover should buy into them, you can enjoy the evolution for years to come without getting involved in bonkers Burgundy money (yet). 

Fratelli Alessandria are moving forwards, and as demand increases for quality Barolo so are prices of the top crus and top vintages (investment anyone?) but on relative value terms they are still an absolute steal. 

Take their regular Barolo 2016. £175 + comms IB per 6 and earning a whopping 96pts from Monica Larner. Could you imagine such a write up for a village burgundy?

'The 2016 Barolo opens to tight elegance and a nervous quality that pits red fruit energy over lean fruit weight. The results are graceful, lithe, fragile and lasting. The wine's aromas unfolded slowly and seductively, revealing wild berry, cassis, bitter cherry, toasted almond and blue flower. This is a dreamy wine that promises more beauty as it continues its bottle evolution. An ample 20,000 bottles were produced. This is one of the very best values found anywhere in Barolo.' 96pts, Monica Larner, Wine Advocate

It doesn’t stop there, moving up to Gramolere 2013 (premier cru equivalent) at £215 + comms IB per 6.

'This is a wine of beauty and intensity. The Gramolere cru in Monforte d'Alba is distinguished by the focused and sharp nature of its aromas. The 2013 Barolo Gramolere is a textbook expression of the cru, with deeply delineated aromas of wild berry, rose hip, rosemary sprig and licorice. The mouthfeel is silky and smooth with good structure and firmness to add to that sense of purity and sharpness. The wine's profound depth is what stands out most.' 94pts, Monica Larner, Wine Advocate

And finally to Monvigliero:

'The 2010 Barolo Monvigliero shows a pretty degree of color salutation with brilliant garnet and ruby highlights. The bouquet is broad and wide-sweeping with a healthy succession of red berry, sweet almond, stone fruit, medicinal herb and crushed mineral. Fruit thrives from 220 to 280 meters above sea level with full southern exposures facing La Morra. They own 1.5 hectares of the 20-hectare single vineyard. Fratelli Alessandria keeps its Barolo in oak casks for three years, instead of two. The wine shows light spice notes with distant touches of dark fruit. The tannins are silky and long. The wine is amazingly expressive now, but promises great aging potential. Drink: 2017-2033.' 95ptsMonica Larner, Wine Advocate

From a relative value perspective, scores are high across the board. 2010 and 13 are the vintages that have begun to move upwards in price, 2016 has rocketed too. Value can be found in 11, 12, 14 and 15 where quality remains consistent.


Wine OwnersP.S For the adventurous out there - seek out their Pelaverga Speziale for something utterly different. Pelaverga is a local variety made almost exclusively around Verduno. My notes start with “Wow. Weird.  So floral….not like anything I’ve tasted before” and my attention was grabbed immediately.

A historic producer who embraces tradition and local identity, but also strives to improve and improve in a changing world ticks all the boxes for me. 


Bordeaux en primeur 2020 release prices

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2021-06-02


Wednesday 9th June

ST PIERRE

Recent vintages are on the sweet side of the middle, a modern but balanced take on St Julien. If it was a Savile Row suit it would be more Richard James than Huntsman.

Price and points

Relative value

GLORIA

A Chateau I’m quite familiar with going back to the early 80s, since my stepmother was called Gloria. 2009 pips it with a big RECENT score from Jancis and a decade’s worth of storage under its belt, making the £9 premium per bottle worthwhile.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

LA GAFFELIERE

Up and coming. If you missed out on the smart pricing of Figeac in the period 2012-2014 before it took off, then this just might be the next right banker from grand terroir to buy into at similarly attractive pricing for the quality.

There’s little point in going back in time further than 2018 given the recent transformation. Although 2020 is a full 20% up on 2019’s release price, that won’t be the last of the hikes over the next 5 vintages or so. Meantime the secondary market price of 2019 has shot up 20% since release, so the 2020 release price is equivalent.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Tuesday 8th June

CLERC MILON

Price and points

Relative value analysis


Other critic ratings:

The Wine Advocate: 92-94

James Suckling:  95-96


CANTENAC BROWN

A 3rd Growth Margaux that is on the rise and attracting some big scores.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Now, just for giggles, let’s compare this up-and-coming 3rd Growth Margaux with another ambitious 3rd Growth, to the south of Margaux, and which therefore finds itself an outcast of the better-known appellations, dumped into the lower-priced catch-all that is the Haut-Médoc (even if it’s not very Haut-up-the- Médoc).

La Lagune is biodynamic (hence no 2018 due to rampant mildew).

Price and points

Relative value analysis

I shall let you take your pick.


Other critic ratings:

James Suckling:  96-97

Vinous, Antonio Galloni: 94-97

Vinous, Neal Martin: 94-96


BRANAIRE DUCRU

With a 17 point score, Branaire Ducru 2020 does shoot to the right. Given the inconclusive scoring schism, which way to go? If offered at the equivalent of £25/ bt vs release price of £31, that would certainly encourage.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

The Wine Advocate: 91-93+

Decanter: 93

James Suckling: 93-94


GRAND PUY LACOSTE

GPL epitomises the current challenge with EP. Beautiful wine, and 9% less money than the 2010 release, which has barely budged since its first release. If - like me - you bought 2010 GPL and dutifully stored it for the best part of a decade then it feels even less sensible. My total cost of ownership being £760 a dozen and current replacement price being £710. In fact it’s a little embarrassing, not in terms of my impeccable good taste, but the evident idiocy of subsidising ownership over that period of time by not far off 10%. Not to mention the opportunity cost of not being able to doing something useful with that money, such as dinner for one at 67 Pall Mall or filling up the tank… Lovely wine but for heaven’s sake just buy 2009 or 2010 from people like me, start pouring, and get to feel smug.

GPL 2020 is 21% up on 2019’s release price of £45/ bt. That does feel like worthwhile value and the chart agrees.

Price and points

Relative market value

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 95-97

Decanter: 95

James Suckling: 96-97


Monday 7th June

FERRIERE AND HAUT BAGES LIBERAL

I do have a bit of a soft spot for HBL as 1988 was one of the more accessible bottles that helped me to fall in love with claret in the early 90s. Since then it’s come on leaps and bounds, along with the Lurton & Villiers portfolio (that also includes the historically underperforming but recently transformed ‘jewel in the crown’ Dufort-Vivens Margaux 2nd Growth). The reason for shoving these first two together is that I thought HBL was rather good this year, and rather more appealing with its finely woven tannins than La Ferriere. More importantly so did James Lawther. By the way the character of Durfort Vivens stands head and shoulders above HBL, as it should for the money, but bear in mind that in the half point difference between the two lies a chasm in class. In turn I didn’t think 2020 Durfort Vivens is in quite the same category as the extraordinarily deep yet tremendously balanced 2018 borne of tiny yields (as a result of losses to mildew). We’ll analyse Durfort Vivens separately when it is released. If this year’s 15% hike of HBL is anything to go by, I’d guess a release price of around £45/ bottle. The analysis reveals the relative value represented by the slightly less expensive HBL comparative to its sibling.

Price and points

Relative Value analysis

Other critic ratings FERRIERE:

Vinous: 94-96

Decanter: 93

James Suckling: 95-96


Other critic ratings HAUT BAGES LIBERAL:

Vinous: 93-95

James Suckling: 95-96


CAMENSAC

Camensac 2019 can still be had for £16-17 a bottle. Camensac 2020 is a little over £20 per bottle, so 2020 is at a £40 per 12x75cl premium to the cheapest secondary market offers, or a 20% hike.

LE GAY and LA VIOLETTE

Last vintage of La Violette I tasted was 2015 and was definitely violetty in the same way that Beychevelle is this year, turned up to full throttle. Hedonistic, modern, compotty, but La Violette has been performing well in the secondary market as it only makes 400 cases a year, and there is a market for their style, even if it’s not mine (or yours). La Violette 2020 is up 9% on last year, and at £240/ bt it’s pretty clear with whom they would like to be compared - ie a couple of Pomerol properties that make 400-600 cases per year each, notwithstanding they’re a full-on stylistic alternative.


Friday 4th June

CLOS DE MARQUIS

Price and points

Relative value analysis


Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 91-93+

Decanter: 92

The Wine Advocate: 93-95


MEYNEY

My enthusiasm for Meyney was reignited with their fabulous 2016 (in particular). It was so gorgeous I’m including it in the analysis here. But it’s hard to see how you could go very wrong with 2020 at £20/ bt. Or the 2015 or 2016 for that matter…

Price and points

Relative value analysis


Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 91-93

Decanter: 93

James Suckling: 93-94


MALARTIC LAGRAVIERE ROUGE

Although 2015 is vying with 2020 in the value for money stakes, I’d give the nod to 2020 since the vines are not the oldest and the wines are getting finer.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 94-96

The Wine Advocate: 920

Decanter: 94

James Suckling: 94-95


GRAND PUY DUCASSE

Some excitement here within the merchant/ retail community, due to an improving estate, with prices that reflect historical underperformance of a Classified Growth.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Decanter: 90

James Suckling: 94-95


Thursday 3rd June

PEDESCLAUX

A property that’s benefitted from significant architectural investments, not to mention a state of the art winery and the same consultant who also visits upon the 3 Pauillac First Growths. 2020 is the first vintage that’s certified organic.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Decanter: 93

James Suckling: 95-96


GAZIN

This is becoming a bit of a pattern. 9% up on 2019. And for the first time ever no Cab Franc. 2015 on the other hand was and is a full, sweet mouthful with a classic finish, tasted numerous times over the years. But because it’s Gazin, and it would be non-U to make claret too sweet, it is a wine that thrives on an edge of restraint.

Price and points:

Relative value analysis:

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 94

Decanter: 94

James Suckling: 96-97


LASCOMBES

Same price as last year’s release. If you were in for Lascombes, why wouldn’t you buy into the marvellously magical Margaux year of 2015?

Price and points

Relative value analysis:

CHEVALIER ROUGE

Third vintage in a row where the Merlot ABV was high as in the whole of Pessac, offset by the lower alcohols in Cab Sauv. Excellent as 2020 is, 2018 impressed all the critics and garnered a high 18 points from Jancis.

Price and points

Relative value analysis:

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 95-97

Wine Advocate: 95-97+

Decanter: 95

James Suckling 96-97


CHEVALIER BLANC

“weightier and richer than most previous vintages” says Jancis.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings


Wednesday 2nd June

BEYCHEVELLE

Out first thing Wednesday 2nd June.

In the new Uber-polished style. This year it’s all violets and “mulberry perfume”. It’s so overt it’s almost like walking onto the ground floor at Harrods, minus the mink. Violets for your furs. My 21 yr old youngest daughter commented “ooh, I like that, it’s sweet”!

“Silky tannins and marked freshness. Neat and the opposite of opulent” concludes Jancis.

Yet another wine where 2019 still stands out as rather better value relative to its younger sibling. 9% up on last year’s release price. With the releases yesterday in mind, is this now the trend for 2020? Will that lend further support to 2019s?

Price per points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

James Suckling: 94-95

The Wine Advocate: 94-96

Decanter: 94

James Lawther: 95-97

Vinous: 94-96


CANON LA GAFFELIERE

9% up on 2019 release and with offers in the market at or very close to last year’s release price it’s hard to see any advantage that 2020 might have.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

James Suckling: 95-96

Decanter: 94

Neal Martin: 93-95

Vinous: 94-96+


Tuesday 1st June

LAGRANGE ST JULIEN

A wine that consistently outperforms its peers as demonstrated time and again at ‘blind’ lunches and dinners organised by Matthieu Bordes. The wine seems to have stepped up a gear too with the superb duo of 2015 and 2016. The great thing about Lagrange is it’s never flash nor obvious, but with time impresses with its purity and depth. That doesn’t mean it’s a must buy at EP necessarily, and the excellent 2019 remains a fair bit cheaper in the secondary market. They think they’ve made something pretty special in 2020 which is why the release price is up by 19%. My guess is 2020 will stick around at this price for a couple of years. I’ll still argue that if you don’t have any Lagrange in your cellar yet, a vintage like 2016 is a worthy addition that will repay cellaring, and can be had at the same price as 2020.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

The Wine Advocate: 94-96

Decanter: 93 

Vinous: 93-94


D’ARMAILHAC

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

The Wine Advocate: 93-94

Decanter: 93

Vinous: 92-94


Saturday 29th May

LATOUR MARTILLAC - RED and WHITE

Let’s start with a good value WHITE that will be trickier to find in the secondary market and has been well received this year.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

On the other hand the red wine isn’t the best of buys.

RED


Price and points

Relative value analysis

Friday 28th May

LA LAGUNE

Last year La Lagune 2019 stood out as a great buy. Not only was it very well priced, but none was made in 2018 as a result of the fully biodynamic vines having been decimated by mildew. Unlike Dufort Vivens and Palmer, 2 biodynamic estates which salvaged a measly 10% of their crop in 2018 (and made monumental wines), La Lagune was a total wipe out. 2019 is the most successful vintage since going fully dynamic in 2016. 2020 appears to be a notch below, and 9% above the 2019 release. 2019 can still be had, as of today, at its opening price. I doubt it will stay at that level beyond late autumn, and is clearly the one to buy. The terroir is capable of producing long-lived classic claret with breeding. A bottle of 1975 opened in 2018 was fully on song.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

DU TERTRE

Low yields of 25 hl/ha, less rain in Margaux than higher up the Medoc peninsular, and an evident classism to the sample. Julia’s a fan, and clearly no lipstick’s been applied. Sounds like proper claret to me, and the charts suggest another sub-£30 a bottle Classified Growth (5th) that looks like excellent value.

Price and points

Relative value analysis


Other critic ratings:

James Suckling: 94-95

Decanter: 93


GRAND CORBIN DESPAGNE

If I’m right in estimating UK release price of £21.50 per bottle from the French market release of €24.80, then it potentially edges the success of 2018. Secondary market prices over the last 5 years have been relatively static i.e. in line with this release price. Let me know if anyone has received a UK offer of this release and if so at what price.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

GRAND MAYNE

A quarter Cab Franc in the blend. Effectively priced though a tad higher than 2019. Some strong scores across the critics will lend support.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Thursday 27st May

CANTEMERLE

Steady pricing and a dependable ‘club claret’. The '19 edges it for value as rated half a point higher.

Price and points

Relative value analysis


Other critic ratings:

James Suckling: 93-94

Decanter: 93


MONTLANDRIE

It would appear that Noémie Durantou is successfully slipstreaming father Denis and continues the good work. As a reminder this is from the L’Eglise Clinet stable which also includes Les Cruzelles, La Chenade, and Saintayme. These are well made wines and generally represent great value year in year out, but here are the charts in any case. Interestingly it would appear that all the 2019 has disappeared off the market in the last month.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

The Wine Advocate: 92-94

Decanter: 93


Wednesday 26st May

BERLIQUET

Under the exquisitely designed Chanel umbrella the quality here is being pushed ever higher, as are the prices. A premium to existing vintages is being asked for in light of this. This estate is likely to follow the way of Canon and Rauzan Segla.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

James Suckling: 95-96

The Wine Advocate: 94-96

Decanter: 93


PRIEURÉ-LICHINE

Consistent scoring from this Chateau over the last few years but a slightly lower price in ’19 makes that vintage slightly better value.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

James Suckling: 95-96


MARQUIS DE TERME

It’s Margaux morning, the appellation, not the Chateau. Marquis de Terme is more volatile on points scoring but pricing is consistent, making the ‘18 vintage appear much the better value of recent releases.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

James Suckling94-95

The Wine Advocate: 90-92

Decanter: 92-94


KIRWAN

Kirwan is consistent in both scores and pricing, making it a photo finish on relative value analysis charts. Will there be a steward’s enquiry?

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

James Suckling: 94-95

The Wine Advocate91-93+

Decanter: 92-94


Saturday 22nd May

GRAND-PONTET

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 91-93


LA LAGUNE

La Lagune is a Chateau known for fair pricing but the graphs point to more value to be found from the ’19 vintage. Family Frey continue their good work however.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 91-93

The Wine Advocate: 92-94

Decanter: 93

James Suckling: 93-94


Friday 21st May

AROMES DE PAVIE

I remain a bit unconvinced by second wines outside of the First Growths when they are priced at this sort of level. I was fine paying £375/ 6 for Pavillon Rouge 2014 en primeur which seemed very good value for the quality, but the same sort of money for the second wine of Pavie does not do it for me, especially when there’s no obvious financial advantage to buying as a future. So I’d say wait. In 3-4 years’ time you’ll be wealthier too if I understand you are a student :slight_smile: and it’ll be available not far off release price.

If I was compelled to buy a well-priced 2020 St Emilion now for drinking pleasure, as a preference, I would not hesitate to instead go for La Gaffeliere, an up-and-coming producer from great terroir (Grand Cru Classé B) next to Ausone. It’s not the flashiest St Emilion - the style is rather Burgundian and it wouldn’t stand out at a trade event - but tasting a cask sample of 2020 over the course of 2 days was quite interesting. Fresh, relatively delicate but with a multi-layered palate, moderately fine grained but definitely insistent structure and with a properly dry finish. I’d stump up £42 a bottle for this any day over £60 a bottle for Arômes. The label is old school and nondescript, the bottle doesn’t weigh a ton, but inside there is class.

Price and points:

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 90-92


ANGELUS

Modestly tagged Le Sublime by the estate due the “exceptional quality of the merlot”. Strong set of points all round this year, as you’d hope for a little over £250 a bottle. Stylistically I suspect it’s still a bit more James Bond than Le Carré. Polished.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

The Wine Advocate: 98-100

Decanter: 97

James Suckling: 98-99


BATAILLEY

Pauillac stood out as a particularly successful appellation in 2020, reminiscent of the harmony of 2016, perhaps without quite the same degree of dry extract. Yet in 2020 Pauillac presented as consistent pretty much top to bottom, and Batailley has just hit a home run with its fair pricing in line with last year’s release. A wine worth buying en primeur this year for the very clear discount it WILL offer early buyers for future drinking.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 93-95

The Wine Advocate: 89-91+

Decanter: 94

James Suckling: 94-95


BRANAIRE DUCRU

Having said that, whilst Branaire Ducru has done very well in recent hot vintages, this year’s samples were disappointing. In Jancis’s words “a bit tart on the finish and just a little skinny”.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 92-94

The Wine Advocate: 91-93+

Decanter: 93

James Suckling93-94


LYNCH MOUSSAS

Price and points

Relative value analysis


Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 91-93


Monday 20th May

LA DOMINIQUE

I have fond memories of La Dominique ever since I had to hurtle down the M4 to pick up my case of 1990 bought en primeur from Hungerford. I’d been tipped off by a London merchant they were about to go bust (red braces and all) so stalked the shop til my boot was filled. On the other hand this year it’s well and truly gazumped by Laroque, and their 2018 was a success in the vintage and by the looks of it relative to 2020 as well.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 93-95


RAHOUL

Excellent value everyday drinker, or proper wedding wine for when we can do parties of more than 30? The value advantage of the younger vintage does assume you’ll pop the cork as soon as the wine becomes physical since otherwise you’re paying out almost 12% of the value of the EP purchase in storage charges each year. Does the secondary market price of back vintages simply reflect that cost of ownership? Not sure at this level a wine lends itself well to relative value analysis… One final thought of the day. Ch Beaumont 2014 this morning made available by The Wine Society at £13.95 a bottle, duty and tax paid, and delivered. Pretty hard to beat that. Sold out quickly, with a terrible product rating due to lots of grumpy yet otherwise civilised Wine Society members p*ssed that they missed out. Hysterical. Literally.

Price and points:

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 87-89


LA CLOTTE

Another up and coming St Emilion estate. The commune is so full of ambition and belief these days, with thankfully a good proportion of those committed to modern classicism. With the attractively plump 2015 in the market at the same price and given we’re not quite in ‘store of value’ territory, I think that the back vintage edges it.

Price and points:

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Decanter: 93


SUDUIRAUT

They’re going to hate me for saying this, but there’s something rather retro these days about Sauternes, belonging to an époque of fatty foods, feasts and binges. Nothing wrong with any of that of course, and maybe we’re on course for a reprise as we come out of Covid and go crazy…in which case buy 2009, or even better 2008.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 94-96

The Wine Advocate93-95

Decanter: 96

James Suckling: 97-98


LAFON-ROCHET

Good value chez Basile Testeront, whose wines have been on a roll over the last few vintages. “Balance, ripeness and vitality” and a price that is DOWN on 2019. Unsurprisingly that makes it an attractive buy. Maybe not another 2016 judging by the notes (which was a grand success) but still proper claret.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 92-94

Decanter: 93

James Suckling: 93-94


Thursday 20th May

LAROQUE

It does look like a total no brainer, pretty much the first one of the year, and I am most taken by Jancis’s “unflashy nose” and “bone dry” yet “silky finish”.

Price and points

Relative value analysis


Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 93-95

The Wine Advocate: 94-96

Decanter: 92

James Suckling: 94-95


Wednesday 19th May

LANGOA BARTON out at a smidgen under £30 a bottle.

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 92-94

James Suckling: 93-94

The Wine Advocate: 93-95

Decanter: 92


PAVIE

Power AND elegance. 18 points. Who knew. The bottle might still have shoulder pads, but within that broad-cut, chiselled physique lies an altogether more sensitive soul from this great terroir, one that is ‘beautifully poised’. The chart doesn’t lie…:slight_smile:

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 95-97

The Wine Advocate97-99

Decanter: 97

James Suckling: 98-99


BELLEVUE MONDOTTE

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 90-92

The Wine Advocate: 96-98

Decanter: 93

James Suckling: 94-95


PAVIE DECESSE

Price and points

Relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 94-96

The Wine Advocate: 95-97

Decanter: 95

James Suckling: 96-97


Tuesday 18th May

LEOVILLE BARTON out 8.5% up on 2019’s secondary market price, labelled ‘majestic’ by Jancis. He liked it so much he wanted to drink it. Whatever next. But Price and points

Relative value

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 94-96

The Wine Advocate93-95

Decanter: 94

James Suckling: 96-97


Tuesday 13th May

LABEGORCE

At the drinking end of the En Primeur spectrum, here’s an interesting Margaux with a super note from James Lawther that made my mouth water. Is juicy black cherry a Margaux characteristic in 2020? Durfort Vivens was dripping with them.

Price and points:

Other critics ratings:

Vinous: 91-93

James Suckling: 92-93


ANGELUS

ANGELUS released, up 9% on 2019, continuing with the same 40% Cabernet Franc in the blend as 2019.

Price and points

Relative value analysis

On the face of it 2015 stands out as value, but hasn’t l’Angelus stepped up a little in terms of refinement and balance in those intervening years?

Other critic ratings:

The Wine Advocate98-100

Decanter: 97

James Suckling: 98-99


Tuesday 11th May

CHEVAL BLANC breaks rank! This is most unusual, since they are typically one of the very last to release (last year they came out June 8th), and at a price above the 1855 First Growths and Mouton. What is less unusual is that their release price is far from shy. Release is up on 2019 (+3%), 30% less vs the 2018 release price, and 20% less than the current secondary market for Cheval 2018.

Price per points

It has to be said James has not given Cheval 2020 a glowing review, worrying that “the tannins overwhelm the fruit at present”.

Relative value analysis, unsurprisingly, does not suggest 2020 as a must buy at this stage, though this is based significantly on the low score from James Lawther.

Other critic ratings:

Decanter: 99

James Suckling: 99


LE PETIT CHEVAL

Price per points

Other critic ratings:

Decanter: 93


Thursday 13th May

D'ANGLUDET

Price per points:

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 95-97


Saturday 8th May

HOSANNA, POMEROL

Here’s the market price vs points analysis, showing the 2020 release pricing bang on the market price (and release price) of 2019, a fraction cheaper than 2018, and 20% below the less well-rated 2015. This would suggest Euro release price is around 3% up on 2019 given Sterling is up by that amount. From my perspective, being a fan of Cab Franc, the 2019 has almost third in the blend versus a quarter in 2020. Who knows how that difference may pan out over time, but all else being equal, I’d personally favour the 2019 blend.

And here comes the relative value analysis

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 95-97

James Suckling99-100

James Lawther: 17.5


Friday 7th May

CHATEAU BOURGNEUF POMEROL released this morning.

Here’s the market price vs points analysis:

And here comes the relative value analysis.The longer the bar, the better the value relative to those it compares with.

This is an exciting conclusion with my drinkers hat on. It says beat a path to Wilkinson’s door to grab the last well priced case of Bourgneuf 2009 in the market. Failing that take your pick from a number of competitively priced offers of Bourgneuf 2015. Buy, pour, kick back and enjoy a classic, refreshingly styled Pomerol, feeling smug about your canny purchase considering what great value it is compared to current release. Bordeaux back vintages can be such good value.

Other critic ratings:

Vinous: 92-94

James Suckling: 94-95


Wednesday 5th May

Continuing with the Asian theme, BELFONT BELCIER, Grand Cru Classé since 2006, is now backed with Chinese investment, and has just released. With a quarter Cab Franc in the blend, James is making this sound most appealing with his references to fresh, vibrant, touch of leaf and spice, dances on the palate with juicy fruit…

Here’s the market price vs points analysis:

  



And here’s the relative value analysis. Longer the bar, bigger the gap, the more compelling the buy.

Yet, if there’s been a shift to a more refined approach, judging by the difference in reviews from 2015 and 2020, comparison with back vintages becomes less relevant.

Other critic ratings:

The Wine Advocate: 91-93

Decanter: 93

James Suckling96-97


Tuesday 4th May

BEAUMONT

No Cos or Pontet Canet breaking ranks this year so far, but who needs them when you have Beaumont? Unfortunately for them, their release has my full attention. This campaign we are comparing 2020 with 2019, 2018, 2015 and 2009, all hotter vintages to varying degrees, and going back far enough in time to figure out if buying the same wine en primeur is a smart move - or not. Here’s the market price vs points analysis for them all, showing that once in bottle Beaumont does move up in price. Compared to 2015, 2020 is a full 33% cheaper! That’s a big gap if we’re talking Lafite. But for Beaumont we’re talking about £4.40 per bottle.


Notwithstanding the 33% difference in price between 2015 and the 2020 new release, the 2015 shows as the better buy because of it’s whopping 17 score, compared with the 2020’s 15.5 points. So unless you’re a buyer for an Oxbridge college with Chinese student fees burning a hole in your tweed pocket, maybe hold fire.

Other critic ratings:

James Suckling: 92-93

Julia Harding MW: 15.5


Saturday 24th April 

I’m looking forward to contribute analyses of value for each major release as last year’s Bordeaux EP campaign. We’re hearing it’ll be another early campaign and I’m excited to see the notes and perspectives on the wines and the vintage from Team Jancis when they get published next week. Many thanks to Jancis for inviting me back!

I was in Bordeaux last summer and although part of July had a heatwave, August didn’t seem out of the ordinary and nights were fresh. We’ll have to see!

My first thought of the campaign is perhaps somewhat predictable, prompted by Jancis’s Bordeaux Primeurs free for all article last Thursday, when she wrote:

It may well turn out that the price reductions that helped make the 2019 primeur campaign such a success were a pandemic-inspired one-off. As I outlined in The ‘miracle’ primeur campaign 4, perhaps it really was a miracle that so many Bordeaux château owners were prepared to reduce their prices.
I do hope that doesn’t prove to be the case. I’m looking at secondary market prices of 2019s and there are broadly exactly where they were at first release. Admittedly, post-primeur action doesn’t generally kick in til the wines are bottled and the critics re-taste the final blend under cork. Still, it will take a brave (or very rich :slight_smile: ) proprietor to jack up prices on the back of an overall tentative Bordeaux market performance over the last few years.

Wine Lister’s Bordeaux 2021 16 study also warns of the ongoing risks to Bordeaux’s flagging attractiveness, whilst acknowledging the effect astute pricing had on the success of last year’s campaign.

Consumers have been spending big on wine this past year. Following a very quiet period during March and April 2020 at the start of Covid, fine wine buying took off again, with an extremely strong showing at the affordable level of everyday drinkers as well as at the collecting end of the market. Italian 2016 releases were extremely sought after and buyer exuberance culminated in a febrile atmosphere around the feted 2019 Burgundies, a campaign that felt like a real scramble, even though the wines themselves were a bit inconsistent.

I’m speaking with more retailers than ever before now that my business is focused on software as a service 6 for the wine trade. What I’m hearing from wine retailers is that the last year has been exceptional for those businesses focused on the consumer, exciting new e-commerce brands have been launched, and even those merchants who have been historically dependent on hospitality have made up for their annihilated On trade sales with the tsunami in consumer activity.

Will the spending spree carry on, to the benefit of Bordeaux 2020, or are there signs that the fine wine buyer is a little weary, not to mention wary? The next couple of months will tell, and I’m excited to be sharing the analyses here as the releases come out with our relative value analysis charts.

I’ll be sponsoring the London Wine Fair May 17-19 so my colleague Miles Davis will be on standby for when I’m tied up with conference and meetings with wine businesses on how they can make themselves more efficient and continue to prosper in the post-Covid world that we are gradually entering.

A step back into the familiar, yet forward into the unknown, and into a re-energised world that does feel incredibly exciting - and in some ways may well have changed forever!



View on a vintage: 2005 in Bordeaux (contemplating red wines only)

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2021-06-01


There has been a lot written about 2005 and most people know it’s right up there up there with some of the very best vintages in current collector’s lifetimes.

For the record, the truly great years of the last sixty years, as measured by using a vintage score of 96 or above on Vinous Media, are: 1961, 1982, 1986, 1990, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2016 (I have chosen to ignore the 2018 and 2019 vintages). The only three vintages to score 98 points are 1961, 2005 and 2016. Arguments will continue forevermore about which vintage is the best and there will be the obvious comparisons between left and right banks, and which is better, but does it really matter when you are in the presence of greatness? Everyone at least agrees 2005 is right up there and on balance it is less contentious than both 2009 and 2010, but for different reasons. I remember the great Robert Parker commenting the quality of the vintage went deep into the layers of the wider Bordeaux region and across the breadth of all the appellations.

Given the 1961 has all but disappeared and the 2016 vintage is a touch on the adolescent side, the 2005 vintage would appear to be a vintage to stock up on, if you haven’t already. A quick ‘Advanced search’ (see picture depiction below) on our platform shows me there are 44 different offers on the Wine Owners for the 2005 vintage, from Chateau Sainte Colombe Cotes de Castillon (£162 per 12), all the way to Petrus (£17,400 per 6). Someone else has been looking after these treasures (and paying a fair whack of storage on them) but is now ready to exchange them for hard currency.

Miles 07798 732 543

N.B. In my opinion really good Bordeaux takes a lot longer than the commonly held perception (and many suggested drinking dates) to really shine through and for nuance to really develop. Even serious commentators have been overheard saying ‘it all tastes the same!’ and when the wine is not fully developed, I can see why it could be easy to share that point of view.

I have only just begun to approach my best 2000s (and will be leaving them a while longer yet) and have barely touched my ’05s outside of some second wines (Sarget de Gruaud Larose I particularly enjoy and there’s still plenty of life left in it). The best wines may take thirty years or so to show their true potential. The second wines of lauded estates in really good vintages is normally a very reliable way to go.


How can cellar management software help you unlock your collection?

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2021-03-17


For just a moment, imagine no longer having to depend on a tedious cellar spreadsheet and instead being able to view your entire wine collection all in one place in an interactive way, bringing your portfolio to life?

Spreadsheets can be dull and relentless at the best of times. By consolidating piles of paper, spreadsheets, emails and invoices all into a well organised online portfolio, you can pull other valuable pieces of information together that lend a new dimension of enjoyment to organising your collection. Contrary to what you may think, managing your collection end to end, ensuring that all your wine acquisitions are accounted for, can be a fun process!

Cellar management software enables you to achieve this in 3 steps:

Step 1) Getting your collection organised.

Figuring out what wine you have may sound simple but it often isn’t. Wines are sourced from multiple merchants and stored in numerous locations. Although the majority of merchants are organised, not all can be relied on to remind you of your purchases.

An online cellar management platform enables you to track your entire wine collection in one place, both your professionally stored wines and those at home. Wine Owners’ home cellar functionality enables you to track the exact location of each bottle down to hole in a bottle rack, so that no bottle will be forgotten and ensures wines will be consumed within their drinking window (a window that you can edit according to taste).


Wine Owners - Organising-my-collection


Having been built by a fellow wine enthusiast, all functionality has been developed taking every part of the wine journey into consideration. All important information can be recorded: the wine name, vintage, format, where it was bought, purchase price, condition, quantity or a shipment date if it is incoming stock.

When you join, you have instant access to a pool of valuable information including drinking dates, critic stores, producer profiles and up to date pricing information and more, enough to keep any wine collector happy. Optimised for mobile and tablet access, you can access your collection wherever you are, whether on public transport, at work or abroad.

2) Rediscovering your collection.

Now that you have catalogued your portfolio and you know what you have and where it is, Wine Owners can help you make well-informed decisions around a) which wines to drink next and b) what you have too much of thanks to overzealous purchasing or a very good relationship with your account manager!

Lots of fun is to be had exploring the integrated analytical tools which include sophisticated pricing graphs and relative value score analysis. You can also review your portfolio by a range of filters, view values per category, total value and category performance over different periods of time. Latest perspectives of the critics are also helpful to appreciate the quality of the wines you have bought, and you can add your own tasting notes as well.

Wine Owners - Percentage breakdown per country


3) Shaping your collection.

Once you’re clear on your inventory, it’s time to take key decisions around your collection. You may wish to sell surplus stock back to the merchant who initially sold you the wine or, if they refuse, you’re only a few clicks from being able to offer your wine for sale in a vibrant secondary market, with trading desk experts available to help.

An easy to navigate, comprehensive digital overview makes it a lot easier to make decisions around which wines in your collection you’ll want to keep and the ones that are ballast. You’ll also be less likely to miss a drinking window. As a wine collector, the satisfaction of enjoying that glass of wine that has appreciated 10-fold since the date of purchase cannot be understated!

For those members who want to buy and sell, it’s super simple.

As it is integrated with a peer-to-peer trading exchange, you are joining a vibrant ecosystem of like-minded collectors as soon as you upload your collection.

In addition, by making purchases through the platform, every part of the settlement process is looked after by our logistics team.

If you are ready to upgrade your cellar management experience, we’re here to help. You can start by creating a free account HERE to organise, value and monitor price changes on up to 30 wines. If you have over 30 wines, our premium plans offer all the tools you will ever need to easily and successfully manage your collection.



Fine Wine Investment Report 2020 and a look ahead at 2021

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2021-03-04


Miles Davis, March 2021

In early December I wrote the following:

‘Traditional assets continue to bounce around, no doubt causing palpitations and stress. More than ever, this year has been about timing in the capital markets, and if you got that wrong, the chances are you got it expensively wrong. Not so for vino! Unlike after the global financial crisis, the wine market has held its nerve, merchants did not mark down prices and the market has been stable. Investors are about, and even Bordeaux prices feel like they are firming up. Collectible assets are in vogue and it is easy to see why given these circumstances.’

Not too much has changed since then although there has been plenty more talk about inflation, with the UK’s November numbers coming through much higher than anticipated. This can be viewed as a positive. There has also been the small matter of a new American President. This, in itself, should not have a direct influence on the wine market (!?) but a $1.9 trillion stimulus package and a clear signal that money is going to keep being pumped into the system might be!

So, the macro factors are looking stable and the index performances from last year are also looking sensible. There is no massive ‘feel good factor’ about, which often brings about a more boom-and-bust style dynamic, so this is beginning to feel like an old-fashioned wine market, steady as she goes, nice little earner, thanks very much.

Bordeaux First Growths continue to be the fly in the ointment, underperforming all the other regions with +2.8%, save California with -2%, and generally Bordeaux’s market share continues to slide and is now less than 40% (95% ten years ago!). Pricing from a few of the Chateaux meant the 2019 en primeur campaign awoke the old beast for a moment but otherwise, the top end wine market of Bordeaux continues to struggle. Interestingly, the much broader Bordeaux 750 fared far better with a nearly 10% rise.

Italy was the star of the wine market show in 2020, with Tuscany posting nearly 20% gains and Piedmont 6.4%, followed by Champagne with 12.7%. It is more than coincidence that these markets have been exempt from US tariffs in recent times. Italy has long lived in the shadows of France in terms of reputation and price in the fine wine world, but the gap is still vast, certainly pricewise. The super recognizable names of the Super Tuscans, which have recently benefited from the mega vintages of ’15 and ’16, consistently receive incredibly high scores.

The 2016 Sassicaia (100 points WA, 97 VM), one of the most expensive Sassicaias of all time, is £230 a bottle, Lafite Rothschild 2016 (99 WA, 97 VM) is £530 a bottle, and production levels are roughly twice as much at Lafite. Maybe this is not a fair comparison but given the price differential and the tariffs in place, I know which one I would be backing:

Wine Owners - Relative Value Analysis

This is a short excerpt from Miles Davis' 'Wine Owners 2020 Wine Investment Report and a look ahead at 2021'. CLICK HERE to read the full report.



Krug Champagne

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2020-11-23


Krug is, surely, a Champagne that needs no introduction.

In all likelihood it is the first name to enter one’s head when considering the top names in the prestige Champagne bracket. It was the first thing I sought out on receipt of my first proper bonus! There are others obviously but Krug has carved itself a special niche of its own.

Krug, founded in 1843 produce a range of different cuvées ranging from the Grande Cuvée for everyday drinking (!) to the Clos d’Ambonnay for that very, very special occasion (at £2k+ per bottle it should be at least a very good excuse!). Here we are looking at Krug’s Vintage Champagne over some of the best vintages of the last two decades.

First, the market prices and scores:

Krug


And now the relative value score:

Krug

The mega vintage that is 2008 has not yet been released, so in the meantime I have no hesitation in recommending both the ’04 and the ’06 as very solid buys for the long term.


Banner Image: www.krug.com/the-house-krug


Domaine de Chevalier 2019

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2020-06-04


Chevalier is out this morning at £247 per 6, a perennial favourite and on the back of a seemingly great success in 2018. Hopefully in 2019 they’ll have tamed the merlot alcohols which hit 15 degrees in 2018. Bordeaux being blends saved the day and early pickings of Cabernet brought the assemblage down to under 14 degrees. Still, that kind of inherent excessiveness does make you wonder. Chevalier does age with unusually consistent grace no matter the kind of vintage.

Relative value analysis points to 2014 as being a rather decent pick of an excellent run of recent vintages. 2019 is fairly priced for collectors of this lovely estate but not to attract the short term profiteers.

Domaine de Chevalier - En primeur 2019


Domaine de Chevalier - En primeur 2019



Banner Image: http://www.domainedechevalier.com


Cos d'Estournel 2019

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2020-06-03


Cos d’Estournel is out £684 per 6. -23% down on 2018. Great wine they say but is the price reduction enough?

The magisterial 2016 is hovering 10% above this release price, which is among the greatest young Bordeaux Lisa Perotti-Brown has ever tasted, it’s in bottle and widely available, so we think they needed to do a little more to make this really attractive. However good the 2019 proves to be, it does not prompt the same compulsion to buy this year as Pontet Canet and Palmer.

Prices and points (we have allocated 98 points)

Cos d'Estournel - En primeur 2019


Cos d'Estournel - En primeur 2019



Banner Image: www.estournel.com


118 records

Blog Search


Get a fully inclusive Robert Parker subscription

Robert Parker’s insights are an essential information resource if you have an interest in wine. We are thrilled to share that content with our Premium members, and offer the most complete experience for the collector and wine lover.

Normally $99/y, it is available free as part of the Wine Owners’ premium plans.

LEARN MORE

Subscribe to The Collector

Get market insight delivered directly to your mailbox by subscribing to our newsletter. Please complete the form below to request our free email newsletter.


Processing label...

Sorry, we could not process your request.

Try again Enter manually


Take Snapshot Cancel Cannot see an image?
If you cannot see an image coming up, please check your security settings of your browser. Blocking of the webcam can also be indicated by a red icon in your address bar.
Processing upload...
busy