Chateau Pape Clément 2016 – for whom the frosts toll

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2017-05-15


The release of 2016 of £775 (12x75cl) is a substantial jump up on the simply marvellous 2015. The previous (in our view better) vintage released at £615 (12x75cl).

So we are looking at a 21% increase YoY. Meanwhile the gap between the two vintages has since closed, with the best offer price of Pape Clément 2015 now trading at £720 (12x75cl).

Not only was 2015 a sound buy for those who jumped in this time last year, it remains an attractive hold, since the release price of 2016 and a rumoured reduction in release quantities attributed to the April 2017 frosts, will lend its price support and push it up to £800+ (2x75cl).





For whom do the frosts toll? Us, the consumer, wine lover, collector…those who buy. The reduction in production volumes now likely for 2017 are difficult for producers, especially in those areas most severely affected, parts of Pessac included. By far the worst affected were those in the lesser appellations on the right bank, St Emilion and Pomerol off the plateaux, and inland in the Medoc. For many of those producers the frosts really were a catastrophe.

As we described here the great estates alongside the Gironde were the least touched by the frost due to the warming effects of the river; those parts of their vineyards affected were on the whole those producing grapes destined for their second wines.

We need to bear in mind too that 2016 production volumes are up 10%-20%, in many instances offsetting the potential losses (subject to a faint possibility of second budding) relating to 2017.

So as consumers, we should sympathise and feel bad for estates such as Pape Clément for their loss of production. We should feel even sadder for producers’ losses in places like Fronsac, Lalande de Pomerol and Castillon, where there will be economic casualties. But it doesn’t mean we will consequently want to buy much more expensive wine.


Firsts on fire

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-09-12


The WO First Growth Index showed price appreciation over the last 12 months pushed through the 20% threshold last week.


Haut Brion’s emergence as a wine that can now rivals its peers in the secondary market is clear, with 4 vintages in the top 10 movers, namely 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2008. Will we see Haut Brion close the gap where historically it would have sold at a discount to the other Firsts? The data seems to support the likelihood of this happening.

The top 10 movers have risen 23%-32% in the last year. Furthermore there has been just one faller out of the 75 constituents of the WO First Growth Index, namely Latour 2005.


Top 10 movers over the last 12 months

Chateau Margaux Premier Grand Cru Classe

2010

Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classe

2010

Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classe

2010

Chateau Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan Premier Grand Cru Classe

2010

Chateau Latour Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classe

2010

Chateau Margaux Premier Grand Cru Classe

2009

Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classe

2009

Chateau Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan Premier Grand Cru Classe

2009

Chateau Latour Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classe

2009

Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classe

2009


For the first time in years, we see a wine from the twin peaks of 2009 and 2010 in the top 10 movers, in the shape of the exceptional Margaux 2010. Scores from Robert Parker, Neal Martin and Stephen Tanzer oscillate in the 96-99 range, but the market is indicating it thinks that this could be a perfect wine. It’s now caught up with Haut Brion and Lafite at circa £540 per bottle.





Latour’s withdrawal from the en primeur business looks like paying dividends. Although the 2010’s value is far out in front of the field at £845 a bottle, it’s still not broken through it’s retail en primeur opening offer price of £950. Nevertheless it has performed well through the worst of the Bordeaux market’s 3-4 year slide, losing just 26% of its value by November 2015 before recovering, quite a decent performance compared with Lafite considering their similarly high release prices.

Can the Firsts continue this powerful recovery? Can they recapture the heights of their 2009 and 2010 release prices? If, so which will be the first ‘First’ to do so?

Wine

Year

% change

Current price £

Release £

Variance £

Chateau Margaux Premier Grand Cru Classé

2010

27.21

544.89

667

-123

Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classé

2010

18

540.85

983

-443

Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classé

2010

15.92

473.33

667

-194

Chateau Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan Premier Grand Cru Classé

2010

14.46

543.7

667

-124

Chateau Latour Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classé

2010

12.77

845.99

950

-105

Chateau Margaux Premier Grand Cru Classé

2009

19.71

538.68

808

-270

Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classé

2009

14.8

454.6

708

-254

Chateau Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan Premier Grand Cru Classé

2009

12.71

507.21

708

-201

Chateau Latour Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classé

2009

10.13

780.1

892

-112

Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classé

2009

7.58

560.32

1000

-440

Least likely is Lafite, whose 2010 release price of £983 per bottle reflects a moment in time when Lafite was practically a Chinese barter currency, not to mention the 2009’s vertiginous release of £1,000. In each case there is a loss per per bottle of £440 versus en primeur retail.

Most likely to get back to even terms, in order of proximity of current market price vs opening retail offer price, is:

Latour 2010

Latour 2009

Margaux 2010

Haut Brion 2010

Confidence has returned and momentum is driving the market forward. If and when the current price of the above 4 wines exceeds their opening prices, and buyers of 2009 and 2010 First Growths no longer see a sea of red loss/gain percentages in their portfolios, confidence will be given a further boost.


Pre and Post Vinexpo 2016

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-06-10


There’s a clear division between 2015 En Primeur releases before Vinexpo Hong Hong and those that have been announced since. It begs the question, why?

It's not just that the bigger Chateaux are the ones releasing later. After all, many important names had released well beforehand.

The answer is what happened whilst the producers were in Hong Kong.



We understand that producers were taken aback by the demand they experienced this year at Vinexpo, and they boarded the flight home with bulging order books.

For every producer who wants to sell the new wines through En Primeur and recognises the importance of providing a future upside for buyers of non-physical stock, there are others who see a new opportunity within the changing global fine wine market.

Bernard Magrez was full of the joys of spring at Vinexpo Hong Kong, confirming he had sold out of his impressive Chateau Pape Clement in 40 minutes.

He was refreshing in his analysis, saying that he knew he’d left money on the table for the merchant and En Primeur buyer, which he saw as a positive for the property’s burgeoning reputation. Surely if you’re going to be part of En Primeur that’s the way to do it: body and soul.

Many others however have been eyeing life after En Primeur for some time, but have held back from backing one horse or another by the generally morose market conditions. With green shoots appearing over the last 12 months, few were in the mood to risk seeing them wither.

But what they experienced at Vinexpo may have shifted the balance further away from genuine, tangible broad-based support for En Primeur.

The Chateaux owners were surprised by the jump in orders experienced for their back vintages. There was a realisation that the wine market in China was coming back after 4 years of austerity and Party approbation.

The politics seem to be loosening up a touch, the consumer is spending again and contributing strongly to GDP growth, imports of luxury goods are steady (and proportionately performing better than exports).

Not that the Chinese buy En Primeur, there’s still almost no market there for it there, but with physical stocks in Bordeaux being soaked up by a sharp uptick in demand, it’s hardly surprising many producers are choosing to hold onto significantly more of the new vintage, so that they can serve the Asian market further down the line.


                                                                                


What a relief it must be to see all those accumulated bottles sell.

If it’s all heading towards producers being the stockholders and focusing on selling back vintages at premium prices, the one thing I’d say to them is, don't confuse the issue by using the En Primeur system as purely a promotional opportunity in the marketing calendar to get press and attention, if you don't care so much if any actually sells. It creates mixed messages.

I am super-impressed by what Palmer are doing in terms of developing sales channels worldwide, focusing on selling physical stock, staging stunning auctions through their negociant shareholder, creating a brand to rival the Firsts - but the En Primeur thing just muddies the water and undermines the brilliance of everything else.

If the recent Sotheby’s auction of Chateau Palmer in Hong Kong points the way to selling En Primeur by the barrel to high rollers with privileged access thrown in, I would surely go down that route as a producer too. The equivalent of £10,800 per 9 litres (12x75cl) before seller commission is simply amazing if you can get it.



“Chapeau”. I raise my hat to the Chateaux who go the full-on brand-building route and do it this well - but why risk the negative sentiment and comments that a perceptually very high En Primeur release price creates? There are simply too many foreseeable consequences: negative comments (mea culpa); anxious merchant emails to clients warning them off; negociants dropping prices during the course of the same day the release happens in a mildly desperate attempt not to be left with expensive stock that might/ will have to be written down; and static or lower secondary market prices that will make consumer buyers feel negative about the brand due to being under water ‘x’ years down the line.

With Asian appetite for Bordeaux on the rise once again, the moment may have arrived when more and more producers will respond to the shift in demand for primary market releases of back vintages by backing the new horse. It’s a complicated decision with a brew of old allegiances, dependent market structures, local friends, brand building, rising land values and a changing global market. Watch this space.


The problem with high releases

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-06-08


Remember spring 2011. In Bordeaux there was an early April heatwave, that added to the feel-good factor felt by producers and merchants alike. All agreed, this was a golden age for Bordeaux.

The wealthy were getting wealthier, raiding the post–Lehmann EU Agricultural Support Fund, citing 'agriculture' status so that they could construct new chais. It seemed taking the piss had become institutionalized.

By the late summer, barely 4 months after that balmy spring, it was over. The bubble had burst, but not before the world and his wife had piled into overpriced Classed Growths.

Fast forward 5 years, and the negative market sentiment created by those purchases by traditional and new En Primeur buyers has all but dissipated. The good news is those who were deeply under water on the back of 2009 and 2010 purchases are now in the shallows and feeling rather more positive about their purchases and their outlook.

This has been helped by the fact – there, I said it, by the FACT - that there hasn’t been a vintage to touch those two monumental years since. Not 2011 and 2013 of course, neither 2012 nor 2014, and surely not 2015 either. To be a great vintage Bordeaux needs to be uniformly wonderful across its communes, and 2015 was far from uniform. It’s a very good vintage overall, but not a great one. It will not join the pantheon.

The prime reason why Bordeaux suffered so badly over the period 2011-2014 was negative sentiment, and nothing fuels negative feelings like losing money on paper.

It is for that reason 2015 may well prove to be a watershed in the history of En Primeur.

Many Chateaux released at realistic prices that made their wines sensible buys – wines like Pape Clément, Rauzan-Segla and Canon, Leoville Barton, Pontet Canet, even Lafleur and Tertre-Rotebouef.








More Chateaux than not released too high. What do we mean by “too high”? After all, it’s a relative term. Our definition of too high is a price that will prove not to give a discount against future market value or which could end up having been more expensive than the future discounted secondary market value in 2-5 years’ time.

In the last few days, a few Chateaux have pushed the boundaries of credulity, releasing wines at such a high price that there is 90%-99% downside attached to buying early.

Wines such as Pichon Baron, Lynch-Bages and Palmer. As the graphs show, none offer much by way of upside and plenty of downside risk.







None of this matters to the informed, rational fine wine buyer. They simply need to say ‘no thanks’ and move on, selecting affordable back-vintages to enjoy, lay down for future drinking, or to use as a store of value.

What does matter is when less well-informed buyers are badly advised and sold into the vintage’s more expensive releases, only to find out a few years down the line that the wine has fallen in value, those losses further exacerbated by broker commissions. If you end up with enough buyers “under water” goodwill built up painstakingly over time evaporates.

In this campaign some merchants are saying things like:

Qualitatively, 2015 has been compared to previous greats of this century - 2010, 2009, 2005 and 2000 – when looking at price compared to these greats, the wines of 2015 have broadly represented good value with most estates benchmarking against these years and releasing at lower prices – which is quite refreshing.

Not only is the premise wrong, it encourages irrational buying behavior based on unrealistic expectations and stores up future negative sentiment.

This is a shame, for Bordeaux has the greatest, largest single body of wine in the world to offer. The greatest expressions should bring the greatest joy, not deliver disappointment.


#Bdx15 Primeurs are go!

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-05-10


Have the Bordelais got it right this year? So far so good. The campaign is a little over a week old, the phoney war is over, and we're into the first wave of releases worth bothering with. I'll put money on the campaign being over by the time UK goes to the polls to vote for or against EU membership.

Let's have a look at some key releases to date, through the looking glass of price per points analysis, with the important overlay of commentary about the wine.

So far these offers are reasonably appealing. This surely recognises that this is not a vintage that has hit the heights of 2010 and 2009, nor has it the across-the-board homogeneity of the serious, intense 2005s, in my opinion. But the best wines are not far off the great vintages and there's a finesse, silkiness, aromatic quality and allure to the best wines that makes them fine in their own right. 

Lafleur 2015

Looking tempting in a high class sort of way. Beloved by many in 2015. Called by some as wine of the vintage. We thought 2015 was a Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot vintage, whatever the experts said about the quality of Merlot. We thought the variability of the earlier ripening Bordeaux grape, touched by the extreme heat of July's dog days, was such that it couldn't be called out as an overwhelming success. Where the ripeness was managed and the Merlot was brought in with enough residual freshness it was good. Where it was partnered with a high proportion of Cabernet Franc, we thought the wines were simply beautiful.

At £2,250 for 6x75cl it might seem eye-waveringly expensive, but remember this isn't much more than Le Pin 2004, and this is surely as extraordinary and visceral.

The only comparative question mark on the horizon is the price of 1998 (such a great vintage in Pessac and the Libournais) yet this vintage was tannic and backward, a wine for the next generation or the one after that, whereas 2015 is all about its silkiness and appealing ripeness.





Chateau Pape-Clément 2015

We normally dislike Pape-Clément, but this was a great wine in our view this year. Worth buying early? Have they got the price right this year? Yes if you compare to the great back vintages of the last 10 years, not if you draw equivalence to the highly rated 2012. Neal Martin's note on this wine corresponded exactly with our own, so here it is:

The 2015 Pape Clement is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. It was cropped at 40 hl/ha between 25 September and 15 October with berry by berry destemming. It has a drop-dead gorgeous bouquet that continues the ever greater finesse that has been imparted into this Pape-Clément in recent years. It is extremely precise, almost crystalline. The palate is underpinned by fine tannin, pitch-perfect acidity, a sense of cohesion and harmony that is outstanding. There is not a hair out of place on this barrel sample and it will doubtless evolve into one of the best wines this state has produced since the 14th century, when Bertrand de Goth was planting its first vines. This comes highly recommended - a Pape-Clément that will reward those who can resist temptation and cellar this wine for 10+ years. Tasted on four separate occasions.



Chateau Beychevelle 2015

Delicious mid palate, balance uber alles and a nice bright finish. Reminds me of the '14s in its un-extracted style. Would I buy this early? If I wanted to drink it a decade down the line it might well make sense.





#Bdx15: A look back at 2014 - Part 2/2

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-05-09


As we jump into the 2015 En Primeur campaign with analysis and our recommendations of those wines that could be worth buying early on, let’s have a look at how last year’s 2014 En Primeur ‘picks’ have performed. 

We used our price per points analysis to identify relative value of the 2014 releases vs comparable back vintages vintages 

It's worth noting that wines that we felt could have been worth buying early were a little more than a handful, out of the swathe of en primeur releases. But then, there are only about 60 wines potentially worth bothering with these days. Buying the equivalent of cru bourgeois releases as a future is surely a mug's game these days. Of the 60 or so top producers who released in 2014, we thought there were about 8 wines worth buying as a future.

Here's how they performed...

Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2014 

Last year you could have bought a 12x75cl case of Château Lafite Rothschild 2014 for £ 2,700. Since then, it's increased to £3,300 (12x75cl) which represents a growth of 18% from it’s initial released price.

It was a tough one to taste at the property in April 2015, but we took a punt on it as proper wine - at least there was no lipstick applied to the barrel samples.




Chateau Calon Ségur 2014

Released at £410-£420 (12x75cl) retail, Calon has increased in price by 23.2% and stands at a market price of £505. It's worth noting volume of wine released En Primeur was much reduced last year and négociant channels were heavily rationalised. Having been earlier acquired by new owners for €200M, expect further 'management' of En Primeur releases in an attempt to drive the secondary market price. 






Chateau Margaux 2014

The release price of Chateau Margaux 2014 was £ 2,340 (12x75cl). 


Market price has risen to £ 2,850 for a case of 12 in one year, and increase of 21,8%.


Robert Parker Score : 93-95



Petit Mouton 2014

Le Petit Mouton’s release price was £ 750 per case of 12 bottles, the closest thing to a ‘one way bet’ we found last year, and I filled my personal boots. Given how well this atypically predominant cabernet Sauvignon Petit Mouton has performed in the last 12 months, we hope you did too! It was also the most delicious and impressive wine, and felt to me a little under-rated by Neal.

The price of Le Petit Mouton has increased by 30% going from £ 750 to £ 1,080 for 12x75cl.


Robert Parker Score : 90-92



Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2014


Along with Petit Mouton, we loved Mouton last year, with its merlot so successful on gravel that a large slug of it made it into the Grand Vin. The trade was baying for release prices close to 2008 (£1750-£1800), but we thought £2,300 was a fair price for the quality, especially in the light of how much market momentum there has been behind Mouton of late.

Mouton 2014 has increased from it’s release price to £ 2,700, an increase of 13%.


Robert Parker Score : 96/100




Chateau Lynch-Bages 2014

Chateau Lynch-Bages 2014 was universally declared good value by the wine trade last year, and released at £580.

Over the past year it rose from £ 580 to £ 650 (12x75cl) representing an increase of 12%.


Robert Parker Score : 92 -94





Chateau Canon 2014


This stood out as proper wine last year as well, and tasted alongside some heavyweights held it's own. Re-tasted this year, it's shutting down and wasn't the most exciting wine on earth. The price hasn't budged either way from its release price of £375. One that in retrospect we should not have recommended to buy early.






Bordeaux 2015 Tasting Notes

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-04-11



POMEROL



 TOP 5

VALUES

DISAPPOINT

Chateau Beauregard

Usually a favourite. I loved 2010. Not this time.

85



3

Le Bon Pasteur

Nice grainy entry - warm finish though which spoils it.

89




La Cabanne

Slightly funky mid palate nice bright finish. Overall it's no from me…

86




Clinet

Rather good, dense, more to come, very controlled finish, but what I don't get is character. Will be adored by others no doubt.

93




La Croix de Gay

Lush now, Big powerful flavours, red fruits but actually a proper slug of excitement, lovely concentration, and controlled finish. Yes this is good.

95+


1


Gazin

Depth, grainy tannins, lifted mid-palate, nice intensity, firm finish good length.

94+


4


Petit Villages

Nice density, vinosity, a touch of alcohol evident at this stage  and soft tannins with a fresh finish. The alcohol marks it down.

92




La Conseillante

Velvety texture. Gorgeous fruit on midpalate, lovely progression, extremely ripe, sweet tannins. Extremely silky finish, edgeless which worries me for its future, but overall there's a 3 dimensionality to it that will guarantee it has plenty of fans this year and could augur well.

93-96




Duo de Conseillante

Cedary attack, nice length with a prickle of acidity. Yeasty, meaty midpalate. Tasty but a bit short on refinement, A Marmite wine?

89




Vieux Chateau Certan

Refined nose, liquory, the structure of this wine creates a clear mental image when you taste it, this wine's all about transparency and a firm finish. No excess weight. Porcelain-like beauty.

97+

2




SAINT EMILION



TOP 5

VALUES

DISAPPOINT

Canon La Gaffeliere

Dark colour sweet fruit attack, good fresh progression. Decent, medium finish 

92-93




La Couspade

Porty nose, monster.

82




La Dominique

Balanced fresh quite big middle. Not so long. Sunday lunch candidate.

90




Clos Fourtet

Cedary nose slight touch of alcohol, liquory texture, round fruited entry, nice intensity, balance is there, good controlled finish. 

94




La Gaffeliere

Dark colour big nose . Good attack, slightly rustic finish. Nice though

89




Berliquet

Vinous nose extracted attack, sticky fruit, grippy finish




Larcis Ducasse

Overpowering nose not attractive, more sticky fruit. Thick and sweet.

86




Pavie Macquin

Macerated black cherries nose black cherries on palate very controlled finish, big but I like it. Freshness relieves a long finish, but not enough to lose some definition.

91




Soutard

Lots of extract, bright concentration freshness and a focused finish. But alcoholic with a massive finish. Essence of wine.

87




Troplong Mondot

Creamy, big  too big, firm finish. Over extracted?

89



4

Trottevielle

Flat.

84




Chateau Villemaurine

Strangely aromatic and cheesy.

83




Chateau Cheval Blanc

No Petit Cheval this year. All's in the Grand Vin. It was that good apparently. The wine is lovely but not 2010. Maybe they are preparing for a better release price EP? Aromatic fresh Gorgeous nose, smoky fine attack, great finish. Long of course.

97




L'Angelus

Powerful attack but with lovely mid-palate finesse and a very good finish.

95




Balestard La Tonnelle

Powerful nose of intensely aromatic fruit. Full-on sweet.

86




Chateau Beau-Sejour

Super aromatic nose, powerful, ripe, big

87




Canon

Cedary nose. Very intense, extremely ripe but not overdone, liquorish root, vinous mid palate. Fresh lift. Warm finish. Sweet tannic finish.  Finish lingers, not in a linear way, but it's insinuating and utterly delicious.

96




Chateau Figeac

Super aromatics, svelte, concentrated but not heavy. Character and depth. Great length.

95




Dragon de Quintus

Intense, fresh, balanced with a dumb nose. Better than many of the hotter offerings

89-91




Chateau Quintus

Cool nose. Integrated, alcohol is present, yet more restrained than many.

91+





PESSAC LEOGNAN



TOP 5

VALUES

DISAPPOINT

Chateau Bouscaut

Characterful nose with substance

90




Chateaux Carbonnieux

Bright entry, grippy finish, not sure how long this is?

88




Les Carmes Haut Brion

Beautiful vinous nose, fragrant palate, fine tannins. Very good. Exciting.

95


5


Domaine de Chevalier

Fruity attack, pretty mid palate, aromatic lift, excellent intensity and a lovely sweet finish.

94-95+




Chateau de Fieuzal

Vinous nose, a little rustic, good intensity but not such a great finish.

88




Chateau de France

Pretty nose, agreeable with a ripe finish.

89




Chateau Haut Bergy

Bright, a bit unknit.

86-87




Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion

Fruit nose, integrated palate, touch of spice, grippy finish.

91-93




Chateau Latour Martillac

Green finish

83




Chateau La Louviere

Up front caramel flavours, modern, easy, not my style.

83




Malartic Lagraviere

Attractive nose, lovely aromatic mid palate, very grippy finish.

87




Chateau Olivier

Fragrant nose, powerful mid palate, not together at this stage.

86




Chateau Pape Clement

Liquory nose, bright leafy fruit and intense finish. This is gorgeous, in a much more delieated style than I've experienced before from Pape Clement.

97+

5



Chateau Pique Caillou

Pleasant.

87



5

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

Vinous nose, powerful, unknit finish, serious.

93+




Chateau Haut Bailly

Aromatic freshly spiced, liqorice, grainy, silky tannins. Fantastic.

95+




La Chapelle de Haut-Brion

This seems to be trying quite hard. Firm entry. Herbaceous. But it improves with length and sweetens in the mouth.

90




Le Clarence de Haut-Brion

Nice nose, lovely grainy entry, nice intensity, mouthwatering finish, with a pruney merlot finish spoiling the shape of the wne's progression…at this stage.

92




Chateau La Mission Haut Brion

Aromatic, grippy, very cool and controlled. Licorice root and large scale fruity mid palate. Long.

95




Chateau Haut-Brion

Great aromatics on the nose. Extremely controlled, tannic, dry and very serious. Very primary though. A tough one to taste, but there's nothing made up about this wine. Could be one to watch as it develops. I'd love to retaste this. Reminds me of the great 1986. Don't buy this to drink unless you know you'll be alive in 25 years.This is not a points-chaser.

95-98

3



  

MEDOC - HAUT MEDOC - LISTRAC - MOULIS


TOP 5 VALUES DISAPPOINT

Chateau Senejac

Pleasant with a slightly green finish

85




Chateau Chassse-Spleen

Nice entry, firm finish, OK

86




Chateau Cantemerle

Some substance to it, firm with a grippy finish.

87




Chateau Sociando Mallet

Very firm, serious, possibly lacking a little flesh in the middle

88





MARGAUX



TOP 5 VALUES DISAPPOINT

Chateau Brane Cantenac

Fragrant, firm, solid, fleshy middle with freshness and good build/ progression. Good substance, lovely finish.

92-93




Chateau Cantenac Brown

This has energy and drives through a pure mid-palate. Light on its feet with a long finish.

94




Chateau Dauzac

OK

89




Chateau Durfort Vivens

This is lively, middle weight with nice intensity and is interesting to drink - savoury and balanced. The intensity v weight equation reminds me of Burgundy. Best here for ages? Could be a bargain.

92+




Chateau Ferriere

Extract and elegance in equal measure with a slightly diffuse finish.

90




Chateau Giscours

Powerful. Lovely intensity. Round fruited - meaning it's nice but could do with a touch of excitement.

90




Chateau Desmirail

Substance and good grip.

90




Chateau Kirwan

Lovely fresh nose, lively acidity and extremely good length. I'm impressed with this.

93-94




Chateau Rauzan Gassies

Dry and deep with medium length. Classic.

91




Chateau Malescot St Exupery

As always, denser, more spiced, layered and with nice sweet fruit. Notwithstanding a mildly lifted midpalate and some nice rigour to it. Overall, alluringly plush and homogeneously styled. 

92




Chateau D'Issan

Good intensity fresh, nice definition, much more direct than Brane Cantenac, and the acidity drives it forward. Mouthwatering end of palate. My sort of wine.

93+




Chateau Rauzan Segla

Perfumed nose, as you'd expect from Chanel. Succulence and grip in the right proportions. Excellent intensity.

94+




Chateau Lascombes

Dull.

86




Ego de Palmer

Somewhat mute and fruity nose. Lovely density and aromatic profile. Grainy, cedary mid palate coated in sweet fruit. Nice lift and sweet, sappy quality. If only this wasn't going to be silly money.

92




Chateau Palmer

Impressive nose, sweet aromatic profile on the nose. Lovely sweet fruit, touch of damsons, tannins very sweet, though pushing through and there are lots of them. Big wine but those tannins curtail the length for now. Iron fist in velvet glove. It'll be quite a long wait.

96




Chateau Labegorce

Tannic and grippy but with the guts to make an interesting bottle in the future.

89




Chateau Marquis de Terme

Don't know this wine but it was very pleasant.

90




Chateau Prieuré Lichine

Mid weight

88




Chateau Siran

Fragrant nose,middle of the road. I wanted more after that nose had led me in.

88




Pavillon Rouge

Fabulous mid palate following a beautiful aromatic entry. stunning firm tarry silky tannins. Best second wine?

94




Chateau Margaux

Elegant nose, crystalline, layered, very aromatic entry in the mouth. Stunning length. This is great. 

97+

1




ST JULIEN



TOP 5 VALUES DISAPPOINT

Chateau Gloria

Nice wine, good intensity and freshness. The Martin legacy continues. We approve of the surname and suspect we may not be alone.

92




Chateau Lagrange

Good grippy mid palate, fresh and mouthwatering, well handled tannins. Nice surprise for me now the Lagrange style is back in the fold.

93




Chateau Langoa Barton

Lots of fleshy middle, a bit angular but will be lovely if it can come together with age.

92




Chateau Talbot

Medium full, spiced, open and pretty. Medium long. There's a definite Talbot style emerging since 2010 and it stands out.

92-93




Chateau St Pierre

This is fantastic. Spiced, dense, freshly lifted mid palate and aromatics of the vintage.

94-95


3


Chateau Beychevelle

Delicious mid palate, balance uber alles and a nice bright finish. Reminds me of the '14s in its un-extracted style

93




Chateau Leoville Barton

Nice nose, good intensity, balanced and the progression is very pleasing. Classic style, but is it better than rather good?

93+




Chateau Leoville Poyferré

Very consistent, quite grippy, mid palate is good but a little unexciting.

92




Chateau Gruaud Larose

This is excellent. Good attack and medium weight.

91-94




Chateau Branaire-Ducru

Good balanced wine.

91




Chateau Leoville Las Cases

This is lovely, elegant and restrained wine. Antithesis of the bigger plush styled wines

97+




Chateau Lalande Borie

Nice mid weight pepper and Merlot soft fruit - boring.

86




Croix de Beaucaillou

More modern style, soft approachable sappy finish. Good in its way.

89




Chateau de Ducru-Beaucaillou

Fine nose crystalline fruit nice controlled finish very silky tannins

95





PAUILLAC



TOP 5 VALUES DISAPPOINT

Chateau D'Armailhac

Cedar and perfume nose. Generous attack, and a rather lovely mid-palate. Complete for this level.

93




Chateau Clerc-Milon

Aromatic nose, fresher attack, nice definition, dark cherry mid palate. Builds. Long. Could be a bargain of the vintage.

94-95


2


Petit Mouton

Reductive nose? Dry entry and mid palate, with silky tannins. Not showy but crystalline fruit.

91




Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Vinous nose, refined, liqoury texture and a sappy mid palate. Gravelly notes, mouth-coating fruit. Massive tannic structure and they provide a bitter twist at the end that takes a little away from an otherwise beautiful wine. I think I prefer 2014 ultimately at the same stage of the game.

96




Chateau Batailley

Middle of the road. 

88




Chateau Croizet-Bages

Nice density, liquorice note and tight finish. Real wine!

91+




Chateau Grand Puy Ducasse

This is quite good. Lots of mid palate intensity.

90




Chateau Grand-Puy Lacoste

Fresh, lifted and great mid palate. Lovely lift and it's long. Yes please.

94




Chateau Haut Bages Libéral

OK, grippy finish. Angular.

87




Chateau Lynch Bages

Mid weight. A disappointment given previous vintages and the lovely 2014.

88



1

Chateau Lynch Moussas

Good wine, nice balance.

90




Chateau Haut-Batailley

Nice sappy wine, pretty with a licorice finish.

89




Chateau Pichon-Baron

Extremely good with an expressive nose and very integrated palate. Long.

96




Chateau Pichon-Longueville

Fine, with lovely stuffing and a lifted mid palate. Its long and shapely. The less showy of the two Pichons. I like the restraint. Time will tell, for now it's all potential rather than what it is today.

93-96




Chateau Pontet Canet

Perfumed, ripe nose with just a touch of caramel, fantastic weight, mid palate firmness and with the substance to coat the tannic structure that is clearly there. This is extremely well judged, lovely natural balance to it, and my favourite Pontet Canet for some time. It doesn't have the extraordinary levels of the elements that 2010 exhibited; this is a less elemental wines. Beauty rather than Beast.

97





SAINT-ESTEPHE



TOP 5 VALUES DISAPPOINT

Chateau Lafon-Rochet

A success, fine and integrated.

91




Chateau Ormes de Pez

Ok only. Something missing in the middle for now, insistent nonetheless.

87



2

Chateau de Pez

This shows nice progression. Nicely judged.

89+




Chateau Phélan Ségur

Bright attack, unknit for now, good weight though, fresh fruit, nicely textured mid palate.

92





Michel Rolland's Bordeaux 'bashing' rant

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-04-07



When asked by a French journalist if he thought 2015 was an antidote to the Bordeaux fine wine market 'bashing' of certain journalists, Monsieur Rolland let fly:

“There’s no cure for imbecility - it's reaching colossal proportions. For me, 2015 is a truly great vintage. There are too many idiots to notice. They’ll figure it out in 10 years’ time, as usual. We live in a world without gumption; with people without balls. End of story. There isn’t a journalist who's seeing it. Anyway, there isn’t a wine writer with any substance in the world today. I don't give a damn about what journalists say. That has nothing to do with the market. They can say, write and think what they want; the world won't give a hoot, just as it doesn't care what happened in 40 AD! (from the idiom 's'en foutre comme de l'an quarante' - a year which had been predicted as the end of the world). When they realise that, maybe they’ll eat humble pie. Not that they’ll become intelligent - that will be difficult - but maybe they'll learn to think differently.”


Bordeaux 2015 Overview

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-04-07


Back from Bordeaux and having tasted widely across all the major communes, for a good proportion of the wines at least twice, we can report that 2015 will be a very good to excellent overall vintage.

The wines have nice density accompanied by varying degrees of power. But it’s best to avoid sweeping generalisations in this vintage, as this overview explains. Read on...


Those who say the heights were achieved on the right bank are overlooking a number of exceptional wines from across many other appellations. St. Emilion has been proposed as the top-performing commune of the vintage, but there are plenty of examples that are too big and powerful. Those Chateaux really do need to wake up to the changing market that is thankfully favouring balance once more.

Pomerol has seen some great successes, yet different styles of vinification between producers have resulted in wines with very different characters. On the one hand are those that are pure with a brightly illuminated core of fruit, ripe elegant tannins and a taut finale. On the other are styles that are evidently riper, with imperceptible tannins and an extremely smooth, even edgeless, finish.  Whilst these are extremely attractive and very easy to drink after just a few months in cask we wonder if they will stay the long-term course and evolve into compelling wines worthy of their glossy and alluring first showing. 

Many state that the higher up the Medoc peninsular you go, the less good are the wines due to higher mid-season rainfall than the right bank, Margaux and Pessac-Leognan. That isn’t necessarily evident, perhaps with the exception of Haut Médoc and Listrac.

Much-touted Margaux is indeed extremely consistent across the board, to a degree we’ve not seen for many years. Yet in our view the most impressive individual wines from the Medoc come from Pauillac and St. Julien, perhaps with the exception of Chateaux Margaux itself and the broodingly structured Chateau Palmer.

St. Julien is a very consistent appellation once again. Graves (Pessac Leognan) is excellent, and some historically big styled wines have reined it in with exceptional results,making for a very impressive showing for the appellation overall.

Soil composition would appear to have as much to do with variation between properties as levels of rainfall. It’s possible that this variable will have been accentuated by a scorching July when drought conditions had set in, with the vines showing heat stress by starting to drop leaves. Relief came in early August with some heavy downpours and temperate August weather accompanied by comparatively high hours of sunshine.

The dry, hot July conditions were compared to 2003. Yet unlike that vintage when night time temperatures were steamy, 2015 experienced cooler hours of darkness, and many of the wines do have a pleasant acidity in the mid palate, whilst the best have a crystalline fruit quality and are salivant - mouth-watering.

Notwithstanding the very high July temperatures, picking took place from around the middle of September through to October 7th, with lovely late-season weather giving the fruit plenty of hang time to fully ripen, and producers were able to pick selectively at their leisure ahead of the forecasted rains at the start of the second week in October.

It’s been said Merlot is the standout grape of the vintage and the best since 2010. That’s true of the right bank overall, but not in the Medoc, where the best wines contain 85%-92% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Also, some of the greatest expressions of the vintage are wines that contain significant proportions of Cabernet Franc in their blends. Vieux Chateau Certan, Cheval Blanc, Figeac and Carmes Haut Brion are all gorgeous benchmarks.

Finally the big question: is 2015 in the same league as 2009/ 2010? Or perhaps 2005, a vintage which in our opinion may well prove the equal of 2010.It doesn’t look like it at this stage, and many Negociants and producers we spoke to didn’t look to equate 2015 with the monumental 2010s. This is undoubtedly an excellent vintage. We do not think it is a legendary one.

What’s next?

We'll be sharing our tasting notes of the vintage over the next few days.

You’ll be able to view a number of videos we shot of producer, Negociant and merchant opinion of the vintage and their favourite wines.

We’ll review our recommendations and wines we cautioned against buying early from the 2014 vintage release based on the best wines of the vintage, which we subjected to a rigorous price per points analysis. You’ll be able to judge for yourself how well our ‘buys’ and ‘do not buy early’ guidance has performed in the last year - notwithstanding they are still pre-arrivals.

As prices of Bordeaux 2015s release (which we are told will be a long and drawn out affair this year) we shall publish our price per points analysis, highlighting the buys of the vintage; pinpointing comparable back vintages that look like good value against a range of other vintages; and highlighting the wines that are too highly priced at first release to warrant buying early.




Bordeaux 2015 – hopes and strategies for the new release

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-02-18


Looking ahead to the forthcoming Bordeaux En Primeur release, it seems like there’ll be plenty to be excited about, at least from a quality perspective, and there’s already a good deal of speculation about release strategies.

It’s fascinating that Chateau Mouton Rothschild has come out with a similar announcement to Chateau Latour’s 2013 En Primeur campaign withdrawal. It amounts to essentially the same thing, nuanced differently.

“Sales of our wines in bottle are growing a lot and we’ve got to the point where we don’t have enough bottles left in our cellar."

“We won’t be buying our wine back but we will be releasing less of it en primeur as we have to rebuild our inventory.”

“We haven’t lost faith in the en primeur system but you have to be reasonable with your pricing as there are so many reference points for consumers now.”

This roughly translates, into words that you and I will understand, as: "in an increasingly transparent world where discerning consumers can analyse and evaluate young wines by their relative value to past vintages, the only way we can get an en primeur campaign away is by pricing at a discount to comparable previous vintages, that recognises the end-user buyer needs a reason to buy early. That doesn’t seem to make a great deal of sense if we wish to capitalise on growing worldwide demand. Going forward, we would rather not give that discount away to more than a tiny number of en primeur buyers who will help us establish (hopefully higher) future secondary market pricing. That will create the preconditions for us to capture a much bigger slice of the downstream value of our wines, satisfying shareholder requirements for income growth and capital (land) appreciation.”

With Latour and Mouton effectively ‘out’, how will the remaining Firsts respond next year?

Last year there were only a small handful of wines worth buying early. That’s not to say there were not plenty of lovely wines made in 2014, but very few were sufficiently well priced to justify tying up cash. Given the overall superior quality of 2015, producers will hike up their prices, possibly quite a bit. Given that, it’s quite likely that savvy wine buyers will do well to continue to focus on relative values from comparable back vintages and revisit 2015 in a few years’ time. Meanwhile the impending campaign is bound to throw a spotlight on 2000, 2005 and even the better values within 2009 and 2010.




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