Focus on: Margaux 1996

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-01-18



WO Score: 96

Price: £6,900 per 12

Margaux ’96 has always received rave reviews from the Wine Advocate, whether is was big Bob himself or Neal Martin who awarded it the full 100 in October ’16. Neal does not hand out the perfect score lightly – in fact, barely ever. Our own Nick Martin gave it the full three figures at the Wine Owner’s Margaux dinner last summer although his clout is not quite as heavy!

Left bank 96s deserve a decent allocation in any investment portfolio given their quality, liquidity and age profiles. You could argue the stars here are aligned. Margaux ’90, the only other confirmed 100-point Margaux from vintages still possible to source, enjoyed a chart break out starting last summer (see chart below). The ’96 is trading at a very attractive 47% discount to the ’90 suggesting a strong recommendation. The chart break out may not be around the corner but I’d want to be long when it does.




Recommendation: Buy as a core holding.



Focus on: Margaux 1989

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-01-15


Chateau Margaux - ©Wine Owners Ltd.


WO Score: 95

Price: £4,675 per 12

Margaux ’89 has never received great scores from Robert Parker, with five tasting notes at either 89 or 90 points. His last post on the subject, however, was recorded in 2003. Neal Martin has always been more generous, rating the wine between 92 and 95, the last note dated 2010 – so, again, some time ago. In 2008 Jancis Robinson rewarded the wine with a generous 19 points which, as we know, is a high score from her.

The relatively low (and now aged) scores from Parker have probably always depressed the price performance of Margaux ’89. A more recent note from another critic a bit closer to home, from a dinner only a few months ago, yielded this review: “The generosity of the vintage is evident on the nose, yet the accomplishments of this wine are still hidden, and there’s a sense of more to come. That grainy texture and gorgeous spiced finish are surely harbingers of great things in store for future drinking. As a result, a decent investment to boot for a 10-year view: 94+.”

Margaux ‘89 has always been dwarfed by its much acclaimed sister from the ’90 vintage which currently trades at £13,000 per 12. 1989 and 1990 are often coupled for comparative purposes and have thrown up some intriguing pairs, both for tasting and trading purposes, Haut Brion and Petrus being the most fabled.

As the chart below demonstrates, the prices of Margaux ’89 and ’90 started diverging six months ago and the differential has never been wider. This, coupled with our own notes above, gives us good reason to recommend a purchase.


___ 1989
___ 1990

Recommendation: Buy.


Wine market report Q4 and review of 2018

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-01-11


In a year, and particularly the last quarter, of great uncertainty the wine market has proved to be a place of great refuge - the WO 150 increased by 10.3%. The wine market performance during the fourth quarter of 2018 was flat, having been gently on the rise until December when indices, including the red-hot WO Burgundy Index, came off a little, in line with a noticeable drop off in turnover throughout the market. In the context of all asset classes, this is another demonstration of the low correlation with more conventional investments the wine market enjoys. Ongoing trade wars between China and the U.S. continued to damage confidence across the board, hitting stock markets, both developed and emerging and depreciating the Yuan – a significant factor as we estimate 40% of fine wine by value lands there. As global markets faltered the wine traders of London, the epicentre of the fine wine trading world, were and still are, gripped in the throes of Mrs. May’s desperate attempts to pass her Brexit bill.

The main story of 2018, like 2017, was Burgundy, the index posting a gain of 33%. A combination of Asian-led demand and real scarcity is a powerful dynamic. The biggest names amongst the producers and the grandest crus still dominate; the usual suspects of DRC and Rousseau are still out in front and may always stay that way but Coche-Dury, Dujac, Leroy, Mugnier, Roumier, and Rouget, are some of the names that are hot on their heels and we suspect there are plenty more sitting in behind. Prices of some wines have skyrocketed and are, some may argue, fast becoming the preserve of the insane (or very brave) as they rush headlong into unknown territory! A lot of serious collectors we know have been taking profit in these sorts of examples and are looking for value elsewhere.

The WO Champagne index rose by 8.8% on a feeling of increased interest from investors. Italy and the Rhone both performed respectably. More for reference, as it is so difficulty to source efficiently in the U.K., but the California index was more than respectable with +17.2%




Wine Owners Indices

Dec-17 Dec-18 +%
Wine Owners 150 282 311 10.3%
WO Bordeaux 315 339 7.6%
WO Burgundy 528 701 32.8%
WO Champagne 429 468 9.1%
WO Italy 307 336 9.4%
WO Northern Rhone 300 320 6.7%
WO Southern Rhone 400 452 13.0%
WO California 580 680 17.2%



Burgundy 2017 and beyond

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-12-17


Ahead of the new 2017 releases in early 2019 it's time to report on Burgundy and its news.

2017

Another warm summer produced accessible, fruity wines.

Left to do their thing, the vines were wont to produce very high yields especially in areas hit by frost damage in 2016 as the plants strove to compensate. Yields in Chardonnay were as high as 80 hl/ha. Now that’s a lot.

With a long run of short harvests stretching back to 2009 for several communes, the temptation was to let nature’s abundance run unabated. The trouble is, pinot noir is particularly susceptible to a large crop, so the trick in 2017 was to work to constrain yields.

Just as many over-cropped 1999s are now showing flat, far from being the great wines they might (and should) have been, we shall see which producers in 2017 haven't applied the brakes hard enough in due course.

For those who produced normal yields, 2017 is a delightfully juicy, fruit-forward year. Yet the best wines have more than just fruit: there is a fine mineral structure, a chalkiness and salinity that complements the raspberry coulis, kirsch, griotte, plum and fruit pastille characteristics.

The best pinots show appealing sucrosité with plenty of supporting freshness, which contributes to a sappy, mouth-watering persistence.

Above all I loved the harmony, balance, progression and energy of the best reds. I wouldn’t be surprised if they never shut down, and stay delicious from early on in their development throughout a moderately long drinking window: after all the 1997s are just about still hanging in there these days, and the 2017s have the potential to be rather better.

The perfect 2017 pinot has flowing raspberry fruit, a vinous, kirsch-like refinement, an infusion of Seville oranges and hints at a darker side with liquorice and spice.

The question mark over 2017 is whether a proper degree of intensity has been achieved. The vintage doesn’t seem to reach the same level in general as 2016, and yet the greatest 2017s do rival (and in a few cases surpass) their 1 year old siblings.

2017 is also very much a vintage where the appellations are reflective of their classification. Stepping up through a range from Bourgogne, through village wine and premier cru up to grand cru feels like an exercise in stepping up through the gears, with more oomph and interest at each change.

Whites are generally delicious as long as yields were tightly managed, and though the acidity levels were apparently a little less than in 2016, the very best still show a notable pithiness, a chalkiness and a bright intense citrus core that successfully counterbalances a tropical fruit character of pineapple and guava.



2018

Looking ahead to 2018, this is going to be a very tricky vintage. It was really hot, and the choice of picking date will have been critical.

Many producers were searching for perfect phenolic ripeness, waiting until the pips indicated an expected level of maturity. Some producers believed that perfect phenolic ripeness was not the only deciding factor for picking a harvest date in 2018. Those that were concerned about alcohol levels went early. They got their grapes in as early as the start of the last week of August finishing during the first week of September.

Producers needed to avoid too much extraction in 2018 for fear of introducing bitter flavours, especially those who had gone early. The gentlest of infusions seem at this very early stage to be the making of the best wines. Even so you won’t see many wines straight out of barrel with that trademark shining ruby robe of classic burgundy in 2018.

The most exciting wines tasted from barrel were made from grapes carried in at around 13.5 degrees but there are tales of 15 or (even!) 16 degree behemoths, whilst 14.2-14.5 degrees feels like a norm in the vintage.

The early pickers were fearful of what might happen if they let the alcohol levels rise too far, and they were evidently right. There were very real risks of partially completed fermentations and consequent high residual sugars in the juice. Several producers we spoke to had a battle to restart stalled fermentations, typically by tipping in the lees of another wine that had completed its fermentation more successfully.

The wines are largely dark purple or purple-black, opaque in appearance, and unsurprisingly show exuberant New World fruit and tend to have a mouth-coating texture due to the higher alcohols. There are some who argue that this is a very great vintage in the making; that vintages like 1947 were very hot indeed and yet they have transformed into great old bones. Taking a necessarily broad view at this early stage I would suggest that there are likely to be a rather small number of potentially very great wines.

Amphorae

Fourrier continued experimenting with Amphorae in the 2017 vintage with La Combe aux Moines, but they are sure to come into their own for 2018. The terracotta enables the wine to breathe whilst acting as a totally neutral vessel. This accentuates minerality and produces a wine – if unblended with wine aged in wood – that would be too strict. Certain of his wines including Clos St Jacques and La Combe aux Moines have a proportion of the production being aged within these fabulous looking clay containers for the 2018 vintage. The finished wine will be blended with the other part of the vineyard in barrels. It will be fascinating to see the results – could these turn out to be some of the greatest wines ever made at this wonderful domaine?




2017 – The year that distribution changed

Producers are not blind to the fact that certain merchants have been selling their UK en primeur allocations to Asia, notably Hong Kong. They are not happy to discover that importers cross geographical boundaries, even if the wines sold may be subsequently stored for a period of time in the UK.

Nor are their agents impressed, who have the clout to recommend their producers shift allocation to where demand is currently being met indirectly.

As a result certain top producers have withdrawn a significant part of their allocation to the UK in favour of Asia, even though there is much more wine this year to go round - in some cases up to 3 times the quantity of 2016.

2017 pricing

With Brexit uncertainty depressing the Pound, more wine not necessarily translating into larger allocations for the UK, and the secondary Burgundy market having risen substantially during the course of 2018, there are few reasons to imagine that prices will fall. Which makes it a tricky call for consumers who don't want to lose their allocations and yet this is one of the most uncertain of times. High release prices for great vintages such as 2015 and 2016 were swallowed. We will have to see how digeste 2017 proves to be.


Reappraising 2005 Burgundy

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-10-22


Omar Khan’s Business & Wine events are hedonistic epics of wine indulgence and learning, and October 2018’s event at The Four Seasons on Park Lane was no exception.

Bouchard’s 2005s are a stunning set of wines, and when compared with 2015 showed fabulous balance and freshness. A beautiful menu that proved a perfect foil to the great wines served including Chevalier Montrachet La Cabotte 2002 and Beaune Greves La Vigne L’Enfant Jesus 1976 demonstrated how unfair Michelin can be in its treatment of hotel establishments compared with independent restaurants: Romuald Feger deserves a couple of stars!

By the time Henriot bought Bouchard Pere et Fils in 1995, the venerable House, founded in 1731 had found itself in a bit of a financial squeeze. New oak barrels were rationed and the wine maker was making do.

Herriot’s purchase changed all of that, and by 2005 Bouchard was well and truly reestablished as one of the great Burgundy Houses, and a microcosm of Burgundy itself with vineyard holdings representative of practically every commune across the Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits. The responsibility of this unique heritage is keenly understood by Henriot: so that for consumers discovering Burgundy, whose initial enthusiasm can so easily be diverted by an underwhelming experience, Bouchard Pere et Fils offer a swathe of benchmark wines.



Tasting a cross section of the 2005 Burgundies compared with the 2015 vintage highlighted a number of exceptional terroirs. It also showcased the very high quality of the 2005 vintage. It may well be that 2015 was a much more successful version of 2009, with the warmth of the vintage kept fresh and with retained definition of fruit thanks to more controlled wine making, but on this showing the wines are less precise and less fresh than 2005. Maybe they just need more time; sometimes the intrinsic balance of a wine changes shape over the course of the early years in bottle. Let’s hope that’s the case with these 2015s because the whites in particular need to freshen up.

A little more on the 2005 vintage chez Bouchard. These are, in a word, brilliant. We suspect most Burgundy-philes have resisted broaching their 2005s for fear of encountering a tannic behemoth, such are the tales of untamed structure in the top wines. This range tells a very different story: of freshness; blood orange mid palates, confit fruit illuminated with beaded acidity, and the sort of drive and energy that makes you want to dribble into your poulet de bresse aux tropettes de morts. Of course there’s structure too, but it’s balanced, provides focus and is more than offset by oodles of rich juicy fruit.

Ot the reds L’Enfant Jesus showed the precision of the Beaune Greves vineyard, with a bright thrust of energy, resonance and depth, and a mid palate veined with blood orange and black chocolate. This is a wine for the ages.

Le ‘Le Corton’ is a great red terroir, produced from a vineyard which is also permitted for white Corton. This 2005 doesn’t have the earthy depths of a Bressandes, but exhibits great drive, energy, a concentrated confit mid-plate and is very elegant. A more delicately formed Corton and in my view all the better for it.

Volnay Caillerets 2005 is a more forward wine, although the term is relative in context of the preceding wines. Aromatically spiced with a dark liquorice sweetened mid palate that has a creamy texture, a good sense of energy with oranges present on the finish.

On the night the Chevalier Montrachet 2005 was chalky and mineral, insinuating in its attack before gradually but determinedly building intensity. Very, very long. Le Montrachet 2005 was a powerhouse but so, so primary; a tough one to judge other than elementally and so to try to anticipate something extraordinary in the coming decades.

On this showing, other than recommending you fill your boots with Bouchard 2005s, you might want to check if 2005 Burgundies are well enough represented in your cellar. If not, they’re not going to get any cheaper as they get closed to the start of their drinking windows, so now’s as good a time as any to start looking for some.




2016 red Bordeaux tasting UGC London 16th October 2018

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-10-17


When tasted from barrel in the spring of 2017, it was very evident that this was a vintage with loads of extract, with one of the highest ever IPT levels ever recorded in Bordeaux. IPT is a measure of the combined phenolic compounds in the juice - principally tannins and colorants responsible for the red, purple and blue hues in grapes. Large bunches of rather small berries meant high skin to juice ratios.

We suspected that the finest wines were those who extractions were gentle - neatly summarised by Frédéric Faye at Chateau Figeac who described their fermentation process as an ‘infusion’ with the gentlest of extractions achieved from the submerged cap.

With the proviso that the 2016s have been in bottle for as little as 3 months, this was an opportunity to re-taste a selection and test our original impressions from 18 months ago.

The more extracted wines with highest IPT levels were evident, and at this stage it has to be said that they were the least harmonious. Where there was a desire to make full use of, or to accentuate, all the elements proffered by nature, the palate tended to be dominated by raw power, the scale undeniable but at the expense of charm for now.

The structure of 2016, hidden under a cloak of velvety fruit and sweet tannins when barrel samples, was much more evident now the wines are in bottle, and this structure allied to tremendously aromatic fruit in the best examples, affirms 2016 as a vintage with some truly great wines in the making.

It’s not just a great cabernet sauvignon vintage either, with some of the right bank merlots absolutely stunning. La Conseillante that had seemed a little sweet and svelte at the property in April 2017 is now brilliantly pitched, with extremely expressive and aromatic fruit held in check by an impressive frame of tannins.

What was slightly surprising however, was the wide variation. Those who are tempted to categorise 2016 as a uniformly great vintage will be disappointed; there is plenty of dull wine. The difference between the vintage's heights and the good average is a chasm.

The Northern Medoc had an especially successful vintage, with Cantermerle showing excellent concentration and focus, and my pick of the appellation at en primeur, Citran, showing all of its former promise and more. Could this be the bargain of the vintage?

Domaine de Chevalier has made an epic red, with great substance and lovely resonance, and on this showing had the better of the high-in-cabernet-franc Carmes Haut-Brion. Though evidently fine fruited, Haut Bailly’s firm tannins are a bit overwhelming for now. Both Pape Clement and Smith Haut Lafitte major on great substance and scale, but show a raw or unknit character at this early stage.

Canon was showing very defined fruit with loads of grip but for now felt very slightly loose on the finish. Figeac has managed to combine stunning definition, texture, harmony and length and on this showing must be a 100 point wine in the making.

Gazin was absolutely charming with an impressively solid core. La Conseillante as already mentioned was a hit.

St Estephe and Pauillac were as good as expected given how fine the Cabernet was from this upper part of the Medoc peninsular, and wines from Cos Labory and Phelan Segur were notably excellent at their price levels.

Clerc Milon had stood out as exceptional in April 2017, and now in bottle shows impressive density, a huge finish and attractive gaminess. D’Armailhac was extremely exciting, packed with red fruit and finely beaded acidity and plenty of accompanying structure. Pichon Longueville Comtesse was one of the stars of the en primeur tasting and once again stood out for its super-refinement: unquestionably a top wine of the vintage.

In St Julien the Bartons stood out. Langoa was svelte, intense, showed gorgeous scale and definition at a very attractive price point. Leoville Barton was another league and heads above the other St Juliens. Huge, but super fresh, light-footed, with a mouthwatering blood orange infused core and a very direct, linear finish. One of the greatest wines of the vintage.

Lagrange was fine, the tannins so ripe and silky that their velvety texture cloak its underlying structure, just as it did when tasted in London a year ago. Talbot was back to it’s very best, likely up there with its beautifully balanced 1982.

The Margaux appellation in the main was not quite as exciting as the magnificent 2015s, a vintage in which the commune excelled. However one stood out for it’s stunning definition and extraordinary elegance. A fitting wine to finish this round-up of 2016s in bottle. Beautifully textured. A wine that simply flows across the palate with effortless grace. It helps that it’s also one of the most under-rated wines in the whole of Bordeaux, sitting as it does on great terroir. The wine in question is Chateau Dufort-Vivens, Second Growth Margaux, fully biodynamic, and an outstanding success in 2016.


Chateau Margaux dinner with Thibault Pontallier

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-10-16


We had the pleasure to share a wonderful Chateau Margaux dinner with our members and the estate's ambassador Thibault Pontallier at La Trompette last week. The line up encompassed Chateau Margaux 1983, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1996, 1999, 2004, and a surprise magnum of 2000, preceded by Pavillon Blanc 2015 and Pavillon Rouge 2000 and 2009.



Pavillon Blanc 2015

Mineral nose, chalky, white currants, and saline. In other words a lot going on! Bright attack, palate follows the profile of the nose with addition of seville oranges and attractively bitter pith, green guava, and a fruit bush leafiness before ending on a firm finish.

2022-2030

94

Wine Owners view

A great investment in future drinking - one of the most complex of white Bordeaux, with refinement and structure for the long haul, and will be impossible to find in the future.


Pavillon Rouge 2009

A controlled, spicy nose, intense cassis, fresh blackcurrant leaf. Surprisingly cool from such a warm vintage, great grain to the wine’s texture, full of future promise, with depth and focus.

2023-2035

93+

Wine Owners view

Hitting the level of a second growth, Pavillon rouge is a grand wine in 2009, more expressive than the Grand Vin at this stage, yet with the same sense of balance and poise. Chip off the old block.

Pavillon Rouge 2000

Complex pine infused nose. Dry aromatic attack, gorgeous definition and a fine persistence. A touch of gaminess, roses, and spruce tips on the mid palate, the fruit evolving into a broad savoury finish enlivened with sappy, uplifting acidity.

Now to 2025

95

Wine Owners view

Mature and exciting with lots of complexity within which it’s easy to pick out individual flavours. So plenty of wine to make a special occasion a bit more special.



Margaux 1983

Aromatically expressive, a spiced attack preludes a charming medium-weight classic claret of supreme elegance and harmony. A gentle finish that nevertheless remains very elegant and delightfully complete.

Now to 2023

93

Wine Owners view

A great drink for right now, majoring on Margaux’s famed subtlety. Still possible to find in the secondary market around £350-£400 per bottle, which given its age and refinement is something of a steal. Hard to think of better First Growth value for money.

Margaux 1986

Heady, spiced, with a touch of iodine creating an intoxicating blend. Resolved on the palate, very good intensity allied to racy acidity. Fine scale with oranges and cloves on the long finish.

Now to 2025

95

Wine Owners view

1986 was a happy surprise due to the energy and resonance of the vintage. We wouldn’t keep it much longer but another strong buy for drinking around £400 per bottle.

Margaux 1989

Gorgeous overt nose, great length and grain, sappy with rising aromatics, a twist of liquorice and a cloved finish.

2020-2035

94+

Wine Owners view

The generosity of the vintage is evident on the nose, yet the accomplishments of this wine are still hidden, and there’s a sense of more to come. That grainy texture and gorgeous spiced finish are surely harbingers of great things in store for future drinking. As a result, a decent investment to boot for a 10 year view.

Margaux 1990

Saline, gamey nose and an energetic and velvet-textured attack, counter-balanced and infused with blood orange. Great resonance and breadth, visceral, spiced finish, and a whiff of very attractive sweet chloroform right at the finish. Very, very long. A great wine.

Now to 2030

98+

Wine Owners view

The velour and silky density of this wine makes it a beauty for enjoyment right now, and sure enough it was wine of the night for the majority of attendees. There’s more to go but will it ever be as lovely as it is now? Expect to pay £720+ per bottle so one for the collector who is looking for the very best vintages of Margaux.



Margaux 1996

Svelte Nose, and then at the outset, so young and fresh. Tannins still present. A large scaled, monumental wine of extraordinary length yet extremely primary. An absolute baby in other words! With time in the glass the aromatics really open up. There is great intensity and a wonderful centre to this wine. Tonight 1990 gives more pleasure, but the sense of energy and drive in this wine along with all the other elements suggest a great, great Margaux in the making for 2025 onwards.

2025-2050

Wine Owners view

This is going to be mind-bendingly good. Though it lacks the resolution and some of the warmth of the 1990, it makes up for that in sheer energy, focus and intensity in its core. This elemental wine is still good value at around £500+ per bottle and would be an obvious choice as an investment, or buy now and wait 15 years to for a thrilling vinous experience as close as any gets to a concept of the perfect wine.

100

Margaux 2000 (Magnum)

A wine that is already resolved but at the beginning of its plateau. Spiced, cloves, sweet chloroform. Great energy, definition and depth on the finish, enlivened by a fine thread of acidity that uplifts the fruit. Very long and all the while gaining in energy through the impressive finish.

2018-2033

97

Wine Owners view

The overriding sense one has here is of harmony. Balanced and complete, spiced and heady with the signs of further maturity a short few years away. For many palates this is completely ready but an interesting addition to any Bordeaux lover’s cellar for its immediacy and near term potential.



Fine wine investment strategies

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-09-19


This is an extract of Wine Owners' Collecting and Investing in Fine Wine guide. You can download if for free here.


Short-term? Long-term?

Generally speaking, wine investments perform best over a minimum period of around 5 years.

There is no single ‘right answer’ of course. Some very active collectors sell and reinvest as soon as they see a fixed return, following speculative market momentum. Other collectors tend to hold for long periods of time— and although they may go through periods of flat or negative growth, typically they benefit from shifts in supply and demand; when demand pulls significantly ahead of supply, prices tend to move sharply reflecting that imbalance. Longer-term strategies may also benefit from partial realisation of profits to mitigate the risks of re-ratings.

Wine has periods of both high and low performance, just like any other investment class. Medium- and long-term holds tend to perform more consistently as a result. They also give investors the option to enjoy matured wines (i.e drink rather than sell), if their financial circumstances improve such that personal enjoyment of the wine becomes more significant than the financial value of selling it.



Vintage follower vs. perennial buyer

A common refrain among some investors is “the best wines from the best vintages”. It’s practically a matter of pride having exclusively the best wines in their portfolios.

However, this approach does not fit with the reality of how buyers are allocated wine at first release by merchants. Nor is it necessarily a good idea.

With Bordeaux, this ‘best-vintages-only’ policy is relatively easy to maintain. There is no particular need to buy off-vintages because the wines are produced in volume, and are widely distributed.

But things are different for scarcity-led markets such as top Burgundy, Barolo and cult Californians. Here, supply is low, demand is high and distribution channels are narrow. The net result is that suppliers can apply pressure on consumers to buy a particular wine every vintage, or else lose their right to an allocation next year. With so many customers vying for these wines, merchants can choose to give their best allocations to their best (most consistent) customers. Maintaining an allocation of these wines, therefore, requires consistent buying every vintage, irrespective of quality.

Cherry-picking vintages doesn’t always work, either. Vintages which are heavily touted initially are not always those considered the best in the fullness of time. Piedmont 1997 was considered a stellar vintage early on, but today the favour falls with less-hot vintages such as 1998, 1999 and 2001. And this works both ways; Burgundy 2002 was largely unloved at release, but has now evolved into one of the all-time greats.


Relative value picking 

Identifying value is vital for both short- and long-term performance. How do you select which new releases to pick, or determine which vintages of a wine represent the best value?

Picking the best prospects is now simple. Use relative value analysis to find sweet spots between market pricing and (carefully weighted) critic ratings.

To determine whether Le Pin 2017 is a sensible en primeur purchase, the analysis below compares it with four earlier vintages. The Relative Value Score shows that 2017 is a more attractive buy than the higher-rated 2015 and 2016 vintages. It also confirms that 2012 offers better value (at current market prices, factoring in current critic ratings) than any of the other four vintages.


This is an extract of Wine Owners' Collecting and Investing in Fine Wine guide. You can download if for free here.


Rioja was Spain’s answer to Bordeaux

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-09-14


Rioja was Spain’s answer to Bordeaux - incredibly high quality AND quantity produced from noble grape varieties (in Rioja’s case Tempranillo). 

Back in the 1950s and 1960s the large Rioja houses were making wine of extraordinary quality to rival their Bordeaux neighbours to the north. By the 1980s and 1990s many Bodegas had let standards slip (with a few notable exceptions) and the outside world turned away from Rioja, creating a self fulfilling downward qualitative spiral. Since the early 2000s the region has turned itself around, make serious investments, and more recent vintages have attained (or perhaps even bettered?) the heights achieved of their great post-war vintages. 

Rioja prices are still great value but the world is catching on, the positive cycle is established an the region’s future as a blue chip wine producing region is more or less assured.

The following shows the jump in the last 12 months of Rioja prices compared to the general Spanish Index (in which there is a hefty Rioja set of constituents as well). 

For the budding collector, without access to unlimited funds, Rioja is the obvious region to buy into on a 10-year view.


Up and coming Burgundy

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-06-28


Whilst expensive Burgundies make the headlines, there's another revolution taking place that is transforming the qualitative level of winemaking more generally in Burgundy.

Revolution

It's a revolution that's very different to the one caused by an influx of corporate cash snapping up top domaines that produce some of the region’s most sought-after wines.

Daughters and sons who are graduating from l’école viticole, and who spend their stages at new world wineries or with progressive in-region vignerons, are taking best practises in the vines and chais back to familial domaines and transforming quality of those wines. Other offspring are going it alone, relying on their social network to buy grapes from friends and friends of family. And still others are coming back to their roots, turning their back on a career in Paris for the siren call of the Côte d’Or.

In a way there’s a relationship between the two; the big money coming in is offering the promise of a wealthier future to the next generation.

Must buys

Within this dynamic atmosphere there are lots of value buying opportunities. One doesn’t have to be a millionaire to own and to drink Burgundy. But you need to be quicker to claim an early allocation than previously. Prices of new discoveries rise fast. Whereas in the past it would have taken many vintages of successes before a domaine became established enough to justify rapid price hikes, these days positive press and ensuing price escalation can happen quickly.

How do I discover new producers?

Follow your favourite merchants – they’ll organise events or dinners at which the wines they represent can be tasted, allowing you to figure out which of the wines they are offering you think are the real deal.

Follow the critics – Neal Martin is now at Vinous, William Kelley has assumed the mantle at robertparker.com and Steen Öhman is busy discovering new talent at Winehog.

The blog format of Winehog is well suited to reading about new discoveries, where he’s picked up on Thibaud (Y) Clerget, Nicolas Faure, his fiancée Amelie Berthaut at Berthaut-Gerbet, Maxime Cheurlin at Georges Nöellat, Duroché, Jean-Marc Bouley, Arnaud Tessier, and Jean-Marc Vincent to highlight a range of notable domaines.


Charmes Dessus 2012, Domaine Tessier © Nick Martin

His latest discovery is Marthe Henri Boillot in Mersault, a true ‘start up’ having returned to pick up the remnants of her grandfather’s estate and has cut sourcing deals with friends.

It’s a familiar story. Down the road in Santenay Jean-Marc and Anne-Marie Vincent picked up the reins of his grandfather’s lapsed estate back in the late 1990s, and have transformed it into by far the best domaine of Santenay, making wines of great succulence, nerve and aromatic complexity. In fact, his reputation as one of the best true vignerons on the whole Côte is widely recognised by many other top producers all the way up into the Côte de Nuits.

They say birds of a feather flock together. Just look at Jean-Marc’s vigneron network, and you discover producers who share the same qualitative ethic and who are in search of constant improvements; producers such as Olivier Lamy, Jean-Marc Bouley and the passionately intense, super-fit Bruno Lorenzon in Mercurey.


Jean-Marc Vincent © Nick Martin

High density planting, low plant yields, vine training to minimise stress on the vine’s foot, braiding à la Leroy, soil microbial activity/ fertility, low sulphur addition late on in the winemaking process, rigorous triages of natural corks - are typical leitmotifs of these, and a growing number of young, ambitious producers.

In Vosne-Romanée, the brilliant and young family winemaker at Arnoux-Lachaux, Charles, has employed the braided training technique of his heroine Lalou-Bize Leroy to magical effect in his Aux Reignot vineyard, adding definition, an extraordinary energy and drive to this profound wine that is Grand Cru in everything but name. Arnoux Lachaux’s prices have skyrocketed so in that sense that particular ship has sailed; plenty are yet to leave port.


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