by Wine Owners
Posted on 2018-02-09
Today’s post comes from Jonathan Reeve, Wine Owners’ newest team member. Jonathan joined us in January, after eight busy years at Wine-Searcher.com. You can reach him, if you feel so inclined, at Wine Owners HQ: +44 (0)2072784377
Yes ladies and gentlemen, V-day is imminent, but no we are not going to feed you a regurgitated list of the ‘best Valentines wines to buy for your loved one’. We are instead devoting this post to a quick look at Passion Assets. Topical and actually interesting. And profitable.
They’re big news, and we’re hearing about them more and more. They’re becoming more…well, passionable. So what are passion assets? And why is wine the best passion asset?
Quick definition: Passion assets are essentially high-value luxury products such as fine wine, vintage watches, classic cars and antiques, which can be invested in for profit. Although originally created for some practical or aesthetic function, over time these products acquire a purely abstract financial value, born of a shared appreciation among the collective group of x lovers (wine lovers, watch lovers, car lovers etc.).
Passion assets are purchased initially because they have an emotional attachment, and are attractive in some way; they’re beautiful to taste, hold or look at. But because their value is simultaneously concrete and abstract, they are both a good store of wealth and a profitable investment. In truth, their investment performance is almost a coincidence. But what a beautiful coincidence that is. And there’s your answer; that’s why they’re quite so popular;
Since 2008 interest in tangible assets has grown massively. Rock-bottom interest rates and fears of market volatility have led investors to switch to investments which they can actually hold or touch, whose reality is more than just zeros and ones of stock market computer code. And what do those investors turn to when selecting these tangible assets? Things that they’re passionate about. Passion assets. Wine tops the list.
“Wine is the best passion asset.” Well, I would say that – I have wine passion. But genuinely, I mean it. I also have watch passion, and car passion, but I don’t invest in either of those. Investment wines may well be the only passion asset whose investment value begins from day one. Cars don’t become classics, watches don’t become ‘vintage’, and antiques don’t become antique until years after the initial purchase. Top-end investment wines, however, begin acquiring value from day one, as they leave the winery forecourt. If only cars did that…
It isn’t just me saying all this, either. Knight Frank say it too. Their Wealth Report 2017 confirmed wine as the world’s best-performing passion asset. Have a look at the Knight Frank Fine Wine Icons Index.
And here’s another reason. Which other passion asset gives you the opportunity to create such a diverse, romantic collection as wine? Not to mention flavourful. Every vintage brings several hundred products to select from and obsess over. Most collectors have their personal favourite producers, on top of the core handful which are mutually agreed by all as the ‘blue chip’ investment wines. And laid over this is the added dimension of the vintages themselves, dating back many decades, and even centuries in some exceptional cases. It’s hard to understate the power of a good vintage to spark adrenaline in wine collectors and investors.
And one last reason. Wine is more than the world’s most profitable passion asset; it’s also the most widely collected, and therefore one of the most stable. Win, win, win.
You get the picture. I think wine is a pretty excellent investment. If none of my points above have swayed you to my point of view, consider the following. If it all goes wrong, and the world pulls itself to pieces, as the warheads soar overhead and the bullets whizz past, would you rather sit in an antique chair counting down the seconds on an old watch, or would you rather pour and enjoy a glass of fantastic wine. Think about it. Happy Valentines Day.
P.S. If you really must hunt out a Valentine-themed wine, try Calon Ségur. It has a heart on the label, and happens to be performing very well as a passion asset.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2017-10-26
What a treat to welcome Matthieu Bordes to a Lagrange dinner in London, with a full house of Wine Owners’ enthusiasts around the table.
Matthieu was subsequently described by one member in attendance as ‘informative, congenial and charming’. His passion for Lagrange shone through. Matthieu is both boss (Directeur Générale) and the wine maker since 2013, the year that extensive modernisations were also made to their wine-making facilities.
Chateau Lagrange is an unmorcelated parcel to the west of the commune of St Julien, classified as a 3rd Growth in 1855. Owned by Japanese beverage giant Suntory, it’s very much run with a free hand by the local management team.
Arums de Lagrange 2016
The tasting kicked off with the estate’s white wine, Les Arums de Lagrange 2016, comprising sauvignon blanc, semillon and a dollop of muscadelle. Arum is a form of hardy lily, and the name is aptly chosen. Les Arums is delightful with a delicate nose and very attractive purity. There’s no trace no heaviness, nor any overt cépage character, due to the gentle handling of the fruit and a balance between barrel fermentation and a period of élevage in steel. It’s drinking beautifully already: there’s clarity to the fruit underpinned by appealing freshness. No need for a Coravin with this one; it’s too tempting to drink the whole bottle!
Chateau Lagrange 2015
A fitting guard of honour for the 2016 vintage that followed. There’s a benchmark cedar nose, with warm and inviting fruit. The initial impression on the nose is of a lush wine, yet the attack is firm, and the fruit is beautifully pure – crystalline. There’s impressive intensity, but at present without the sense of coiled energy of the greatest vintages. Nevertheless this will drink well moderately young, with its warm and inviting nature unlikely to turn taciturn. Very impressive given it had only recently been bottled, a time when wines can pass through an unsociable teenage phase. We wouldn’t be surprised if this gained much more length with time.
Chateau Lagrange 2016
Unsurprisingly with a barrel sample, the nose is on the 2016 is un-evolved, with primary, juicy fruit to the fore. The initial impression at first sip is that the wine is elegant and of medium weight, with a mild savoury streak adding interest. This is an insinuating wine though, whose accomplishments and embellishments become apparent progressively with time in the glass. The tannins are so ripe and silky that their velvety texture cloaks a very considerable underlying structure to the fruit. IPT levels were rather high within the best sectors in 2016, essentially a measure of tannin and colorant from skins, pips and vegetal matter. That substance is very much in evidence chez Lagrange, with a delightful balance that suggests great class. Magnificent.
Chateau Lagrange 2005
We’ve always been fans of those 2005s where the wine making wasn’t unduly extracted, and this Lagrange ticks that box. There’s a dusting of white pepper on the nose, with a blast of kirsch and liquorice. The attack is sweetly fruited, with black ripe cherry dominating the mid palate, and a liqueur-like texture. The finish is heady and visceral. A soulful wine, and very well balanced too. Destined to drink sooner than some other 2005s but with the wherewithal to sustain a long drinking window.
Chateau Lagrange 2009
The nose is extremely fruity yet somehow delivers an impression of being very well integrated. There is enormous intensity to the 2009, with cloves, liquorice, chocolate and blackcurrants, wrapped up in a beautiful texture. The ripeness of the tannins is defining, providing a structure and focus to a bold wine. 27% Merlot, 63% Cabernet Sauvignon. This will need a number of years to properly resolve, by which time the evidently exotic bouquet and textured palate should ensure it develops into a wine reminiscent of 1982 St Juliens.
Chateau Lagrange 1996
Shifting away from young wines with a long life ahead, the 1996 surprised with its maturity. The nose is gamey, with leather notes, and savoury aromatics of smoked meat and sweet wood scents. On the palate there’s a satisfying depth to the wine, in common with other successful 1996s, yet with less noticeable acidity at this stage of evolution than many other top crus classés. Cloves, liquorice and blond tobacco dominate the mid palate before an attractive finish. The freshness of the vintage is seamlessly resolved into the whole. There’s a significant 7% of Petit Verdot in the blend that salt and peppers the 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 27% Merlot. This is a success offering good value drinking now. If you haven’t already decided on the wine to serve with the Turkey, duck or goose this Christmas, look no further.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2017-10-09
The first of 3 dinners to taste through 61 red Bordeaux ‘Growths’ classified in 1855, the 2007 vintage had been kindly provided by 2 wine enthusiast brothers who were keen to share this extensive horizontal with fellow members.
The wines were cleverly organised into suitable flights to accompany each dinner course by Christopher Delalonde, resident Master Sommelier at The Don on St Swithins Lane, ensuring a peak was hit with the glorious venison main course, with further high spots to be enjoyed in the tail-end of supporting wines.
Given the less than enthusiastic press on the 2007 vintage, the wines showed a remarkable degree of consistency. 2007 was not a vintage to try to force, and the great successes at all levels of affordability and rank were those founded on balance and the natural aromatics of the vintage. Whilst bargains are far and few between, some of the lesser known Crus still represent good value for money. At the top end, the Firsts and most of the Seconds showed their class and the value of their top terroirs.
| Cru || Note || |
| Croizet Bages, Pauillac, 5th || Fruit forward, spiced nose. Licorice leads the creamy attack, round supple mid palate. Fresh orange zest on the finish provides focus and suggests there's plenty of scope for near-term future development. Still young and promising. || 92 |
| Cos d'Estournel, St Estephe, 2nd || Cool nose, spiced and generously perfumed. Savoury with with a saline element, and a texture reflecting fine, grainy tannins on the already resolved attack. Lifted, sappy, fruity mid palate and a finish that ends on a sweet crescendo. Delicious already, with plenty of future potential, and avoiding the overextraction of 2009/2010 vintages. || 95 |
| Prieuré Lichine, Margaux, 4th || Cool, spiced nose with trademark Margaux perfume. Savoury attack and mid palate, with a blast of licorice. A little obvious and currently a disjointed finish. Mid weight, but this might just be a bit young and yet come together. || 88 |
| Pouget, Margaux, 5th || First time I've ever tasted this Cru? That I can recall. Lovely, sappy nose: a sense of freshness and vitality. Fruity, rounded attack with the dry character of the fruit lending firmness. Mid weight mid palate, with an intriguing orange zest twist to the finish. Balanced and attractive. One to seek out at a bargain price as a household staple for Sunday lunch, given it's anonymity (and relative lack of buyer interest) in the market? || 91 |
| La Lagune, Haut Médoc, 3rd || Perfumed nose betraying it's proximity to Margaux to the North and close to La Garonne. Energetic attack, meaty notes, and lightly spiced blend to create a strong appeal. Only a medium length finish lets it down, but still lots to like. || 90+ |
| Pedesclaux, Pauillac, 5th || Pre the recent renaissance under Lorenzetti, who since 2009 bought 12 hectares next to Lafite and Mouton to enlarge and improve this forgotten Cru. It needed rescuing based on this showing: Licorice infused nose, slightly bright point of attack, nice density but with a bright acidity that isn't integrated and overall paraxodically shows as rather neutral. || 86 |
| Dauzac, Margaux, 5th || Spiced nose, savoury and round. Rather dull and flat in character. Recalls the edgeless wine recipes made by producers for Naked Wine. Think Barry Manilow (unless you like Barry Manilow in which case think of someone else). || 84 |
| Chateau Batailley, Pauillac, 5th || White pepper seasoned nose, griottes and cedar. Attractive cedary attack too with enough acidity to be mouthwatering. Firm, classic claret with enough cut to accompany the foie gras. Being picky, the mid palate came across as hollow on this showing. || 88+ |
| Desmirail, Margaux, 3rd || Quite a neutral nose, on its reserve. Restrained. But the texture shows grainy tannins, offers an elegant intepretation of the appellation, and shows good persistence. The mid palate is dominated by its savoury character at present. Given it was part of the vast Rauzan estate in olden times (together with Rauzan Segla and Gassies), it probably should be offering more than is evident today. || 88 |
| Haut Brion, Pessac, 1st || Liquor-like aromas intermingle with perfume on the nose. There's a stunning, illuminated attack with crystalline red fruit predominating. Superb energy driving into the long, long finish. Primary for now, this is not yet showing any of the unique Haut Brion Graves character one might expect, of charcoal, smoke and stoney minerality. It will come in time - give it 15+ years. Demonstrating once again how good Haut Brion is in off-years (or average years to give 2007 its dues). || 96 |
| La Tour Carnet, Haut-Medoc, 4th || As ambitious as its master, Bernard-Magrez, this is a big wine. A liquory nose leads you in, where the palate is rich, with confit fruit leavened with cedar. Modern but nevertheless quite impressive, it offers value and should settle down with age into a gentler form with a little more refinement. Very recent vintages have pulled back are are a bit more restrained. || 89 |
| Pichon Baron, Pauillac, 2nd || Very creamy nose, anis seeds adding aromatic complexity to the dominant oak influence. Huge cedary attack., sweet fruited mid palate, where the spice and licorice kicks in. Creamy oak influence evident here too. Impressive in its style, but I personally would have preferred more elegance for a Super Second. Yet it's young, needs time, and is an engaging wine for those who are attracted to its powerful form. || 92+ |
| Calon Ségur, St Estephe, 3rd || Always a 'giving' Cru with a good dose of Merlot, the nose immediately shows off its fruit, which is shot through with graphite. Nice intensity to the attack, creamy yet balanced, with an underlying exuberance that's contained. Medium length to the finish which ends a little flat. The ending lets the whole down for now, but may well gain in energy and interest with age. || 92+ |
| D'Issan, Margaux, 3rd || Another estate owned by Lorenzetti, who has been making improvements here for longer than at Pedesclaux. Fruity nose, with gamey notes and a trademark D'Issan salinity. There's a super energy to the mid-palate, fruity then savoury and with great progression. Super-fresh, bright acidity is well integrated into the fruit, and is unforced in its style though I'd prefer a touch more finesse. This should develop very well with time, and should make finer old bones. || 92 |
| Lafite, Pauillac 1st || Creamy nose, black pepper, but very much on its reserve. Superb intensity and an aromatic, floral quality to the fruit. This is defined at this stage of its evolution by refined tannins, is very persistent on the palate and leads into a rich, confit lemon finish. Stunning but terribly young for now. Should be magnificant in 10-20 years. || 96+ |
| Beychevelle, St Julien, 4th || White pepper nose, a fine attack and a round mid palate, nicely integrated but a bit simple overall. For the cash, one expects more. || 88 |
| Kirwan, Margaux, 3rd || Perfumed nose, confit, sticky fruit on a rich attack leading to a thickly textured, disjointed mid-palate. I can't help feel it would be a lot more interesting if it followed the less interventionist approach of D'Issan. Disappointing. || 88 |
| Grand Puy Ducasse, Pauillac, 5th || Perfumed nose, licorice notes, Firm attack, medium weight fruity mid palate with the right amount of freshness to lend lift and definition, and a citric thread driving the finish. Surprisingly good. Perhaps we're so used to the excellence and consistency of Grand Puy Lacoste we're overlooked a 'value' Growth here? || 91 |
| Leoville Barton, St Julien, 2nd || Balanced, classy perfumed nose is a big step up. Very energetic attack leads to a mid palate showing real complexity, mixing savoury notes with licorice and creamy red fruits. Good length, lovely. || 93+ |
| Ducru Beaucaillou, St Julien, 2nd || Cedar and saline nose with a dash of perfume that adds complexity. Smooth entry, svelte fruit on the palate, giving the impression overall of a very polished wine. It's quite possible this is less mute on the palate than was my impression, and that the reserved nature of the fruit augurs well for the future. Somewhat worse for wear by this end point, the note was correspondingly short! || 92+ |
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2017-08-09
Caroline and Ludovic Decoster from Chateau Fleur Cardinale
Wine Owners: What is your greatest moment/regret as a winemaker?
Caroline Decoster: It’s a little bit sad to start this interview by a regret, but I have to say that we lost 95% of our vineyard in one night last April. It was heartbreaking. We’ve already invested in new machines, called Frostguards, for the end of the year, that will prevent us for this kind of catastrophe, but our main regret is not to have had them before.
WO: In what ways have your wine making changed over the last 10 years.
CD: The global warming has affected our wine making. We are located in the coolest part of the appellation of Saint-Emilion, which means that we have a late ripening terroir. Ripening the berries over the past decades could had been difficult in this part of Saint-Emilion, because of the lower temperatures during October - which is the moment of the year when we usually harvest. But nowadays, due to this global warming, we can benefit from Indian summers year after year, to reach the optimal ripeness effortlessly.
WO: What vintage are you proudest of?
CD: It’s very easy to be proud of a successful vintage. Like in 2010 and 2015, the wine growers were most of all very lucky, thanks to good conditions all year long. But in difficult vintages, all the right decisions that we took in tough moments were decisive to make a good wine in the end. Like in 2014 and 2016 : after months of rain and cold temperatures, the sun came back at the end of the summer, and everybody was so excited to finally have good conditions of ripening, that some vineyards completely de-leafe the bunches, which could be a mistake in some cases: the weeks after that we’d had the hottest temperatures for September since 50 years. We did not de-leafe completely, because we were sure that everything could still happen, and it was the right decision to take.
WO: If you had to define your wines/domaine in one sentence?
CD: Lots of wine owners will say how passionate they are about their wines : but we believe that passion can isolate you and make you blind. That’s why we rather prefer to talk about the « enthusiasm » that we have for our life, a positive and dynamic way of life that we want to share in each glass of Fleur Cardinale, with a lively fruit, and wine with a great energy.
WO: Tell us about your terroir & microclimate, and your approach to winemaking.
CD: The vineyard is located at the east of Saint-Emilion, on one of the highest points of the appellation, and is planted on clay-limestone soil in the middle of the hillsides. The planting is 75% Merlot with 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Our aim, vintage after vintage, is to preserve the freshness of the fruit in the glass.
In terms of viticulture, it means for instance that we want each vine to be very healthy, and to express the full potential from its terroir. This year, we’ve been certified High Environmental Value (HEV). This certification is the highest level of a generalised scheme for the environmental certification of farms. It guarantees that the presence of factors of biodiversity (hedges, grass strips, trees, flowers, insects, etc.) is very widespread on our vineyard and that the pressure applied to the environment by our practices (on air, water, soil, climate, biodiversity and landscape) is kept to a minimum.
In terms of vinification, it means that the ageing time in barrels is perfectly well-managed : The wine is aged for 12-14 month maximum, in new French oak barrels. Our coopers provide us with barrels produced exclusively from wood of the 3 most qualitative French forests. A Burgundy toast has been adopted for all our barrels: this kind of toast is realized at a moderate high heat and for an extended period of time, so as to preserve the purity of the fruit and the silky touch of the tannins.
Thank you so much to Caroline for taking the time to answer our questions. All our best wishes to the entire team at Fleur Cardinale!
You can visit the domaine's website here and follow their dedicated work on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2017-02-13
Romance and wine are irrevocably linked for the simple reason that alcohol reduces our inhibitions and allows the true poetry in our souls to bubble to the surface. And if we're not quite as lyrical as we'd hoped, it gives us a very good excuse the next day. So here are 10 tips to help you navigate the wine pitfalls of Valentine's Day. (But that is all. We can't guarantee love).
1. Order a couple of glasses of champagne whilst you're looking at the menu. And let your date have one of them. Champagne shows you have class and you care.
2. Try Italian. Any Italian wine will enable chaps to pretend they're Casanova, whilst ladies can dream they're in Venice or Florence.
3. Women like pinot noir. Yes, it's expensive, but is she not worth it? Try one from Russian River or Oregan or go wild with a Nuits St Georges or Chambolle from Burgundy. Speak like Louis Garrel and she'll have shivers down her spine.
4. The Spanish are arguably more passionate than the French or Italians. Lively whites from Verdejo, Godello and Albarino and intense reds from the Rioja and Ribera del Duero. You can get all emotional and wear a cape and tight trousers, but girls, avoid the moustache.
5. Look into your dates' eyes as you sip red wine. It will light your face with a rosy tint and make you even more attractive. Yates wrote "Wine enters through the mouth, Love (through) the eyes." Make sure you get it the right way round.
6. Spice up your relationship with a peppery little shiraz or grenache. Try wines from the untamed landscapes of the Southern Rhone and Languedoc. Think Wuthering Heights with grapes. Adding pepper to a glass of house red may not have the same effect.
7. If you're nervous and tongue-tied, splash out on some proper claret. You will feel like a Scottish Laird and talk like Sean Connery.
8. Sweeten the mood. Try dessert wine. Perhaps have it instead of dessert, if you're watching the waistline. Sauternes, Coteaux du Layon or great German Riesling will inspire all manner of affectionate language like honey and sweetie, but we suggest you avoid calling anyone pudding.
9. Beware the rugby club humour of buying wines with names that talk for you. "Flowers" and "Fairytale" are just cheesy. "Flirt", "Menage a Trois" and "Fourplay" (an Italian red) may leave you facing an empty seat.
10. Finally, however well it goes, bear in mind Rosalind's words in As You Like it. " I pray you do not fall in love with me, for I am falser than vows made in wine."
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2017-02-06
Let me first put my hand up and say I’m a fan of 2014 as a Burgundy vintage. It seems to me to be a year of rather lovely balance across the board. No doubt with exceptions, it’s a vintage to buy as high up the qualitative tree as you can afford, quite unlike 2015 where the hot summer provided a metaphorical leg up to wines on cooler, less exposed sites and colder soils.
Adam Brett-Smith, Managing Director of Corney & Barrow the UK exclusive agent for DRC, describes 2014 as the ‘happy vintage’ but warns that it’s easily underestimated. I do agree. The wines may be ‘on the fruit’ and correspondingly expressive, but there’s sufficient fine-grained structure, dry extract and acidity to see the wines develop over the medium to longer term.
The ability of Burgundies to age from classic or un-showy vintages seems consistently under-called by wine critics, especially where there’s a degree of natural concentration through moderate or normal yields, which seems to make a big difference to the finickety nature of Pinot Noir. 2014 should age effortlessly for 15-20 years.
Warm, red fruited nose. An expressive, spiced attack with nice energy and a twist of licorice. A degree of firmness merely hints at the character of the archetypal Corton appellation (although there is huge variation between the various Corton soils) and leads into a giving, fruity finish.
An inviting yeasty nose, in turn earthy and creamy. Once again, a degree of firmness that’s overridden by open, expressive, croquant fruit. It’s a wine that pinotents – delivering the essence of Pinot Noir, into a finish that’s framed with an orange citrus cut.
A fresher nose, vinous and earthy. There’s greater complexity, finely balanced with a bit more structure, more defined and an elemental, vinous character. On its reserve for now, with a freshness and depth that tempts a prediction of a great GE.
Sweet pastille fruit on entry, less evident grip, more expressive with greater mid palate volume. Super upfront fruit with a fine grained back palate. Freshness kicks in on the finish with good persistence.
Liquory aromas rise from the glass. Power comes through on the nose but paradoxically there’s a balancing restraint to it. Greater intensity than preceding wines, much less up-front fruit but with a bit more torque - progressive, earthy and very complex. Flashes of fruit push through, towards a grainy back palate with building intensity. Real grip and substance with old vine character.
Another step up, right now it presents as a more chiselled form of the Richebourg, a rather elegant and cushioned expression of La Tâche at this early stage. There’s lots of latent power and a sense of reserve on the back palate with a long and persistent finale.
Expressive nose of fruit, earth, and a greater sense of minerality. Powerful yet very refined. Darker character, with a brightly illuminated outline to the dark fruit. A controlled finish with fine-grained grip and a sense of penetrating depth.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2016-12-22
Christmas is perhaps the only time of year where families embrace our passion for wine, but just occasionally we may get a bit carried away. So in the warmest of Christmas’ spirits, we offer you ten tips to keep everyone merry over the next few days.
Champagne shows you’re trying. People see the magic word and relax in the knowledge that everything’s going to be all right. You do not want to start the festivities having to explain how rare and expensive your alternative sparkler is.
Your mother-in-law must have her usual. Whatever it is. It is not about good manners; it is about world peace. (And it will cut off at the pass any attempt to open your bottle of Louis XIII brandy).
The cook’s glass must never be empty. Def Con is at level 5 over the festive season, primarily due to the cook’s fear of missing out.
Extraordinarily, some people may feel the food is more important than the wine. Once you have carefully laid out glasses for champagne, white burgundy, red burgundy, claret, pudding wine and port, you may just want to check where the plates will go.
Beer shows you’re a man of the people and not some wine snob. Don’t stint on the quality or quantity - if Uncle Tom were drinking your Chambolle, it would be a darn sight more distressing.
There is a reason the waiter uses the simple lever corkscrew. Proudly bringing out the dual-powered, multi-functional Super Deluxe digitised Wine Opener for that magnum of Leoville-Barton '61 is at the very least reckless.
Plan ahead. Your gently slumbering 1963 Quinta do Noval will need to stand upright for a couple of days to allow the sediment to settle.
Decanting is not always showing off. Crunchy is not a wine descriptor you want applied to 50 year old port.
Everyone loves chocolate. Don’t fight it. And don’t try to match a wine with it, unless you’re into aged Sake. Champagne is the universal panacea.
Finally, whilst wine lovers know that great wine will never give you a hangover, some people are in denial. Do not blame the food. Remember the cook is not just for Christmas.
WE WISH YOU AND YOURS A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2016-10-24
Market context and performance since June 24th
Serving as a general fine wine market tracker, the WO 150 gained 6% in the year to June (6.5% in the previous 12 months) but is now up 19.8% YTD.
Focusing on the all-important Bordeaux market, the world’s single largest region of fine wine production, the WO First Growth Index was up 8.7% year to date on 24th June, but is now up 23%.
As regards Bordeaux Firsts, this performance is on the back of 4 years of decline, following the bursting of a Chinese-inspired bubble in late 2011. The market in these blue chip Bordeaux bottomed in Q3 of 2015, and has soared since. Chateau Latour, released at £11,400 per case of 12 bottles, is now back within £100 per bottle of that release price.
The rest of the Bordeaux market had tested its lows the previous year, and so its performance year to June 2016 was a slightly higher 10.25%, reflecting the additional momentum gathered over the previous 18 months. Looking at all classified growths, the market is now up 22.5% YTD.
Whereas Bordeaux is a market driven by liquidity and large production volumes, scarcity-driven markets such as Burgundy, Piedmont and cult Californians, have enjoyed a long-term run stretching back 20+ years, and these wine markets have not suffered the roller coaster ride of Bordeaux.
The WO Northern Italy index is up 171% over the last 10 years, the WO Blue Chip Burgundy Index is up 311% over the same period, and the WO California index is up a whopping 427%.
What’s going to be the effect on new releases?
New releases are already more expensive to buy due to the pound buying less euros or dollars.
Brexit will cause new releases of two sought after vintages (Burgundy 2015 and Bordeaux 2016) to rise by 30%+, caused by producer increases of, say, around 10% compounded by the 20% effect of devaluation.
First in line: the impending 2015 Burgundies are due for UK release as futures in January 2017. With a compromised 2016 vintage assuring small production volumes, 2015s from some addresses will rocket to compensate for next years’ lower production.
Bordeaux will follow in April 2017.
Given the UK’s preeminent role in global fine wine trading, Brexit has turbo-charged market performance, and given the relatively recent recovery of Bordeaux markets a boost after a prolonged period of decline.
As the pound falls, assuming a rising fine wine market (key as it means there's strong global demand), the price of secondary market wines will rise since they are cheaper to buy for buyers holding currencies such as HKD or dollars.
This increases the value of collectors' current stock since the market is global. London is still one of the most important global trading hubs for fine wine, if not the most important.
Could price rises kill demand?
Because top burgundy from the best producers can double after first release it is unlikely to dampen initial demand – by much. And if it does there’s always the USA, Japan and other markets that’ll mop up the relatively small volumes.
Secondary market prices of older vintages may rise, pulled up by the higher new release prices. But as they rise, the number of potential secondary market buyers may decrease, causing these scarcity driven markets to become less liquid. As a result, it may take longer to sell your wines at these higher prices. The moral of the story is that scarcity driven markets are not for the impatient seller who needs cash tomorrow. These are better seen as long-term holds.
Bordeaux prices of the new vintage (2016) will also rise when they are released next year. Whether the UK Market chooses to buy or sits this one out remains to be seen.
However, the USA is more or less certain to be buying these futures aided by vintage character of ripe, powerful wines from a hot summer that will suit their palates.
As a consequence, enduring weakness of the pound will place further upward pressure on back vintages.
We predict that recent back vintages will increase sooner than is normally the case (1-2 years instead of the more common 5-7 years), as top Bordeaux producers are becoming principal stockholders in an attempt to capture more of the downstream value of their wines and increase the value of their balance sheet assets.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2016-08-19
It has been said by some wise sage that 1% of people care way too much about wine and 99% of people don’t care enough. This rings true, and I thought it would be interesting to investigate why this is.
Most of my friends and peers drink wine. With sufficient regularity to alarm the British Medical Council in many cases. And most of them drink rubbish. Seriously – any £5 bottle will do the trick normally, and the second cheapest wine on the restaurant wine list is pretty much as far as they go.
This baffles me.
OK, so not everyone is going to spend a fortune on a wine collection, or consult Parker or Robinson for every wine buying decision, but it is really simple to drink more interesting wines without breaking the bank or having to do hours of painstaking research.Here are a few rules of thumb, aimed at buying wine in a restaurant (assuming it isn’t one of the growing numbers that allow you to BYO for a modest corkage).
1) The cheapest wines normally have the highest % mark-ups, and the second cheapest wine normally has the highest mark-up. Restaurateurs know how people make buying decisions, so be aware of the relative lack of value.
2) The first few wines on a list will have tendency to be ‘neutral’ in style, as they are likely to be bought to match all foods. One size fits all is not the best way to approach buying wine – think about what you are going to order.
3) Don’t be afraid to buy by the glass. Technology such as Coravin means a far wider array of wines can be sampled, so you can avoid just plumping for a bottle of NZ Sauvignon Blanc, or a bog standard Rioja, and narrowing your options. Why not order a suitable wine for every course of you meal?
4) Look for exotic grape varieties or little known regions – these are likely to be the sommelier’s attempts to stamp their expertise and personality on the wine list, and will likely be good value and interesting. Think Greece, Portugal, Austria, or regions like Swartland in South Africa or Salta in Argentina.
5) Embrace the joys of dessert wines. Seriously, sweet wines are amazing things that are criminally overlooked. A little bit of ‘sticky’ at the end of your meal is always a good thing!
6) If the restaurant has a sommelier, get their opinion. Don’t be afraid to ask seemingly silly questions. These guys are there to ensure you get the most enjoyment from your meal.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2016-04-27
I’ll admit to having been a little apprehensive when walking into my session to be Palate Profiled by Master of Wine Marina Gayan, accompanied by her business partner and chef Helen Nathan, as they geared up to observe my every sniff and swirl.
You see, my love of wine stretches back more than 30 years to my first ‘proper’ job at a restaurant in leafy South-Wes London. The seeds of my vinous enthusiasm had been sown during quite a few years already thanks to Augustus Barnett, a large chain of Off Licences for whom I’d worked since the age of 14 during every single school holiday. Apart from having to fib about my age for 2 years and 6 working stints across many of their outlets (it’s illegal to work in an Off Licence under the age of 16) it was a fantastic early education – in wine, the cleansing properties of gin and life in general. I earned good money and even better tips. As a casual worker, no one bothered with background checks in those days…
That first restaurant job: I’d been recruited as restaurant manager, although it quickly became apparent that my newly acquired degree in Law was deemed rather more useful by the proprietor who was due to appear in court to answer allegations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs that he’d been illegally importing South American hooch (which he had).
Although an expert in distilled cactus juice, the proprietor-cum-smuggler knew very little about wine, and gave me carte blanche to build an interesting wine list. This was exciting, and my first chance to taste in-depth across abroad range of wines and styles.
In the early 1980s the large importers and suppliers to the restaurant trade were taking the proverbial piss, selling emperor’s old clothes in the form of tasteless Entre-Deux-Mers in transparent bottles, stringy clarets and thin, acidic Burgundies. Within a few weeks the old hack reps had been shown the door and I was off on a voyage of discovery, taking the restaurant’s clientele with me.
Fast forward three decades, and I was curious to understand whether I really did understand my own palate and my assumed preferences. I’d completed a detailed questionnaire a couple of weeks before the session that gave Marina a sense of my sensitivities towards certain parts of the aroma and taste spectrum, whilst giving her food for thought with the odd contradiction.
The session kicked off by smelling different teas, from fruity, floral, to aromatic and smoky. Having woken up the senses, and torn off a corner of the still-warm Challah prepared by Helen that morning, it was straight down to business.
The focus was on whites, although she’ll profile via reds or champagnes and sparkling wines too.
As you might imagine, the wines served represented a very broad church, at one end of the spectrum being herbaceous, showing delicate floral aromas and infusions of sweet oranges and zesty lemons.
Occupying the middle ground were aromas and flavours of lemonade, nectarine and peach.
At the more powerful end of the spectrum there was smoke, gorgeous oxidative notes balanced on a tightrope of acidity,powerful fruit; un-oaked wines with higher levels of alcohol and oaked wines with much lower than expected alcohol levels, to baffle and challenge taster preconceptions.
By the end, I’d tasted a range of wines in a single session, expertly arranged, that I’d not experienced for ages. My own palate preferences were pretty much confirmed (which was reassuring) but I learned something much more significant: the excitement of discovering new wines that I loved. The session awoke the ‘wine child’ in me, opened my eyes afresh, and definitely broadened my mind.
|1||2015 Felsner Moosburgerin Grüner Veltliner. Kremstal ||12.5% ||£12.49|
|2||2014 Grosset Alea Riesling. Clare Valley ||12.5% ||£24.99|
|3||2014 Pazo de Señorans Albariño. Rias Baixas ||14% ||£16.95|
|4||2014 Larry Cherubino, Laissez Faire Fiano. Frankland River ||13.5% ||£23.95|
|5||2014 Francois Chidaine Les Argiles. Vouvray ||12.5% ||£22.99|
|6||2009 Domaine François Villard, Le Grand Vallon. Condrieu ||13.7% ||£29.25|
|7||2010 Neudorf Vineyards Chardonnay. Nelson ||14% ||£29.95|
|8||2000 Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva. Rioja ||12.5% ||£32.99 |
|9||2007 Brokenwood ILR Reserve Semillon. Hunter Valley ||11.5% ||£33.99|
On the back of this experience, we’ve teamed up with Gayan and Nathan to offer a special deal.
They will arrange a profiling session for two people at £695 (usually the cost per person). The special Wine Owners price includes:
• Initial conversation and questionnaire
• Eight wines (around £20.00 RSP per bottle)
• Blind tasting session with Marina Gayan MW (lasting approximately around 1.5 hours)
• Substantial canapés prepared by Helen Nathan to match the wines
• Follow up findings document
To allow as many of our members as possible to experience a sneak preview, we’re giving away complementary taster Guyan & Nathan online profiles (via questionnaire) with some feedback included about your taste palate. To quality, you simply need to sign up to one of the Wine Owners premium subscriptions - Wine Lover or Collector – and you’ll receive the initial profile exercise free of charge.