Last week we revealed the top 20 gainers in presence in the world’s best restaurants over the past 12 months. That was in terms of breadth, i.e. the number of restaurants in which a wine features. Wine Lister also analyses the depth of presence – the range of vintages and/or bottle formats of each wine therein. Here we look at the top 21 wines achieving the largest increases in restaurant presence depth since last year.
In first place, with an impressive 35 additional vintages and/or bottle formats listed across the world’s 150 best restaurants since this time last year, is Vega-Sicilia’s Unico. This brings its total references to 250 (almost three and a half in each of the 71 lists in which it features). Given Unico’s average drinking life span of 13 years, and its reputation for longevity (an Unico vertical tasting is an opportunity not to be missed), this result is hardly surprising. Its strong restaurant presence is matched by online popularity (Unico is the 33rd most-searched-for wine in our database), resulting in a Brand score of 992 – the best of any Spanish wine on Wine Lister.
Though Spain takes the number one spot, Italy is the overall biggest mover in increased depth of representation, claiming 12 out of the 21 places shown on the chart below.
Ornellaia is among these, and is also the most thoroughly represented wine of the group, with 280 vintages and/or bottle formats featured across 43% of the world’s best restaurants.
Several others – Cerbaiona Brunello, Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella Superiore, Ca’ del Bosco Cuvée Annamaria Clementi, and Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin – feature in the top gainers for horizontal as well as vertical presence in the world’s best restaurants. The latter is one of five Barolos to feature in the chart above, joined by Parusso Barolo Bussia, Bartolo Mascarello’s Barolo, Giuseppe Mascarello e Figlio Barolo Monprivato, and finally, Rocche Dei Manzoni Barolo Big’d Big, which sees the biggest increase in vertical presence of the whole group. Despite a horizontal representation increase of just 1%, the number of vintages and/or bottle formats listed across the 3% of the world’s best restaurants in which it features has grown from two to 19 in the last 12 months (or in other words, by 850%).
Outside Italy, the overall picture of restaurant presence depth somewhat contradicts that of breadth painted last week. Though Champagnes, and in particular grower offerings, have increased significantly in terms of horizontal presence, their vintage and/or format gains have not been sufficient to make this week’s top 20. This suggests that whilst sommeliers are keen to add more variety of Champagne, they aren’t so worried about listing reams of vintages / formats thereof. Only one Champagne features in the group: Philipponnat’s Clos des Goisses.
Bordeaux is conspicuous by its absence in this list, other than Château Clarke, with 26 overall references up from just four. In fact, Bordeaux’s big names are more likely to find themselves at the very bottom of the list, many having seen their vertical entries on restaurant wine lists shrink significantly. This seems to suggest that as restaurants diversify, they are choosing to hold less Bordeaux stock, still listing the top wines, but not necessarily in multiple vintages or formats.
With just over eight weeks to go until Christmas, part of the pre-season ritual of any respectable wine lover is surely agonising over which wines to drink with the holiday meal. Whether that means digging into the cellar or making new purchases, perhaps this week’s top five can provide some inspiration. Since claret is a frequent feature at the Christmas table, this week we consider the best red Bordeaux under £50 by Wine Lister score (although note that prices are based on the per bottle average of in-bond case prices across vintages).
Each of this week’s top five are Buzz Brands, with every wine earning its best score in the Brand category. They also all hail from the left bank, and achieve an average Wine Lister score of 863, 75 points higher than the right bank’s top reds under £50 (788).
First of this week’s top five both overall and for Quality is Domaine de Chevalier, with scores of 883 and 885 respectively, and an average price of £44 per bottle. Though its most qualitative vintage (2015) is only just physical, and therefore not suitable for drinking straight away, there are plenty of vintages around the same in-bond per-case price point to choose from. For example, the 2011 holds a Quality score of 864 and a price of £36, and the 2008 a Quality score of 855 for £40.
Next on the list is Grand-Puy-Lacoste, with a Wine Lister score of 873, and coming in at £48 on average. The 2014 Grand-Puy-Lacoste provides by far the best Quality to price ratio of recent vintages, with a Quality score of 946 and an in-bond per-case price of £41 per bottle. Wine Lister partner critic Neal Martin awards it 95 points, and notes, “the purity and elegance of this Pauillac cannot be denied – a quite brilliant contribution to the 2014 vintage”. This is a wine to give to a loved one for Christmas for them to stow away and open several years down the line – its drinking window ranging from 2022 to 2040.
To view quality to price ratios for every wine on Wine Lister, on each wine page use the Value Pick score on Vintage Value Identifier charts, as above.
Wines three, four, and five of this week’s Listed blog stand within a mere four points of each other. The two Margaux wines to feature, Giscours and Brane-Cantenac, achieve Wine Lister scores of 854 and 850 respectively, and have an identical Quality score (804). However, their profiles differ elsewhere, Brane-Cantenac being the better performer for Economics (806 vs 791), whereas Giscours excels for Brand strength (956 vs 934).
Sandwiched between the two in this week’s top five line-up is Talbot, which claims the group’s highest Brand score (984), if also the lowest Quality score (748), and an average price of £46.
A final commonality of all five wines (and of course of top Bordeaux red as a whole) is the long ageing potential. These five left bank reds have an average drinking window of 13 years, with some more recent vintages expected to be drinking well until beyond 2040 – testament to the tradition of buying claret to lay down for life, and not just for Christmas.
Part of Wine Lister’s Brand score includes a measure of prestige, achieved by analysing a wine’s presence in the world’s best restaurants. Whether a restaurant makes the cut depend on a combination of measures including the Michelin Guide, San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants, and World of Fine Wine Best Wine List Awards.
The chosen wine lists are then analysed to give us the breadth (how many restaurants) and depth (how many formats and/or vintages in each restaurant) of presence achieved by each wine on Wine Lister. Looking at the former criterion, the chart below shows the top 20 biggest gainers since our last blog on the subject. (Next week we will be looking at wines with the greatest increase in depth of representation.)
Six out of the 20 wines with the biggest increase in restaurant presence are Champagnes. Ruinart appears twice, with its NV rosé having made the greatest improvement, now appearing in 33% of the world’s best restaurants. However, the overall winner – present in more than double the number of restaurants, is Dom Pérignon’s Vintage Brut. Despite not featuring in the top 20 biggest risers above, the Champagne Brand king is now present in 69% of top restaurants worldwide, overtaking last year’s winner, Yquem.
Contrary to our last analysis on the subject, not all the biggest Champagne gainers in restaurant presence are big brands. Ruinart Rosé, Dom Pérignon P2, and Ruinart Blanc de Blancs may well fit this bill, with an average Brand score of 878, but the lesser-known three, grower Champagnes Roses de Jeanne Blanc de Noirs Les Ursules, Jacquesson Dégorgement Tardif Avize Grand Cru, and Egly-Ouriet Blanc de Noirs Les Crayères Vieilles Vignes, do not, as shown by a lower collective Brand score average of 664.
If this alone is not an indication of restaurant wine lists branching out, then perhaps the absence of Bordeaux is (indeed, a handful of Bordeaux wines with strong restaurant presence have lost a little ground since last year’s analysis). This diversification does however appear exclusive to the Old World, with no New World wines in the top 20 gainers.
Burgundy is well-represented amongst the top gainers, with one white, Raveneau’s Chablis Blanchot, and four reds: Sylvain Cathiard’s Vosne-Romanée Aux Malconsorts, Denis Mortet’s Clos de Vougeot, Armand Rousseau’s Gevrey-Chambertin, and Fourrier’s Gevrey Chambertin Vieilles Vignes.
Italy brings a show of diversity with six wines hailing from four different appellations across the 20 biggest movers. Vietti’s Barolo Ravera – one of three Barolos to feature in this list – has the lowest restaurant presence of the group (5%) and Solaia’s younger sibling, Tignanello the highest (47%).
Analysis of Dominus 2015, which was released late last week at £183.33 per bottle, with a Quality score of 988.
You can download the slide here: Wine Lister Factsheet Dominus 2015
Having dipped its toe in New World waters last week to look at Argentina’s best wines, the Listed blog now shifts its attention considerably further North, heading to the Alsace to consider its top five dry whites by Wine Lister score.
Whilst there was not much between Argentina’s top two wines, in the Alsace it is very much a case of the best and the rest, Trimbach’s flagship Clos Sainte Hune leading by 90 points with a score of 916. Its dominance is thanks to comfortable leads across each of Wine Lister’s rating categories. However, it is in terms of Economics that no other Alsatian wine can get close to it, its score of 804 nearly 120 points ahead of Zind-Humbrecht’s Clos Saint Urbain Rangen de Thann Riesling, whose score of 688 makes it the region’s number two wine in the commercial category. The Clos Sainte Hune’s economic clout is thanks to its higher price (over three times the average of the four other contenders to the Alsatian crown), and trading 2.6 times as many bottles at auction as the others over the past four quarters. As an aside, it is also by far the region’s most searched-for wine online, although its ranking as the 216th most popular wine on Wine Lister perhaps betrays a lack of public interest in Riesling and Alsatian wines in general. Sommeliers are more convinced however, with it featuring in 37% of the world’s top restaurants – which, interestingly, is not the best performance of any Alsatian wine. That accolade goes to its sibling Cuvée Frédéric Emile which manages to pip it to the post in this particular criterion (38%).
Trimbach isn’t the only producer to feature twice in this week’s top five, Zind-Humbrecht’s Clos Saint Urbain Rangen de Thann Riesling (826) and Windsbuhl Gewürztraminer (729) both making the cut. Despite being separated by nearly 100 points overall, they achieve similarly excellent Quality scores, the Clos Saint Urbain Rangen de Thann Riesling leading by just six points (916 vs 910). There isn’t that much between the two in terms of economic performance either, with the Windsbuhl Gewürztraminer sitting 47 points below its stablemate (641 vs 688). Thus the real difference occurs in the Brand category, with the Windsbuhl Gewürztraminer unable to keep pace either in terms of the number of restaurants in which it features (5% vs 16%) or search rank (2,070 vs 928), resulting in a considerably weaker score (546 vs 791). This perhaps confirms that Gewürztraminer, regardless of the quality in the bottle, is a grape that is currently unable to excite either sommeliers or consumers – Zind-Humbrechts’s Windsbuhl languishing in fifth place across both Brand criteria.
The final wine this week is Weinbach’s Riesling Schlossberg Cuvée Sainte Catherine (675). Confirming the outstanding Quality of the Alsace’s top wines, across all vintages it achieves a Quality score of 900. Its overall Wine Lister score is dragged down partly by a lower Brand score (661), but for the most part by a weak Economics score (191). However, if you’re looking for top Quality at a reasonable price, then look no further than its 2014, which qualifies as a Wine Lister Value Pick. Available for as little as £30 per bottle, yet with a Quality score of 944 and predicted to be drinking well for another 15 years, it would definitely be worth seeking out a few bottles of it.
Wine Lister’s Founding Members’ tasting (the second if its kind) was held last week in the most beautiful surroundings at Ten Trinity Square Private Club. Aside from showcasing how Wine Lister data relates to the actual liquid in the bottle, these tastings are an opportunity to thank friends and supporters of Wine Lister, from subscribers to Founding Members.
We were excited to share news of upcoming developments with our guests, including the imminent expansion of Wine Lister’s coverage (almost doubling from the current 20,000 wines scored), as well as the addition of a new rating criterion. Watch this space!
Wine Lister’s Founding Members, more than 50 major players in the international wine trade, make an invaluable contribution to Wine Lister’s research by sharing their market insights with us on a biannual basis. It is Wine Lister’s role as a fine wine intelligence agency to combine this qualitative information with quantitative data to shed analytical light on fine wines from across the world, for example in our regional reports and factsheets.
In one recent trade survey we asked Founding Members the question, “Which wines do you consider hidden gems (wines you rate highly but which are under-appreciated)?”. The responses inspired the wonderfully varied (but consistently delicious) selection of 24 hidden gems tasted last Thursday (see the full list of wines below).
From left to right: Antoine Forterre, Ella Lister, Giles Cooper, Henry Donne, Pascal Kuzniewski, Pierre-Marie Boury, Anthony Vertadier Mabille, Gareth Kristensen, Sara Guiducci.
In an illustration of how Wine Lister brings together market research with hard data, the “raw” hidden gems selected by our Founding Members are then overlaid with critics’ ratings, restaurant presence, and search frequency data. This gives us the final Hidden Gems presented on the Wine Lister website. In other words, Hidden Gems are wines that are rarely found in top restaurants, and not often searched for online, but which receive high ratings from our partner critics, and have been singled out by our Founding Members as not garnering due attention.
The Founding Members’ “raw” hidden gems featured several Bordeaux wines, including 10 out of the 24 wines shown in the tasting. However, none of these achieve final Hidden Gem status due to their already established brands.
To liven up the evening, we encouraged guests to play “guess the score” – to see how closely they could estimate the Wine Lister score of the wines that they tasted. All the wines were showing beautifully, but Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2005 was the wine that our guests successfully identified as having the highest Wine Lister score of the tasting, despite their guesses sitting an average 44 points below Pichon Comtesse 2005’s actual Wine Lister score of 931.
Conversely, Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 2014, Pédesclaux 2014, and Louis Roederer Brut Premier were all awarded higher scores on average by our guests than their official Wine Lister ratings, but the biggest difference was for G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2013. It was awarded an average score of 746 by our guests, 73 points above its actual Wine Lister score, which is brought down by a very low Economics score of 124, due to very little price movement or liquidity. This illustrates how the data-driven elements of Wine Lister scores complement the tasting component.
The wine where our guests came closest with their guesses, just 10 points out, was Brane-Cantenac 2005, estimated at 840 compared to its real Wine Lister score of 850.
Congratulations to the game’s winner, Anneka Swann of BI Wines & Spirits, who was just 37 points out on average. We would also like to thank all our other guests for their valiant efforts at guessing the scores: Adam Brett-Smith, Andrea Frost, Chad Delaney, Charles Metcalfe, James Jackson-Nichols, Nicolas Clerc, Richard Stow, Rupert Millar, Tahir Sultan, and Will Hargrove.
Wines featured in the tasting: Louis Roederer Brut Premier, Philipponnat Clos de Goisses 2007, E. Guigal Condrieu La Doriane 2016, Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta 2014, Seña 2010, Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 2014, Isole e Olena Syrah Collezione Privata 2011, Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto 2016, Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2014, G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2013, G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2009, Domaine Duroché Gevrey-Chambertin Les Jeunes Rois 2015, Domaine Duroché Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2015, Domaine Tempier Cuvée Cabassou 2007, Château La Gaffelière 2014, Le Marquis de Calon Ségur 2014, Château Haut-Bailly La Parde 2012, Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2014, Château d’Issan 2011, Château Branaire-Ducru 2012, Château Pédesclaux 2014, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2005, Château Brane-Cantenac 2005, Château Lafon Rochet 2010.
Earlier this year Wine Lister compared the top 50 wines by Quality score from Old World and New. The outcome revealed a 35-point gap between the two, with an average Quality score for the 50 best New World wines of 948. This week, Wine Lister dips its toes back into New World waters to examine the top five Argentinian wines by Wine Lister score.
Interestingly, the winner of this week’s top five can perhaps be considered as belonging to both Worlds. Cheval des Andes, the joint venture from Terrazas de los Andes and Pierre Lurton of Cheval Blanc, has an overall Wine Lister score of 818. Unsurprisingly, Cheval des Andes shows the clear benefit of association with its Old World stablemate through a Brand score of 862, the highest of the group. This is thanks to presence in 15% of the world’s best restaurants, and a search frequency ranking as the 400th most-searched-for wine on Wine Lister’s database. It has the lowest Quality score of the five (845) – and is notably the only one of the group whose Quality score is not its strongest asset – but is also the least expensive at £55 per bottle.
Bodega Catena Zapata shows impressive presence in this week’s top five, taking the next three spots. In second place overall is Nicolás Catena Zapata with a Wine Lister score of 808. Nicolás has the highest Quality score of the group (921), however its brand strength should not be overlooked. With the second-highest Brand score of this week’s top five (828), it actually ranks 10 places higher for search frequency than New World super-brand Cheval des Andes.
Although Catena Zapata’s Adrianna Vineyard Malbec comes next for overall Wine Lister score, it is the Bodega’s Malbec Argentino (in fourth place overall) that comes next for Quality, with a score of 909. Its overall score (692) doesn’t maintain the dizzying heights set by its Quality score – nevertheless still sitting in the “strong” section of the Wine Lister 1,000-point scale – due in part to a lower Brand score (705), but mostly to a much weaker Economics score (181).
Bookending this week’s top five is another wine which might also be considered as originating from more established roots, though this time hailing from elsewhere in the New World, and more specifically, producer Paul Hobbs. Viña Cobos’ Volturno has an overall score of 635. It paints a similar picture to Catena Zapata’s Malbec Argentino, in that despite a high Quality score (902), its overall score is hindered by modest Brand and Economics scores (436 and 380 respectively).
Even though Austria might not be the first place that springs to mind when one thinks of the best wines in the world, it is definitely a place of fine, elegant wines, as confirmed by this week’s top five, which looks at the best Austrian whites by Quality score. With all of the five achieving Quality scores of over 900-points – thus making it into the “strongest” category on Wine Lister’s 1,000-point scale – there is no reason not to have Austria in mind when thinking of top quality wines.
Notably, Franz Hirtzberger produces three of this week’s top five: his Grüner Veltliner Honivogl Smaragd, Riesling Singerriedel Smaragd, and Riesling Hochrain Smaragd demonstrating that he is indeed one of the greatest Austrian producers of dry whites. Leading the way this week is his Grüner Veltliner Honivogl Smaragd with a Quality score of 941. Interestingly, it is the only Grüner Veltliner of the group, with Austria’s national grape otherwise surrounded by Rieslings. At £81 per bottle, it is this week’s most expensive choice. However, it is also Jancis Robinson’s favourite of the five, Wine Lister’s UK partner critic awarding it an excellent average score of 18/20. She was particularly impressed by the 2013, giving it a rating of 18.5/20 and writing: “Spectacularly rich nose. Very ample, intense and flattering. Smoked meat! Kerpow! Not flabby. Great structure. Amazing”.
Franz Hirtzberger’s Riesling Singerriedel Smaragd comes next, and backs up its phenomenal Quality score (921) with this week’s best Brand score (760). Even though its Economics score is considerably lower (503), the Singerriedel is Austria’s overall top-scoring wine, with a Wine Lister score of 781.
F.X. Pichler’s Riesling Kellerberg Smaragd comes in at number three, with a Quality score of 911. This is Vinous’ favourite of the five with an average score of 95/100. Its Quality score is however pulled down slightly by its relatively low average wine life of seven years, making it the shortest-lived wine of the group (which averages nine years). However, it has the most stable price of this group, with volatility of just 2.7%, well below that of this week’s number one, Franz Hirtzberger’s Grüner Veltliner Honivogl, which has volatility of 11.8%.
The two remaining spots are filled by Weingut Emmerich Knoll Riesling Schutt Smaragd in fourth place, and the third wine from Franz Hirtzberger this week, his Riesling Hochrain Smaragd, in fifth place. Although the two come in last in this particular race, both still achieve excellent Quality scores (910 and 904 respectively), partly due to Vinous awarding both an average score of 93.5/100.
Wine Lister periodically studies the movements of wines in and out of the four Wine Lister Indicator categories. One of these, Buzz Brands, denotes wines that achieve outstanding online popularity (measured through search rankings based on monthly searches on Wine-Searcher), and presence in the world’s best restaurants.
After analysing newcomers to the Buzz Brand segment in June, Burgundy dominates once again in our findings for October. Red Burgundy, and in particular, Gevrey-Chambertin, takes three out of the four places of this month’s new Buzz Brands.
However, it is in fact the only white, Domaine Leflaive’s Bourgogne Blanc, that achieves the highest Brand score of the group at 815. All of the Domaine Leflaive wines on Wine Lister are now Buzz Brands but one – their most expensive Grand Cru, Montrachet (at £6,059 per bottle compared with £218, the average price of the rest). Indicative, maybe, of drinkers being priced out of the top wines and refocussing their interest lower down the ladder.
Perhaps it is also the sign of a good brand strategy in action, with the rising profile of the Domaine’s top wines filtering all the way down to the regional wines, via the premiers crus. The new addition of the regional offering here follows two previous new Leflaive mentions in Wine Lister’s last Buzz Brand audit (of Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes and Meursault Sous le Dos d’Ane).
Of the three reds, two hold the same Brand score of 722, and near identical Brand profiles (see restaurant presence and search rank in the image below). The Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques is the first of Bruno Clair’s wines to become a Buzz Brand. Domaine Fourrier’s Combe aux Moines Vieilles Vignes has the highest Quality score of all three new red Burgundy Buzz Brands with a score of 889. This, coupled with a slightly better Economics score helps bring it very slightly ahead for overall Wine Lister score.
Though Domaine Armand Rousseau’s Les Cazetiers is third of the Gevrey group qualitatively, it is geographically sandwiched between the first two. These wines together form a neat representation of three of the best premier cru vineyards of Gevrey-Chambertin. Incidentally, this is the last of Rousseau’s wines on Wine Lister to achieve Buzz Brand status. The domaine’s highest Brand score is won by the better-known Clos Saint-Jacques (unsurprising given that it owns roughly one third of the entire vineyard parcel) with a Brand score of 964.