‘Tis the season of dark evenings, woolly jumpers, and open fires. To round out the perfect winter evening, Wine Lister has many a drinking suggestion up our collective cashmere sleeves, but let us start with these top five 20-year-old Châteauneuf-du-Papes by Quality score.
Unsurprisingly, the Southern Rhône beats its Northern sibling for price to quality ratios, with the average Quality score of the top five 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Papes at 968, for an average in-bond price per bottle of £354. Comparatively, the Northern Rhône’s top five 1998 average Quality score is 959 for an eye-watering £882 per bottle.
In first place of this week’s top five is Henri Bonneau’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve des Célestins. Its Quality score of 984 for the 1998 vintage is not only the best of this week’s top five, it is also Bonneau’s highest of the last 20 years, for £431 per bottle in-bond. This price tag is thanks to solid short- and long-term price performance, with six-month price growth of 16.9% and a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.2%.
Next for 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Papes by Quality score comes this week’s best brand, Château Rayas. Its Brand score of 982 is thanks to presence in 33% of the world’s best restaurants, and an impressive search ranking as the 53rd most-searched-for wine on Wine Lister. Wine Lister partner critic Jancis Robinson awards it full marks, describing it as “not dissimilar” to Rousseau. Its impressive quality and popularity are complimented by the highest Economics score of this week’s top five (988) thanks to the top six-month price performance of 21.7% and a three-year CAGR of 25%.
In third place is Domaine du Pegau’s Cuvée Da Capo 1998 with a Quality score of 973. It is the most expensive of this week’s top five, at £453 in-bond per bottle, perhaps due to its cult-style following. The Cuvée Da Capo achieves the highest average trading volumes at auction of the group (408 bottles per year), according to The Wine Market Journal.
The fourth wine of this week’s top five may also be said to have somewhat of a cult following. Beaucastel’s Hommage à Jacques Perrin 1998 is priced at £446 per bottle in-bond for a Quality score of 960. Despite this excellent score, eight of its last 15 vintages have managed even better Quality scores than the 1998 – indeed Hommage à Jacques Perrin is on average the highest-scoring Châteauneuf-du-Pape on Wine Lister (with an average Quality score of 965).
Finally, M. Chapoutier’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape Barbe Rac 1998 rounds out the group, with a Quality score of 944 and a price of £73 per bottle in-bond (or a mere 17% of the average price of the other four wines combined).
Other than the Rayas, any lucky owners of these bottles should consider cracking them open this Christmas, lest he or she risk missing their respective quality peaks.
Our latest Listed blog focused on the top Grand Cru Champagnes by Wine Lister score. As the holiday season approaches, we look at a different kind of ‘top five’ on a sparkling theme – five of the major trends for the Champagne region, determined by a recent survey of Wine Lister’s Founding members.
Key members of the global fine wine trade identified the rise of grower Champagnes as an emerging trend. Jacques Selosse reigns supreme, with its Blanc de Noirs La Côte Faron achieving the best Quality score of any grower Champagne on Wine Lister (975). Only an average of 1,250 bottles are produced of this each year – half of the production volume of its Substance Brut.
Founding Members also identified an increased emphasis on terroir as something to look out for. Single vineyard expressions of Champagne are well-known and already extremely sought-after, particularly Krug’s Clos du Mesnil and Clos d’Ambonnay. The latter achieves a Quality score of 970, just 10 points above Philipponnat’s Clos des Goisses, but is over 12 times the price (£1,867 vs. £147).
The phenomenon of increased information transparency is perhaps a sign that buyers are becoming more interested in Champagnes as wines, as opposed to just celebratory bubbles. Krug’s Grande Cuvée has used “Krug ID” numbers since 2011, allowing drinkers to see the vintages, vineyard plots, and grapes included in each bottle. Library releases also cater to more “wine-focused” buyers – Champagne Brand King Dom Perignon’s P2, or Bollinger R.D. are the obvious choices for this.
Finally, interest in biodynamically farmed Champagnes is on the rise, such as Louis Roederer’s Cristal, or any cuvée from Jacques Selosse.
Download a PDF of the slide above here.
First published in French in En Magnum.
Wine Lister recently looked at red Christmas drinking options with the best Bordeaux under £50, and now that the official ‘sparkling season’ is almost upon us, it is high time to consider options for holiday bubbles. Below we examine the all-round best of the best – the top five Grand Cru Champagnes by Wine Lister score.
The number one Grand Cru Champagne is the indomitable Salon Le Mesnil (983). It fires on all Wine Lister cylinders, with impressive Quality, Brand, and Economics scores of 980, 989, and 981 respectively, meaning that it leads this week’s top five across each category. Moreover, it is the number one white wine on Wine Lister – still, sparkling, dry, or sweet. If you’re after a memorable bottle to kickstart the holiday season, then look no further than Salon 1996, its best ever vintage. As proof of the extraordinary longevity of top Champagne, the 1996 will be drinking well until at least 2025. Though expensive (£550 per bottle in-bond), you would be well-rewarded for paying the high price, Antonio Galloni calling the 1996 “the ultimate expression of Champagne as a wine”.
Next comes Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne, whose main strength is its Brand score (976). This is helped by a production volume of c.170,000 bottles per annum – almost twice that of the other four Champagnes of this week’s group combined. It consequently also achieves the highest auction-trading volumes of the group, having traded 789 bottles over the past four quarters, according to our data partner, The Wine Market Journal.
In third place is Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises. The term “vielles vignes” tends to get banded around quite frequently without much meaning, but in this case it carries rare significance. These old vines are planted on French rootstock, predating the spread of phylloxera which lead to the introduction of louse-resistant American rootstock onto the vast majority of France’s vines. As might be expected given the wine’s unique heritage, it comes with a hefty price tag (£713 per bottle in-bond). However, this rarity backs up its high price with an outstanding Quality score (963) – the joint-second best of this week’s top five.
In fourth place is Jacques Selosse’s Substance Brut (904). The only non-vintage wine of the five, it matches the Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises’ excellent Quality score (963). Its outstanding quality, coupled with its tiny production volume of 2,700 bottles per annum, start to explain the £203 price-tag of this NV grower Champagne.
Finally, in fifth place, is Pierre Péters’ Cuvée Spéciale Les Chétillons Blanc (897). Though in fifth place, its impressive Quality (923) and Economics (922) scores suggest it could be a prime choice for cellaring. It achieves the best short and long-term price growth of this week’s top five, having added 16.7% to its price over the past six months, and recording a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.5%. Any recent vintage would perhaps therefore be better placed under the Christmas tree (for an extremely lucky recipient), rather than on the Christmas table.
Thanks to tiny production quantities, exceptional quality, and increasing popularity, Burgundy tends to be expensive. In Wine Lister’s Burgundy Market Study (published in January this year), we analysed its rapidly-climbing prices. This week’s Listed blog focuses on the very tip of the Burgundy price hierarchy, with the top five by average price.
Four of this week’s top five hail from the Côte de Nuits, the first of which is, unsurprisingly, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s Romanée-Conti at an average price of £14,429 per bottle in-bond. The high price tag is accompanied by the best red Quality score on Wine Lister (993) and a Brand score of 989. The latter is achieved in part by being the 8th most-searched-for wine on Wine Lister (and indeed gains two and a half times as many monthly searches on Wine Searcher as the remaining wines of this week’s top five combined). Its most recent release – the 2015 vintage, receives a Quality score of 997, with Wine Lister partner critics Bettane + Desseauve and Jancis Robinson both awarding it 20/20. Even if the 2015 vintage is DRC Romanée-Conti’s best-performing in the last 15 years, its price increase of nearly 500% (from £2,925 to £17,496) since release in January is virtually incomprehensible.
In second place is one of two Musignys to feature this week. Domaine Leroy’s Musigny has an average in-bond price of £10,813 per bottle and a Quality score of 988 – just five points behind this week’s number one. Its overall Wine Lister score sits 75 points down from DRC Romanée-Conti, due to a more modest Brand score of 781. Interestingly, Leroy’s Musigny has been qualitatively more consistent over the past five releases than Wine Lister’s highest-quality red – its Quality score deviates a maximum of just one point from year to year since 2010 (compared to DRC Romanée-Conti’s maximum deviation of seven points).
Number three of this week’s top five is the second Musigny, this time from Domaine Georges Roumier. With a slightly lower price tag of £7,512 per bottle in-bond, and the second-highest Brand score of the group, Roumier is somewhat a darling of the trade – indeed, this Musigny is in the top 10% of most talked-about wines by the fine wine trade, according to Wine Lister’s Founding Member Surveys.
The last two spots are taken by wines that each stand alone among this week’s top five for their own reasons. The first, Henri Jayer’s Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux at £6,932 per bottle is the only Premier Cru to feature, as well as the only wine no longer in production.
Finally, Domaine Leflaive’s Montrachet Grand Cru is the only white of the group. As the most expensive white Burgundy on Wine Lister at £6,077 per bottle, it also earns white Burgundy’s highest Quality score of 985.
Wine Lister Indicators are designed to help you find the perfect fine wine for any occasion. Wine Lister regularly tracks the movements of wines in and out of these segments (such as recent commentary featuring new Buzz Brands for Burgundy). This month we look at newcomers to the Value Pick segment – wines that achieve the best quality to price ratio.
France is the geographical victor of new Value Picks, with a total of seven wines hailing from Bordeaux and the Rhône (and one from the Loire). These traditional regions may appear “uncool” compared with the likes of Burgundy (whose popularity continues to rise). However, it is perhaps thanks in part to their “uncool” status that Bordeaux and the Rhône are also sources of exceptional value for money.
The only two whites of our new Value Picks, Château Guiraud Premier Cru 2001 and Château Suduiraut Premier Cru 2003, actually achieve the highest Quality scores of the group (936 and 929 respectively). Château Guiraud 2001 is priced at £32 per bottle in-bond, and Château Suduiraut 2003 at £27. Sadly, the incredible Quality scores of these Sauternes (as well as others across the board) may be hindered by a lack of demand for the volume produced. Sauternes typically earn poor Economics scores on Wine Lister (Château Guiraud 2001 achieves an Economics score of 212, and Château Suduiraut 2003 345), perhaps due to the pace at which older vintages of these exceptional sweet wines are consumed. With Christmas just around the corner, however, there is every reason to source either of these two for good value for your buck.
Elsewhere in Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan rules the Value Pick reds with two listings from Château Bouscaut. The 2017 is one of Bouscaut’s new Value Pick vintages, however the real appeal, with 10 years of age, is the physical 2008 vintage, which achieves a Quality score of 768 (vs. 775 for 2017) for a price just £1 above the latest release (at £19 per bottle in-bond). These two vintages join existing Value Picks of Château Bouscaut, namely the 2016, 2015, 2013, and 2004. The latter is interestingly Bouscaut’s highest-scoring vintage ever (868), and therefore provides exceptional value at £21 per bottle in-bond.
In the Rhône, producer Tardieu-Laurent has two newcomers to the Value Pick segment: Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2007 (£32) and Cornas Coteaux 2014 (£23), with Quality scores of 906 and 813 respectively. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes now has an impressive six Value Pick vintages, and the Cornas Coteaux four. Indeed, Tardieu-Laurent (which was recently acquired by EPI, the owner of top Brunello producer Biondi-Santi and both Piper and Charles Heidsieck) appears a good producer to choose for value, with six of the domaine’s ten wines on Wine Lister having vintages in the Value Pick segment. It is perhaps therefore surprising that its Brand scores sit mostly in the average section of Wine Lister’s 1,000-point scale or below – uncool, but with very cool price to quality ratios.
A second Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the 2006 from Domaine Charvin is the third wine from the Rhône to make it to the list, with a Quality score of 869 and available at the modest price of £28 per bottle in-bond.
These French Value Picks convince us that “old-school” wines should not be dismissed as such. With an average price of £25 per bottle in-bond, and an average Quality score of 858, these represent excellent value for money – and that will always be cool.
This week some of the Wine Lister team attended the Institute of Masters of Wine‘s Annual Claret Tasting, which this year focused on Bordeaux’s 2014 vintage. Though still young, it is a vintage that is tasting beautifully.
Throughout Wine Lister’s coverage of this year’s en primeur campaign, we found ourselves referring frequently to the 2014 vintage for comparative (and sometimes better) quality, and crucially, better prices. Below we explore the vintage in more detail, looking at Quality and Economics scores by appellation. (Note that this analysis was produced based on the basket of wines represented at the IMW Tasting).
Wine Lister’s holistic and dynamic approach allows us to not only see which appellations produced the vintage’s best wines, but also demonstrates if and how the market has since reacted to each appellation’s relative quality.
You can download the slide here: Wine Lister IMW 2014 vintage overview
To many wine collectors, the king of Italian wine is Barolo. Its popularity, particularly for older vintages, continues to grow (as proven in our latest restaurant presence analysis). However, the Piedmont sovereign’s Tuscan counterpart – Brunello – should not be overlooked. This week’s top five looks at the best Brunellos by Quality score – and all five achieve scores above 900.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top five Barolos by Quality score achieve an average score 34 points higher than this week’s Brunello group (964 vs 929). However, couple this with the fact that the Brunellos tend to cost nearly half as much as their Barolo counterparts (£142 vs £275), and Brunello’s value starts to become clear.
Biondi Santi earns two spots in this week’s top five, with its Brunello Riserva and Brunello Annata bookending the group. The former wins this week’s battle with an impressive Quality score of 938. It also achieves this week’s highest Economics score (941), contributing to its excellent overall Wine Lister score of 926 – also the best of the group. Although, at £315 a bottle it is also more than three times as expensive as the collective average price of the other four (£99).
In second place this week is Il Marroneto di Mori Alessandro Brunello Madonna Grazie. With a Quality score of 937 it is just one point behind this week’s number one – the slightly lower score being due to its shorter average ageing potential (12 vs 19 years). Its 2008 vintage provides the most impressive quality to price ratio of this week’s top five, achieving a Quality score of 938, yet available for as little as £45 per bottle in-bond.
Next in this week’s top five is Fuligni Brunello Riserva with a Quality score of 931. It appears to be the least well-known of the group, with a Brand score of 645. This is down to presence in just 5% of the world’s best restaurants, and being ranked 1,257th for monthly online searches of all Wine Lister’s wines on Wine Searcher. Its relatively modest Brand score could perhaps be the reason for its average price being the least expensive of the group (£73 per bottle).
Cerbaiona’s Brunello takes fourth place, with a Quality score of 923. Though not earning the highest Brand score of this week’s top five, it is still a Brand to watch – Cerbaiona was the only Brunello to feature in both recent top 20 lists for horizontal and vertical restaurant presence gains. Perhaps its increasing popularity is in part thanks to such an impressive score for the 2010 vintage. Vinous awards it 100 points, singing its praises: “The most anticipated wine of the night, the Cerbaiona shows why it belongs in the pantheon of the most epic wines ever made in Montalcino. A Brunello with no beginning and no end, the 2010 Cerbaiona just is. Every aroma, every shade of nuance, every texture is just…perfect.”
Last but not least is Biondi Santi’s Brunello Annata with a Quality score of 919. Though in fifth place for Quality, it achieves the highest Brand score of this week’s top five, at 934. This impressive Brand score is the result of great restaurant presence (17%) and being the 118th most searched-for wine on Wine Lister.