As the year draws to a close, Wine Lister has published its 2022 Wine Leagues – the third of our annual reports celebrating the top-performing wines and producers within several categories over the past year. The Leagues reveal exciting developments in the world of fine wine, shining a light on consumer trends and estates on the rise, informed by an in-depth trade survey with key industry figures.
Please see some of our key findings below, or click here to download the full study.
The Place de Bordeaux’s 2022 September campaign has seen its third week of releases, with a number of key entries including the likes of Pym Rae 2018, Dalla Valle Maya 2019, and Château Palmer 2012.
The Armagh vineyard in autumn
Following a UK bank holiday on Monday to mark the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, Tuesday 20th September morning saw several releases in quick succession, starting with Pym Rae 2018, which entered the market at a recommended retail price of £270 per bottle. Tasting at the CVBG Beyond Bordeaux London event earlier this month, Wine Lister’s Founder and CEO, Ella Lister found this vintage to be a real step-up from the Tesserons’ Californian outpost, awarding the 2018 96 points and noting “exceptional balance, the texture of taffeta, and an addictive softness”.
Another standout release, Telmo Rodríguez’s Yjar saw its second ever vintage – 2018 – released through the Place at £95 per bottle (in-bond). Tom Parker (tasting for jancisrobinson.com) awards a score of 17, while Ella scored 96 points, comparing its balance to that of “a ballet dancer, toned and delicate”, noting that it is “the perfect wine for today’s palate”. The 2018 vintage saw a production volume of just 6,000 bottles – a reduction of 1,000 bottles compared with the 2017.
The Armagh Shiraz 2018 was also released on Tuesday at £165 per bottle (in-bond), with Ella awarding 95 points and describing the latest offering from Jim Barry as “rich and opulent” – a vintage “worthy of the 50 years since the first Shiraz was planted at the domaine in 1968”.
Wednesday 21st September saw the release of Le Petit Cheval Blanc 2020, which entered the market at £100 per bottle (in-bond). It was shortly followed by Giovanni Rosso Barolo Ceretta 2018, released at £51 per bottle (in-bond). Walter Speller (for jancisrobinson.com) awards the latter a score of 17++, describing it as “simply gorgeous” and praising its “beautifully sculpted chewy tannins”.
Next up on Wednesday, Dalla Valle Maya 2019 was released at £464 per bottle (in-bond), marking the first vintage produced since the estate committed fully to biodynamic practices. Another first – Château Haut-Batailley introduced its 2016 vintage to the market at £36.67 per bottle (in-bond). A transitional year, the Cazes family acquired the estate shortly before the 2016 primeurs and oversaw blending, while vinification had been carried out by the previous owners (the Borie family) – provoking the decision to withhold its release. The 2016 bottle features a transitional label – neither the previous label under the Borie family, nor the new label under the Cazes family, debuted in 2017. Neal Martin (for Vinous) awards the 2016 94 points, calling it “an outstanding Haut-Batailley”.
Château Palmer released ex-château stock of its 2012 vintage on Thursday 22nd September, the third vintage to be released from the estate’s “Ten years on” series. Since 2010, approximately half of each year’s production has been reserved in the cellars, while the remaining half is sold en primeur. The 2012 vintage was released at £257 per bottle (in-bond), having achieved scores of 17 from Jancis Robinson (for jancisrobinson.com) and 94 from Antonio Galloni (for Vinous).
Also released this week were Cobos 2019 and Clos des Goisses 2013.
Likely to be released next week are Kracher Tba N°5 Grande Cuvee 2019c, Château d’Avize 2012, Morlet Cœur de Vallée 2019, Allegrini Fieramonte 2015, La Poja 2017, and Biserno 2017.
With this year’s September campaign now in full swing, we examine some of the key releases from the second week, including offerings from Château Latour, Bibi Graetz, and Catena Zapata.
The Wine Lister team got the chance to taste a number of wines scheduled for release during this year’s CVBG ‘Beyond Bordeaux’ tasting in London on 8th September 2022
One of the most anticipated releases from this year’s campaign, ex-château stock of Château Latour’s iconic 2010 vintage was released on Tuesday 13th September. Release prices varied, with listings for the latest tranche started from around £1,045 per bottle (in-bond). Tasting twice from magnum in February 2020, Vinous’ Neal Martin awards it a perfect score of 100 points, declaring that the wine “can be summed up in two words: ‘The king’”, while the 2020 earns the wine’s joint-highest WL score (98) alongside the 2005.
Tuesday also saw two releases from Bibi Graetz; Colore 2020, offered by some retailers at £173, was a Wine Lister favourite at the CVBG tasting. Wine Lister’s CEO Ella Lister described it as a “calming, zen wine, with all the confidence, wisdom, and stillness befitting a wine from such ancient vines”, referring to its “neverending finish” and scoring it 98 points. Testamatta 2020 was also released, garnering a score of 95 points from Ella and fetching a price of £68 from retailers.
Released the same day, Joseph Phelps Insignia 2019, has so far seen merchant offers of around £182.50 per bottle (in-bond). Ella scored the wine 97 points and found that it has “the usual power of Insignia, but with a newfound subtlety and sophistication and fine tannins”. This could be down to the record-high proportion (25%) of fruit from Rutherford in 2019 – while the vintage also marks the first to include fruit from the new Joseph Phelps vineyard, El Venadito, located in the Oak Knoll District.
Adrianna Catena pouring her namesake wine for the Wine Lister team at the CVBG ‘Beyond Bordeaux’ tasting in London
Thursday morning saw two entries from the Catena Zapata stable – the 2019 vintages of Nicolás Catena Zapata and the Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Terra. Nicolás Catena Zapata entered the market with a recommended UK retail price of £61 per bottle, having achieved a score of 96 points from Joaquin Hidalgo (Vinous). Adrianna Vineyard was released with a UK recommended retail price of £161 per bottle. Tasting in London, Ella awarded it 98 points, praising its “hedonistic bouquet”.
The morning of Friday 16th September marked a new entry to the Place this year – Belles Sœurs Cuvée Pinot Noir 2019 entered the market at £82 per bottle (in-bond). While Beaux Frères and Belles Soeurs 2019 were initially intended to be released together during last year’s campaign, reduced yields as a result of fires instigated the decision to release Beaux Frères 2019 last year and Belles Soeurs 2019 this year. Both cuvées will be released in tandem next year.
The 2013 vintage of Lindaflor La Violeta was also released on Friday 16th September, at £72.50 per bottle (in-bond) – having already been released in the form of a special-edition case alongside the 2011 vintage of its Bordeaux brother, La Violette, in March this year (at £325). Friday’s release marks the first solo introduction of the Parent family’s Mendoza estate through La Place, giving buyers the chance to acquire it in its own right. Tasting in Bordeaux, Ella awarded 93 points and found a nose that is “deep, meaty, with notes of paprika… sparkling, singing, seductive” and a palate of “exquisite freshness […] with a fine but firm structure”.
Also released this week were Penfolds Bin 169 2019, Petrolo Galatrona 2020, Cheval des Andes 2019, Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Siepi 2020, Orma 2020, Caiarossa 2019, and Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour 2019.
Next week’s releases are likely to include Petit Cheval Blanc 2020, Haut Batailley 2016, Cobos 2019, Giovanni Rosso Barolo Cerretta 2018, Pym Rae 2018, Clos des Goisses, and Palmer 2012.
The Place de Bordeaux has welcomed dozens of new wines through its distribution system this year, with new releases expected from Champagnes Barons de Rothschild, Biserno, and Parusso, alongside old favourites such as Caiarossa, Catena Zapata, and Penfolds, among others. As the campaign kicks off, we take a closer look at the first week of entries.
Dawn at Seña vineyard. The Wine Lister team tasted Seña 2020 with the Viñedo Chadwick and Seña team via Zoom last month
Inaugurating this year’s campaign on Thursday 1st September was an offering from Seña, whose 2020 vintage was released at £85.83 per bottle (in-bond). Tasting with Wine Lister on Zoom, the Seña-Chadwick team explained that although 2020 was an unusually warm year in Chile, a wide diurnal range in the vineyards (thanks to its 230 – 460m altitude) made for a long ripening season, allowing the grapes to develop intensity of flavour whilst retaining freshness. The Wine Lister team describes the latest release as opulent, with a complex nose of black fruit, plum and spice; on the palate, its berry intensity is complemented by notes of cigar box and grilled meat.
Quintessa 2019 followed swiftly, and has so far been offered in the UK for £180 per bottle (in-bond). Antonio Galloni (Vinous) awards Quintessa 2019 94 points, calling it “one of the best wines I have tasted here in some time”. Another offering from Rutherford in the Napa Valley, Inglenook Rubicon 2019 was released on Friday 2nd September at £143 per bottle (in-bond).
Released on Monday 5th September, Opus One 2019 entered the market at £252 per bottle (in-bond), with the latest vintage so far receiving acclaim from critics including Antonio Galloni (Vinous), who awards 97 points and writes that “it has all the classicism that is such an Opus One signature” and praises its “sublime finish”. Opus One is one of the top 15 best fine wine brands in the world, according to Wine Lister’s Brand score (as part of our Pro scoring system, see more here) – with high quality in 2020 further cementing this reputation.
Tuesday 6th September saw the latest release from Masseto, whose 2019 vintage (released at £440 per bottle in-bond) was the first to be made entirely in the estate’s new dedicated state-of-the-art winery, as well as the first with 10% Cabernet Franc added to an historically 100% Merlot composition. These changes appear to have yielded positive results, with Vinous’ Antonio Galloni describing Masseto 2020 as “fabulous”, adding that it is “Silky, gracious, and super-refined”.
Vin de Constance 2019 was released on Tuesday 6th September
Following suit on Tuesday 6th September, Vin de Constance 2019 entered the market at £45 per 500ml bottle (in-bond). Achieving its highest Wine Lister score since the 2012 vintage (96), the 2019 is awarded 97 points from Vinous’ Neal Martin, who calls it a “superb Vin de Constance […] a step closer to what you might confusingly call a non-sweet dessert wine” – high praise indeed.
Wednesday 7th September saw the release of the 25th vintage of Almaviva – a warm and dry year, the 2020 harvest arrived almost three weeks earlier than usual. Almaviva 2020 entered the market at £120 per bottle (in-bond).
On Thursday 8th September, Château d’Yquem released the last remaining half bottles of the 2016 vintage ex-château at £165 per bottle (in-bond). The vintage achieved a Wine Lister score of 96, with Neal Martin (Vinous) tasting in February this year, awarding 95 points and noting it “has gained a bit more complexity in recent years”. Solaia 2019 was released on the same morning, with a likely UK onward selling price of £218 per bottle. Antonio Galloni (Vinous) sings its praises, giving 97 points and describing it as “the sort of wine I would like to spend a whole evening with”.
Viñedo Chadwick 2020 was also released on Thursday morning, so far being offered in the UK at around £232 per bottle (in-bond). This particular vintage is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (Petit-Verdot is usually included in the blend). Tasting with the Seña-Chadwick team on Zoom, Wine Lister describes it as a complex and opulent offering, exhibiting great energy, freshness, and intensity.
Friday 9th September saw the release of L’Aventure Estate Cuvée 2020 at a recommended UK onward selling price of £83 per bottle (in-bond). Wine Lister CEO Ella Lister (tasting on behalf of Le Figaro Vin) awards the 2020 95 points, describing it as “Pure and upfront on the nose, with dark fruit, slate, and cinnamon”. It should be noted that the next release of l’Aventure Estate Cuvée will be in September 2024, as the property is skipping a year in order to age the 2021 longer.
Also released this week were Cloudburst Chardonnay 2020, Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin 2020, Opus One Overture 2019, Massetino 2020, Rieussec 2020, and R de Rieussec 2021. Upcoming releases over the next week are likely to include Penfolds Bin 169 2019, Cheval des Andes 2019, Bibi Graetz Colore 2020 & Testamatta 2020, Latour 2010, Petrolo Galatrona 2020, Catena Zapata Nicolas 2019, and Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour 2019.
The insider’s guide to fine wine trends, and the most compelling wines to watch
Wine Lister has released its second annual Wine Leagues, celebrating some of the top-performing wines and producers in today’s new and much-diversified fine wine era. Informed by an in-depth trade survey with leading industry figures, the report provides a 360° view of those regions, producers, and wines that have seen strides in quality, popularity, economic promise, and more in 2021.
Wine Lister’s annual in-depth survey sees our expert panel of 47 CEOs, MDs, and wine department heads share their insight on some of the fine wines to have on your radar, as we ask them:
“What are the most compelling wines and producers in the market today?”
Respondents singled out 188 wines and producers collectively, that span no less than 20 major regions. Within the list, our team identifies Bibi Graetz, Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Roberto Voerzio, Berthaut-Gerbet, and Fürst as wines to watch in the Old World, whilst calling out the New World wonders of Catena Zapata, Errazuriz, Pedro Parra, Rhys Vineyards, and Ridge Vineyards.
The report also includes rankings across:
- Biggest quality improvers, which show impressive movement from Italy (occupying five places in the list of the top 20 by Quality score progression), with Isole e Olena Chianti Classico leading the pack
- Best search rank movers, wherein Bordeaux represents eight of the top 20 wines whose popularity has increased most in terms of online searches (including Smith Haut Lafitte, Domaine de Chevalier, Figeac, and Léoville Poyferré)
- Burgundy superstars, focusing on popularity movements from the trade’s darling region – Arnoux-Lachaux features 10 times in the list of top 20 Burgundian wines whose online searches have increased the most over the last two years
- Wine Lister’s top-10 recommendations per Wine Lister Indicator; Hidden Gems, Value Picks, Buzz Brands, and Investment Staples in 2021
For the full analysis, download your free copy of Wine Lister’s 2021 Leagues here.
Tales of the 2016 told by Castiglion del Bosco
One of the highest-scoring vintages in recent decades, 2016 has been described as a milestone for Montalcino and its flagship wine, Brunello. Providing the first taste of 2016 Riserva in the UK, WLPR was honoured to accompany Castiglion del Bosco through an early preview of its monumental Riserva Millecento 2016 release (set for January 2022) at London’s Enoteca Turi, joined by a handful of the city’s leading trade figures and fine wine collectors.
Bespoke menu (left), Castiglion del Bosco’s Marketing Manager, Gemma Grieco talking guests through the line-up (middle), Enoteca Turi owner, Giovanni Turi pouring the wines (right)
The 2016 Riserva – some of the best from Brunello?
With big shoes to fill following the release of the highly-praised 2015, the 2016 marks the second great year in a row for Brunello di Montalcino, though very different from its predecessor. Whilst the 2015 growing season was hot and dry, 2016 was slightly cooler, with greater diurnal range during the ripening season. These climatic differences result in the 2015s being more generous in both texture and body, while the successive vintage is pure and elegant, with significant ageing potential.
Having been at the property since its acquisition by Massimo Ferragamo in 2004, Castiglion del Bosco’s winemaker Cecilia Leoneschi describes the 2016 as the estate’s “best ever” Brunello. The mild summer encouraged a long, slow ripening, while good conditions at harvest allowed the estate to “harvest each vineyard at the perfect moment” – resulting in “rich wines with outstanding elegance”.
Cecilia hails the 2016 vintage of Castiglion del Bosco’s Riserva Millecento (so-named due to the property’s original construction in 1100) as having “arrived at our intention”. She refers to creating a wine that reflects the magnificence of the estate’s past, while “representing what we want our future to be”. Finally, she adds that the 2016 relays the estate’s key message with absolute purity, as the growing season allowed her to finetune her senses, and “listen to the land” completely.
Campo del Drago 2017 (left), Riserva Millecento 2015 and 2016 (middle), and Riserva Millecento 2004 (right)
Bringing to life the best of Brunello
The Castiglion del Bosco team came to London on Thursday 14th November to tell the tales of the Riserva Millecento 2016 to an audience of 25 industry members and fine wine collectors. Bringing Tuscany to Chelsea, and the estate’s historic past to the present, all guests left with a short storybook, detailing key moments at Castiglion del Bosco that shape the estate’s future, and of course, its wines.
The chosen pouring order of wines, paired with a traditional Tuscan fare from Enoteca Turi’s Head Chef, Massimo Tagliaferri was also symbolic of the changing hands of time, and those traditions maintained – vintages 2004, 2010, 2015, and 2016 we served side-by-side, and tasters were invited to try from 2004 upwards, and back down again.
2004 was the first Riserva made under the current team, while the 2010 was the first to be released under the “Millecento” name. A direct comparison of the 2015 and 2016 – the latest Riserva released, and that which is yet to come – illustrates what Cecilia describes as “two different approaches to quality” in consecutive years.
Table designed by Isabelle Buckland (top left), Castiglion del Bosco’s CEO, Simone Pallesi greeting the guests (top right), guests enjoying their aperitivo, Zuppa di Cipolle (bottom left), and the complete Riserva line-up (bottom right)
Wines tasted: Brunello 2017, Campo del Drago Brunello 2017, Riserva Millecento 2016, Riserva Millecento 2015, Riserva Millecento 2010, and Riserva Millecento 2004 (from Massimo Ferragamo’s private cellar), and a Vin Santo 2014 to finish.
For more information on our organisation of tastings and events, please contact the WLPR team here.
The balancing act
Following our recent report on Bordeaux’s 2021 harvest, Wine Lister now turns to Tuscany to find out more about its 2021 vintage so far, with insight from 10 top producers across the region
Tuscany’s 2021 growing season has been characterised as a year of climatic extremities, including a mild and rainy winter, the onset of frost in spring, persistent drought in summer, and ending in ideal harvest conditions. In a show of resilience and adaptability, producers were able to reap the benefits of acute weather patterns – with the potential consequences of drought lessened by the groundwater reserves accumulated in winter, and dry conditions reducing disease pressure over the summer.
What can we expect from Tuscany’s 2021 vintage?
Multiple methods to fight frost
- Properties lit fires in the vineyards to circulate warm air and reduce the risk of frost. Owner of IPSUS, Giovanni Mazzei tells us that the technique successfully “increased the temperature up to 2˚C” across the IPSUS vineyards, protecting the vines from damage
- Several producers used organic treatments to improve vine health following the frost, including Argiano, whose Sales Manager, Riccardo Bogi tells us that “brown algae allowed the plants to stabilise and respond as quickly as possible to the loss of sprouts”
- Frost was particularly prevalent in low-lying coastal regions, with Ornellaia’s winemaker, Axel Heinz witnessing “damages limited to a few lower altitude vineyards, without significant impact on production”. Le Macchiole’s Commercial Director, Gianluca Putzolu tells us that the estate also implemented “organic spring fertilization” to combat frost that hit “some, but fortunately very few vineyards”
- Rainfall during winter accumulated important water reserves at both Argiano and Romitorio, encouraging a good state of hydration ahead of the growing season
- Some high-altitude properties also saw snowfall during winter that, when melted, “percolated the soil with water”, according to Romitorio’s owner, Filippo Chia
- Abundant rainfall in May allowed plants to survive the hot summer, with Riccardo confirming that this was “essential” for Argiano’s 2021 vintage, “since after that, there was no rain until the beginning of October”. Similarly, Fèlsina’s owner, Giovanni Poggiali tells us of some “rainy days in June”
Sun and heat exposure
- “The management of the canopy needed to be delicate and precise to avoid sunburns”, explains Avignonesi’s COO and Agronomist, Alessio Gorini, who also explained that the use of high-tech sorting equipment allowed them “to completely remove any berries withered or raisined by the sun”
- Organic treatments were adopted to protect the vines from sun exposure, such as the use of “kaolin” at Tenuta San Guido. General Director, Carlo Paoli explains this to be “a natural substance that we have been using for many years in hot vintages”, which helps to reduce the vines’ susceptibility to scorching
- A broad diurnal range across several high-altitude estates encouraged balance despite the hot summer, with Castiglion del Bosco’s winemaker, Cecilia Leoneschi noting that the difference of more than 10°C between day and night temperatures was a “real blessing”
Teamwork amongst Tuscan vines: IPSUS (left), Tenuta San Guido (middle), Ornellaia (right)
A remarkably healthy vintage
- Lack of rain throughout June and July minimised disease pressure; Filippo confirmed that “from a mould and disease standpoint, it was actually one of the healthiest vintages [Romitorio] has seen”, thanks to the “dry summer”. Giovanni echoes this sentiment for IPSUS, while Gianluca reiterates there were “no particular problems” at Le Macchiole, despite the risk of powdery mildew – a more common problem for the Bolgheri area
Striking when the time was right
- For many estates, harvest timing was essential, with Alessio and the Avignonesi team similarly conscious of “avoiding over-ripening on such concentrated grapes”
- Producers had to be particularly reactive to picking dates, explains Axel – whose 2021 harvest “required great skill” in planning, eventually leading to a “very compact harvest completed in one month, instead of the usual 40 days”. Owner of Tua Rita, Giovanni Frascolla similarly characterised 2021 as a “lightning harvest”
- “Powerful dark structure – we normally see this with low acid, but this has high acid” recounts Filippo from Romitorio’s latest tasting of the blend
- First impressions show “bright aromatics and, luckily high acidities to keep everything in balance”, at Ornellaia, with Axel describing a “rich and concentrated” wine, “with soft tannins”
- “Grapes matured in a homogeneous way and with a perfect balance of acidity and PH” explains Carlo at Tenuta San Guido
Key fine wine releases from Bordeaux and Beyond
As another week of releases draws to a close, we reflect on highlights from the past fortnight, including the latest vintages of signature New and Old World wines, offered through the Place de Bordeaux’s impressive network.
Cheval des Andes’ Technical Director, Gerald Gabillet (bottom right), with the winemaking team
Which wines offer the best investments from the Place de Bordeaux’s September campaign?
As well as a further flurry of releases from the Americas and Tuscany, the past two weeks have also witnessed exciting French entries from the likes of the Rhône Valley, and a re-release of Latour 2005.
One of the top 20 fine wine brands in the world (according to its Wine Lister Pro Brand score), Opus One released its 40th vintage, 2018 last Monday (6th September), at £230 per bottle (in-bond). Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni (Vinous) gives the latest release a score of 95, describing it as “incredibly elegant and polished, right out of the bottle”.
Napa Valley neighbour, Beaulieu Vineyard’s Georges de Latour Private Reserve 2018 was released on Tuesday (14th September) at £115 per bottle (in-bond). Describing the wine as “sensational”, with notes of “inky red fruit, chocolate, leather, and liquorice”, Galloni gives the latest vintage 98 points – its joint-highest score ever awarded by the critic body. Joseph Phelps’ Insignia 2018 entered the market in quick succession on Tuesday at £163 per bottle (in-bond). Sampled by Wine Lister COO, Chloe Ashton at a recent tasting at 67 Pall Mall (alongside the 2010 and 1998), she found the evolution in complexity, tension, and precision was clear to see.
Monday (13th September) witnessed a triptych of 2018s from Sonoma County’s Vérité, with La Muse, Le Désir, and La Joie released onto the market at £300 per bottle each (in-bond). With the wines representing distinct expressions of the estate through the bespoke blending of different varietals and plots, the Merlot-based La Muse receives a perfect 100-point score from Lisa Perrotti-Brown for Wine Advocate, who calls it “Electrifying!”. Comprising a majority blend of Cabernet Franc, Le Désir gains 97+ and 97 points from Perrotti-Brown and Suckling, respectively. Whilst being Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister’s favourite amongst the three, the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant La Joie 2018 secures its highest average critics scores since 2013, inclusive of 98 points from Perrotti-Brown and 99 points from Suckling.
South American sensations
Leading last week’s South American entries, Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s Chilean winery Almaviva released its 2019 vintage on Wednesday (8th September) at £108 per bottle (in-bond). The Wine Lister team found it to show good complexity for its young age, with dense black fruit, exotic spices, and a touch of hay smoke.
Across to Argentina, Cheval des Andes 2018 was released on Thursday (9th September) at £59 per bottle (in-bond). The latest vintage aligns with the estate’s upward quality trajectory in recent years, having been awarded a score of 98 from James Suckling, who describes it as “very long and structured, yet controlled and in balance”.
Wildflowers growing in-between Siepi’s Merlot and Sangiovese vines
A Tuscan triumph
There are now only limited remaining stocks of Masseto 2018, which was released on Tuesday (7th September), starting from £495 per bottle (in-bond). The estate saw one of the rainiest springs in its history, and consequentially faced high levels of disease pressure. Nonetheless, the team at Masseto handled challenges that arose deftly, reflected in Wine Lister’s praise of its dense, layered, and lithe texture.
Now with similarly limited availability at around £208 per bottle (in-bond), Solaia 2018 was released on Thursday (9th September). Galloni awards it a strong score of 98, noting that he “can’t remember ever tasting a young Solaia with this much sheer appeal and balance”. Demand for the 2018 may well be encouraged by the estate’s positive price performance track record, which has seen some of its top-scoring vintages appreciate significantly post-release.
The first of the Tuscan trio to be released last week was Petrolo’s Galatrona 2019, which entered the market on Monday (13th September) at £72 per bottle (in-bond). Gaining a near-perfect score of 99 points from Suckling, he describes it as “muscular, yet agile” – “a unique definition of merlot in Tuscany”. Following in close succession, Castello di Fonterutoli released Siepi 2019 at £68 per bottle (in-bond). The Mazzei family planted its first Merlot grapes in 1980, with Siepi’s varietal blend now comprising equal proportions of Merlot and Sangiovese. The 2019 gains 98 points from Suckling – the joint-highest score awarded by the critic, who praises its “super-structure”, and “finesse with power”. To end Monday’s Tuscan trilogy, Tenuta Sette Ponti’s Orma 2019 was released at £56 per bottle (in-bond). Though Orma is yet to be widely scored by critics, Suckling awards it 97 points, calling it “perhaps the best Orma ever”.
Closing this week’s Italian offerings, Caiarossa 2018 entered the market on Wednesday (15th September) at £35 per bottle (in-bond). Walter Speller for Wine Lister partner critic, JancisRobinson.com, awards it 17+ points, considering it “classy stuff”, “which should become even more compelling with further bottle ageing”.
Back on French soil
Speculated to be the final commercial release of the vintage, Latour released a parcel of its 2005 vintage last Tuesday (7th September), which has since been offered by merchants for around £750 per bottle (in-bond). The 2005 was awarded 100 points by Galloni, who calls it “deep and sensual to the core”, and notes that it is “utterly captivating”. The iconic reputation of both the vintage and the estate is reiterated in this perfect score, which should stimulate interest from serious fine wine collectors.
Racing over to the Rhône, Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin 2019 was released last Friday (10th September) at around £227 per bottle (in-bond). A cask sample score from Alistair Cooper for JancisRobinson.com signifies quality, awarding its highest score from the critic body since 2007 with 19 points, calling it “One to watch!”.
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New World icons join top Tuscan wines for the first week of releases
A trading system used to distribute Bordeaux wines for almost 800 years, the Place de Bordeaux has, in more recent years, provided an international stage for many wines originating beyond its own borders. The first non-Bordeaux bottle to join La Place in 1998 was Almaviva, followed by Opus One in 2004, Masseto in 2008, and Solaia in 2009. Over the past decade, a further flurry of eminent estates from around the world have joined the distribution network, and together they form a campaign of new vintage releases every September.
Seña and Chadwick owner, Eduardo Chadwick, and daughter, Magui
Which fine wines were released through the Place de Bordeaux this week?
South American superstars
Clos Apalta 2018 kicked off this year’s campaign on Tuesday 31st August, at £71.50 per bottle (in-bond). At this year’s CVBG London tasting at Berry Bros. & Rudd, Wine Lister enjoyed the elegance of the latest release, which boasted red fruits, pepper, and a hint of smokiness on the nose, and a fresh acidity and energy on the palate. Another vintage that adheres to the estate’s impressive quality consistency over the past five years, demand for the 2018 is further encouraged by Clos Apalta’s status as one of Chile’s leading wine brands.
Across the Andes, Catena Zapata released its 2018 vintage on Wednesday 1st September, with Nicolàs Catena Zapata entering the market at £53 per bottle (in-bond). Having gained 96 points from Joaquín Hidalgo for Wine Lister partner critic Vinous.com, the latest vintage achieves its highest ever-score from the critic outfit. He calls it “breathtaking”, with “layers of aroma, beginning with black currant and moving on to intense, precise notes of lavender and mint along with hints of black tea, sage and cigar box”.
Released yesterday (Thursday 2nd September) at £80 per bottle (in-bond), Seña 2019 was the product of a “long, stable ripening season”, according to owner, Eduardo Chadwick. Tasting with Wine Lister on Zoom, he explains that while “January did begin warmer than usual, summer in March was cooler than normal”, retaining freshness. Indeed, our team found the 2019 to be beautifully balanced, perfumed with muddled berries, sweet spice, and promising complexity of cherries and rustic earth, with satin tannins, on the palate. Supplemented by its high quality, the special-edition 25th-anniversary bottling should stimulate interest in Seña’s latest offering.
Describing Viñedo Chadwick 2019 as “one of the best recent vintages”, Eduardo tells us that, as ever, the character of the wine is shaped by the estate’s altitude. He explains that the great diurnal range throughout the warm growing season allowed freshness, encouraging what Wine Lister found to be both remarkable lift and flavour intensity, with aromas of iris, fresh herbs, and blackberry. Released onto the market at c.£230 per bottle, the 2019 was awarded 99 points by James Suckling, who echoes the sentiment that the wine is “refined, yet powerful”.
South African sweetness
On Wednesday 1st September, Klein Constantia released its Vin de Constance 2018 at £41 per bottle (in-bond). Wine Lister tasted the latest release on Zoom alongside Winemaker, Matt Day, and found notes of citrus and stone fruits complemented with notes of ginger on the nose, complete with a generous and balanced palate with a lightness and freshness that defies the stereotypes of “sweet wine”. Matt told us he believes the vintage represents an embodiment of his “fine-tuned” craft, which also coincided with “a perfect [growing] season”, encouraging the continuation of its positive quality trajectory this year. Indeed, the latest release (as yet not scored by any Wine Lister partner critics) gains 98 points from James Suckling in his most recent tasting.
Tasting Vin de Constance 2018 alongside Klein Constantia Winemaker, Matt Day
Top Tuscan offerings
Bibi Graetz’s Testamatta and Colore 2019 entered the market yesterday (Thursday 2nd September), at £73 and £180 per bottle (in-bond), respectively. Marking its 20th anniversary vintage, both wines feature special-edition bottles designed by artist turned vigneron, Bibi Graetz, with colour and text applied directly onto the glass. Wine Lister was particularly impressed with Colore 2019, which boasted a perfumed nose of violets, frangipane, and crushed berries, following through to a vibrant and juicy palate with silky tannins.
Wines likely to be released through the Place de Bordeaux next week include: Opus One 2018, Overture NV, Masseto 2018, Massetino 2019, Latour 2005, Almaviva 2019, Epu 2019, Cheval des Andes 2018, Solaia 2018, and Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin 2019.
Wine Lister speaks to 10 top sommeliers to find out more about their bottles of choice
From left to right: Lupo Theones, Victor Petiot, Gareth Ferreira, Beatrice Bessi, and Paul Lo
What top wines do sommeliers recommend?
Whether offering the perfect food pairing or serving an unforgettable glass, sommeliers are often responsible for creating moments of vinous magic shared by wine lovers far and wide. Our latest blog flips the script, with some of the world’s leading sommeliers sharing with us their most memorable pours, providing the ultimate guide on how to drink like a pro.
Read our blog on your favourite winemakers’ favourite wine for more insight into what the experts are drinking here.
Lupo Theones – Head Sommelier at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, London
Lupo Theones shares the same sentiment as many of his peers: “it is challenging to choose a single wine when you taste so many great wines as a sommelier”. He nonetheless mentions Egon Müller’s Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett 2011 as a wine that “deeply impressed” him, having tasted it soon after moving to London to join The Connaught. Describing a “perfectly balanced” palate that “shows a great acidity and minerality”, Lupo notes that it is a wine you can drink on its own, or paired with the likes of sushi and shellfish, as well as Foie Gras.
Victor Petiot – Wine Director at Caprice at Four Seasons, Hong Kong
Having discovered the vintage just last year, Victor Petiot cites Toro Albalá Don PX 1931 as his favourite wine, due to its “uniqueness” after sleeping in barrel for over 90 years. He explains that it provides “the perfect balance between powerful and well-balanced” with a “sweet and creamy texture yet high acidity”. On the topic of pairing, Victor tells us that the wine prompted the creation of a new dish to be served with it, comprising “a pigeon cooked in a coffee dough with salsify, hazelnut, pan-fried foie gras and pigeon sauce with coffee and a bit of Toro Albalá 1931”.
Gareth Ferreira – Head Sommelier at Core by Clare Smyth, London
Gareth Ferreira recalls being “immediately hooked” on his first real trip to visit the great producers of Burgundy during his early career. He tells us of the first time he tried Jean-Marie Fourrier’s Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques, which made him question, “how can wine taste this good?”. It has since remained a wine he “looks forward to opening, no matter what the vintage is”, though the first he tasted – 2009 and 2010 – “will always have a special place in [his] heart” and 2002 is one of his favourites in Burgundy.
Beatrice Bessi – Head Sommelier at Chiltern Firehouse, London
“The reason that I became a sommelier is the Nebbiolo grape” exclaims Beatrice Bessi, who fell in love with Barolo in particular over 10 years ago. It is her “never-ending love”, as the region takes a lifetime to know in its entirety (“similar to Burgundy in that respect”, she notes). While citing Bruno Giacosa and Bartolo Mascarello as “traditionalist” producers that she would turn to on special occasions, Beatrice recently “fell in love with the wines of a super modern producer”, Domenico Clerico. In regards to pairing, she tells us that there is “nothing more satisfying” than an amazing glass of Barolo with pizza – there “doesn’t need to be an occasion to have a great glass”.
Paul Lo – Wine Director at Grand Lisboa, Hong Kong
Unable to choose a favourite, Paul Lo instead recalls an exclusive dinner he hosted in May 2014, at which the late chef Joël Robuchon’s menu was paired with 10 wines from the Lisboa cellar hailing from the 1959 vintage. Listing Dom Pérignon Oenothèque, Margaux, Palmer, Latour, Haut-Brion, Lafite, Mouton, La Mission Haut-Brion, Cheval Blanc, and a Steinberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, he tells us that “uncorking the wines in a single event was unforgettable”. He gives particular praise to the Steinberger, noting “so many elements inside – nectar coupled with dried nuts, dry fruits, cigar, caramel, noble spices”, presented with “delicate and perfect acidity”.
From left to right: Stefan Kobald, Victoria O’Bryan, Julien Sarrasin, Jonathan Charnay, and Pascaline Lepeltier
Stefan Kobald – Head Sommelier at Pollen Street Social, London
Stefan Kobald tells us that current favourite wine is Philippe Colin Montagny 2016. Having always known of the producer, Stefan discovered this specific cuvée before the first lockdown and has been “hooked ever since”. He describes its “fresh acidity, stunning aromas of ripe apple, citrus notes of lemon peel, and grapefruit”, with a “hint of butter coming from the light oak usage”. Sharing the same philosophy for when he buys wine for the restaurant and himself, he seeks freshness and drinkability, and a wine that invites you back to take another sip – which this wine “definitely does”.
Victoria O’Bryan – Wine Director at Addison Restaurant, California
Narrating her recent encounter with Krug Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2002, Victoria O’Bryan tells us that it made her “weak at the knees”. She explains that the wine opened up with surprising ferocity, “like a jolt of electricity giving power and lift to bright citrus tones and a stunning limestone minerality”, with an expression that was “at once creamy and piercing with layers of intensity”. When pairing a wine with “this flair of tension and drama”, Victoria would recommend pouring it alongside caviar or oysters.
Julien Sarrasin – Head Sommelier at Hide, London
“Every wine aficionado would understand the emotion I felt when I first tried this unique wine”, notes Julien Sarrasin, referring the Rhône’s renowned Reynaud family, and specifically a 2004 Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Now under the influence of the “Rayas effect”, Julien also cites a rosé called Parisy from another Reynaud property, Château des Tours – a blend of Grenache and Cinsault that provided his “most exciting experience” of rosé wine. He describes its “intense bouquet of crushed wild ripe raspberries, jammy strawberries, liquorice stick, and Mediterranean herbs”, which pairs with “intense seafood and fish dishes, as well as meat”.
Jonathan Charnay – Beverage Director at Masa, New York
Echoing Lupo Theones’s choice, Jonathan Charnay tells us that his “absolute favourite wine” is Egon Müller’s Scharzhofberger Riesling, though cites the Auslese as his top wine. He muses on its “great complexity and depth” with “intense aromas of white flowers and honey” that he immediately fell in love with when tasting with Egon Müller during a visit to the winery in 2013. While it is sweet when young, Jonathan points out that it can “age for decades, turning into a delicate elixir” with notes of “apricots, ginger and bergamot”.
Pascaline Lepeltier – formerly Managing Partner at Racines, New York
Pascaline Lepeltier informs us that if she “had to go back to a wine over and over again” it would be Benoit Courault’s Gilbourg – a Chenin Blanc from Anjou in the Loire, where she grew up. “Benoit was one of the first vignerons I met over 15 years ago” she explains, noting that her path was paved by time spent with him in his vineyards in the Coteaux du Layon. Produced with grapes from different plots on schists, Gilbourg is made organically and with minimal intervention – “a real paragon” according to Pascaline. Admiring its “tremendous” ageing potential, she notes its evolution into “the most complete, complex, powerful but ethereal Chenin”.
Explore Wine Lister’s own MUST BUYs for 2021 in our recent blog here.