Like many of the world’s winemaking regions, Barolo is increasingly subject to dramatic weather patterns as a result of global warming. With significant frost in spring followed by an extremely hot summer, its 2017 growing season was no exception to these severe shifts. Akin to its vines, Barolo’s producers are now more than ever demonstrating their resilience to change, as evident in its latest offerings.
To guide those buying Barolo 2017 over the coming weeks, Wine Lister has spoken to nine of the region’s top producers to get a better picture of the vintage and its viticultural demands.
Chiara Boschis and her team during the 2017 harvest at E.Pira e Figli
A reduction in production
As cited by several producers, spring frost and summer drought resulted in reduced yields across the board in 2017. Situated in the heart of Barolo, Chiara Boschis tells us that production at E.Pira e Figli was down between 10-20% on the 2016. The estate had to carefully select “clusters that were compact when picked”, as heat stress was preventing complete berry development. Marco Marengo notes that yields at his estate were 25% lower than average in 2017, while owner and winemaker at La Spinetta, Giorgio Rivetti, saw levels down by roughly 30%. A representative at Giacomo Conterno, Stephanie Flou tells us that its 2017 vintage was particularly affected by it being “the second year in a row in which [the estate] has suffered drought”. She states that while yields were limited “because the grapes dried out”, they are “positively surprised with how the vintage has ended up”.
Finding shade from the sun
Numerous estates noted the need for rigorous canopy management in 2017 – one of many adjustments applied across the region to cope with the extreme heat. Elio Altare’s second-generation winemaker, Silvia Altare tells us that hydric stress forced her to be amongst the vines, “meticulously managing the canopies to protect the grapes from the sun”. The team at Cantina Cooperativa Terre del Barolo also explain that this “was key in 2017 in order to keep bunches in shade, without suffocating them”, while “conservation tillage – mulching or grass covering in between the rows –was crucial to limit evaporation, and to protect the vines from the ‘mirror effect’ of the soil”. Vietti’s winemaker, Luca Currado notes that he similarly used “uniform, dense foliage to provide clusters with greater shade” and “grass cover between the rows to prevent sunlight reflecting directly onto the clusters”. The estate also started harvest significantly earlier than usual in 2017 – another recurring theme across the properties.
Keeping cool: the family dog at Elio Altare finds shade under the vines during the estate’s 2017 harvest
A crucial cooling
As mentioned by several of his peers, Azelia’s fifth-generation winemaker, Lorenzo Scavino tells us that a large diurnal temperature range helped to “preserve the freshness and the aromas of the grapes” in such a hot year. He states that while these cool nights “usually do not occur in warmer vintages, they were really a blessing”. Poderi Luigi Einaudi’s team echoed this sentiment, add that the temperature changes between day and night helped to develop the “polyphenolic profile of the Nebbiolo”, allowing “an excellent accumulation of tannins”. Rainfall in early September also helped to ensure balance in the 2017 vintage, with Luca Currado informing us that Vietti’s “Nebbiolo and Barbera benefited in particular, with highly complex polyphenolic profiles compared to other particularly rich vintages”, and “an unexpected freshness on the palate”.
The final freshness
Indeed, according to Wine Lister’s discussions with producers, freshness has been the great surprise of the 2017 vintage – a description applied repeatedly by Wine Lister’s partner critic, Antonio Galloni, in his notes on the region’s latest offerings. Chiara Boschis notes that E. Pira e Figli’s 2017 is “generous but very fresh”, while Azelia’s Lorenzo Scavino explains that rigorous vineyard management allowed them to “preserve the acidity, which is why even in this vintage we can find a great freshness”. Silvia Altare also tells us that while “2017 is definitely a warmer, more open knit vintage than 2016”, she has “noticed over the past few months the wines have integrated more and there’s a bit more freshness”.
The successful conception of balance in a year defined by drought aptly illustrates the resilience of Barolo’s producers in 2017, which may well be described as a winemaker’s vintage. Barolo 2017 scores have so far been high across the board, giving further merit to those who have created a wine of complexity and quality in a year of climatic uncertainty.
Keep track of new Barolo 2017 scores from Wine Lister’s partner critics here.
On 11th February, Sassicaia 2018 was released at £150 per bottle (in-bond), 6% up on the release price of the 2017.
Wine Lister attended an online tasting of this new release, as well as Guidalberto and Le Difese 2019, hosted by Armit Wines and Sassicaia’s third-generation director, Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta. Armit’s Managing Director, Brett Fleming noted the uptake on all three wines has been excellent: “it has been an extremely successful launch from Tenuta San Guido over the past two weeks. Update and demand have been far in excess of anything we’ve been able to manage”.
Though all three wines are made in the large majority from international grape varieties, Priscilla’s observation that “Cabernet [has] found its sense of place in Bolgheri” shines through the wines. Each has its own distinct character, but with a fundamentally Tuscan undertone.
Sassicaia began as the passion project of Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta. While studying agriculture at the university of Pisa, he developed a penchant for wine from Cabernet vines, and subsequently invested in his own, so as to have wine for his family and friends that appealed to his tastes.
During the Zoom tasting, Priscilla told us that in the 1960s, Marchese Mario’s third son, (and Priscilla’s father) Marchese Nicoló, managed to convince him to begin distributing the wine, “transforming his hobby into something resembling a business”. Over the last half-century, the agricultural focus of Sassicaia’s 2,500-hectare estate has shifted increasingly towards top-quality winemaking. Still continued today nonetheless is the breeding of race-horses on the estate, as well as the preservation of a 500-hectare wildlife reserve.
Official photos courtesy of Tenuta San Guido
This is the 50th vintage of Sassicaia to be released onto the global wine market. Priscilla notes that “8” is usually a lucky number, and this was the case once again for the growing season resulting in this year’s anniversary release.
The wine leaps from the glass, with an energetic nose featuring suave red fruit, and a floral note of cherry blossom. The palate shows great depth – red cherries and plums as well as an earthier undertone, matched with a fine, elegant texture, particularly lifted by the wine’s vibrant acidity.
The only wine of the three tasted from a cask sample, the latest release from Guidalberto shows a sultry wine with impressive structure, yet seamless integration of its elements. The fruit profile is darker than its big cousin, but the same lift and freshness resounds on the palate, giving the wine a round and long finish.
Priscilla explains that the 2019 vintage was “warmer than other preceding vintages, not as much as 2017 or 2012, but comparable with 2009”. She continues, “we had a dry and mild winter, cool and rainy spring, but a regular summer, apart from rain during the middle of August which brought fresh air that allowed grapes to stay longer on the vines”. This small interruption to the ripening gave the Merlot a little extra time to soften.
She shares with us during the tasting the big news for Guidalberto – after postponing building plans for a brand new cellar of its own due to Covid restrictions, the works are finally underway, and the wine is set to have its own home, completely separate from Sassicaia, by 2023.
Le Difese 2019
After nearly 20 years in production (its first vintage was 2002), Le Difese proves itself a vibrant and well-balanced drinking wine. The 2019 shows an intense and immediate nose of sour cherry, and pure, juicy red berries on the palate.
Priscilla comments on its design; “[It] should be a wine that’s easy to drink, enjoyable young, aromatic but with some good structure because of the Cabernet Sauvignon”. The winemaking team has chosen to increase the amount of Sangiovese in the blend of the 2019 (from 30% up to 45%), so as to better service market demand for an easy-drinking wine that is approachable younger.
Home to a range of grape varieties, styles, and DOCGs, Tuscany also offers excellent wines at a variety of price points. To help you on your hunt for a top Tuscan bottle within your budget, Wine Lister has compiled a selection of Tuscany MUST BUYs at five different price points.
Click here to view all Tuscan MUST BUYs, or read more below.
Prices are shown per bottle in-bond (when buying by the case).
Under £20 – 2011 Fattoria La Massa La Massa
Founded in 1992 by prominent Chianti winemaker, Giampaolo Motta, Fattoria La Massa represents his aim of applying Bordeaux vinification techniques to a Tuscan terroir. With the counsel of famed Bordeaux vigneron, Stéphane Derenoncourt, Motta now grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot alongside native Sangiovese. La Massa comprises 60% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot in 2011, and is described by Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni as “jumping from the glass with dark red cherry, raspberry jam, plum, spices, violets, smoke and cloves”. With a WL score of 92, it is available to purchase from Bordeaux Index for £16 per bottle (in-bond).
Under £50 – 2015 Felsina Fontalloro
Felsina has seen a significant shift toward organic and biodynamic practices since its founder, Domenico Poggiali’s son-in-law, Giuseppe Mazzocolin, took over in the late 1970s. As well as investing heavily in a more natural viticulture, the estate has adopted a dedication to revealing the expression of its terroir. The 2015 Felsina Fontalloro was awarded 96 points from Antonio Galloni, who indeed notes that “sandy soils confer aromatic intensity to this super-expressive, arrestingly beautiful wine”. It can be purchased from Brunswick Fine Wines for £44 per bottle (in-bond).
Under £100 – 2016 Tenuta Tignanello Tignanello
Antinori’s Tenuta Tignanello property fared notably well in 2016, with its namesake wine, Tignanello achieving its joint-highest WL score alongside its 2015 vintage (98). Antonio Galloni describes the 2016 Tignanello as “flat out stunning”, and muses, “I don’t think there is another wine anywhere in the world made entirely from estate fruit that can match Tignanello for quality, consistency and value”. A blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc, it can be acquired from Fine+Rare Wines for £92 per bottle (in-bond).
Under £200 – 2015 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte
Considered a difficult place for any agricultural production, Radda was an unusual location for Montevertine’s founder, Sergio Manetti to establish his property in 1967. In one of the highest and rockiest sites in Chianti Classico, its steep hills are now home to top-quality Sangiovese vines from which its three wines – Pian del Ciampolo, Montevertine, and Le Pergole – are produced. Antonio Galloni awards 97 points to the 2015 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte, calling it “deep, powerful and resonant […] exotically ripe and flamboyant, not to mention utterly captivating”. It can be bought from IG Wines for £129 per bottle (in-bond).
Over £300 – 2008 Soldera Case Basse Sangiovese
Achieving 18 points from Wine Lister’s partner critic, Jancis Robinson, Soldera’s 2008 Case Basse Sangiovese is described as “so different from most Brunello” with a “reserved nose of autumnal leaves”, and a “real tang on the end”. Having separated from the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG in 2006, all vintages from 2007 onwards are labelled as Toscana IGT. The 2008 marks a shift away from the estate’s usual vinicultural methods, having been aged for a period in stainless steel before bottling. Antonio Galloni notes that it is indeed “quite different from virtually every other wine made at Case Basse”. The 2008 Case Basse Sangiovese can be bought from Fine+Rare Wines for £387 per bottle (in-bond).
Over two years ago, Wine Lister published a blog on Tuscany’s 2018 vintage (recap here), which has since become the second most-read article on our site. With several 2018s entering the market over the past six months, and more scheduled for release this year, news of the vintage remains relevant.
To complete the picture first painted in our report on the 2018 harvest, we examine how some of the wines discussed have performed so far, and whether predictions on the vintage have come to fruition.
A prized picking – the 2018 harvest at Castello di Fonterutoli
Predicting in 2018 that “the vintage might fall between the opulent 2015s and the structured 2016s in terms of quality and style”, Castello di Fonterutoli’s Giovanni Mazzei underestimated the year. The estate’s 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot blend, Siepi, achieves its highest score from Wine Lister’s partner critic, Antonio Galloni in 2018 (97) – five and two points above the 2015 and 2016, respectively. Antonio notes it is “rich, pliant and creamy”, offering “all of the seductiveness of Merlot with the bright acids and grip of Sangiovese”. The 2018 Siepi can be bought from Petersham Cellars for £70 per bottle (in-bond).
Estate Director at Ornellaia and Masseto, Axel Heinz told Wine Lister in 2018 that his “fermenting wines are silky and fragrant”, and that he predicts “a more delicate vintage”. Indeed, Antonio Galloni recently wrote on the 2018 Ornellaia that “readers should expect a silky, aromatic Ornellaia in line with vintages such as 2004 that are more about finesse than raw power”. Having been previewed by members of the fine wine trade and press in a virtual seminar last week (recap our recent blog here), it was awarded a score of 97 by Antonio. The 2018 Ornellaia will be released onto the market at the beginning of April.
Due for release through the Place de Bordeaux in September, Masseto’s 2018 vintage was the first to be made in its own winery, having previously been vinified at Ornellaia. Awarding it 98 points, Antonio notes that it is “silky, mid-weight and supremely gracious”, with notes of “inky red/purplish fruit, cedar, lavender, espresso, sage and mint”. Wine Lister sampled the second release of Masseto’s second wine, 2018 Massetino, in September 2020, and was certainly impressed by its complexity, with expressive notes of dark fruit, cocoa, and spice. While it has limited remaining market availability, it can be purchased from Cru World Wine for £307 per bottle (in-bond).
Describing 2018 as “a good year”, Fattoria Le Pupille’s owner, Elisabetta Geppetti, told Wine Lister that the Bordeaux varietals of her flagship wine, Saffredi, fared particularly well. Antonio Galloni gives it 96+ points, and writes that “the 2018 Saffredi is a regal, elegant, supremely polished wine”, which “may very well be the most refined Saffredi I have ever tasted”. Recalling notes of “sweet red cherry, plum, mocha, licorice and cinnamon”, he concludes; “don’t miss it”. It can be bought from Berry Bros & Rudd for £60 per bottle (in-bond).
Keep track of new Tuscany 2018 scores from Wine Lister partner critics here, and watch this space for future analysis on the vintage.
In an industry so defined by the art of its craft, the limit of crunching numbers often starts and ends for wineries in vat rooms and through lab panels. Wine Lister was founded on a guiding principle that while wine is a mystical liquid, that lives and breathes, that can transcend facts and figures and contribute mightily to the human experience, there are also plain truths to be found in data analytics for both consumers and producers alike. It is on this basis that we have built a strong following of website users – collectors eager to follow trends of the secondary market, and professionals keeping abreast of the latest analyses – but also liked-minded producer clients, who find value in Wine Lister’s benchmarking and bespoke analytics solutions.
Wine Lister’s benchmarking solution relies on 14 separate data points across three areas in the life of a fine wine – Quality, Brand, and Economics – as well as qualitative trade panel feedback (through an unparalleled network from founder Ella Lister’s years as a fine wine journalist) to assess a wine’s 360° positioning in the global marketplace. Measured annually, Wine Lister’s benchmarking service enables continuous measurement of a wine within its global competitive environment, and results in a reliable, tangible reflection of progress, and ideas for the strategy path forward. Indeed, long-time Wine Lister client Don Weaver of Harlan Estate recently reflected that “It was a natural growth [to work with Wine Lister], another coming of age of our business… As we’ve matured as a business and penetrated further out into the market, we realised that we needed analytics coming back to us, and we needed best practices in our business. We can’t do everything, so we looked at Wine Lister to help us see things through different eyes.”
Such analytical rigour has resulted in numerous actionable insights for our clients, from assisting one client in increasing its journalistic coverage in a foreign market where it was underrepresented compared to peers, to a pricing strategy update for another that balanced the producer’s own interests while maintaining market confidence.
Once findings are identified, clients of Wine Lister can choose to investigate further, by supplying some of their own internal data to our analysts, enabling us to conduct deep-dives on topics as wide-ranging as customer retention, social media and communications effectiveness, or individual release price positioning. The benchmarking analysis is thus a base on which Wine Lister builds long-term relationships with its clients, helping them take their wine to the next level.
For more information, see our producer services page, or contact us for a free 30-minute consultation.
Last week, Wine Lister joined members of the fine wine trade and press, gathered behind their screens, for the unveiling of Ornellaia’s annual Vendemmia d’Artista collaboration. With each new vintage release, the Ornellaia team chooses a word to characterise the latest growing season and its resulting wine, and selects an artist to bring the word to life on limited-edition labels of the Ornellaia bottle.
Marking the winery’s 13th edition of Vendemmia d’Artista, the 2018 vintage has been coined “La Grazia” – Grace. Estate Director, Axel Heinz, explains that the choice of name is due to 2018 being “a wine that has no hard edges”, and one “all about symmetry, proportion…a graceful expression of Ornellaia”.
Indeed, the higher proportion of Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon in the latest vintage blend – an exception for the estate – has produced what we found to be a soft and silky wine with a lively perfume and elegant, precise fruit. Ornellaia’s CEO, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, notes that the wine really came together “at the time of blending”. He adds, “all the pieces were good, but once we put them all together, it became a really gracious wine”.
That the wine should be so-named came as somewhat of a surprise to Heinz. He reveals that “it was really after the year of ageing and when we sat down in the blending room, that the wine revealed itself to us”. He describes the vintage as “one not without challenges”, expanding thus: “usually [we have] a relatively dry Mediterranean climate. In 2018 we had Mediterranean sun but at the same time enough rainfall to slow the ripening down, and create a wine that is all about balance”.
Belgian artist, Jan Fabre, was chosen to bring La Grazia to life, and limited-edition bottles in various formats will feature his work, as shown in the image below.
Photo: courtesy of Ornellaia winery – featuring sculpture and drawings by Jan Fabre.
Ornellaia’s art curator, Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, explains the artistic concept as “a way to express balance between beauty and taste”, as well as to “explore the relationship between the senses”. Fabre has sculpted three works from precious red coral, which adorn Salmanazars due for auction in September; “A Candle of Mercy”, “The Crown of Kindness” and “The Heart of Virtue”.
Further bottles feature drawings that bring out the texture of these sculptures – indeed a limited number of 12-bottle cases of Ornellaia 2018 will each contain one bottle with Fabre’s crown label design.
The 111 limited-edition, large-format bottles will be auctioned through Sotheby’s in September 2021, and all proceeds will go towards Ornellaia’s ongoing support of the Mind’s Eye project at the Guggenheim museum.
Widely considered the most romantic (if most expensive) day of the year, Valentine’s day often brings with it pressure to spend more to prove one’s admiration. To help you avoid compromise on your Valentine’s day drinking, Wine Lister has put together a list of red Value pick MUST BUYs with WL scores above 95.
Click here to view all red Value pick MUST BUYs, or read more below.
Of the 37 red Value Pick MUST BUYs earning WL 95 and over, a substantial 27 wines hail from Italy, suggesting the impressive quality-to-price ratios offered by many of the country’s producers.
A passion for Piedmont
Famed Piedmont cooperative, Produttori del Barbaresco appears three times on the list, with the 2014 vintages of its Montefico Riserva, Montestafano Riserva, and Ovello Riserva. Despite hailstorms damaging several Barbaresco vineyards in 2014, Produttori’s premium sites are subject to rigorous grape selection, meaning its single-vineyard wines retained quality in the vintage. Achieving the highest score of the three labels from Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni (96) who calls it a “potent, structured Barbaresco”, the Montefico Riserva can be purchased from Hatton & Edwards for £42 per bottle (in-bond).
Tenderness for Tuscany
Moving further south, Podere Poggio Scalette’s Il Carbonaione is represented by its 2009, 2013, and 2014 vintages, which all achieve WL scores of 95. With over 10 years of age, the 2009 is described by Wine Lister partner critic, Jancis Robinson, as offering a “very voluptuous, exotic nose”, with notes of “both herbs and spices – and some meatiness […] very exciting and bursting with health”. It can be bought from Atlas Fine Wines for £33 per bottle (in-bond).
A romance with the Rhône
Family-owned, micro-négociant, Tardieu-Laurent represents five of the eight Rhône Value picks, with its 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Speciale, 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes, 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes, 2005 Cornas Vieilles Vignes, and 2007 Hermitage. Despite its small-scale production (a consequence of its meticulous selection process), Tardieu-Laurent offers excellent value across its labels. Jancis Robinson awards 18 points to the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes, noting it is “very aromatic and then so sweet and round on the palate! You want to gobble it up immediately”. It can be purchased by the case of 12 from Tardieu-Laurent’s exclusive UK agent, Corney & Barrow for £390 (in-bond).
Caring for California
Representing the New World, Ridge Vineyards’ Geyserville appears in the line-up with its 2016 vintage. A single-site blend of 73% Zinfandel, 17% Carignan, 7% Petite Syrah, and 3% Alicante Bouschet, it achieves a WL score of 95, and is described by Antonio Galloni as offering “black cherry, graphite, lavender, and spice”, with “a purity […] that is absolutely striking”. Also noted by Jancis Robinson as having “snug, focused aromatics with hints of floral lift” and “a palate bursting with flavour”, the 2016 Geyserville can be acquired by the bottle from Lay & Wheeler for £33 (in-bond).
Wine Lister has put together a selection of MUST BUYs that have reached the perfect point of maturity in 2021. With a minimum score of 93, these picks take into account wines entering their apogee on the basis of Wine Lister partner critics’ drinking windows, and our own assessment of the optimum point with them, depending on region, grape variety, and style.
Read more below to discover some top wines that are at the peak of their drinking windows, or see more Wine Lister MUST BUYs here.
One of two Bordeaux 2000s that feature in our selection, Latour’s second wine, Les Forts de Latour aptly illustrates the success of a vintage that is widely considered one Bordeaux’s recent bests. With over 20 years of ageing under its belt, the 2000 Les Forts de Latour has a WL score of 94, and is described by Wine Lister partner critic, Jancis Robinson, as possessing a “minerality and lusciousness-yet-dryness on the finish”. With 10 more years to enjoy it, it is available to purchase from Lay & Wheeler Wine Merchants for £198 per bottle (in-bond).
In Burgundy, Michel Lafarge’s 2011 Volnay Les Caillerets is currently at the peak of its drinking window, and is noted by Jancis Robinson as offering “rich, round and charming red fruits” that “firm up on the end of the palate”. With a WL score of 94, it has four more years of optimum drinking (Jancis notes there is “lots of fun to be had”), and can be purchased from Goedhuis & Co for £95 per bottle (in-bond).
At just £28 per bottle (in-bond), the Rhône’s Château Sixtine achieves a WL score of 95 with its 2010 Cuvée du Vatican. Writing for Vinous.com (another Wine Lister partner critic outfit), Josh Raynolds describes its “explosive perfumed bouquet [that]evokes dark berry preserves, incense, licorice and candied flowers”. Currently drinking at its best, this Value Pick is worth snapping up (by the case of 12, from Bordeaux Index).
Crossing into Italy, Roagna’s 2009 Barbaresco Paje is one of four selected MUST BUYs from Piedmont that can be enjoyed at their best in 2021. “The 2009 is gorgeous. Sweet tobacco, brown spices, dried cherries, menthol and leather are some of the notes that take shape in the glass” writes our partner critic, Antonio Galloni (Vinous). The Buzz Brand is available from Bordeaux Index for £75 per bottle (in-bond).
Two New World reds feature in the selection, including Penfold’s 2005 St. Henri. The vintage saw favourable weather conditions, with particularly mild temperatures, and moderate rainfall. Available in magnum form from Cru World Wine for £144 per bottle (in-bond), it is described by Jancis Robinson as “very round, polished and gorgeous”, offering “warm, super-fruity mulberry fruit”.
Wine Lister’s selection of white MUST BUYs drinking best in 2021 includes five Burgundian picks from a range of vintages. Vincent Dauvissat’s 2012 Chablis Vaillons is a new MUST BUY, and achieves a WL score of 93. A great year for the appellation, Chablis has an average WL score of 95 across its top wines in 2012 (explore Wine Lister’s Vintage Chart here). Antonio Galloni notes that Dauvissat’s Chablis Vaillons “opens with the most exquisite, expressive aromatics imaginable. Weightless and totally gracious in the glass, […] a wine of sublime understatement”. It can be purchased from Latimer Vintners for £80 per bottle (in-bond).
View all Wine Lister MUST BUYs here, or explore our Vintage Chart to access the top wines per year.
Wine Lister recently teamed up with 67 Pall Mall for a vertical tasting of five d’Issan vintages led by owner, Emmanuel Cruse, and Commercial Director, Augustin Lacaille. Last Wednesday, Emmanuel transported over 60 members of the UK fine wine trade and press to the historic Margaux property, guiding them through four of his favourite recent vintages: 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015.
By invitation only: a selection of snaps from guests’ home tasting set-ups. Photos from (from top left anticlockwise): Bud Cuchet (@budcuchet), Charlie Goblet (@charliegoblet), Will Lyons (@mrwill_lyons), Wine Lister (@winelister), Emily O’Hare (@emilyowine), Wine Lister (@winelister), Charlie Goblet (@charliegolet), and Tom Harrow (@winechapuk)
Tasting kits were accompanied by individual copies of The Four Seasons of Château d’Issan – a cookbook assembled by the property’s head chef, Frédéric Braud, with seasonal recipes from a year in the kitchen at d’Issan. Following a short introduction video including aerial scenes of the château and close-ups on its vines, Emmanuel commenced the vertical tasting with the 2000 vintage.
Having taken over as managing director in 1998, he proclaimed that the 2000 was the last “old school” d’Issan. Indeed, the property’s winery has since been almost entirely rebuilt, with a new cellar inaugurated in 2002. The vintage marks the last to be composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, the Cabernet proportion being decreased to 60% in 2005.
Emmanuel was not shy in praising the 2005 d’Issan, calling it “the first great vintage” under his watch. He notes there was “perfect weather all year”, recounting how the summer was so warm that the pickers all worked in swimsuits, leading to abnormally regular visits from inquisitive négociants.
According to Emmanuel, 2010 is “from a technical perspective, maybe the best ever vintage made in Bordeaux”. The year had an excellent growing season, void of the hailstorms that had blighted d’Issan in 2008 and 2009. He informed us that the year was also personally special to him, marking the year he married his wife, Virginie. While still on the younger side, Emmanuel suggests decanting the 2010 for three hours ahead of its enjoyment.
The tasting concluded with the 2015 vintages of the property’s Grand Vin and its second wine, Blason d’Issan. Emmanuel stated that it was a broadly excellent year for Bordeaux, and specifically Margaux, which received “less rain than other appellations in the Medoc”. The ratios shifted slightly more towards Cabernet Sauvignon in 2015, which makes up 65% of the blend – Emmanuel’s personal preference.
Hailing from the estate’s younger vines, which are around 15-20 years old, Blason comprises 60% Cabernet Sauvignon in 2015. Emmanuel specifies the same winemaking practices are applied to the second wine, which he hopes to be “an introduction to the flagship”.
D’Issan owner, Emmanuel Cruse, and Commercial Director, Augustin Lacaille, in “The Rule of Five” virtual tasting
D’Issan 2020 will be released en primeur this year, and we look forward to finding out what the latest edition of “The Rule of Five” will bring – especially since the property’s acquisition of neighbouring Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot vineyards in March 2020. While the official blend for the 2020 vintage has not been finalised, Emmanuel is sure that the added varietals will be a “real plus”. If the serendipitous pattern of five is anything to go by, especially with the excellent growing season in 2020, the “rule” has every chance of continuing to reign.
For more information on our organisation of virtual tastings and events, please contact the WL PR team here.
It is the ultimate question for Burgundy fans seeking wines for drinking – with prices of the region’s best having risen so high, where can one find value?
Wine Lister’s second Burgundy study published in collaboration with regional specialist, Jasper Morris, notes the proliferation of good value wines hailing from some of the lesser-known appellations, and even outside of the Côte d’Or (Saint-Aubin, Marsannay, Mercurey, and Pouilly-Fuissé were among those mentioned).
Below Wine Lister explores some of the wines worth snapping up from the 2019 campaign*, based on their relative value when compared with other wines in their sought-after appellations. 37 out of the 58 wines listed in charts below are white.
Chablis – a permanent alternative source for Burgundy drinking white outside of the Côte de Beaune – features heavily. Buzz brands William Fèvre and Billaud-Simon achieve multiple entries, as does the Chablis estate of Maison Albert Bichot – Long-Depaquit, and relative newcomer to the cream of the crop, Jean-Paul et Benoît Droin. This group of top Chablis achieves an average price of £52 in bond per bottle, while their Côte de Beaune counterparts cost more than 30% more for the same quality (since both groups achieve an average WL score of 93).
Among the Côte de Beaune whites, Alain Chavy’s Puligny-Montrachet Folatières, and Fontainte-Gagnard’s Chassagne-Montrachet Caillerets provide the best quality-to-price ratios, both achieving WL scores of 94, for £48 and £53 per bottle in-bond respectively. Domaine Rapet’s Corton-Charlemagne provides excellent value for Grand Cru white (considering that the appellation’s reference – Jean-François Coche-Dury – typically costs over £3,000 per bottle).
Only one Grand Cru red makes the cut in top-scorers under £100 per bottle – Georges Lignier’s Clos Saint-Denis.
In the rest of the Côte de Nuits, strong value propositions hail from Taupenot-Merme throughout, particularly its Morey-Saint-Denis La Riotte. Maison Louis Jadot and Heresztyn-Mazzini achieve multiple entries in Gevrey, and the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation makes an appearance across three producers – Grivot, Faiveley, and Henri Gouges.
The average price difference between the reds of both Côtes is not so dramatic as for Chablis and its Beaune counterparts. Côte de Beaune reds as shown the image above reach an average price of £72, just 10% lower than the Côte de Nuits group (for the same average WL score of 92). Domaine de Montille takes three of the eight places for its Corton Clos du Roi, Volnay Taillepieds, and Pommard Pézerolles.
*N.B. prices are based on those aggregated through Wine Lister’s pricing partner, Wine Owners. Not all Burgundy 2019s have recorded prices as yet, so the above lists may well evolve over the coming weeks and months.