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.
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.
The last lot of Burgundy 2019 scores are in, from Wine Lister’s regional specialist critic, Jasper Morris (Inside Burgundy).
Below we explore Jasper’s top scores by Burgundy “subset”, as defined in Wine Lister’s recent study on the region (recap its key findings here).
While no wines earned perfect scores this year, Jasper’s highest score was in fact awarded to a Premier Cru performing beyond its classification – Arnoux-Lachaux’s Vosne-Romanée Aux Reignots. He notes that the wine is “completely heartbreakingly suave and sensational”, offering “crisply ripe cherries, alpine strawberry, the lightest raspberry touch, then a generous pure clear long finish”.
In Gevrey and its surrounding Grands Crus areas, Armand Rousseau fares well, its Chambertin and Chambertin Clos de Bèze earning scores of 98 and 97 respectively. Up-and-comer Domaine Duroché ties for first place within the subset with its Chambertin Clos de Bèze. Jasper describes it as having “a little lick of oak, which is entirely in place, a light, but fresh acidity, a sense of harmony throughout and a deepening of the fruit on the second half of the palate”, creating a “glorious conclusion”.
Georges Roumier proves king of Chambolle and its surrounding Grands Crus, earning two places among the top scorers for the domaine’s Musigny and Bonnes-Mares. Adding testament to the improving quality of maisons de négoce (as mentioned in Wine Lister’s Burgundy study), Maison Henri Boillot makes an appearance among the top ranks for its own Bonnes-Mares.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti understandably dominates the Vosne Grands Crus category, though star producer Arnoux-Lachaux features among the top 11, in addition to its high-scoring Vosne-Romanée Premiers Crus. Speaking to Wine Lister following the completion of his Burgundy 2019 reports, Jasper notes that Arnoux-Lachaux has “unequivocally joined the greats with a faultless array of stunning wines in 2019, hitting heights of ethereal elegance without sacrificing power”.
Jasper reports that Morey-Saint-Denis has done well in 2019, as “the village which had the benefit of the best rainfall figures in August”. He adds, “not only are Clos des Lambrays and Clos de Tart progressing well under their new ownerships and winemakers, but class acts such as Domaine Dujac and Christophe Perrot-Minot have filled their boots, while Domaine Arlaud have produced their best set of wines ever”.
Interestingly, no Côte de Beaune red scores above 96 from Jasper in 2019 (though the top scorer at 95-96 points is Méo-Camuzet’s Corton Rognet). See all top scores for Côte de Beaune reds in 2019 here.
Whites in 2019 do not reach the dizzy score heights of their red counterparts. The above chart therefore takes into account Côte de Beaune white Premiers Crus with scores above 95, and Côte de Beaune Grands Crus achieving 96 points or above.
In the latter subset, maisons de négoce Bouchard Père et Fils and Maison Jadot achieve two entries apiece, for their Chevalier-Montrachet La Cabotte and Montrachet, and Corton-Charlemagne and Montrachet respectively.
Producers Bachelet-Monnot, Comtes Lafon, Domaine Henri Boillot, and Marc Colin also all appear twice in the top Côte de Beaune white rankings for 2019.
View more Burgundy 2019 scores here. Wine Lister Pro users can search and filter by critic scores, and can view all of Jasper Morris’ top Burgundy 2019 scores here. Click here to find out more about the Pro subscription.
The majority of Burgundy 2019 en primeur scores have now been published by another Wine Lister partner critic, Neal Martin (Vinous), offering further insight into the best bottles from the latest vintage.
Explore all Burgundy 2019 WL scores here, or read more below.
While no wines earned perfect scores this year, fittingly there are 19 Burgundy 2019s that earn 96-98 and above (compared to 15 in 2018). Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche, Dujac Clos de la Roche, Jean Grivot Richebourg, and Armand Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Bèze fare notably well with scores of 97-99.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti occupies a further three places on the list, with its Grands Echezeaux, Richebourg, and Romanée-Conti, compared to two Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines that appear in this score bracket in 2018.
Also scored generously by Jancis Robinson this year (recap our recent examination of her Burgundy 2019 here), Georges Roumier is awarded 96-98 for his Bonnes-Mares, Musigny, and Ruchottes-Chambertin. Featuring on both critics’ list of top-rated wines from the vintage, the Musigny is described by Neal Martin as “beautifully defined on the nose”, offering “a mixture of red and black fruit laced with blood orange, it fans out wonderfully toward the finish”.
The only white Burgundy to gain a score of 18.5 from Jancis Robinson so far, Comtes Lafon’s 2019 Montrachet is one of three whites awarded 96-98 by Neal Martin, alongside its Meursault Perrières and Louis Jadot’s Chevalier Montrachet Les Demoiselles. Members of the Wine Lister team sampled the latter at Louis Jadot’s 2019 en primeur tasting in November 2020 (recap here), and were also impressed, detecting notes of honey and brioche to complement its defined acidity.
Also featured on the list of Burgundy 2019s earning 96-96 and over from Neal Martin are: Armand Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes, Bernard Dugat-Py Mazis Chambertin Vieilles Vignes, Claude Dugat Chapelle-Chambertin, Clos de Tart Clos de Tart, Comte Liger-Belair La Romanée, Denis Bachelet Charmes-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes, Dujac Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Duroché Chambertin Clos de Bèze, Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Ruchottes-Chambertin, Georges Noëllat Grands Echezeaux, Hudelot-Noëllat Richebourg, Jean Trapet Père et Fils Latricières-Chambertin, Joseph Drouhin Musigny, Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Clos des Ducs, and Robert Groffier Père et Fils Chambertin Clos de Bèze.
Though Wine Lister are missing what would have been London’s Bourgogne tasting week this week, our partner critic, Jancis Robinson, has now released the majority of her scores for the 2019 vintage, providing a better picture of the top en primeur picks.
Explore all Burgundy 2019 scores here, or read more below.
A drought year resulting in wines of extreme concentration, yet balanced by energising acidity (recap Wine Lister’s report on Burgundy’s 2019 vintage here), there are 22 Burgundy 2019s that have so far been given a score of 18.5 or above.
Jancis awarded 19 points to Leroy’s Chambertin, Corton Les Renardes, Musigny, and Richebourg, after having not published any scores for Leroy since the 2013 vintage. The property fares extremely well in 2019, occupying eight places in the list of 22 wines earning 18.5 and over. Leroy’s Clos de la Roche, Latricières-Chambertin, Romanée-Saint-Vivant, and Vosne Romanéee Les Beaux Monts all achieve a score of 18.5.
Armand Rousseau occupies four places in the list, with its Chambertin Clos de Bèze, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques, Mazis-Chambertin, and Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes all earning 18.5 points. While slightly down on her ratings for the property’s 2018 offerings (she awarded 19 points to Rousseau’s Clos de la Roche and Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes in 2018, and a further 18.5 points to its Chambertin, Chambertin Clos de Bèze, and Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques), it nonetheless continues its excellent quality performance in 2019.
Comtes Lafon’s 2019 Montrachet is the only white Burgundy to gain a score of 18.5 from Jancis Robinson so far, continuing its series of top scores awarded by the critic in recent years. She describes it as “Both rich and savoury. Not remotely fat but with massive intensity. Throbbing and jewel-like”, concluding that “Dominique [Lafon] must be thrilled by this”.
Also featured on the list of Burgundy 2019s earning 18.5 and over from Wine Lister partner critic, Jancis Robinson are: Bernard Dugat-Py Chambertin, Bernard Dugat-Py Mazoyères-Chambertin, Comte Liger-Belair La Romanée, Georges (or Christophe) Roumier Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses, Georges (or Christophe) Roumier Musigny, Joseph Drouhin Musigny, Michel Lafarge Volnay Clos du Château des Ducs, Perrot-Minot Chambertin Clos de Bèze Vieilles Vignes, and Perrot-Minot Mazoyères-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes.
View more Burgundy 2019 scores (including those of Jasper Morris and Neal Martin) here.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2008 was released yesterday (1st October) at c.£89 (per bottle in-bond), marking one of the last 2008s from the “Grandes Maisons” to enter the market. The release has reignited discussion on the success of the vintage in Champagne, which has been declared one of the best of the decade along with 2002. Below we investigate top 2008s, and where the latest addition from Taittinger fits within them.
Characterised by a consistent, dry, and cool growing season, climatic conditions in 2008 encouraged slow veraison across Champagne, which enabled grapes to achieve their full phenolic maturity while retaining acidity. The combination of both gives the vintage considerable ageing potential, and unyielding structural integrity.
As illustrated above, the top 10 2008 champagnes by WL score exhibit impressive quality, with the top three wines gaining scores of 97 and above. This has not been achieved in the past four vintages, with Krug Brut Vintage 2003 being the most recent back vintage of a champagne to achieve a WL score of 97. Indeed, the top 10 champagnes gain an average WL score of 95.8 in 2008, compared to an average of 94.6 across the top 10 champagnes from the previous vintage.
The newest addition to the top 10 haul, Taittinger Comtes 2008 shows good value within the wider context of the vintage, despite entering the market at a 26% premium on the current market price of its 2007 vintage. While achieving the same WL score as MUST BUY Philipponat Clos des Goisses 2008 (96), Taittinger’s latest release is available for 34% less, (£89 vs. £135 per bottle in-bond). Similarly, it achieves one more WL point than Bollinger Grand Année 2008 (available for £85 per bottle in-bond), for a very slight premium.
Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni awards Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2008 98+ points, stating it “is simply breathtaking” and “represents the purest essence of the Côtes des Blancs in a great, historic vintage”. He concludes, “readers who can find the 2008 should not hesitate”.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne is historically one of the top 10 most liquid champagne brands, giving it further investment appeal. Additionally, Taittinger announced that it has not produced any 2009, 2010, or 2011 Comtes de Champagne, due to poor weather conditions during these years – a fact that may well increase interest in this latest release.
Also featured in the list of top 10 2008 Champagnes by WL score are: Salon Le Mesnil, Cristal, Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut, Marc Hébrart Spécial Club Millésimé, Joseph Perrier Cuvée Josephine, De Sousa Cuvée des Caudalies, and Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill.
Releases from two cult Californian producers have taken centre stage this week so far – see the analysis below.
The 2017 vintage of the Vérité trio – La Muse, Le Désir, and La Joie – was released on Monday, at £320 per bottle each (in-bond). The latest releases have picked up much praise from critics, and mark an historic year for the estate – completing its harvest one week before the arrival of North California’s devastating Tubbs Fire, Vérité’s vineyards escaped unscathed, and their grapes picked before any smoke taint from neighbouring areas could set in. This also marks the first collective release of Vérité’s flagship wines in an assorted case, with previous vintages available to purchase separately.
Comprising 100% Merlot grapes for the first time since its conception, La Muse 2017 receives 96 points from Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni. He notes that the vintage “is aromatically deep, beautifully persistent and just impeccable in its balance”, stating that he “liked it more than the 2016”. A price of £320 places the 2017 20% below the current market price of the 2016, which has risen over 30% in price since its release, and has limited remaining market availability.
Le Désir 2017 obtains 98 points from Galloni – its highest ever score from the critic. He states it is “off the charts fabulous”, and describes notes of “mocha, chocolate, licorice, leather, menthol, pine and spice”. Akin to La Muse, market availability of last year’s release is scarce, illustrating its good track record of selling through post-release. Keeping in mind the 2017’s record-breaking score, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues this year, given the collective format in which the wines are being sold.
La Joie 2017 breaks the same record as its sibling, Le Désir, receiving its highest score to date from Galloni (96). He calls it “another gorgeous wine in this lineup”, describing “hints of rose petal, lavender, mint and blood orange”, and concluding that it is “a stunning wine by any measure”.
Joseph Phelps’ Napa Valley vineyards – which saw their hottest recorded temperatures in 2017
Insignia 2017 entered the market yesterday at £160 per bottle in-bond (flat on the 2016 release price). As we were told in a recent Zoom tasting with Phelps’ granddaughter and the winery’s Director of Business Development, Elizabeth Neuman, the 2017 vintage lives up to her vision of Insignia as “a tangible legacy of Joe himself – achieving the best of the best”. Neuman informed us of Winemaker, Ashley Hepworth’s recent dedication to achieving texture in the wine, through which she has experimented with blending trials prior to ageing.
Awarding Insignia 2017 91-94 points, Galloni indeed describes a “dark, sumptuous and enveloping feel, with a real sense of breadth and textural resonance”, adding that “more than anything else, the 2017 is all about palate richness”. Wine Lister likewise recognised the finessed texture of the vintage, with Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister, calling it “supple, gentle, and silky” on the palate, complete with “dark fruit, plum, and chocolate” on the nose.
Frequent heatwaves in 2017 saw record-high temperatures reached throughout the growing season, including an instance of 46.7°C, recorded in Phelps’ Saint Helena Ranch during Labor Day weekend. The 2017 vintage is consequentially the winery’s smallest in 20 years, with total production down 60% on the 2016. The significant reduction in the volume released this year, as well as the estate’s developing style, may work to encourage interest.
Also released over the past two days: Orma 2018, Petrolo Galatrona 2018, and Siepi 2018.
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Sampled by the Wine Lister team at last week’s CVBG Beyond Bordeaux tasting, the latest Place de Bordeaux releases cover a range of regions and price points. Below we examine some of the highlights:
Wednesday 9th September
Released at c.£225 per bottle (in-bond), Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin 2018 enters the market below the current prices of the two previous vintages (see graph below). Hommage was a Wine Lister favourite this year. We detected bright, candied strawberries, orange skin, and clove, while its mouthfeel offered a momentary grip of tannins, followed by a silky-smooth finish.
With a 15% reduction in volume released this year, alongside the château’s unwavering reputation for producing benchmark quality in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the new vintage is worth considering for future drinking. In the meantime, back vintages 2015, 2012, and 2009 also look good in terms of price and quality. Writing for JancisRobinson.com, Tom Parker MW awards the 2018 17+ points, noting “meaty, earthy fruit on the nose, very complex already”, and “damson and morello cherry” on the palette.
Inglenook Rubicon 2017 also entered the market on Wednesday at £120 per bottle (in-bond). Produced by the estate since 1978, the flagship wine has maintained a score of 95 or above from Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni, over the past five vintages, and the latest release is no exception. Awarding it 95 points, he describes notes of “red fruit, cedar, sweet pipe tobacco, menthol and licorice” that “all develop in the glass”. Our team detected complex spice and oak, softened by a gentle hint of vanilla.
Thursday 10th September
Released yesterday at £54 per bottle (in-bond), Cheval des Andes 2017 receives 17.5+ points from Tom Parker MW for JancisRobinson.com. He describes “intense and expansive black fruit and spices on the nose, with a hint of black olive and violet”, and “blueberry, violet and dried herbs” on the palette. He concludes, “I expect this to become even more impressive after 5 years in bottle, though you could drink it sooner”. Having tasted a flight of recent back vintages at the time of last year’s release with Technical Director, Gérald Gabillet, the Wine Lister team can attest to Cheval des Andes‘ continued upward quality trajectory. We noted a definite complexity within the latest vintage, which offers a nose of Parma violets, white pepper, and bright berries. Cheval des Andes 2017 enters the market under current prices of the last three vintages, and is worth snapping up if there remains any availability.
Solaia 2017 completes the quartet of releases from the past couple of days. Matching last year’s release price of £175 per bottle (in-bond), the latest vintage comes onto the market comfortably under current prices of the previous two (which have increased their respective values by c.20% since release – see chart below). Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni, awards Solaia 2017 95+ points, and describes “terrific aromatic expansiveness and tons of persistence”. There is anticipation for this score to improve: “I can’t wait to taste it with a bit more time in bottle”, he adds. We tasted the 2017 last week, and were indeed impressed with its development, finding an elegant nose of violet drops and cocoa powder. Given its impressive quality in such a challenging year, and the wine’s history of good price performance post-release, this is well worth securing now.
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The Place de Bordeaux September releases commenced this week (Tuesday 1st September), launching the distribution of several New World (and a few Old World) icons through its impressive network. The releases have so far exhibited high praise from critics. This affirms the increasing appeal of New World wines, despite the current economic crisis making for an unlucky welcome.
Choices from Chile
Clos Apalta opened the stage on Tuesday, with a vintage that marks its 20th anniversary, as honoured by the 2017’s commemorative bottle. Receiving 100 points from James Suckling, and 95 points from Luis Gutiérrez for Wine Advocate, its average critics’ score of 97.5 matches both the 2016 and 2015 vintages. We sampled it at this week’s Bordeaux and Beyond tasting, organised by négociant CVBG, and found notes of bright red fruit, spice, and orange peel. Despite being one of the most expensive recent vintages (joint with 2016) at £74.50 per bottle (in-bond), Clos Apalta has no doubt achieved a high quality for this anniversary bottle.
Another Chilean entry, Almaviva 2018 was released at £101.00 per bottle (in-bond) on Wednesday (2nd September) – c.4% down on last year. Its average critics’ score of 97 points places it in line with 2017 as the joint-best average score to date, which, alongside its slight reduction in volume from last year, may stimulate demand. Indeed, we found the 2018 to be bright and energetic, with notes of ripe currants, green tomato, and spice.
The Wine Lister team sample 2018s from Seña and Chadwick with Owner, Eduardo Chadwick, and his team
Released on Thursday (3rd September) at £82.50 per bottle (in-bond), Seña 2018 is “the best vintage of this decade”, according to Owner, Eduardo Chadwick. He explained to us that growing conditions in 2018 were balanced between the two previous vintages (2016 was very cool, while 2017 was hot and dry), creating “almost a perfect season”. The vintage receives 100 points from James Suckling, and 98 points from Luis Gutiérrez for Wine Advocate, making it Seña’s highest-ever average score from those two critics – 99. Our team was equally impressed in our virtual tasting, noting its velvet mouthfeel, silky tannins, and juicy freshness. Chadwick 2018 was also released this week (just 6000 bottles), acquiring an average critics’ score of 97.5 at £226.33 per bottle (in-bond).
Bibi Graetz Testamatta 2018 and Bibi Graetz Colore 2018 entered the market on Tuesday (1st September), at £70 and £180 per bottle (in-bond), respectively. Both wines offer significant discounts from their previous releases, and have achieved praise from critics. James Suckling gives 97 points to Testamatta 2018, describing a “cherry and lemon rind character”, and “fine tannins”, and 100 points to Colore 2018, calling it “one of the best vintages ever produced. The high quality and suitable pricing of both wines will likely be embraced in the present economic climate.
An Australian addition
Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz 2016 entered the market on Wednesday, at c.£151 per bottle (in-bond), marking the producer’s inaugural release through La Place de Bordeaux. The vintage received 97 points from Wine Advocate’s Joe Czerwinski – the highest WA score received by The Armagh Shiraz since its 2012 vintage. He states that the 2016 is “full-bodied and supple” and “finishes cedary, intense and long, adding in complex, lingering spice notes”.
The Wine Lister team sample the 2017 Vin de Constance with Winemaker, Matt Day
A sweeter offering from South Africa
As told to us by Winemaker, Matt Day, in a recent Zoom tasting, the 2017 Vin de Constance (released on Wednesday 2nd September) is the closest vintage yet to their philosophy of creating a “dry sweet wine”. Wine Lister’s CEO, Ella Lister, notes hints of “apricots, rosewater, lemon balm, Marcona almonds, and acacia honey” among other aromas, and on the palate “dried apricots and a gorgeous savoury finish”. At £39 per bottle (in-bond), the 2017 receives 97 points from James Suckling, compared to an average of 95 (from James Suckling and Wine Advocate) for each of the past three years. While it does not offer a discount, Klein Constantia does a spectacular job of achieving high quality in its developing style of Vin de Constance.
L’Aventure Estate Cuvée 2018 was released yesterday (Thursday 3rd September) at c.£68 per bottle (in-bond) – flat on the 2017 release price, and earning 95 points from Wine Advocate’s Erin Brooks (one down from the 2017). She noted that “the full-bodied palate is incredibly pixelated and silky with very bold freshness and a long, layered finish” and that she “can’t wait to taste this beauty from bottle”. We enjoyed detecting violet, toast, and vanilla on the nose, and were similarly impressed by its velvet mouthfeel.
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Thanks to solid discounts on existing market prices from many châteaux, the Bordeaux 2019 en primeur campaign can be considered a success, and may prove in the long-term to have helped the en primeur system find its feet once again, in terms of the cost benefit it offers to buyers.
Part II of Wine Lister’s Bordeaux Study, In sickness, in health discusses this in more detail. In the meantime, below we have selected top MUST BUYs at different price points, to help those still on the hunt for Bordeaux 2019.
Under £25 – Grand-Puy-Ducasse
Grand-Puy-Ducasse 2019 is both a MUST BUY and a Value Pick, achieving its best ever WL score of 93 in 2019, available at £23 per bottle (in-bond) when buying by the case. The latest release illustrates the contrasting climatic conditions of 2019, with critics noting its complexity and nuance. Wine Lister partner critic, Neal Martin, notes, “crisp tannins, a fine bead of acidity, cohesive and harmonious with a lovely saline/briny note”, adding “this is one of the best Grand Puy Ducasse wines that I have encountered from barrel. Excellent”. Grand-Puy-Ducasse 2019 is available to purchase by the case from Justerini & Brooks.
More Bordeaux 2019 MUSY BUYs under £25: Capbern, Gloria, Laroque, Meyney, Potensac, and Siran.
Under £50 – Larcis-Ducasse
At £47 per bottle (in-bond), Larcis-Ducasse 2019 is priced notably well within the wider context of Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé “B” releases. As examined in a recent en primeur blog, it earns a WL score of 95 – just one point less than the likes of Cheval Blanc and Pavie (costing on average six times less than its Classés “A” neighbours). Winemaker, David Suire, observes that the vintage reflects clearly its limestone terroir, showing floral notes and an overriding minerality. Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni, concurs, noting “graphite, menthol, licorice, tobacco and cedar notes” in the bouquet, coining it “one of Bordeaux’s most under the radar gems”. While demand for this wine has likely been strong, Larcis-Ducasse 2019 is still available through Millésima’s UK and Hong Kong branches.
More Bordeaux 2019 MUST BUYs under £50: Brane-Cantenac, Giscours, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, La Gaffelière, Malescot Saint-Exupéry, and Pavie-Macquin.
Under £100 – Haut-Bailly
At £70 per bottle (in-bond), Haut-Bailly 2019 shares the château’s top WL score (95) with recent vintages 2018, 2016, 2015, and 2014. Managing Director, Veronique Sanders, told the Wine Lister team of their need to light fires five times to prevent frost in the spring of 2019, escaping unscathed. In the end, challenges throughout the growing season concluded in perfect harvest conditions, and a wine of impressive balance and energy. Indeed, the 2019 has received unanimous confidence from critics – Neal Martin states that the 2019 is a “more terroir expressive Haut-Bailly that has an effortless allure and a sense of sophistication”, concluding that it is “wonderful”. Haut-Bailly 2019 can be acquired by the case through Goedhuis & co.
More Bordeaux 2019 MUST BUYs under £100: Calon Ségur, Canon-la-Gaffelière, Canon, Clinet, Léoville Poyferré, Pontet-Canet, Lynch-Bages, Montrose, and Troplong-Mondot.
Under £200 – Léoville Las Cases
Léoville Las Cases 2019 achieves a WL score of 97, at £145 per bottle (in-bond). While volumes of the 2019 released onto the market were down 35% on last year, there is still some availability of this Saint-Julien super second, and we highly recommend getting your hands on some. Wine Lister’s CEO, Ella, describes it as “luminous and lyrical”, noting a bouquet of “English garden – raspberry blossom, cow parsley, fraises de bois, and then a deeper note of ripe cherries”. James Lawther for JancisRobinson.com is similarly impressed, awarding it 19 points and noting it as “one of the greats from this estate”. The latest vintage can be purchased through Fine+Rare.
More Bordeaux 2019 MUST BUYs under £200: Figeac, Haut-Brion, La Conseillante, La Mondotte, Le Petit Mouton, La Mission Haut-Brion, Palmer, Pichon Comtesse, and Vieux Château Certan.
Over £300 – Mouton
While the release price of this Pauillac Premier Cru, let alone the quality of its 2019, likely makes it one of the most popular buys of the campaign, there may still be opportunities to secure some en primeur. Released at £299 per bottle (in-bond), Mouton 2019 achieves a WL score of 97 – the second-highest score achieved by the château in recent years, following the 2016’s 98. Wine Lister’s CEO, Ella Lister, describes Mouton 2019 thus: “velveteen tannins, long and caressing”, recounting “complex, savoury flavours of graphite and slate intermingled with the generous fruit”. Farr Vintners still appears to have some availability of Mouton 2019 (albeit at a slightly higher price than its release).
More Bordeaux 2019 MUST BUYs over £300: Cheval Blanc, Lafite, and Lafleur.
French readers can find this blog in French translation on Le Figaro Vin’s website.
Wine Lister Pro members can read Part II of the Bordeaux study here. All free users can purchase the report for £125 from Wine Lister’s Analysis page (available in both English and French).