Despite the challenges brought throughout the growing season of the 2021 vintage, Bordeaux’s dry whites shone in terms of quality. To guide those still considering their 2021 Bordeaux en primeur purchases, Wine Lister presents some of the best choices in Bordeaux whites from the vintage, at five different price points. (All prices are quoted in-bond per bottle when purchasing by the case).
Under £25 – Olivier Blanc
The 2021 vintage from Château Oliver’s white was described by Jancis Robinson as “Racy and lively” with a “good balance of interesting fruit and zest”. Ella Lister (for Le Figaro) gave Olivier 2021 a score of 92-93, praising its balance and describing it as an “ethereal and harmonious blend of Sauvignon and Sémillon”. Olivier 2021 can be purchased from Millésima for £22.70.
Under £40 – Malartic-Lagravière Blanc
Awarding 90-92 points, Antonio Galloni (Vinous) describes the latest vintage of Malartic-Lagravière as “Bright and sculpted”, with “plenty to offer”. Jancis Robinson deems it “Already attractive” and “Impressively persistent”. Malartic-Lagravière Blanc appears on Wine Lister’s list of value picks in Part II of our 2022 Bordeaux Study, indicating a strong quality-to-price ratio. Elsewhere in the study, Wine Lister found that Malartic-Lagravière is enjoying a robust short-term (six-month) price performance of just under 14% – placing it in the top 15 short-term price performances. Malartic-Lagravière 2021 can be bought from Justerini & Brooks for £39.42.
Under £75 – Domaine de Chevalier Blanc
The 2021 vintage from Domaine de Chevalier has received acclaim from the critics, with Neal Martin (Vinous) awarding its white 95-97 points and declaring it “one of the best Domaine de Chevalier whites that [he has] tasted in 20-plus years”. Jancis Robinson confers a score of 17+ and writes that it “should be a real long-distance runner”. Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2021 can be bought from Farr Vintners for £72.17.
Under £110 – Cos d’Estournel Blanc
The only wine among the five selected here not to hail from Pessac-Léognan, Cos d’Estournel’s Blanc 2021 receives its joint-highest Wine Lister score in over 15 years. Indeed, Antonio awards it 93-95 points, above last year’s vintage (91-93), and writes that it is “one of the finest vintages I can remember tasting”. He praises its “sheer palate presence”, a sentiment Ella echoes as she describes Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2021 as “delectable, lingering in the mouth”. Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2021 can be purchased from Berry Bros. & Rudd for £105.
Under £650 – Haut-Brion Blanc
One of the most noteworthy releases of the 2021 Bordeaux en primeur campaign is the latest white from Haut-Brion. In such a challenging vintage, Haut-Brion Blanc 2021 seriously impresses as it sees the greatest increase in Quality from 2020 to 2021 – as explored in Part II of Wine Lister’s 2022 Bordeaux Study. The 2021 vintage also achieves the wine’s highest ever potential en primeur score from Vinous as Neal awards it 96-98 points. Haut-Brion Blanc 2021 can be purchased from Cru World Wine for £640.
Rounding off this year’s en primeur campaign, Wine Lister’s partner critic platform, JancisRobinson.com has now published its top Burgundy 2020 scores, with further insight into the latest vintage from Jancis Robinson, alongside Matthew Hayes, and fellow Masters of Wine, Andy Howard and Julia Harding.
Explore all Burgundy 2020 scores here, or read more below.
Amongst the 36 Burgundy 2020s that earn 18 and over, five wines receive 18.5 points and two receive a score of 19 – a slight reduction from the number of top scorers in last year’s campaign, with Jancis awarding 18.5 points to 18 Burgundy 2019s and a score of 19 to four wines.
Whites continue to steal the show across this year’s releases, with four receiving a score of 18.5 and above – compared to just one featured within the same parameters last year. Sharing a near-perfect score of 19 are Montrachets from Comtes Lafon and Leflaive – Matthew Haynes describes the former as “honed, dense, and focused”, and the latter as having a “beautiful balance and drive.”
Two producers dominate JancisRobinson.com’s top Côte de Nuits red scores; Armand Rousseau is featured five times in the list, for its Chambertin Clos de Bèze, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint Jacques, Chambertin, Clos de la Roche, and Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes, and Jean Grivot earns four places, with Richebourg, Echezeaux, Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots, and Vosne-Romanée Aux Reginots all achieving 18 points.
Despite the hot and dry summer causing difficulty to some of the Côte de Beaune reds, four wines from Volnay shine through; Michel Lafarge’s Volnay Les Caillerets and Clos du Château des Ducs, and Joseph Voillot’s Volnay Champans and Les Caillerets.
Discover more Burgundy 2020 scores from Wine Lister’s partner critic, Neal Martin here, an regional specialist, Jasper Morris here.
Insight from Burgundy’s regional specialist
Wine Lister’s partner critic and leading Burgundy expert, Jasper Morris MW completed the release of his Burgundy 2020 scores last week. Below we take a closer look at his top ratings per appellation subset.
How did Burgundy’s appellations perform in 2020?
Jasper Morris’ Burgundy 2020 report outlines the challenges brought about by such a hot and dry summer, with soaring temperatures throughout August leading to a deficit of juice, particularly in Pinot Noir. The inability of certain rootstock to deal with the hot dry conditions led to the threat of dieback disease (a fungal disease that attacks the trunk, appearing more frequently in stressed vines), with Jasper noting he has “never seen as many vines being ripped out as [he] did in autumn 2020”. Indeed, both factors resulted in relatively low yields for reds, with a number of producers in the Côte de Nuits having “made more wine in the frost-damaged 2021 vintage than they did in 2020.”
Nonetheless, Jasper reported that the hydric stress “concentrated everything, including acidity”, identifying wines with “profound intensity beyond anything [he] saw in 2018 and 2019.” He describes a “universally successful vintage for the white wines”, and a “wider range of styles and successes in the reds”.
Côte de Nuits
With almost all of his top scores given as ranges, much of Jasper’s tasting this year took place whilst wines were still in barrel, as many producers were “tempted to increase the length of élevage for their wines, especially the reds, given the exceptional concentration of the fruit”. This contrasts with the majority of singular scores awarded to the in-bottle samples he rated at the same time last year, and while 2019 did not see any potential 100-point wines, the Côte de Nuits 2020s have five.
The selection includes Duroché’s Chambertin Clos de Bèze and Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin, with the former released as a limited edition cuvée to mark 100 years since the Duroché family planted vines on the site. Also potentially perfect are Guyon’s Echezeaux and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche, with Jasper suggesting the former “could be THE wine of the vintage.” Completing the line-up is Perrot-Minot’s Richemone Vieilles Vignes, a Premier Cru with a vibrancy that Jasper considers “almost unsurpassed anywhere in the Côte”.
Within Morey-Saint-Denis and its surrounding Grands Crus, Clos de Tart’s namesake cuvée shares the top score for a second year in a row, earning 96 – 98 points, having been complimented for its “spectacular depth”. Clos de Lambrays – nurtured by Clos de Tart’s previous winemaker, Jacques Devauges, since 2019 – matches the rating.
Côte de Beaune – reds
Jasper reports that the most challenging conditions were felt where grapes typically ripen first, including the southern villages of Volnay and Corton. Despite this, several reds including Michel Lafarge’s Volnays Clos des Chênes and Clos du Château des Ducs, and Chandon de Briailles’ Corton Clos du Roi fare well, the latter described as having the “most sensual nose of all”, with notes of “alpine raspberries”.
Côte de Beaune – whites
Jasper awards 71 white Burgundy 2020s a score of 94 – 96 and above, compared with last year’s 29 wines scoring 95 and above. He stresses the success of the 2020 vintage across the whites, with Chardonnay grapes retaining more juice than Pinot Noir, and benefitting from a longer ripening time. Montrachet and associated white Grands Crus saw two wines with a potential 99 points – Marc Colin’s Montrachet and Louis Jadot’s Bâtard-Montrachet.
Bouchard Père et Fils’ Corton-Charlemagne achieves a score of 95 – 98, and is praised for expressing “a really impressive wealth of fruit”. Earning the only potential 100-point score for whites in 2020, Arnaud Ente’s Meursault La Sève du Clos was particularly memorable, with Jasper affirming that he has “never seen this consistently great wine as expressive before”.
Explore Jasper Morris’ full Burgundy 2020 report here. For more Burgundy 2020 commentary from our partner critics, recap Neal Martin’s ratings here, and stay tuned for the last lot of scores from Jancis Robinson.com.
The first of Wine Lister’s partner critics to release scores for the latest Burgundy vintage, Neal Martin’s assessment (for Vinous) provides initial insight into some of the top en primeur picks in 2020.
What do we know about Burgundy’s 2020 vintage so far?
2020 will be remembered as a year that saw some of the earliest harvest dates ever recorded in Burgundy, with several of the region’s producers picking as early as 12th August. Though following the pattern of recent vintages marked by warm and dry growing seasons, the threat of drought was partly alleviated by significant rainfall during the winter months through to spring, which ensured water reserves were replenished ahead of the heat. Some Pinot Noir producers nonetheless saw a drop in yields, particularly on sites with poorer soils, and thus restricted water retention ability.
Dry conditions during ripening minimised the threat of disease and mildew, which was valuable for the healthy growth of red and white grapes. Despite the earlier harvest, the grapes saw excellent ripening and phenolic development, while high levels of evaporation concentrated sugars, flavours, and acidity.
Compared to the 19 wines that Neal Martin awarded 96-98 and above last year, there are an impressive 40 wines within the same parameter for the 2020 vintage. While there were no wines that earned a potential perfect score in 2019, Georges Roumier’s Musigny and Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin Clos-de-Bèze receive 99-100 and 98-100 points respectively in 2020. Neal Martin notes that the top-scoring reds of the vintage all share an excellent acidity, which “lends the 2020s a sense of brightness”.
Also faring notably well, Comte Liger-Belair’s La Romanée, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche, Georges Roumier’s Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses, Hudelot-Noëllat’s Richebourg, Louis Jadot’s Musigny, and Tawse’s Mazoyères Chambertin earn scores of 97-99.
Whites worth trying
Four whites hailing from Montrachet appear on the list, with offerings from Comtes Lafon, Domaine d’Eugénie, Etienne Sauzet, and Marc Colin each earning a score of 96-98. Neal Martin describes mineral notes across each, having written that this was one of the great attributes of the top whites in the vintage – especially across those grown on more “calcareous soils” akin to that which Montrachet boasts. Following the trend of white burgundy producers using less new oak, Marc Colin uses only old oak barrels for the first time in this vintage, while Comtes Lafon matured Montrachet in one-third new oak instead of 100%.
Discover Neal Martin’s full list of Burgundy 2020 scores here. Watch this space for further Burgundy 2020 score updates from Wine Lister’s partner critics, JancisRobinson.com, and specialist Burgundy critic, Jasper Morris MW.
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.
The best bottle for your budget
Considering the best of white Burgundy MUST BUYs across five different price points, these potential picks gain high WL scores and are all approaching or within their drinking window parameters. Wine Lister’s MUST BUY algorithm produces initial recommendations through considering a wine’s quality and value within its vintage and appellation.
White burgundy MUST BUY picks per price bracket (per bottle, in-bond)
Which are the best white Burgundy wines for my budget?
Notorious for housing wines of high quality with equally high demand, Burgundy has seen some extreme price rises over the last few years. Below we explore top white Burgundies with availability across a range of prices.
With a history of winemaking in his family dating back to the 15th century, Rémi Jobard took over his namesake estate from his father in 1996, and has since overseen many developments. As well as converting to an organic practice in 2008 (and gaining certification in 2011), Rémi introduced cover crop growth across his seven vineyards to encourage the 60+ year old vines to grow deeper to find nutrients. Harbouring a naturally limited yield through cordon-pruning, Rémi Jobard produced just 2,700 bottles of Meursault Le Ponuzot-Dessus in 2015. Despite this, there is still some available of the vintage for under £100, which can be purchased from Lea & Sandeman at around £66 a bottle.
Since taking over the helm of his family property in 2005, fifth-generation wine maker, Henri Boillot has implemented several changes at Domaine Boillot. As well as a focus on sustainable farming methods, including the avoidance of chemicals, and manual harvesting, the team conducts heavy pruning to limit yields, and harvests fruit as late as possible to ensure maximum phenolic maturity. White grapes are crushed gently to avoid bitterness, and fermented in larger barrels than the typical Burgundy “pièce” (350l, vs. 228) to ensure that purity and freshness is unencumbered. Achieving a WL score of 94, the 2016 vintage can be enjoyed at its best for another 10 years, and is available to buy from Fine+Rare at £116 a bottle.
The Leflaive family legacy has been propelled into a modern era, under the founder’s great-grandson and fourth generation leader, Brice de La Morandière since 2015. As part of increased investment into refining its practice, Leflaive introduced a new type of cork in 2016, from natural cork to DIAM (made from broken down natural cork, cleaned with carbon dioxide), which increases the longevity of its bottles. MUST BUY Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 2014 achieves a WL score of 94, and can be found at Corney & Barrow from £275 a bottle.
The son of Burgundy’s infamous Marc Colin (whose domain expands across 30 different appellations in the region), Pierre-Yves established his own project in 2005 from vineyards he inherited from his father. He deviates from traditional Burgundian vinification methods, utilising larger demi-muid barrels (600l) to moderate the influence of oak on the wine and preserve the purity of fruit. Gaining Buzz Brand and Investment Staple status, Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Corton-Charlemagne 2018 has WL score of 95, and provides a solid bet for top-quality white Burgundy to lay down for the future. It can be sourced from Berry Bros. & Rudd at £317 a bottle.
Produced by négociant house Joseph Drouhin with grapes sourced from vineyards owned by the Laguiche family of the Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche estate, Joseph Drouhin’s Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche 2013 is a MUST BUY at the premium end of white Burgundy offerings. Founded in 1880 by 22-year-old Joseph Drouhin himself, the legacy of its founder’s production has been carried through generations, with the property now under the helm of his four grandchildren, Fréderique, Véronique, Philippe, and Laurent. Receiving a WL score of 96 at around £508 a bottle, the 2013 has 10 more years left of enjoyment. To get your hands on this vintage, you can place a bid for it on the Berry Bros & Rudd online marketplace, BBX.
N.B. All prices are quoted per bottle, in-bond and are correct at the time of publication (19th August 2021).
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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.
As well as gaining top scores across its reds, Bordeaux 2020 was successful for dry whites, notably at the highest level. Helping you to discover some of the leading examples, we explore the top five Bordeaux 2020 dry white wines by WL score.
The top dry Bordeaux whites of the 2020 vintage, displayed in order of WL score
Will 2020 be a good vintage in Bordeaux for dry white wines?
Despite another exceedingly warm growing season in 2020, Bordeaux’s earlier-ripening white grapes fared well across many of the region’s top blanc producers. Having seen one of the earliest harvests on record, the first Sauvignon Blanc grapes were picked on the 14th of August, and all fruit destined for dry whites was harvested by early September. The white Bordeaux vintage therefore avoided high temperatures during the rest of the month, maintaining balance and freshness.
With a remarkably small production of just c.600 cases per annum, Haut-Brion Blanc remains one of the most sought-after Bordeaux dry whites. To combat the warm summer temperatures, the team conducted pre-dawn harvesting, picking grapes during the cooler night-time climate to ensure better levels of acidity and freshness. Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister, found Haut-Brion Blanc to show “an almost Burgundian minerality accompanying its unmistakable Pessac green and yellow-fruit character”. With a WL score of 94, it champions the leader board of Bordeaux dry whites for the last four vintages, and there is still some of the 2020 available to purchase en primeur at IG Wines for £600 per bottle (in-bond).
Haut-Brion’s sibling estate, La Mission Haut-Brion’s white is characterised by a Sémillon-dominated blend – a grape with naturally low acidity compared to Bordeaux’s other white varietals. With soaring summer temperatures in 2020, the team therefore increased the percentage of Sauvignon Blanc in its blend to 54.7% (up from 30.1% in 2019) to ensure balance. Ella notes the impact of the increased Sauvignon on the wine’s acidity, describing a “zippy acidity, zingy energy, [with a] peach stone finish.” La Mission Haut-Brion’s white gains a WL score of 94 for the 2020 vintage, and can be found at Justerini & Brooks for £480 per bottle (in-bond).
Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc’s white vines are planted just behind the château to the north, where they benefit from a cooler microclimate that withstood high temperatures in 2020. Technical Director, Fabien Teitgen found a “nice balance and liveliness” in the grapes after harvest, while Ella characterises the 2020 as “subtle and flirtatious, building slowly into notes of white pepper and lime, as well as pure white fruit”. Gaining a WL score of 93, Smith Haut Lafitte blanc 2020 is available at Honest Grapes for £96 per bottle (in-bond).
Located at the heart of the Landes pine forest, Domaine de Chevalier’s vines are also subject to a cooler microclimate as a result of the surrounding woodland, which was certainly welcomed in 2020. When sampling the latest release at the estate, Ella enjoyed the richness of the vintage, noting “Aromas of tangerine, white flowers, custard, and acacia honey” and a palate that is “creamy and caressing […] with a lift of tension and a savoury bite.” Receiving a WL score of 93, Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2020 can be acquired from Berry Bros & Rudd for £68 per bottle (in-bond).
Though First Growth Margaux has been producing a dry white for over 300 years, Pavillon Blanc 2020 marks the 100th anniversary under its current name. The only non-Pessac pick to feature in the top-five ranking, the success of the latest release was not without its challenges. Tasting alongside Margaux’s Managing Director, Philippe Bascaules, and Business Development Director, Alexis Leven-Mentzelopoulos, Ella was informed of the high mildew pressure as a result of a hot wet spring in 2020, which risked affecting the Sauvignon Blanc grapes of their single-varietal wine. Nevertheless, their 2020 receives a WL score of 93, with Ella describing a “Really rich, mouthcoating texture on entering the mouth – almost a Chardonnay-esque opulence”, and declaring the wine “Delicious.” Pavillon Blanc 2020 can be purchased en primeur from Goedhuis & Co for £180 per bottle (in-bond).
To mark the first day of spring (Saturday 20th March), this week’s blog takes a deep dive into Wine Lister’s latest MUST BUY update, helping you to discover some excellent wines to enjoy over the next few months. The 19 new MUST BUYs cover a range of regions, varieties, and styles, providing inspiration for top picks to drink now or put away for the future.
Click here to view all MUST BUYs, or read more below.
Piedmont constitutes over a quarter of the new MUST BUY picks, with entries from five of the region’s leading producers. Currently at its peak drinking, Luciano Sandrone’s 2005 Barolo Le Vigne comprises a blend of fruit from four of the estate’s top vineyards, each with different terroirs, altitudes, and exposures. Harvested, vinified, and aged separately, the final assemblage is intended to express the best characteristics of each plot. Wine Lister’s partner critic, Jancis Robinson, describes it as “complex”, with “already very integrated aromas”. It can be purchased from Farr Vintners for £79 per bottle (in-bond).
In Burgundy, Thibault Liger-Belair’s 2018 Richebourg achieves its highest WL score since the successful 2010 vintage (96), and is described by Wine Lister’s Burgundy specialist critic, Jasper Morris, as possibly “[Thibault’s] best Richebourg to date”. Awarding it 95-98 points, Jasper notes that “the oak […] is so suffused by a brilliant dense entirely red fruit, soft strawberry and more pronounced raspberry”. It is available to buy from Corney & Barrow for £450 per bottle (in-bond).
Representing the Southern Hemisphere, Shaw and Smith’s 2019 Pinot Noir also has Value Pick status, with a WL score of 92 at £26 per bottle (in-bond). The first vintage to include fruit from the property’s Lenswood vineyard, which boasts mature vines and high altitude, it marks an exciting development for Shaw and Smith. Richard Hemming for Jancis Robinson describes it at “superbly fragrant” and representative of “the sheer pleasure of the variety”. It can be bought from The Fine Wine Company.
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey makes up two of three Burgundy whites to feature in the latest MUST BUY update, with its 2016 Meursault Perrières and 2018 Corton-Charlemagne. At £210 per bottle (in-bond), the former achieves 94 points from Jasper Morris, who notes “riper fruit, almost some orange blossom, but still an underlying freshness”. Meanwhile, Julia Harding for Jancis Robinson awards 19 points to the 2018 Corton-Charlemagne, describing it as “powerful and elegant” with a “smoky and quite subtle” nose. While both wines are more difficult to source, it is worth informing your merchant of your interest in purchasing them.
Other wines featured in the new MUST BUY selection are: 2005 Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2009 Gaja Barbaresco Sori Tildin, 2009 Peter Michael Les Pavots, 2010 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia, 2010 La Spinetta Barbaresco Gallina, 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Montrachet, 2015 Bond Quella, 2016 Giacomo Grimaldi Barolo Sotto Castello di Novello, 2017 Gangloff Condrieu, 2017 Kistler Vineyards Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay, 2017 Kistler Vineyards McCrea Vineyard Chardonnay, 2018 Castello di Fonterutoli Siepi, 2018 Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Echezeaux, and 2019 l’Evangile.
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.