Listed: top 5 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape by Quality score

‘Tis the season of dark evenings, woolly jumpers, and open fires. To round out the perfect winter evening, Wine Lister has many a drinking suggestion up our collective cashmere sleeves, but let us start with these top five 20-year-old Châteauneuf-du-Papes by Quality score.

Unsurprisingly, the Southern Rhône beats its Northern sibling for price to quality ratios, with the average Quality score of the top five 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Papes at 968, for an average in-bond price per bottle of £354. Comparatively, the Northern Rhône’s top five 1998 average Quality score is 959 for an eye-watering £882 per bottle.

In first place of this week’s top five is Henri Bonneau’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve des Célestins. Its Quality score of 984 for the 1998 vintage is not only the best of this week’s top five, it is also Bonneau’s highest of the last 20 years, for £431 per bottle in-bond. This price tag is thanks to solid short- and long-term price performance, with six-month price growth of 16.9% and a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.2%.

Next for 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Papes by Quality score comes this week’s best brand, Château Rayas. Its Brand score of 982 is thanks to presence in 33% of the world’s best restaurants, and an impressive search ranking as the 53rd most-searched-for wine on Wine Lister. Wine Lister partner critic Jancis Robinson awards it full marks, describing it as “not dissimilar” to Rousseau. Its impressive quality and popularity are complimented by the highest Economics score of this week’s top five (988) thanks to the top six-month price performance of 21.7% and a three-year CAGR of 25%.

In third place is Domaine du Pegau’s Cuvée Da Capo 1998 with a Quality score of 973. It is the most expensive of this week’s top five, at £453 in-bond per bottle, perhaps due to its cult-style following. The Cuvée Da Capo achieves the highest average trading volumes at auction of the group (408 bottles per year), according to The Wine Market Journal.

The fourth wine of this week’s top five may also be said to have somewhat of a cult following. Beaucastel’s Hommage à Jacques Perrin 1998 is priced at £446 per bottle in-bond for a Quality score of 960. Despite this excellent score, eight of its last 15 vintages have managed even better Quality scores than the 1998 – indeed Hommage à Jacques Perrin is on average the highest-scoring Châteauneuf-du-Pape on Wine Lister (with an average Quality score of 965).

Finally, M. Chapoutier’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape Barbe Rac 1998 rounds out the group, with a Quality score of 944 and a price of £73 per bottle in-bond (or a mere 17% of the average price of the other four wines combined).

Other than the Rayas, any lucky owners of these bottles should consider cracking them open this Christmas, lest he or she risk missing their respective quality peaks.


Bordeaux and the Rhône: old-school, but still cool

Wine Lister Indicators are designed to help you find the perfect fine wine for any occasion. Wine Lister regularly tracks the movements of wines in and out of these segments (such as recent commentary featuring new Buzz Brands for Burgundy). This month we look at newcomers to the Value Pick segment – wines that achieve the best quality to price ratio.

France is the geographical victor of new Value Picks, with a total of seven wines hailing from Bordeaux and the Rhône (and one from the Loire). These traditional regions may appear “uncool” compared with the likes of Burgundy (whose popularity continues to rise). However, it is perhaps thanks in part to their “uncool” status that Bordeaux and the Rhône are also sources of exceptional value for money.

The only two whites of our new Value Picks, Château Guiraud Premier Cru 2001 and Château Suduiraut Premier Cru 2003, actually achieve the highest Quality scores of the group (936 and 929 respectively). Château Guiraud 2001 is priced at £32 per bottle in-bond, and Château Suduiraut 2003 at £27. Sadly, the incredible Quality scores of these Sauternes (as well as others across the board) may be hindered by a lack of demand for the volume produced. Sauternes typically earn poor Economics scores on Wine Lister (Château Guiraud 2001 achieves an Economics score of 212, and Château Suduiraut 2003 345), perhaps due to the pace at which older vintages of these exceptional sweet wines are consumed. With Christmas just around the corner, however, there is every reason to source either of these two for good value for your buck.

Elsewhere in Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan rules the Value Pick reds with two listings from Château Bouscaut. The 2017 is one of Bouscaut’s new Value Pick vintages, however the real appeal, with 10 years of age, is the physical 2008 vintage, which achieves a Quality score of 768 (vs. 775 for 2017) for a price just £1 above the latest release (at £19 per bottle in-bond). These two vintages join existing Value Picks of Château Bouscaut, namely the 2016, 2015, 2013, and 2004. The latter is interestingly Bouscaut’s highest-scoring vintage ever (868), and therefore provides exceptional value at £21 per bottle in-bond.

In the Rhône, producer Tardieu-Laurent has two newcomers to the Value Pick segment: Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2007 (£32) and Cornas Coteaux 2014 (£23), with Quality scores of 906 and 813 respectively. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes now has an impressive six Value Pick vintages, and the Cornas Coteaux four. Indeed, Tardieu-Laurent (which was recently acquired by EPI, the owner of top Brunello producer Biondi-Santi and both Piper and Charles Heidsieck) appears a good producer to choose for value, with six of the domaine’s ten wines on Wine Lister having vintages in the Value Pick segment. It is perhaps therefore surprising that its Brand scores sit mostly in the average section of Wine Lister’s 1,000-point scale or below – uncool, but with very cool price to quality ratios.

A second Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the 2006 from Domaine Charvin is the third wine from the Rhône to make it to the list, with a Quality score of 869 and available at the modest price of £28 per bottle in-bond.

These French Value Picks convince us that “old-school” wines should not be dismissed as such. With an average price of £25 per bottle in-bond, and an average Quality score of 858, these represent excellent value for money – and that will always be cool.



Listed: Top 5 Rhône dry whites by Quality score

Often overlooked in favour of Burgundy’s top whites, the Rhône’s counterparts should not be forgotten, particularly if you’re looking for a rich style at a more reasonable price. Whilst the Rhône’s top five dry whites for Quality can’t match the scores of Burgundy’s top chardonnays (930 vs 977), they are nearly 30 times cheaper on average (£126 vs £3564). Within the Rhône, in the battle of North vs South it is the former that comes out on top, with four expressions of Hermitage featuring in the top five.

Leading the way is Chapoutier’s Ermitage Blanc L’Ermite (966). By far the most expensive of the five, it is particularly favoured by Bettane+Desseauve, the French duo awarding it an outstanding average score of 19/20. It is also the longest-lived of the group, alongside Domaine Chave’s Hermitage Blanc, with an average drinking window of 12 years. Despite its outstanding Quality score, it experiences the lowest overall Wine Lister score of the group (799), its Brand and Economics scores failing to keep pace (659 and 666 respectively).

In contrast to Chapoutier’s L’Ermite, Domaine Chave’s Hermitage backs up its excellent Quality score with the best Brand and Economics scores of any Rhône white (930 and 873), propelling it to first place in terms of overall Wine Lister score (927). It is Vinous’ favourite of the five, with an average score of 95/100, helped by a score of 97-99 for the 2015, Josh Reynolds stating that it shows “a remarkable interplay of depth, power and energy that I only occasionally encounter with the very best white Burgundies”.

Interrupting Hermitage’s hegemony is Beaucastel’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape Roussanne Vieilles Vignes (917). Proving that the appellation’s best whites can compete with their red counterparts, it outperforms Beaucastel’s straight Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Quality category (917 vs 876). However it can’t quite beat the domaine’s flagship Hommage à Jacques Perrin (962), but at under a third of the price (£81 vs £255) it does look better value.

Two more Hermitages round out the group, another from Chapoutier – Le Méal Blanc – and, impressively, one from Chave’s négociant label – Hermitage Blanche – each with a Quality score of 909.