A glass of cold Riesling on a hot summer’s day hits that sweet spot between refreshment, satisfaction, and intrigue. Any one of Germany’s finest wines for Quality under £300 would definitely deliver those three things. Moreover, with an average drinking window of 16 years, and with global warming seemingly set to deliver increasingly high summer temperatures, stock up on them now and you will be rewarded with stunning wines for years to come.
It is perhaps revealing of Riesling’s under-the-radar nature that three of this week’s top five qualify as Hidden Gems, meaning that they combine excellent critics’ ratings with modest restaurant presence and online popularity. Moreover, many of Wine Lister’s Hidden Gems were picked out by the global fine wine trade in our Founding Members’ survey, underlining the perennial mystery of Riesling as the darling of the trade, despite struggling to spark wide-scale consumer demand. Interestingly the group’s three Hidden Gems are all Beerenausleses (BAs). Schloss Johannisberg Rosa-Goldlack, Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr, and Weingut Robert Weil Kiedricher Gräfenberg’s BAs, in spite of a phenomenal average Quality score of 969, achieve an average Brand score of just 398 – the result of being present in just 2% of the world’s top restaurants and receiving only 70 online searches each month on average. Demand for excellent sweet Riesling is clearly not there at present.
However, returning to the group’s fantastic quality, it is Egon Müller’s Scharzhofberger Riesling Auslese that comes out on top with a score of 974. 2014 was its best ever vintage, with one of JancisRobinson.com’s critics, Michael Schmidt, awarding it 19/20 and heaping on the praise: “Our sensory perception is treated to an animating exuberance of exotic fruit and fresh raisins. Botrytis has been kept in check to focus on purity of expression rather than indulge in unctuous combustion”.
The group’s final spot is filled by Keller Westhofen Abtserde Riesling Grosses Gewächs (966). It is Jancis Robinson’s favourite of the five, achieving an outstanding average rating of 18.5/20 from Wine Lister’s UK partner critic. Tellingly, particularly in the context of the three BA’s lack of consumer demand, it is also the group’s most popular wine, receiving nearly 30 times more searches each month on average than the BAs. Consumers appear much more at ease with Riesling’s dryer styles.
Our in-depth study of Burgundy earlier this year showed that its prices continue to rise at a faster pace than those of any other fine wine region. With such high prices and tiny availability, wine buyers seeking good value drinking wines may often find their cellar a little light on Burgundy.
However, alongside the virtually unattainable wines at the most prestigious end of the Burgundy scale, there are some Value Picks to be found.
One of four Wine Lister Indicators, Value Picks are wines with the best quality to price ratios. Wine Lister’s proprietary Value Pick algorithm allows more expensive wines with exceptional quality to shine by reducing the impact of price in calculating the ratio.
The simple answer to good value for white Burgundy is Chablis.
For exceptional value at everyday drinking level in particular, Domaine William Fèvre stands out. Seven out of the last eight vintages of the domaine’s straight Chablis are identified as Value Picks, with prices per bottle under £13 and an average Quality score of 553 (above average on Wine Lister’s 1000-point scale).
Moving up the price ladder, Domaine William Fèvre’s Chablis Grand Crus Les Clos 2004 shows exceptional value, with a price per bottle of £50 and a Quality score of 982 – shown in the Vintage Value Identifier chart above. At a comparative score (979) for white burgundy in 2004 we find Domaine Leroy’s Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, with a price tag 60 times higher – £3,005 per bottle.
Chablis make up all top 10 white Burgundy Value Picks.
The Burgundian Value Pick with the highest Quality score is in fact a red – Domaine de la Pousse d’Or’s Volnay Premier Cru Clos de la Bousse d’Or 1995. At c.£50 per bottle and a Quality score of 983, it earns the highest Quality score for Volnay, and the third-highest for Burgundy’s 1995 vintage (after Méo-Camuzet’s Vosne Romanée Cros Parantoux and Rousseau’s Chambertin Grand Cru, priced at £1,046 and £1,448 respectively). Any lucky owners of the Clos de la Bousse d’Or 1995 should open and enjoy it now. Wine Lister partner critic, Jancis Robinson, puts its drinking window between 2006 and 2019.
Bordeaux 2017 en primeur scores are now out from Julia Harding MW for JancisRobinson.com – our UK partner critic (Jancis Robinson herself was kept in London updating the World Atlas of Wine for its next, eighth edition).
Harding awarded 14 wines a score of 18 or above, with Pomerol the most featured appellation at the top of her scoreboard. Lafleur, Le Pin, Petrus, and Vieux Château Certan all scored 18.5, the highest score given by Harding to any Bordeaux 2017 (while last year Robinson granted seven 2016 Bordeaux 19 points, including four of Harding’s favourites this year).
This Pomerol quartet is joined by another right bank wine, Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé B, Figeac, whose tasting note from Harding ends: “Silky, charming, mouth-watering. So succulent, so precise, unforced.”
The only other wine to score 18.5 is the king of Sauternes, Yquem. As we saw in yesterday’s blog summing up Bettane+Desseauve’s top scores, 2017 is successful vintage for sweet whites. Harding’s top wines include La Tour Blanche and Doisy Daëne’s tiny production Barsac – already released at £140 per half bottle – L’Extravagant.
Like our French partner critics, Harding also gives high scores to Ausone, Latour, La Mission Haut-Brion Rouge, and its white sibling – the only dry white in her top table. Mouton Rothschild and Léoville Las Cases also score 18 points.
All these scores are now live on the wine pages of our website for subscribers to view (alongside those of Bettane+Desseauve), with links through to Harding’s tasting notes on JancisRobinson.com. Read Jancis Robinson’s extensive Bordeaux 2017 coverage here.
Neal Martin’s and Antonio Galloni’s scores will be added on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.
Hidden Gems are one of four Wine Lister “Indicators”, segmenting wines that meet specific sets of criteria into groups. Hidden Gems are those wines rarely found in the top restaurants, and not often searched for online, but which either have high ratings from wine critics, or have been singled out as a hidden gem by Founding Members in Wine Lister surveys.
Last week, Wine Lister celebrated its second birthday with a special tasting of a selection of 27 “raw” hidden gems, identified by our Founding Members (c.50 key players from the international fine wine trade) when asked which wines they rated highly, but which they felt were underappreciated.
Founding Members’ Hidden Gems hail from a variety of regions, producers and vintages. Their average Wine Lister scores vary too, as shown on the histogram below, where the grey columns represent the total number of fine wines currently listed on Wine Lister which fall into each score bucket.
The full list of wines tasted is available here: Wine Lister Founding Members’ Hidden Gems
The Wine Lister team was joined by some of our trade Founding Members, data partners, and other supporters of Wine Lister. We encouraged tasters to share their comments by writing on the tasting table. All the wines were showing beautifully, and G.D. Vajra’s Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2009, tasted from magnum, won widespread praise from all the guests. It also holds the highest Quality score (927) of all wines in the room. One taster even went so far as to name it “the Lafite of Barolo”!
From left to right: David Harvey, Arthur de Lencquesaing, Dan Jago, Charles Lea, Ella Lister, Jancis Robinson, Jan Konetzki, Adam Bruntlett, Katy Andersen, Grant Ashton, Sophie Mclean, Richard Harvey, Greg Sherwood, Aita Ighodaro, Joe Fattorini.
Find out what else was said about the wines by following this link to more photos of the event.
Wines featured in the tasting: Louis Roederer Brut Premier, E. Guigal Condrieu La Doriane 2016, Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta 2014, Seña 2010, Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 2014, Isole e Olena Syrah Collezione Privata 2011, Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto 2016, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove 2015, 2011, 2007, Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2014, G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2013, G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2009, Domaine Duroché Gevrey-Chambertin Les Jeunes Rois 2015, Domaine Duroché Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2015, Domaine Tempier Cuvée Cabassou 2007, Château La Gaffelière 2014, Le Marquis de Calon Ségur 2014, Château Haut-Bailly La Parde 2012, Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2014, Château Boyd-Cantenac 2013, Château d’Issan 2011, Château Branaire-Ducru 2012, Château Pédesclaux 2014, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2005, Château Brane-Cantenac 2005, Château Lafon Rochet 2010.
Château Latour has released a first parcel of Les Forts de Latour 2012 this morning at €145 per bottle ex-negociant. It is being offered in the UK at c.£153 per bottle. The factsheet below summarises its key points.
You can download this slide here: Wine Lister Factsheet Les Forts de Latour 2012
This week, our listed section journeys to the most northerly Burgundy appellation to look at Wine Lister’s top five Chablis by Quality score. Wine Lister’s Quality score comprises the average rating of our four partner critics, as well as a wine’s ageing potential.
In fifth place is Hidden Gem, Domaine Gérard Duplessis Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. Producing only 1,500 bottles a year, this wine is present in just 2% of the world’s top restaurants, but receives a very strong rating from Jancis Robinson, setting its Quality score at 910.
Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos is fourth-highest with a Quality score of 927. Whilst Jeannie Cho Lee doesn’t score the wine as highly as our other critics, at £55 it still represents a lot of bang for your buck.
Bronze goes to Domaine Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur, with a Quality score of 946. The only wine of the group not from the Les Clos climat, it has a predicted drinking window of 10 years – higher than the rest of its peer group, which averages eight years.
Vincent Dauvissat Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos has the second-highest Quality score (952) and also has the biggest variance in ratings from our partner critics, receiving an outstanding score from Jeannie Cho Lee, but a far more modest one from UK critic Jancis Robinson.
Winning the Quality score crown by a narrow two-point difference (954) is the second wine of the group from Raveneau – the domaine’s Les Clos offering. Enjoying uniformly excellent scores from each of our partner critics, it’s one of the most talked-about wines in the fine wine trade and unsurprisingly holds Wine Lister Buzz Brand status.
For this week’s top five, the spotlight is on our highest ranked Spanish red wines. All achieve a total Wine Lister score of over 913, yet there is a significant price difference between the lowest and highest priced bottle (over £500).
Vega-Sicilia Unico wins the Spanish sprint to the top spot with an applaudable Wine Lister score of 971. With impressive restaurant presence (47%) and over 17,000 average monthly searches, the wine’s Brand score is a big contributor to its number one spot.
Next, scoring 47 points less (923) though more than double the price (£573), is Pingus. With consistently high ratings from Jancis Robinson, Jeannie Cho Lee and Antonio Galloni, it has a very strong Quality score of 936 – identical to its Brand score.
A second wine from Spain’s most prestigious wine estate, the Vega-Sicilia Unico Reserva Especial, comes in third place with the highest Quality score of the group (983). However, similar to all the other top five’s, its price has been decreasing since August.
The most affordable wine of the group is the René Barbier Clos Mogador, at £57 per bottle on average. It’s the only wine of the five not to hold Buzz Brand status, though it scores five out of five for liquidity, with 300 bottles of its top five vintages traded in the past year.
Joint fourth is Alvaro Palacios L’Ermita, matching Clos Mogador’s Wine Lister score of 913. Its three-month average price scores four out of five — an improvement on its six-month price performance of two out of five. It’s the rarest in its peer group, producing just 1,350 bottles per year on average, though it still manages to achieve 19% restaurant presence.
With the recent addition of Jeannie Cho Lee MW as Wine Lister’s fourth partner critic, now seems a good opportunity to elucidate our approach to calculating Quality scores.
Wine Lister’s Quality scoring algorithm takes into account each critic’s rating scale and the relative generosity or severity of their scoring.
Vinous and Jeannie Cho Lee rate on a 100-point scale, whereas Jancis Robinson and Bettane+Desseauve rate on a 20-point scale. But we also know that the former pair never (or very rarely) give a rating less than 70, while the latter never (or very rarely) give a rating less than 10.
The first step in our scoring algorithm is to put all ratings on a level playing field by rebasing them. We take each critic’s minimum and maximum wine ratings and spread these back out over our entire 100-point scale. The result is that, for example, a Bettane+Desseauve rating of 15 and a Jeannie Cho Lee rating of 85 both score 50 out of 100.
But it’s not quite that simple! We also know that the way the critics score is different. For example, we find that Jeannie Cho Lee tends to give fewer high scores than Vinous. Our algorithm takes into consideration these tendencies towards more or less generous ratings, and adjusts scores as necessary for a fair outcome. This is our score normalisation process.
Using nonparametric statistical techniques, for the same wine-vintages that the critics have rated, we look at each critic’s probability of awarding each score, and use the difference in probabilities to make necessary adjustments.
For example, we looked at the set of wine-vintages rated by both Jancis Robinson and Bettane+Desseauve, and found that wines are around 5% more likely to achieve a rating of 17 or higher from Bettane+Desseauve. Once normalised, this means that a wine such as Château Beauregard 2009, rated 17 by both Bettane+Desseauve and Jancis Robinson, achieves Wine Lister critic scores of 73 and 76 respectively. In other words, 17 is harder to get from Jancis Robinson than from Bettane+Desseauve. This is illustrated in the image above.
Once we’ve rebased and normalised the critics’ scores, we simply take an average of those scores, giving an equal rating to each of our four partner critics, each of whom represents one of the world’s key fine wine markets.
There’s still more… The Wine Lister Quality score also takes into consideration a wine’s ageing potential as defined by critics’ drinking windows – watch this space for a further explanation of how that works!
We are thrilled to announce the addition of Jeannie Cho Lee MW as Wine Lister’s fourth partner critic, representing the Asian market.
Wine Lister gathers data from multiple sources to assess thousands of wines on a truly holistic basis. Scores are made up of three main categories: Quality, Brand, and Economics. Critic ratings form a vital part of the Quality category, providing reliable scores and drinking window information.
Jeannie Cho Lee is an independent wine critic, a university professor, and an award-winning author who in 2008 was the first Asian to become a Master of Wine. Based in Hong Kong, she writes about wine on her website, www.jeanniecholee.com, and has also published several books, including Asian Palate.
Adding to our unique collaborations with three of the most reputable wine critics in the world’s major fine wine markets – Jancis Robinson (UK), Antonio Galloni (Vinous) (USA), and Bettane+Desseauve (France) – we are delighted to welcome Jeannie Cho Lee to represent the key Asian fine wine market. This careful addition will help us in our goal of providing ever more reliable and accurate ratings and analysis, while crucially maintaining the high standards of this elite pool of critics. Jeannie Cho Lee’s scores have been added to those of our existing partner critics, and fed into Wine Lister’s bespoke algorithm to produce a Quality score out of 1,000 points. Wine Lister takes each critic’s minimum and maximum wine ratings and spreads these back out over the entire scale. As each wine critic scores differently (not just on a different scale), we also account for the frequency of ratings and normalise scores for fair comparison. Each critic is weighted equally.
You may notice that some scores have changed for wines that have not been rated by Jeannie. In order to meet our goal of having the most comprehensive and up-to-date information, and the most rigorous rating algorithm, we have increased the sample set of scores upon which we carry out the normalisation between critics. This now includes the 18 months’ worth of new critic scores since our launch.
Wine Lister’s UK partner critic Jancis Robinson has released her scores for Bordeaux 2016 over a series of tasting articles, and these can now be found on Wine Lister’s individual wine pages.
While 2016 has been hailed by some as a left bank vintage, Robinson found much to enjoy across both sides of the Gironde. In Pomerol, she praised “those who waited and managed the difficult business of judging picking times correctly”, and more 19-point wines came from this appellation than any other. She singled out Vieux Château Certan 2016 for setting “the standard for the appellation” and noted its “lovely ripeness and nobility.” In Saint-Emilion, 19-point Figeac 2016 was “Zesty and confident and of the place”, while Canon 2016 had “real lift and drive.”
On the left bank, three of the first growths were among Robinson’s top scorers. As Wine Lister has already noted, 2016 was a tricky growing season, and Robinson reports that at Haut-Brion, Jean-Philippe Delmas “pointed out that the vintage was saved by the cool nights that retained the grapes’ and therefore wines’ freshness.”
From Pauillac, Latour 2016 significantly had “much more finesse than traditional Latour”, while Robinson described Mouton Rothschild 2016 as “bone dry and utterly embryonic compared with most of the 2016s (with the notable exception of Las Cases).” Léoville Las Cases 2016 also received 19 points from Robinson.
Notably, amongst Robinson’s top scorers there are no dry whites – a category she described as “the least exciting section of the Bordeaux 2016 vintage” – and only one sweet white (Yquem 2016), a group for which Bordeaux 2016 “won’t go down in history.”