Earlier this year Wine Lister compared the top 50 wines by Quality score from Old World and New. The outcome revealed a 35-point gap between the two, with an average Quality score for the 50 best New World wines of 948. This week, Wine Lister dips its toes back into New World waters to examine the top five Argentinian wines by Wine Lister score.
Interestingly, the winner of this week’s top five can perhaps be considered as belonging to both Worlds. Cheval des Andes, the joint venture from Terrazas de los Andes and Pierre Lurton of Cheval Blanc, has an overall Wine Lister score of 818. Unsurprisingly, Cheval des Andes shows the clear benefit of association with its Old World stablemate through a Brand score of 862, the highest of the group. This is thanks to presence in 15% of the world’s best restaurants, and a search frequency ranking as the 400th most-searched-for wine on Wine Lister’s database. It has the lowest Quality score of the five (845) – and is notably the only one of the group whose Quality score is not its strongest asset – but is also the least expensive at £55 per bottle.
Bodega Catena Zapata shows impressive presence in this week’s top five, taking the next three spots. In second place overall is Nicolás Catena Zapata with a Wine Lister score of 808. Nicolás has the highest Quality score of the group (921), however its brand strength should not be overlooked. With the second-highest Brand score of this week’s top five (828), it actually ranks 10 places higher for search frequency than New World super-brand Cheval des Andes.
Although Catena Zapata’s Adrianna Vineyard Malbec comes next for overall Wine Lister score, it is the Bodega’s Malbec Argentino (in fourth place overall) that comes next for Quality, with a score of 909. Its overall score (692) doesn’t maintain the dizzying heights set by its Quality score – nevertheless still sitting in the “strong” section of the Wine Lister 1,000-point scale – due in part to a lower Brand score (705), but mostly to a much weaker Economics score (181).
Bookending this week’s top five is another wine which might also be considered as originating from more established roots, though this time hailing from elsewhere in the New World, and more specifically, producer Paul Hobbs. Viña Cobos’ Volturno has an overall score of 635. It paints a similar picture to Catena Zapata’s Malbec Argentino, in that despite a high Quality score (902), its overall score is hindered by modest Brand and Economics scores (436 and 380 respectively).
Whilst the wine world – including much of Wine Lister’s team – focuses its attention on Bordeaux for en primeur tastings, this week the blog hops over the pond to consider Oregon’s top wines. As might be expected, Oregon’s top five wines are all Pinot Noirs. Furthermore, in this relatively young fine wine region, its leading wines perform best in the Quality category (averaging 791), with their brand profiles and economic performance not yet able to keep pace (554 and 363 points respectively on average).
Whilst quality is king in Oregon, Beaux Frères Vineyard tops the table not because of its Quality score (785) – the third-best of the five – but for its stronger brand recognition. It leads Drouhin Laurène – second in the Brand category – by 113 points (715 vs 602), thanks to superior restaurant presence (9% vs 4%) and also because it receives 40% more searches on Wine-Searcher each month on average. Its Economics score of 545 is also Oregon’s strongest, but with low trading volumes and negative price growth over the past six months, this only puts it in the “average” range on Wine Lister’s 1,000 point scale, confirming that it is the area in which the region’s wines currently struggle.
Drouhin’s Laurène achieves the group’s highest Quality score (872). Produced by the Oregon offshoot of Burgundy’s Maison Joseph Drouhin, this is deemed to have the greatest ageing potential of the five, with an average drinking window of nine years, three years longer than the second-longest lived of the group – the Beaux Frères Vineyard.
Third and fourth spots are occupied by two wines from Cristom – Jessie Vineyard (584) and Sommers Reserve (578). Despite being separated by just six points at overall Wine Lister level, they display contrasting profiles. While the Jessie Vineyard achieves a superior Quality score (858 vs 770) and Brand score (490 vs 439), the Sommers Reserve nudges ahead in the Economics category (389 vs 133). This is thanks to it being the only wine of the group whose price has not dipped slightly over the past six months, instead adding 12% to its value.
The final wine of the group – Ken Wright Cellars Shea Vineyard – epitomises the profile of Oregon’s top wines, achieving its best score in the Quality category (670), a weaker Brand score (522), before experiencing its lowest score in the Economics category (220). Perhaps as Oregon continues to establish itself on the international fine wine market – and with its quality not in doubt – its leading wines will be able to build up stronger brands and economic profiles able to rival their more southerly Californian peers.
Yes, that question: “which are better, Old World or New World wines?” Traditionalists may argue that the latter lack the prestige and quality of their Old World counterparts. Those with a preference for the New World might see these wines as better value for money, free of the price tag accompanying wines from famously exclusive Old World vineyards.
Wine Lister has compared the top 50 wines by Quality score from Old World and New. The average Quality score of the top 50 wines is 983 in the Old World and 948 in the New. Though both Worlds sit comfortably in the “strongest” section of the Wine Lister 1000-point scale for Quality, the price gap tells a different story. The average price for a top 50 ranking Old World wine is £2,114 per bottle – seven times higher than the average New World equivalent (£297).
The wine with the highest Quality score on Wine Lister is Egon Müller’s Scharzhofberger Riesling TBA, which achieves a wine level Quality score of 995, having fallen just one point shy of the perfect 1,000 point score for the 2010 vintage. Riesling’s quality proliferates in the top 50, with 16 entries across Germany and Alsace. The high critics’ scores are balanced by exceptionally high prices, with an average price of £2,509 per bottle.
Though the Old World Quality top 50 is in fact white wine dominant, red Burgundy is well represented, with 13 entries and an average Quality score of 983 at £3,164 per bottle. Even excluding DRC La Romanée-Conti’s remarkable price (£11,722 per bottle), Burgundy’s remaining 12 finest reds command an average price of £2,450 per bottle.
Champagne wins the price vs quality race for the whites, with an average Quality score across its four entries of 981 at £348 per bottle. Even more impressive are the five Port entries, with an average Quality score of 982 at £244 per bottle.
In contrast to the diverse set of regions represented in the Old World top 50, the New World list is dominated by California (with 40 out of 50 wines hailing from the region). These wines achieve an average Quality score of 948 at £315 per bottle – not quite as good value as the Champagnes and Ports, but seemingly better value than their red Burgundian counterparts.
Though there are fewer entries from Australia (seven in total), the New World’s number one wine for quality comes from the Barossa Valley. Torbreck The Laird has a Quality score of 984 points and a price of £427 per bottle. When comparing this to an Old World wine of the same score, the price difference is evident. Domaine Leroy’s Romanée Saint Vivant benefits from the same Quality score, but is nearly five times more expensive, at £1,975 per bottle.
Having stopped off last week in Syrah’s spiritual home – the Northern Rhône – in search of the region’s leading wines for the 2015 vintage, this week Wine Lister’s Listed section ventures to Australia, surely Syrah’s most famous home from home. Australian Shiraz might differ stylistically from the Northern Rhône’s finest Syrahs, but the Land Down Under’s foremost brands have certainly managed to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the international fine wine market.
Penfolds’ flagship Grange is Australia’s runaway leader in the Brand category. Its formidable score of 991 is not only 75 points ahead of Australia’s second strongest brand – Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz – but also nudges ahead of the Northern Rhône’s top brand – Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle. Whilst Grange can’t quite match La Chapelle in terms of the number of the world’s top restaurants in which it features (34% vs 43%), establishments in which it does appear list 1.5 times more vintages / formats on average (4.5 vs 3.0). Grange is also considerably more popular than La Chapelle, receiving nearly twice as many searches each month on Wine-Searcher. Within Australia no other wine comes close to its level of brand strength. It is visible in nearly twice as many restaurants as the group’s next-best wine in the criterion – Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz – and is searched for almost five times more frequently than the second-most popular wine of the five – Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz. Last year’s release of g3, a blend of 2008, 2012, and (the as yet unreleased) 2014 Grange will only serve to secure Grange’s standing as Australia’s top brand. Click here to see all of Grange’s vintages. Confirming Penfolds as Australia’s most prestigious producer, the St. Henri Shiraz bookends the top five with a score of 852.
Other than Grange, the only Australian wine to enjoy a Brand score above the 900-point mark – and thus making the “strongest” band on Wine Lister’s 1,000-point scale – is Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz (916). As previously mentioned, Eden Valley’s leading light achieves the group’s second-best level of restaurant presence. It is also the third-most popular wine of the five, receiving 4,107 searches each month on average and, notably, is by far the most expensive of the group.
The two remaining spots are filled by Torbreck Run Rig and Clarendon Hills Astralis Shiraz (894 and 862 respectively). Whilst they receive a very similar number of searches each month, Torbreck Run Rig edges ahead thanks to superior restaurant presence (17% vs 11%) – presumably in part due to producing over twice as many bottles each year as Clarendon Hills Astralis.
This week’s Listed section ventures out from the Old World to look at Argentina’s top five brands. Wine Lister’s Brand score measures a wine’s performance across two criteria – restaurant presence and online popularity. The five Argentine wines, from three producers, all achieve scores that are either strong or very strong on Wine Lister’s scale, indicating that South America’s strongest brands are now established on the global fine wine market.
With a Brand score of 849, Argentina’s leading icon is Cheval des Andes. A joint venture between Saint-Emilion heavyweight Cheval Blanc and Terrazas de los Andes, it leads the way when it comes to restaurant presence, featuring on 14% of the world’s top wine lists – its closest rival in that criterion, Bodega Catena Zapata Nicolás Catena Zapata appears on 9% of the same lists.
Nicolás Catena Zapata (834) turns the tables in terms of online popularity. The only Buzz Brand of the group, it receives on average 2,349 searches each month on Wine-Searcher, 27% more than Cheval des Andes (1,853). It also achieves the greatest vertical restaurant presence of the group, with 2.7 listings on average per list.
Nearly 100 points behind is third-placed Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira with a score of 739. Appearing in 7% of restaurants and receiving 999 searches each month, it achieves its best score in the Brand category, comfortably outperforming its Quality score (581) and Economics score (183).
The last two spots are filled by two more wines from Bodega Catena Zapata – Malbec Argentino in fourth place (694) and Adrianna Vineyard Malbec in fifth place (661). Both receive a similar number of searches each month (744 and 793 respectively), and are visible in 6% and 4% of restaurants respectively.