Riesling MUST BUYs that are worth the rave

Throughout the late 20th century, Riesling gained a somewhat tarnished reputation, particularly within the UK, as a consequence of the abundance of overly sweet, low-quality Rieslings being released onto the market. Over the past two decades, however, it has made a comeback – especially the dry styles of top-quality wines with ageing potential and great value. The high acidity and complexity of tertiary flavours in Riesling have led to it being a favourite among wine industry professionals, including Jancis Robinson, who hails it “the greatest white wine grape”.

To help you uncover Germany’s noble grape, this week we examine some iconic dry and off-dry Riesling MUST BUYs with WL scores above 95.

 

Top quality Riesling is now produced around the world, from the traditional regions of the Mosel and Alsace, through to Australia and South America. 70% of dry Riesling MUST BUYs scoring above WL 95 hail from Germany (25 wines), of which just over half (19 wines) are produced in the Mosel. The other German regions in the list comprise two entries from the Rheinhessen, and one each from the Rheingau, Nahe, and Pfalz respectively.

Austria achieves six entries on the list of Riesling MUST BUYs scoring WL 95 and over (18%), which all hail from Niederösterreich, while the Alsace and Australia’s Clare Valley both earn two entries respectively.

 A Mosel Must – 2010 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel

With a WL Score of 97 at just £59 (per bottle in-bond), the 2010 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Goldkapsel exemplifies the excellent quality-to-price ratio of JJ Prüm’s wines. Long considered one of the Mosel’s, if not the whole of Germany’s most revered estates, its Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard is situated on steep south-facing, blue slate slopes, resulting in its complex minerality. Scoring it 19/20 points, Wine Lister partner critic, Jancis Robinson recounts that the 2010 vintage of this off-dry Riesling “Dances out of the glass on the nose. Such delicacy and life! Racy”. This vintage is available to purchase from Lay & Wheeler, where a case of six starts at £330 (in bond).

An essential Alsace – 2008 Trimbach Riesling Frédéric Emile

Dating back to 1626, 13 generations of the Trimbach family have contributed to the estate’s winemaking, now considered one of Alsace’s top properties. Cuvée Frédéric Emile is a blend of two Grand Cru vineyards, Geisberg and Osterberg, that share complex soils of alkaline clay and limestone, producing a wine of intense minerality. Both sites benefit from evening winds (the Tahlwendala), which allow extended ripening periods. The 2008 Trimbach Riesling Frédéric Emile achieves a WL Score of 95, and is available to purchase by the case from Cru World Wines for £390 (in bond).

 A need for Niederösterreich – 2013 F.X. Pichler Riesling Kellerberg Smaragd

Described by Jancis Robinson as “Big and opulent with some lychee flavours”, the 2013 was a notably good vintage for F.X. Pichler’s Kellerberg Smaragd. Achieving the best WL Score since 1995 (96), it showcases Pichler’s attempt to refine his style and prioritise purity of fruit and balance over power. Although the narrow stone terraces of the Kellerberg vineyard necessitate farming and harvesting by hand, this wine has an impressive quality-to-price ratio. At £34 (per bottle in bond), the 2013 vintage is also a Wine Lister Value pick, and is available to purchase from BI Wines & Spirits (by the case of 12).

 A New World necessity – 2013 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling

Often coined one of Australia’s most renowned Riesling winemakers, Jeffrey Grosset’s Polish Hill plot was planted in 1996, following years of research into the effect of soil, rock, and altitude on Riesling. This eight-hectare plot is thus at 460 metres altitude, ensuring cool nights and longer ripening of its Riesling grapes. Planted in an area termed “hard rock”, the Polish Hill vineyard is situated on a crust of clay over slate, which, alongside the cool growing season, causes stress on the vines, resulting in smaller but more complex-flavoured grapes. The 2013 vintage achieves a WL score of 95, and is available to purchase from Lay & Wheeler for £50 (per bottle in bond).

See the full list of Riesling MUST BUYs here.


From bargains to blowouts: red Burgundy at five different price points

Following our recent investigation into white Burgundy at five different price points, we now turn to red Burgundy – which represents a considerable 23% of Wine Lister’s MUST BUY hoard (376 wines).

These wines cover an even greater range of prices than their white counterparts, from £51 (per bottle in-bond) up to £15,352. Read on below for our picks of red Burgundy MUST BUYs at five different price points.

Prices are shown per bottle in-bond (when buying by the case).

Under £75 – 2012 Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Champans

Marquis d’Angerville is widely considered one of the top producers in the Côte de Beaune, and the reference producer in Volnay. Indeed, the domain’s vineyards represent over 10% of all Premier Cru Volnay plantings. D’Angerville’s Volnay Champans is less than half of the cost of its flagship Volnay wine, Clos des Ducs. While both vineyards have south-easterly exposure, Clos des Ducs has calcareous, stony, white marl soil, while the soil in Champans is more clay-driven. The Champans is thus richer and fuller, while the Clos des Ducs (which also enjoys the highest elevation in Volnay) has more complexity and definition. The 2012 Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Champans performs particularly well, achieving a WL Score of 94 – this wine can be purchased from BI Wines & Spirits for £66.67 (per bottle in bond).

Under £150 – 2014 Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot

Having taken over from his father Jean in 1990, Étienne Grivot (alongside his wife Marielle) has since adjusted his family’s viticultural and vinification methods. While completing his studies in general agriculture, viticulture, and oenology, Étienne noted that the over-fertilised Burgundian soil had become gradually less capable of producing vins de terroir. As well as reducing his overall yields, he now uses organic farming methods and natural yeasts to preserve the expression of where the grapes come from. The 2014 Clos de Vougeot has a WL Score of 94, and was described by Jancis Robinson as having “massively nuanced fruit” – this vintage can be purchased by the bottle from Wilkinson Vintners for £124 (in bond).

Under £350 – 2015 Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques

Bruno Clair’s Clos Saint-Jacques Premier Cru plantings are situated within a 6.7ha vineyard (shared with Sylvie Esmonin, Louis Jadot, Fourrier, and Armand Rousseau) encircled by a two-metre wall. Providing protection from prevailing winds, this fortification creates a micro-climate, which, alongside its steep south-easterly facing slope, enables consistent ripening. The 2015 vintage achieves a WL Score of 95. Wine Lister partner critic, Neal Martin describes it thus: “a hint of dark chocolate emanates from the oak infusing the red and black fruit toward the finish, and touches of marmalade and blood orange linger on the aftertaste”. This vintage is available to purchase from Cru World Wine, where the price of a bottle starts at £355 (in bond).

Under £500 – 2010 François Lamarche La Grande Rue

Having been elevated to Grand Cru status in 1992, La Grande Rue provides the setting for François Lamarche’s most prized domain – from which only c.5,500 bottles are produced per year. As of the 2007 vintage, François’ daughter, Nicole, has had total control of the winemaking, and has implemented organic viticulture (certified in 2010), which she believes makes vines more resilient to biotic stress. Described by Jancis Robinson as exhibiting “lovely freshness yet concentration and subtlety too”, the 2010 vintage achieves Lamarche La Grande Rue’s highest WL Score since its 1964 vintage (96), and is available to purchase from Corney & Barrow, where prices start at £540 per bottle (in bond).

Over £500 – 2008 Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Musigny

Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier maintains his aim of preserving the purest expression of nature within his wine, with minimal interference from technological practices in the vineyard or the cellar. His Musigny is widely considered to be one of the greatest Burgundy reds, and has been described by Wine Lister’s Burgundy specialist critic, Jasper Morris as “brilliantly fragrant in bouquet and notably persistent on the finish”. With a WL Score of 96, the 2008 Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Musigny is more difficult to source than the preceding wines, however, it is worth informing your merchant of your interest in purchasing it.


The return of rosé Champagne

In 2004, WL partner critic Jancis Robinson published an article, “Pink champagne – fashionable but too often dire”, whose title summarises the contemporaneous consensus surrounding rosé Champagne. Long-regarded by Champagne producers as a subsidiary wine – one without the required levels of attention placed on their primary project – its quality often fell short.

15 years later, in September 2019, Robinson conversely wrote a piece titled “Pink champagne – a serious wine now”, outlining the attentive methods of production, and the consequential calibre of rosé Champagne amongst its top producers.

This week’s blog post investigates the victorious return of rosé Champagne, as we examine the upward quality and price trends across 10 of its top brands when compared to their white counterparts.

The chart above shows the average WL Score and average price for “pairs” of wines from 10 top rosé Champagne producers whose range includes a rosé.

An initial look at the selected wines reveals the recurrent pattern of rosé Champagnes costing more than their white counterparts, with the exception of Krug Rosé, Bollinger Grande Année Rosé, and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé. The mean price difference between the two styles of the respective wines is substantial nonetheless, with rosé Champagne costing 46% more on average than its white equivalent (an average of £195 for rosé and £134 for white).

Excluding Pol Roger’s Rosé and Bollinger’s Grande Année Rosé (whose white equivalents supersede them by one WL point), the rosé Champagnes featured above achieve equivalent or higher WL Scores than their white counterparts.

Cristal Rosé is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay grapes. With a WL Score of 96, at an average price of £401 (per bottle in-bond), this wine is almost double the price of Cristal, which has a WL Score of 95 at £203. Consequential of the generally lower yields of Pinot Noir in continental conditions, Cristal Rosé is Louis Roederer’s rarest and thus most expensive wine, produced solely in years when the grapes have attained perfect maturity.

Similarly made in only exceptional vintages, Dom Pérignon Rosé is considered by its producer to characterise its growing year, hence the fluctuating ratio of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from vintage to vintage. With a WL Score of 96, at an average price of £277 (per bottle in-bond), Dom Pérignon Rosé is over double the price of its white counterpart. Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut has an average price of £131 and has one less WL Score point than its corresponding rosé wine.

As indicated by its Vintage Value Identifier chart, the 2002 Dom Perignon Rosé exhibits significant quality and value, with a WL Score of 98. Jancis Robinson awarded this wine 20/20 (a rare occurrence), describing it as “pungent and composed with massive energy” – a far cry from her 2004 article. Rosé Champagne has most definitely made a comeback.

The 2002 Dom Pérignon Rosé can be purchased from Berry Bros & Rudd, where a case of three starts at £1,200 (in-bond).


From bargains to blowouts: white Burgundy at five different price points

As shown in a recent post on using Wine Lister to build your portfolio, Burgundy is the best-represented region of Wine Lister’s MUST BUY hoard (33%, or 533 wines). 10% of these (161 wines) are white Burgundies, that show high quality and good value within their respective vintages and appellations. These wines cover a vast range of prices, from £15 (per bottle in-bond) up to £1,354.

This week’s blog post examines white Burgundy MUST BUYs at five different price points, to help the hunt of those buying fine wine at every level.

Prices are shown per bottle in-bond (when buying by the case).

Under £20 – 2016 Domaine A. & P. de Villaine Bouzeron

Bouzeron’s location in the north of the Côte Chalonnaise provides the setting for Aubert de Villaine’s personal project – one with a humbler reputation than that of his magnum opus, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Dispelling the region’s once-unfavourable reputation, de Villaine’s restricted yields and hand-harvesting produces top quality Aligoté Doré. The 2016 vintage achieves a WL Score of 90, and was described by Neal Martin as having “a touch of salinity towards the finish with judicious hints of stem ginger and a hint of rhubarb”. This wine is available to purchase from Justerini & Brooks, where a case of six starts at £90 (in-bond).

Under £150 – 2015 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne

Bonneau du Martray is the largest single owner of vines in Corton-Charlemagne – an appellation that is often said to rival Montrachet. The 2015 vintage was discussed in Wine Lister’s blog on the top 2015 white Burgundies by WL score, in which it was the second highest overall scorer. As of 2018, around 25% of Bonneau du Martray’s Corton-Charlemagne vineyards has been leased to Romanée-Conti – a factor that could drive its price up in the future. For now, this Corton-Charlemagne remains of exceedingly good value in the context of Grand Cru white Burgundy. The 2015 vintage can be purchased from UK merchants such as Goedhuis, where a case of six costs £916 (in-bond).

Under £350 – 2012 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault Genevrières

Despite lacking the Grand Cru status held by Corton-Charlemagne, the higher cost of Domaine des Comtes Lafon’s Meursault Genevrières (Premier Cru) could in part be reflective of the increasing popularity of Meursault. Dominique Lafon is often considered one of the leading producers in Meursault, as reflected in his meticulous vinification process. Spending two winters in wood, and sleeping in some of the deepest and coldest cellars in the region, his wines are bottled nearly two years after harvest – one of the latest bottlings in Burgundy. Achieving a WL score of 94 and ‘Investment Staple’ status, the 2012 vintage is available to purchase from Four Walls Wine Co., where a bottle costs £225 (in-bond).

Under £500 – 2017 Maison Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche

The second Grand Cru white Burgundy examined here is more expensive than Bonneau du Martray’s Corton-Charlemagne, but nonetheless also good value – this time in the context of Montrachet specifically. Hailing from négociant house Joseph Drouhin, its Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche is priced around £432, while the average price of all Montrachet 2017s on Wine Lister is £1,249. Sourcing grapes from vineyards owned by the Laguiche family, the quality here is just as impressive as several Montrachet wines produced by Burgundy domains. Achieving a WL score of 95, the 2017 vintage was described by Jancis Robinson as “Creamy, deep, powerful and endlessly long”. This wine is available to purchase from Berry Bros. & Rudd, where a case of six bottles starts at £2,750 (in-bond).

Over £500 – 2015 Domaine Roulot Meursault Charmes

The “blowout” wine of this week’s selection is Domaine Roulot’s Meursault Charmes. Having assumed direction of the estate in 1989, Jean-Marc Roulot has been successful in fine-tuning the distinct style of wine developed by his father, Guy Roulot. While many other wines of this village exhibit richness and concentration, the 2015 Meursault Charmes reflects Jean-Marc’s commitment to achieving a brighter style of Meursault – one which expresses its terroir vividly. Speaking on his aversion to excessive lees-stirring, he says, “I prefer to lose a little volume and power on the palate in order to obtain the ‘ligne droite’ [straight line] and the purity. This haunting purity and directness is evident in every wine Roulot produces.” The wine is available from several UK merchants, including Morgan Classic Wines, and Fine+Rare, from which prices start from £425 (per bottle in-bond).


The wine collector’s toolbox – Wine Lister’s Vintage Value Identifier

Last week’s blog post examined two of the most popular Wine Lister website features amongst collectors: the MUST BUY recommendation tool and the Compare Tool. Wine Lister’s Vintage Value Identifier helps the modern wine collector to further refine their online investigations.

Featured on each wine page, the dynamic Vintage Value Identifier gives a clear visual of quality-to-price ratios across the vintages of a given wine, and applies a Value Pick Score to measure the relative value.

By performing the price analysis for you, this tool pinpoints exact vintages of your favourite wines that are the best options to buy or sell, based on the impressive quality for their price.

See the example of Montrose below, or by exploring its wine page here.

As indicated by the red dots, and values on the right-hand axis, Montrose’s Value Pick Score fluctuates between vintages. The 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2010 vintages share the lowest Value Pick Score (23), while the 2014 Montrose achieves the highest score of 28.

The 2014 vintage tends to represent excellent value across the board in Bordeaux. This is due to its good (if not excellent) quality overall, and its release after the lesser-quality 2013 (which kept release prices down). Montrose’s 2014 was awarded 96 points by Wine Lister partner critic, Neal Martin, who notes, “a bouquet that exudes class and sophistication: pure and mineral-driven black fruit, cedar and pencil lead, hints of blueberry developing with aeration although it never impedes upon the sense of terroir”.

While the true benefit of the Vintage Value Identifier lies in the Value Pick Score, it is still possible to view the pure price vs. quality analysis, as illustrated below:

While Montrose 2009 achieves the second-highest WL Score of the featured vintages, it also commands the highest price (£172 per bottle in-bond, when buying by the case). Achieving MUST BUY status, the 2014 vintage is conversely priced at £77 per bottle in-bond for a similar level of quality (hence the higher Value Pick Score). The 2014 Montrose is available to purchase from Corney & Barrow, Cult WinesJusterini & Brooks, and BI Fine Wines (the latter in magnums only).

Guiding your future purchases, you can identify good value in back vintages of any wines by using the Vintage Value Identifier on each wine’s page. Click here to start your own analysis.

Wine Lister is currently offering a range of portfolio analysis services to private clients. If you are interested in having your wine collection analysed by our team of fine wine data experts, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Great value Bordeaux to soften your self-isolation

While we would normally be packing our bags in preparation for one of Wine Lister’s favourite weeks of the year, the postponement of this year’s Bordeaux en primeur tasting week comes as a blow for all. Until we can sample the eagerly-awaited 2019 vintage, we can comfort ourselves in self-isolation with the abundance of physical Bordeaux vintages still available for delivery.

In celebration of the brilliant wines that are helping keep Wine Lister’s glasses half-full during the pandemic, this week we focus on some of the best red Bordeaux Value Picks, so that you too can avoid compromising on your quarantine drinking preferences without breaking the bank.

Wine Lister’s Value Pick score is calculated based on the quality-to-price ratio of a wine and vintage, as informed by price data and reviews from our partner critics. See the image below for five of our top Bordeaux Value Picks over the past four vintages.

  1. Château Capbern

Capbern obtains an average Value Pick score of 35 across the last four deliverable Bordeaux vintages, and offers excellent value for money. This Saint-Estèphe château is the sister property of Calon-Ségur. Described by one of our partner critics, Jancis Robinson, as a ‘veritable steal’, the 2014 vintage ‘continues to look exceptionally good and still fully deserving of its score of 17 en primeur’. The 2016 vintage achieves Capbern’s highest WL Value Pick score (36.2) of the four vintages, and we highly recommend getting your hands on some, available by the dozen in-bond starting from £200, from UK merchants including Farr Vintners and FINE+RARE. Millésima USA and Millésima HK also deliver this brilliant wine.

  1. Château Grand Village

Achieving Value Pick status for three of the four vintages examined (2017, 2016, 2015), Grand Village exhibits a dependably high quality-to-price ratio. As the original Bordeaux home of the Guinaudeau family – the producers of Lafleur – Grand Village is the accessible answer to the same exceptionally high winemaking standards applied to its parent wine. Its classification as a Bordeaux Supérieur plays a part in its inherently reasonable price (c.£13 per bottle in-bond, when buying by the case). Grand Village’s 2017 vintage achieves the highest Value Pick score (38) of all five wines and four vintages here mentioned, and is available for delivery from the Guinaudeau family wines’ UK agent, Justerini & Brooks.

  1. Château Fontenil

A second Value Pick from an ‘outlying’ Bordeaux appellation, Fontenil’s 8.5-ha vineyard is located at the highest elevation on the plateau of Fronsac. As renowned flying winemaker, Michel Rolland’s ‘passion project’, he purchased the site with his wife, Dany, in 1986 with the intention of inhabiting the house that was situated on its land. Taking on the responsibility of attending to the vines that came with it, and creating an entirely new estate, Fontenil is now a boutique wine of excellent quality at an average cost of c.£20 per bottle in-bond. Given its small production volume, Fontenil is not as easy to find as our other four Value Picks, however, in the UK, Laithwaites is the place to buy (as soon as they reopen their website for orders – they are currently experiencing an overload of demand due to lockdown buying).

  1. Château Meyney

Located in the east of Saint-Estèphe, the plots of this Cru Bourgeois are situated next to Montrose. Long considered a wine trade darling for its impressive value, Meyney continues to achieve high WL scores. Its 2015 vintage received particular praise from our partner critics, with Neal Martin describing it as ‘blowing everyone’s expectations, including his own‘. With prices starting at £25 per bottle in-bond, you can order this wine through Goedhuis in the UK, where a case of 6 bottles stands at £200, including VAT. If you are in the USA, you can place your order with Millésima.

  1. Château Marsau

Like Meyney, Marsau’s 2014 and 2015 vintages are Wine Lister Value Picks. The 2016 is too, and though the wine seems to get better every year, the latter may need a touch more time in bottle before drinking. Marsau is run by Anne-Laurence and Mathieu Chadronnier (Managing Director of the Bordeaux négociant, CVBG). The Marsau vineyards feature 85% Merlot planted on predominantly clay soils, resulting in a classically right-bank wine with soft, round fruit and great balance. The 2014 vintage represents particularly good value – priced at £20 for the bottle in-bond, with a high Value Pick score of 35. The UK-based merchant BI Wines is delivering this vintage, whilst those on the other side of the pond can place their order with JJ Buckley Fine Wines.

You can identify good value in further back vintages of any of the above-mentioned wines by using the Vintage Value Identifier on each wine page. See the example for Meyney  below or by clicking through to its wine page here.


California dreaming – quality and value in America’s Golden State

While the world continues to tackle the outbreak of Covid-19, we at Wine Lister are trying to continue with “business as usual” – at least as far as is possible, while also thinking of all our friends in wine regions and markets that are struggling in this uniquely difficult time. This of course includes California – that idyll for sunshine and free love as featured in many a hit song and many a hit wine list.

Of all fine wines from the New World, offerings from California have succeeded in grabbing the attention of fine wine collectors, with some even reaching “cult” status. With this in mind, we are California dreaming this week, and examine below the wines from California’s foremost regions – Napa and Sonoma Counties.

Both production areas offer an abundance of top-quality wines, though at a price. The high prices of several Napa County AVAs, including Oakville and the Napa Valley, mean that its wines can appear expensive when compared to its sibling, Sonoma County.

The chart above shows the average WL Score and price (£) per bottle in-bond (when buying by the case) of the top eight AVAs in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

Two AVAs consisting only of white wines stand in stark contrast. Carneros is represented by four Chardonnays – Kistler Vineyards’ Hudson Vineyard, Ramey Wine Cellars’ Hudson Vineyard, Shafer Vineyards’ Red Shoulder Ranch, and Cakebread’s Chardonnay Reserve, earning an average WL score of 91.8. Accompanying its relatively low WL score is the second-lowest average price of all AVAs – c.£67 per bottle in-bond. This remains excellent value in the wider fine wine context, given that Chardonnay with similar scores  from Burgundy can fetch up to c.£1,000 (for example, Coche-Dury’s Meursault Les Caillerets).

At the other end of the quality scale is Sonoma Valley AVA, represented by three Chardonnays from Kistler Vineyards. Its average WL score of 93.7 is the highest amongst its Californian peers. Considered a cult Californian winemaker, the Kistler Winery emulates the Burgundian “terroiriste” approach, committing wholeheartedly to wines that best reflect each individual plot.

The Napa County groups command a higher price tag on average than their Sonoma counterparts. Oakville’s selection of predominantly red wines holds the second-highest WL score, however its average price is over double that of the second most expensive region – Rutherford. This is explained by the presence of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, which, at an average price of £2,863 per bottle, drives the region’s quality-to-price ratio down. The mailing list model of Jean Philips’ low-production Napa Valley winery has amassed an incredible cult following of fine wine buyers, who seemingly seek access to the wine at any cost.

While Sonoma County may appear to offer the better value (with red wines such as Kenwood Vineyards Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, or Hirsch Vineyards Block 8 Estate Pinot Noir, to add examples to Kistler’s whites), Wine Lister’s top 10 Californian MUST BUYs are all from Napa County.

Of these, all are produced in the Napa Valley AVA except Screaming Eagle’s 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. Dominus Estate achieves two mentions, with vintages 2013 and 2010 both featured. Perhaps unsurprisingly for the New World king of Cabernet Sauvignon, the top 10 Californian MUST BUYs includes just one alternative grape variety – Kongsgaard’s 2016 Hudson Vineyard Syrah.

Explore all 94 Californian MUST BUYs here.


Bordeaux MUST BUYs

Faced with a new generation of fine wine buyers seeking more of the “weird and wonderful”, let alone recent economic obstacles – Coronavirus keeping drinkers off the streets, US tariffs on European wines – Bordeaux can struggle to find space to thrive.

Bordeaux’s traditional image compared to more fashionable regions such as Burgundy, Piedmont, or Champagne means its prices are lagging behind. The silver lining is that Bordeaux appears excellent value for the high quality available in comparison.

Wine Lister’s dynamic buy recommendation tool currently identifies 219 Bordeaux wines as MUST BUYs – just 19 fewer than the original MUST BUY list from September 2019.

The above table shows each Bordeaux appellation by number of MUST BUYs, as well as average price and WL score of each MUST BUY appellation group. Marking the delayed opportunity presented by slow price evolution post-en primeur, 2016 is the most-featured vintage, achieving 40 entries out of the 219 Bordeaux MUST BUYs (or 18%).

Leading MUST BUY appellation Pessac-Léognan is made up of 28 reds and eight dry whites. Producer Domaine de Chevalier features particularly heavily, earning MUST BUY status for 1981, 2009, 2014, 2015, and 2018 for its red wine, and 2004, 2009, 2010, and 2013 for white. Its second red wine, L’Esprit de Chevalier, appears for the 2016 vintage.

Smith Haut Lafitte and La Mission Haut-Brion share the remaining white places between them, while Haut-Bailly, Haut-Brion, Latour-Martillac, and Malartic-Lagravière achieve multiple entries for reds only. Price-rising superstar Les Carmes Haut Brion features for just one vintage – the 2017.

Right bank appellations Saint-Emilion and Pomerol share second place, with 33 MUST BUYs each. They both earn slightly better average WL scores than Pessac-Léognan, but at prices 26% and 366% higher respectively on average than Pessac counterparts.

The large price difference is hardly surprising in Pomerol, given that its MUST BUY hoard includes five vintages of Petrus, and one of Le Pin. Without these, the average price of Pomerol MUST BUYs is £171, and there are still options at the more affordable end (such as 2016 Vray Croix de Gay).

Powerhouse Pauillac comes next, and includes 14 first growth entries. Mouton takes the lion’s share of these, featuring seven vintages from 1996-2018. Latour earns five places (including one much older vintage – 1964), and Lafite two. Pichon Comtesse also features heavily, earning five MUST BUYs for its grand vin, and one for the Réserve de la Comtesse.

In terms of pure value for money, the one MUST BUY from the Médoc appellation – Potensac 2018 – wins out, followed more generally by Saint-Estèphe’s 22 MUST BUY entries. Perhaps unsurprisingly, its crowned king is Calon Ségur, earning MUST BUY status for five vintages – 2005, 2009, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Explore all 219 Bordeaux MUST BUYs here.


Treasure unearthed – the best wines of Piedmont

This week Wine Lister published its first in-depth study of 2020, focusing on the leading wines and producers of Piedmont.

The key takeaways from the report prove Piedmont to be somewhat of an enigmatic region, earning high praise from critics, and experiencing strong long- and short- term price performance, while still lagging behind in terms of consumer popularity.

While this is perhaps a consequence of Nebbiolo’s relative obscurity when compared with international grape varieties, Piedmont’s unique position – a veritable treasure trove of gems to uncover – presents a real opportunity both for vinous discovery and future value.

Wine Lister Pro members can read the full Piedmont report here. All free users can purchase the report for £200 from Wine Lister’s Analysis page.

Below we examine the top Barolos and Barbarescos by WL score.

Giacomo Conterno takes both first and second places in the ranking of Barolos by WL score. The icon wine, Barolo Monfortino Riserva is the only Piedmont wine to earn a WL score of 97, while the Barolo Francia shares its score of 96 with the Barolo Riserva from the legendary Bruno Giacosa’s négociant outfit, Azienda Agricola Falletto, as well as the two highest-scoring Barbarescos (see below).

While earning joint-second place for the straight Barolo Riserva, Falletto also features for two site-specific bottlings, the Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva and Barolo Villero di Castiglione Falleto, making the renowned house the joint-most prolific producer in the top Barolo rankings shown. It shares this position with Vietti, which earns WL 95 for its Villero Riserva, Ravera, and Rocche di Castiglione Barolos.

Elio Altare’s Barolo Brunate is the most reasonably priced of these top 12 Barolos, with an average price of £112 per bottle in-bond (when purchased by the case). Both of Roberto Voerzio’s highest-scoring wines, the Sarmassa and Brunate, follow with average prices of £152 and £165 respectively.

Eight Barbarescos achieve a WL score of 95 or above. The appearance of multiple wines per producer is accentuated here, with Roagna and Gaja earning three places apiece, followed by two Barbarescos from Falletto (totalling seven wines in Falletto’s hoard of WL scores of 95 and above).

Both sets of rankings provide useful leads in terms of producers to look out for, particularly heading into further releases of Barolo’s latest vintage, 2016, in the spring. For more specific recommendations of further Piedmontese wines and back vintages, see the region’s full list of MUST BUYs, and / or Piedmont’s Hidden Gems.


Rhône MUST BUYs – top quality and excellent value

With Burgundy en primeur coming to a close – and such a good array of 2018s to choose from at that – fine wine collectors might feel inclined to tighten their purse strings over the coming months (perhaps until the next big campaign to come – Bordeaux 2019 en primeur). For those unable to resist the temptation of continuing to grow their wine collection, the Rhône is a perfect resting place for high-quality drinking wines.

This week we focus on a subset of Rhône MUST BUYs – those under £100 per bottle in-bond (when bought by the case), with WL scores above 95, of which there are 36.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape wins the lion’s share of top Rhône MUST BUYs under £100, with 18 entries across eight different vintages. The exceptional 2016 vintage features heavily, however for wines drinking now, 2005 Beaurenard’s CNDP Boisrenard or 2009 Clos des Papes’ CNDP are particularly interesting options.

Hermitage too fairs well, with five reds and all four whites. Value Picks 2007 Colombier Hermitage and 2004 Ferraton Ermitage Le Méal provide impressive quality and bottle age for just £33 and £35 per bottle in-bond respectively (if you can get your hands on any).

Côte Rôtie matches in number for reds, and features Hidden Gem 2012 Côte Rôtie Rose Pourpre from Pierre Gaillard, which Wine Lister partner critic, Jancis Robinson, awards 18 points, commenting, “No doubt this is a very special cuvée”.

A consistent feature throughout is Maison Tardieu-Laurent – a powerhouse producer of reference for quality matched by exceptional value in the Rhône.

See the selection of Rhône MUST BUYs featured above here, or browse the full MUST BUY selection.