Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bordeaux 2008: Parker has spoken

When Europe was asleep last night, Robert Parker published his Bordeaux 2008 report and ratings. Parker is very excited about the quality of the new vintage. As the main reasons he sums up:

1. Very long hang-time for the grapes, thus a slow and long maturation resulting in well-developed and complex aroma's.
2. A summer that was overall cooler and sunnier than average. Interesting, because what I heard from producers is that despite the variable weather during the growing season, the average temperature was slightly higher. Something to check.
3. It was a dry summer.

Parker points out the good fruit, the purity and freshness and the quality and the ripeness of the tannins. He states that the quality of Bordeaux 2008 comes close to 2005 and 2000, and surpasses the other vintages from this decade. Pomerol is supposedly the star appellation in the year 2008.

This is Parker's top 11 for Bordeaux 2008:
- Lafite-Rothschild (Pauillac) 98-100
- Pétrus (Pomerol) 98-100
- Trotanoy (Pomerol) 96-100
- Ausone (Saint-Emilion) 96-100
- Pavie (Saint-Emilion) 96-98+
- Pontet-Canet (Pauillac) 96-98+ (the buy of the vintage?)
- Bellevue-Mondotte (Saint-Emilion) 96-98+
- La Violette (Pomerol) 96-98
- Hosanna (Pomerol) 96-98 (released 1st day, hardly sold, now hunted)
- Latour (Pauillac) 96-98
- Ducru-Beaucaillou (Saint-Julien) 96-98

And there are many many more wines scoring above 90, so I guess there will be enough Champagne uncorked in Bordeaux today.

This last time the campaign has been a little boring, because many - major - châteaux were waiting for Parker's verdict. Now they will come out, and hopefully Parker's enthusiasm doesn't push the prices back up. We'll see in the coming days...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bordeaux 2008 − last week no shock and awe

After the fireworks in the previous week I had expected a rapid wrap-up of the 2008 campaign, but actually the fire smothered somewhat. The last left bank 1er cru came out, Haut-Brion, and positioned itself above the other 1er crus. A compensation I guess for what happened to the 2005 vintage: then Haut-Brion came out first, and the others followed, with higher prices.

Anyway, the release of Haut-Brion 2008 (on 23 April) was followed later that day by the second tranche of Château Latour which, indeed, was priced slightly above Haut-Brion...

La Mission Haut-Brion went down 44% compared to 2007 but is still quite expensive.

Again only a few releases from the right bank, so that's something we still have ahead of us. Remember that this campaign started with Angélus, but ever since Saint-Emilion has been very quiet.

This is the list with last week's major releases. No earthquakes. I think the most interesting release (price-quality ratio) is Château Calon-Ségur. For all prices (and ratings) see

20/04 Château Lafon-Rochet 2008, Saint-Estèphe (€ 27, −3%)
20/04 Château Beychevelle 2008, Saint-Julien (€ 31, −16%)
20/04 Château Guiraud 2008, Sauternes (€ 37)
20/04 Château Suduiraut 2008, Sauternes (€ 49)
21/04 Château Fonbadet 2008, Pauillac (€ 22, 0%)
21/04 Château Talbot 2008, Saint-Julien (€ 29, −15%)
21/04 Château Calon-Ségur 2008, Saint-Estèphe (€ 35, −21%)
21/04 Château Lafaurie Peyraguey 2008, Sauternes (€ 32)
21/04 Château Petit Village 2008, Pomerol (€ 35, −2%)
21/04 Château La Conseillante 2008, Pomerol (€ 57, −28%)
22/04 Château Prieuré-Lichine 2008, Margaux (€ 27, −13%)
22/04 Château Monbrison 2008, Margaux (€ 20, −4%)
22/04 Château de Camensac 2008, Haut-Médoc (€ 16, −3%)
22/04 Château Chasse-Spleen 2008, Listrac-Médoc (€ 20, −6%)
23/04 Château Haut-Brion 2008, Pessac-Léognan (€ 202, −38%)
23/04 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion 2008, Pessac (€ 50, −10%)
23/04 La Mission Haut-Brion 2008, Pessac (€ 148, −44%)
23/04 Château Durfort-Vivens 2008, Margaux (€ 23, −10%)
24/04 Clos la Madeleine 2008, Saint-Emilion (€ 18, −5%)

Some of these primeurs I offer on my website

I said I would write about the flight of 2008 primeurs that I tasted, but I have to postpone that again, too busy last week.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bordeaux 2008 primeurs campaign in full swing

This blog once was a welcome (inter)active tool besides Bordoverview, but during an overheated Bordeaux 2008 primeur campaign like the one of today, the perfect tool is Twitter: as soon as there is a new release, it is instantly twittered around, discussed, criticised, welcomed, etcetera. The blog, by nature, is lagging behind, and until now I also didn't have time to update it. So this is a short wrap up of the week we had.

See here what I wrote just before the start of the campaign, on 5 April: "I cannot think of any other industry where one party has the capability to get an entire market back on its feet again." By seriously cutting down prices. And that is what happened. We saw some spectacular releases, and people started buying again.

But it was not just the low prices that did the trick. What the châteaux also did was release only very small quantities. This obviously helped the sales (like if you snooze, you loose), but it might also give the châteaux the possibility to sell at a higher price later...

Anyway, with the current release prices there are some very interesting wines to buy. Below are the key releases for the reds with the average consumer price − all numbers can be found on Bordoverview (these days this site serves more than 1.000 unique visitors per day).

On 14 April Château Latour (€ 175) kick-started the campaign with a spectacular price drop of more than 45% (compared to Latour 2007). Les Forts de Latour is sold at around € 64 (€ 74 in 2007). These releases were followed by:

15/04 Château Haut-Marbuzet 2008, St-Estèphe (€ 30, −11%)
15/04 Château Léoville-Barton 2008, St-Julien (€ 38, −22%)
15/04 Château Langoa-Barton 2008, St-Julien (€ 28, −26%)
15/04 Château Gruaud-Larose 2008, St-Julien (€ 32, −19%)
15/04 Château Mouton-Rothschild 2008, Pauillac (€ 162, −50%)
15/04 Château Clerc Milon 2008, Pauillac (€ 31, −10%)
15/04 Château d'Armailhac 2008, Pauillac (€ 27, −6%)
16/04 Château Gazin 2008, Pomerol (€ 40, −4%)
16/04 Château Léoville-Poyferré 2008, St-Julien (€ 37, −23%)
16/04 Château Lafite-Rothschild 2008, Pauillac (€ 175, −45%)
16/04 Château l'Evangile 2008, Pomerol (€ 82, −28%)
16/04 Château Duhart-Milon 2008, Pauillac (€ 31, −8%)
16/04 Château Margaux 2008 (€ 175, −45%)
16/04 Pavillon Rouge du Ch Margaux 2008 (€ 37, −28%)
17/04 Château Giscours 2008, Margaux (€ 31, −18%)
17/04 Château du Tertre 2008, Margaux (€ 23, −6%)
17/04 Château Lynch Bages 2008, Pauillac (€ 44, −20%)
17/04 Château Les Ormes de Pez 2008, St-Estèphe (€ 19, −7%)
17/04 Château Lynch Moussas 2008, Pauillac (€ 22, −5%)
17/04 Château Pichon-Lalande 2008, Pauillac (€ 54, −32%)

Some of these I offer on my website

Last week I tasted a series of 30 Bordeaux 2008 samples and my idea was to write about that, but that will be in my next posting.

Monday, April 13, 2009

David Léclapart & Arnaud Ente

It is the end of a long and sunny weekend, and everyone following the primeurs campaign is curious to know what will happen tomorrow (if anything will happen at all).

A week ago, immediately after the presentation of the Bordeaux 2008 vintage in Bordeaux, Château Angélus released its price, with lightning speed, 40% below the 2007 price. This was much twittered about last week.

It was a promising start, but apart from a few minor releases, nothing happened afterwards. The châteaux must be racking their brains over what to do. Release low in an effort to spark sales? Release high and sell... in the future perhaps, but protect the price level of the 2007s? Or not release at all? We will wait and see.

In the meantime I have tasted some good wines. Seemed like a good idea. A classic row: a sparkler, a white and a red.


1. Champagne David Léclapart "L'Apôtre" 2002, 1er cru Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut
Wow, this is an impressive Champagne (biodynamic). Fresh, pure (apple core) yet open and with - even - a hint of oxidation, sherry. The mousse is very soft, and the wine is dry, broad and intense, with gripping acids in a lingering finish. A mouth-filling, gentle experience, and very pure. Great!

2. Meursault 2006, Arnaud Ente
Impressive, some sweetness, and some oak. Floral, full and energetic. Not very fat. Mineral, and not too acidic. Good (to very good) Meursault. Tasted blind. One that I definitely would like to taste again!

3. Chambertin Clos de Bèze 1996, Louis Jadot
The last one is a big name, and particularly a big company. The wine is very open, direct, with cherries or kirsch in the nose. A vital appearance, after 13 years. Supple texture, good wine but quite straightforward, not quite of grand cru level I would think...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bordeaux 2008 short update and some other things

So much was written on Bordeaux 2008 last week, and speculated about the prices to come, that I just don't feel like diving into the topic again. But OK, in short: Bordeaux 2008 is an interesting vintage, and if the prices are interesting too (which is more or less expected), the primeurs campaign might get interesting after all. It even crossed my mind: I cannot think of any other industry where one party has the capability to get an entire market back on its feet again. I mean, in case the premier cru's do dramatically lower their prices, which they are capable of doing, they will make many people start buying again.

Chateau l'Evangile 1997 Pomerol
Mm, I feel that I should make this story bigger: isn't everybody looking at each other in this economic climate? Like, who starts buying first? I see a scenario unfolding, of which future historians say the following: in April 2009 the change commenced, in Bordeaux, France. After some major châteaux seriously dropped prices (something which could not be done with normal-margin products like computers or bicycles), an unprecedented buying frenzy was ignited that... spread like a virus. It started slowly, but once going, it got bigger and bigger... France, Europe... etc.

Makes sense? Well, back to the facts: please be informed that since a few days Bordoverview is updated with a Bordeaux 2008 section and that the site is updated all the time. So if you are as curious about prices as I am, just make sure you follow Bordoverview. And/or follow me on Twitter.

Enough about these young wines? I'm currently auctioning some older Bordeaux and Burgundy vintages on eBay, a/o Château Léoville-las-Cases 1982 (Parker 100/100 indeed) and Clos de la Roche 1994 from Domaine Leroy... just to mention two. And I've been drinking some interesting older wines.

Chateau Giscours 1999 Margaux
First of all two Bordeaux's from the lighter vintages 1997 and 1999, vintages that are perfect for drinking these days. I had Château Giscours 1999. Very classic and stylish Bordeaux. Dark, ceder, very open and charming. Suave and really supple in the mouth. Some toast, and also a hint (not more) from what you smell in a cowshed − but then a cowshed high up in the mountains, in the fresh air of the Alps. I am glad that this was not my last bottle.

The second wine was the Château l'Evangile 1997. Another moment of joy. Very refined nose, darkness again, and leather. Round in the mouth, with a velvet texture, and depth. Delicate and delicious. Hint of chocolate in the finish.

Two other wines I should mention are two lovely white Burgundies, both fat, balanced and with convincing character: the Meursault 2004 from François Mikulski and the Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits 2006 from Alain Jeanniard. Sorry for the absent tasting notes, but I didn't want to leave these two out of this story.