Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today's RVF ranking of the 1855 classification

I can imagine that most non-French readers of this blog don't have La Revue du Vin de France, France's most well-known and probably most influential wine magazine. The latest edition (No. 557, Décembre 2011) presents in bold big letters the following question on its cover: Que vaut aujourd'hui le classement de 1855? Translated that is: What is today's ranking of the 1855 classification?

My guess is that the readers of this blog would be interested to know which crus are hot - and which not - according to RVF, or at least according to Olivier Poels who put together this overview. Poels' judgment is largely based on the tasting of the following 5 vintages: 1990, 1996, 2005, 2008 and 2009.

For every wine RVF also presents the percentage price increase from 1990 to 2010, an interesting number. For more stats, and for Olivier Poels' story behind the ratings you should find a copy of the magazine yourself.

Apart from the usual suspects there are surprises too. Some nice surprises, but a few of Poels' views made me frown, and foremost for 4 wines that are all mentioned in the category 15,5/20. I think Brane-Cantenac, Giscours, Talbot and Haut-Batailley should all have ended higher in this hierarchy, and perhaps d'Armailhac also. You can simply comment on this posting to share your (dis)agreements, and you are invited to do so.

Latour (Pauillac, 1er cru classé) +1980%
Léoville Las Cases (St-Julien, 2e cru classé) +1479%

Haut-Brion, (Pessac-Léognan, 1er cru classé) +2013%
Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac, 1er cru classé) +1838%

Margaux (Margaux, 1er cru classé) +1838%
Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac, 1er cru classé) +1838%
Ducru-Beaucaillou (St-Julien, 2e cru classé) +1083%
Léoville Barton (St-Julien, 2e cru classé) +535%
Montrose (St-Estèphe, 2e cru classé) +611%
Lynch-Bages (Pauillac, 5e cru classé) +509%
Pontet-Canet (Pauillac, 5e cru classé) +820%

Cos d'Estournel (St-Estèphe, 2e cru classé) +1444%
Léoville Poyferré (St-Julien, 2e cru classé) +618%
Pichon-Longueville Baron (Pauillac, 2e cru classé) +680%
Palmer (Margaux, 3e cru classé) +155%*

Gruaud Larose (St-Julien, 2e cru classé) +295%
Rauzan-Ségla (Margaux, 2e cru classé) +997%
Branaire-Ducru (St-Julien, 4e cru classé) + 374%
Grand-Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac, 5e cru classé) +427%

Pichon Longueville Comtesse (Pauillac, 2e cru classé) +717%
Calon Ségur (St-Estèphe, 3e cru classé) +403%
La Lagune (Haut-Médoc, 3e cru classé) +345%
Malescot Saint-Éxupéry (Margaux, 3e cru classé) +164%*

Lascombes (Margaux, 2e cru classé) +628%
Boyd-Cantenac (Margaux, 3e cru classé) +242%
Cantenac Brown (Margaux, 3e cru classé) +227%
Lagrange (St-Julien, 3e cru classé) +311%
Langoa-Barton (St-Julien, 3e cru classé)
Beychevelle (St-Julien, 4e cru classé) +442%
Duhart-Milon (Pauillac, 4e cru classé) +228%
Lafon-Rochet (St-Estèphe, 4e cru classé) +277%
Marquis de Terme (Margaux, 4e cru classé) +253%
Saint-Pierre (St-Julien, 4e cru classé) +380%
Batailley (Pauillac, 5e cru classé)
Belgrave (Haut-Médoc, 5e cru classé)

Rauzan-Gassies (Margaux, 2e cru classé) +240%
Issan (Margaux, 3e cru classé) +286%
La Tour Carnet (Haut-Médoc, 4e cru classé) +198%
Cantemerle (Haut-Médoc, 5e cru classé) +70%*
Clerc Milon (Pauillac, 5e cru classé) + 245%
Cos Labory (St-Estèphe, 5e cru classé) +207%
Dauzac (Margaux, 5e cru classé) +192%
Du Tertre (Margaux, 5e cru classé) +156%

Brane-Cantenac (Margaux, 2e cru classé) +345%
Giscours (Margaux, 3e cru classé) +224%
Kirwan (Margaux, 3e cru classé) +115%*
Pouget (Margaux, 4e cru classé)
Talbot (St-Julien, 4e cru classé) +304%
Armailhac (Pauillac, 5e cru classé) + 261%
Haut-Batailley (Pauillac, 5e cru classé) +217%

Prieuré-Lichine (Margaux, 4e cru classé) +281%
Haut Bages Libéral (Pauillac, 5e cru classé) +278%

Camensac (Haut-Médoc, 5e cru classé) +205%
Lynch-Moussas (Pauillac, 5e cru classé) +202%

Ferrière (Margaux, 3e cru classé) +40%*
Croizet-Bages (Pauillac, 5e cru classé) +168%

Durfort-Vivens (Margaux, 2e cru classé) +207%
Marquis d'Alesme (Margaux, 3e cru classé)
Grand-Puy Ducasse (Pauillac, 5e cru classé) +300%
Pédesclaux (Pauillac, 5e cru classé) +83%*

Desmirail (Margaux, 3e cru classé) +116%

An asterisk (*) means that the price raise is not for the period 1990-2010 but for the period 2000-2010. For some wines the price raise is unknown.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bordeaux 2009 UGC tasting Brussels

Last week Jan van Roekel and I drove up to Brussels to attend the annual Union des Grands Crus Bordeaux 2009 tasting with a line-up of 110 crus. These traveling UGC tastings are always very interesting, as you get to try the recently bottled Bordeaux vintage about 1,5 years after having tasted them at the UGC primeur tastings in Bordeaux.

It's also an extensive tasting and you need the full opening hours if you want to taste most of the wines. To try them all is nearly impossible, unless you are a red-toothed speed freak who doesn't care what people around you will think.

There's no doubt that you're attending a tasting of the Union des Grands Crus Bordeaux: there are many people in suits. Mostly dark suits. And some fancy suits but that usually doesn't make things better. Well let's not get into that.

The best thing about the tasting is that you get a good impression of the vintage. It is not the place to taste all your favorites top-down. Not because you won't have the time (you could descend as far as you could), but because there are many omissions. There are no premier crus, and hardly any Super Seconds. And there are many other omissions, for example there are only 7 Pauillacs and 7 Pomerols. And just 4 Saint-Estèphes: Cos Labory, De Pez, Lafon-Rochet and Phélan-Ségur.

So what did we think about red Bordeaux 2009? One striking - but known - vintage feature is the absence of hard, astringent tannins. Good! And another good thing is that only very few wines smell of freshly cut oak, perhaps just one or two go off the rails here.

The vast majority of the wines displays generous, ripe and fleshy fruit. Wines range from juicy to powerful-and-structured, depending also on the style. Acidity generally is good but not predominant, and that makes the wines all the more accessible.

Red Bordeaux 2009 makes a healthy, attractive impression altogether. These are wines with... a sort of natural beauty. As opposed to something that's put together by a winemaker. But this might come across a bit vague, so let's go to the whites.

White Bordeaux 2009. We have tasted some very beautiful, elegant examples, but also some fatter exponents that are sometimes a bit rustic, and sometimes worse than that. More than once the Riedel tasting glass vapored armpit sweat. Hurray Sauvignon! Sometimes I also missed acidity and - thus - freshness.

But I do not want to jump to final conclusions about these animal whites. These in-your-face features are possibly just an age-thing. Many 2009 whites might be true adolescents now, pimpled and blushing, and I'm keen to taste these 'extravagant' whites again!

There were only a handful of 2009 Sauternes to taste, and from these I thought the Guiraud (8++) was the most attractive, with its lovely freshness and purity. I also liked De Fargues (8+), Rayne-Vigneau (8) and Lafaurie-Peyraguey (8-).

I give a Dutch rating, up to a 10 for the best posible. Everything ranging from 8 and up is good to very good, and everything below 7 is not good. In between I shrug and walk on.

Domaine de Chevalier 2009 (8,5+) mineral and juicy, pure and fresh, quite broad base, lovely ripe fruit
Haut-Bailly 2009 (8,5) bit closed now, but after some time in the glas the wine starts to fan out from an intense and powerful core
Smith-Haut-Lafitte 2009 (8+) very round, seducing, modern and warm, broad; if this is your style, this is an interesting wine
De Fieuzal 2009 (8) lovely pure wine, dark depth combined with freshness
Malartic-Lagravière 2009 (8-) a bit sweet with a medicinal touch, yet a pleasant wine

The rest: Larrivet Haut-Brion 2009 (7,5), Latour-Martillac 2009 (7), Carmes Haut-Brion 2009 (7-), La Louvière 2009 (7-), Pape Clément 2009 (7-), Picque-Caillou 2009 (6,5), Haut-Bergey 2009 (6,5), Olivier 2009 (6,5)

- Domaine de Chevalier 2009 (8,5) modest breeze of butterscotch and delicate acidity, then concentration, quite tight also, a shapely & elegant wine
- Carbonnieux 2009 (8+)  more pointed, fresh, citric, and gentle in the mouth; good concentration
- De Fieuzal 2009 (8) more straightforward, quite tight, hint of oak, but simply good
Haut-Bergey 2009 (8-) bit sweaty (at this age) but nice round total with also a good acidity

The rest from what I tasted: Smith-Haut-Lafitte 2009 (7,5), La Louvière 2009 (7,5), Pape Clément 2009 (7+), Malartic-Lagravière 2009 (7+), Larrivet Haut-Brion 2009 (7+), Latour-Martillac 2009 (7), Bouscout 2009 (7), De France 2009 (7), Picque-Caillou 2009 (7-), Olivier 2009 (6,5)

- La Conseillante 2009 (8,5-9) striking minerality, exciting wine, and lovely, intense juice, great!
- Figeac 2009 (8,5-9) very special, quite lean (not an insult), refined and elegant, super!
- Larcis Ducasse 2009 (8,5+) strikingly fresh fruit, slender, subtile, juicy and intense
- Pavie Macquin 2009 (8,5) close to the Larcis but a bit more ripeness, a bit sweeter
- Canon 2009 (8,5) quite light, purple sweetness and attraction, fine texture, ripe tannins
- La Tour Figeac 2009 (8,5) slender, juicy and pure, very nice wine, refined
- Canon-la-Gaffelière 2009 (8++) distinct style, also rather slender, special, animal features
- Clos Fourtet 2009 (8+) sweet and modern yet elegant
- Clinet 2009 (8) more 'rough', full and powerful, ripe, dark

The rest from what I tasted: Beauregard (7+), Franc-Mayne 2009 (6), La Dominique (6,5)

- Poujeaux 2009 (8+) quite impressive, round & seductive, rather powerful, slightly tannic, hearty fat juice, broad and good
- Chasse-Spleen 2009 (8) a bit leaner, open, seducing as well but in a different manner; character, some medicinal touch that is either slightly awkward, or exciting
- La Lagune 2009 (8-) dairy-freshness, attractive solid fruit, good, pure
- Cantemerle 2009 (7,5) bit closed at the start, but a good middle-of-the-road Médoc, and that's not an insult, classic and what-you-see-is-what-you-get

- Rauzan-Ségla 2009 (8,5+) exuberance and ripeness, powerful yet quite smooth, attractive acidity, good all the way!
Du Tertre 2009 (8,5) expressive and somewhat animal, in the good sense of the word, firm acidity, hearty juice, well-structured
- Giscours 2009 (8+) quite ripe, some sweetness in balance with good classic acidic backbone, complete and refined
- Brane-Cantenac 2009 (8-) very closed at this moment and hard to judge, not sure here

The rest from what I tasted: Dauzac 2009 (7,5), Monbrison 2009 (7,5), Siran 2009 (7,5), Prieuré-Lichine 2009 (7), Desmirail 2009 (7)

- Langoa-Barton 2009 (8,5-9) electrifying wine, snappy, lively, pure and masculin
- Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2009 (8,5+) modest start, then ripeness, roundness and a touch of oak; good acidity with an attractive mineral quality, ripe tannins, well-structured, quite lovely
- Léoville-Barton 2009 (8,5) noble, powerful, bit tannic, very complete but way too young to taste
- Lafon-Rochet 2009 (8+) classic Médoc with attractive acidity and freshness; well-structured
- Phélan-Ségur 2009 (8+) fresh, powerful, spicy & peppery, hearty, good
- Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2009 (8+) elegance with a medicinal touch, modest and stylish, good structure and acidity; quietly developing
- Gloria 2009 (8+) expressive, whiff of oak, acidic (positive) and lively; yes I like this one!
- Talbot 2009 (8+) very complete and classic Médoc, nice and expressive, good
- Branaire-Ducru 2009 (8) expressive, sturdy, good acidity and harmony, spicy
- De Pez 2009 (8) round-full, bit oaky, bon matière, classic and complete; nice surprise!
- Lagrange 2009 (8-) elegant, classic and attractive
- Beychevelle 2009 (8-) bit sweet and seducing, juicy, also quite attractive, already
- Saint-Pierre 2009 (8-) difficult phase? not very expressive (now), bit oaky, and some sharpness; should be better than this, or will get better

The rest from what I tasted: Gruaud-Larose 2009 (7,5), Léoville-Poyferré 2009 (7+)

Again, this is definitely not a complete list, but it gives an impression of this beautiful Bordeaux vintage.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Summary of annual tasting. And coming up: Beaujolais Nouveau evening in Le Garage!

The 23th of October was one of the highlights of 2011 for Bolomey Wijnimport. Six producers from France visited Amsterdam to present their wines, and over 200 people came over to taste. Shall I be honest? It was a great day!

David Butterfield presenting his Meursault

I don't have a lot of pictures - at least I didn't have the time to shoot any - but these three will give an impression of the tasting. In this first picture David Butterfield is telling about his lovely Meursault, or about his Beaune 1er cru that was presented in Amsterdam for the first time. David is a rising star in Amsterdam, and you might find his wine in one of the restaurants here.

Eddy Oosterlinck presenting his Coteaux du Layon Faye

As you can see we had the luck of having a beautiful sunny day, with a great view from the tasting penthouse over the IJ, the water bordering the old harbor of Amsterdam. In the above picture the Belgian Coteaux du Layon producer Eddy Oosterlinck probably explains why his wines possess such a mouth-watering freshness along with the seducing sweetness characteristically for these sweet Loires.

David Clark presenting his red Bourgogne and Côtes de Nuits Villages rouge

On this third picture it's a bit hard to see but you've got to believe me that this is David Clark - bending over the table - who explains something about his red Burgundies. Probably people are wondering how a 'simple' Bourgogne rouge can taste like a lovely premier cru. As David is a very modest Brit, I wonder how he did this.

Not on these pictures: Damien Delecheneau, Hubert Piel-Montigny and Vincent Carême. A big thanks to all vignerons and tasters to have attended this day! The event will be repeated, so if you missed it there's a new chance next year.

Oh and I forgot to tell that we had a splendid dinner afterwards in Restaurant Le Garage. Thanks to Erwin Walthaus also for a lovely evening!

And this automatically leads me to the announcement of yet another great wine event. Friday 25 November there will be a Beaujolais Nouveau evening in Le Garage featuring the organic and un-sulfured (and dramatically pure) wines from Isabelle and Bruno PERRAUD from Domaine des Côtes de la Molière.

Isabelle Perraud herself will be in Amsterdam that evening. We will be drinking her Nouveau 2011 with an honest French dish. Drinking with us will be Nicolaas KLEI, Dutch wine writer and self-appointed lover of natural Beaujolais. I hope we will have enough bottles that evening (no worries, we will).

If you're into great natural wines you shouldn't miss this evening. More information (in Dutch) can be found on the Bolomey Wijnimport website. If you make your reservation in time, you can be there too.