Pontet Canet Releases 2013 Before the Campaign

 

Pontet CanetIn an unusual move, Ch. Pontet-Canet released its 2013 wine last week before the en primeur tastings.  They released it at the same price as last year. This is unusual because except for a few select negociants – no one has yet tasted the wine. The tastings started today.

This move was both brilliant and extremely troubling at the same time.

For Pontet-Canet it was brilliant.  Pontet-Canet is curently the darling of the Bordeaux world.  The wines have made a meteoric rise in quality over the last few vintages and their work with bio-dynamics is one of the bright spots of Bordeaux wine-making.  The Chateau made a lot less wine this year and they wanted to make sure that they were able to get the same price as last year.  So, they beat everyone to it and released the wine before the campaign. This protected them from possibility that the other owners would decide to drop their 2013 prices due to the difficulties of the vintage and they would have to follow suit. It was a bit of a risk – but the tactic worked and the wine sold out – all the negociants took their full allocations. Great move by Pontet-Canet and good  for forward thinking.

For the rest of us it is troubling.  What we need is for the prices in Bordeaux to decrease this year.  Especially since we are looking at three vintages in a row that are difficult: 2011, 2012, and 2013.  This one may be the most difficult of the three.  With Pontet-Canet setting the standard at the same price as last year – I hope that other Chateau owners do not use it as a benchmark to price their own wines.  Pontet-Canet is in a unique position right now and can do it.  Many of the other Chateaux would be better off reducing the prices to a more reasonable level commesurate with the quality of the wines.

I cannot offer an opinion yet of the 2013 vintage.  I just started tasting today.  Will update you tomorrow.

Rooftop Buying Guide for 2010 LDB Bordeaux Release

The LDB is releasing its 2010 Bordeaux purchases this Saturday (September 28th).Details on the release (including the stores where the wines will be available) can be found here.

2010 is probably the most celebrated vintage we have had in a long time and the wines will be in hot demand.  So, to help you shop-  I have put together a quick guide of my recommended purchases from the LDB Bordeaux catalogue (which you can find here).

I tasted most of the wines in barrel at en primeur in 2011 and, in many cases, again out of bottle over the last couple of years.  I have identified the ‘big boys’ I think you should buy – which are what I believe to be the best wines of the vintage.  I have also identified some ‘value selections’ that will out-perform for the money you will spend on them.  I have left  1st growths off the list – you do not need me to tell you that Lafite, Latour, Margaux, etc. are great in a vintage like 2010. This year I have also added a few ‘caution’ wines – these are wines that the scores would lead you to believe are good or great – and which I felt were not. Buy these wines with caution and in 10 years when they are dissappoint – don’t tell me I did not warn you!

Also, please note that my strong personal recommendation is that you do not purchase current vintage Bordeaux.  My recommendation is to purchase Bordeaux wines that are already mature (~10 years old).  This is because many of the wines recommended below will probably be enjoyed by your children – given how long they will need to age before they are at their peak (20+ years). . .  If you are interested in mature wines contact me and I can help you acquire some at prices not much more than (or much cheaper than) the 2010?s are being offered at. . .  But if you must buy wines from the 2010 vintage now – here is what I recommend.

The ‘Big Boys’

*Ch. Pontet-CanetPaulliac – $388:  The metoric rise of this Chateau is unprecedented but well deserved. Bio-dynamics is just a part of it.  This wine is unbelieveable. If you can get a bottle – rush to the cash and laugh as you escape the store.  You just made $130.  It now trades for about $520 a bottle.

*Ch. Haut-BaillyPessac-Leognan – $259:  I always love Haut Bailly – and this is maybe the best one they ever made.

*Ch. Rauzan-SeglaMargaux – $200: This year the wine was made in a softer style – if it is possible to say that about Rauzan-Segla.  Rauzan-Segla is a very tannic wine that is built for long aging.  The wine-making team’s toughest task each year is to tame the tannins and keep them soft and silky.  In this vintage, with the huge natural tannic structure of the grapes – it is stunning how soft and elegant this wine is.  Hats off to the wine making team.

*Ch. Branaire-Ducru St. Julien – $150:  Had multiple chances to taste this wine and came away more impressed every time.  This will not disappoint.  Better than the Leoville Barton in 2010.

Ch. Leoville-Barton St. Julien – $195: Always an over-performer and the family keeps the price down so that (some) people can still buy it – although the LDB price seems to keep creeping up.

Ch. Lagrange St. Julien – $100:  This wine is a great value.  I felt it was in the same quality level as the Beychevelle but at a much more reasonable price.  Grab a few bottles if you can.

Ch. Beychevelle St. Julien – $168: One of the stars of the appellation – right in there in quality with Lagrange and just a step below Branaire Ducru and Leoville Barton.

Ch. de Fargues Sauternes – $100: Excellent again this year. It had an intense nose of beautiful aromatic botrytis with tropical fruit and vanilla.  On the palette it had refreshing acidity with with sweet fruit that was in almost perfect balance.  I love this wine.  I tasted it twice.

Ch. SuduirautSauternes – $50: Just a notch below de Fargues with intense tropical fruit and the longest finish of the wines.  Great price this year.

Value Wines

*Ch. Sociando Mallet -Moulis – $68:  The value wine of the vintage for me.  This is the most bang you will get for your buck.

*Ch. Malartic-Lagraviere Pessac – $100:  This wine has been getting better and better every year.  This year it is astonishingly good.  Reaching towards the top of the appellation.  Price is up but the quality exceeds it.  Great value for your money.
*Ch. de Fieuzal Pessac – $75: I love this wine.  Surprisingly good – its never been this good.  Wished the price had stayed a little lower – but the Chateau knows they have a good wine this year.  Buy a bunch of these.
Ch. d’Armailhac – Paulliac – $88:  The world has gone a little crazy when we start to classify an $88 a bottle wine as a value.  But, such as it is, that is the case in the 2010 vintage.
Caution Wines

Here is a list of wines I would buy with caution: Ch. Talbot, Ch. Faugeres, Peby-Faugeres, Ch. Angelus, Ch. Lafon-Rochet, Ch. Brane-Cantenac.

 

Missed Out on Wines?  Looking for Something not in the LDB Release?

There were a number of amazing 2010 wines that were surprisingly not purchased by the LDB.  They included: Ch. Ausone, Ch. Le Pin, Ch. Lafleur, Ch. de Valandraud, Ch. Malescot-Exupery, Ch. Carmes Haut Brion, Ch. La Tour Carnet, Alter Ego de Palmer, and Clos Les Lunelles, among others. If you are interested in getting any of those wines I have them.  You can view my offer here.

Also, if you miss out on any 2010s you wanted to get – be sure to contact me and I will be happy to special order them for you.  Here is my latest offer of the LDB Allocated Wines – ‘De-Allocated’.

To see my full notes from the 2010 tastings follow the links below:

Right Bank tastings: Here and Here.

Left Bank Tasting: Here.

Bordeaux Superieur Tasting: Here.

Sauternes tasting: Here.

Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Wine-Making: Jean-Michel Garcion

Jean-Michel Garcion is the wine-maker at Demour – a family owned negociant that owns a number of Bordeaux estates including Ch. La Croizille (St. Emilion), Ch. Haut Breton Larigaudiere (Margaux), Ch. La Tour Baladoz (St. Emilion), and Ch. Tayet (Bordeaux Superier).

Jean-Michel Garcion is a driven man. He did his studies in viticulture and oenology and later on a specialization in commercial business. He worked in a vine nursery (the choice of an adapted vine plant is primordial for the wine’s quality) and different French wineries making red, white (dry and sweet), sparkling wine (champenois and charmat methods) and distillation of wine and fruits for spirits. For a period of 10 years he followed practical training in different wine countries like Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zeland, USA and Spain to acquire his expertise and know-how.

With an open mind and a lot of experience, he became Jacques De Schepper’s right-hand man at Demour in 1991.

Today we interviewed him about his thoughts on Bordeaux vintages. Note: this interview was translated from French.

1. Which young wine-maker (or wine-makers) in Bordeaux will we be hearing about a lot about over the next 10-15 years?
It is difficult to know, I honestly do not know because it is not enough to discover a good grower you must also take into account the fashion trends.2. What are your thoughts on the oak / no-oak Motions Motions for Bordeaux wines?There are great wines that are oaked and great wines that are not. It is again a matter of personal taste.3. What are your thoughts on the worldwide impact of consultants wine from Bordeaux and the wines That They create? Do you think there is an emerging international style of wine?

Unfortunately, yes. There is actually a standardization of wines and we are strongly opposed to it. We want to give free expression of terroir of our properties through authentic varieties.

4. What changes in wine-making do you think we will see in Bordeaux in the next 10 years? What important trends, processes, etc. we should expect to see?

I think we will see two main phenomena: a return on fruit wines and a tendency for less alcoholic wines. The return on fruit involves breeding with very little heat, but this is opposed to the marketing of vegetables. The decrease in alcoholic involves a rebalancing in the proportion of grapes during assembly, such as an increase of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and Merlot reduction. My hope is to keep our originality in the future, terroir and grape authentic

5. What effect do you think the organic, biodynamic, and natural wine movements will be Have Bordeaux wines, if any?

This is a trend that the duration of and intensity of we can not predict. Winemakers who convert to organic farming are not always convinced of the values of it but are doing it for economic reasons. Even if it is possible to produce an organic wine, this represents great difficulties in some vineyards, with serious consequences for the harvest.
I’m all for rational control, it is done in all our vineyards. We use the minimum dose and thoughtful treatment, we preserve the agricultural environment, we soil maintenance and fertilization, we treat effluents and waste management clients.
We would like to thank Mr. Garcion for his time and generous answers.  If there is a wine mentioned in this interview that you would like to try – please contact me at cody@rooftopcellars.com and I will try and find it for you.

The Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Wine-Making: Richard Curty

This is an installment of our Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux.  It is a series of interviews of people who live in Bordeaux providing their thoughts and tips on the wines, the city, and the food.

This interview was with Mr. Richard Curty the Wine Director of Ch. Parenchere.  He is a graduated oenologist and the wine-maker at Ch. Parenchere. You can visit him on facebook.

We interviewed him about his thoughts on wine-making in Bordeaux.

1. Which young wine-maker (or wine-makers) in Bordeaux will we be hearing about a lot about over the next 10-15 years?

Beside me I don’t know ! 😉

No, honestly I don’t like highlighting someone as I am very well placed to know that the quality of a wine does not rely on just one person. I have been consultant for 15 years in various estates and I have never known if the wines of my customers were good because they were listening to me or on the opposite because they didn’t follow my directions!

2. What are your thoughts on the oak / no-oak debate for Bordeaux wines?

For me, a barrel is for sure is the best container to age a great wine.  Therefore, I think that small, light wines shouldn’t be placed in barrels but rather bottled quickly to drink it young and fruity.

For some wines aged in barrels, some abuse has been made because at a certain time it was a fashionable. Some have unfortunately developed wines that expressed more wood than grapes and it’s really unfortunate because a well-controlled wood aging reveals the wine. For our Cuvée Raphaël we use only 20 to 30% new wood every year. The rest is older barrels.

3. What are your thoughts on the worldwide influence of wine consultants from Bordeaux and the wines that they create?  Do you think there is an international style of wine emerging?

There are strong personalities in Bordeaux, now world-famous, who have indeed created styles of wines but have also allowed by their researches to find technical and oenological ways to express the best of each variety.  But yes fashion is for sure toward powerful fruity wines, with a little sweetness.

4. What changes in wine-making do you think we will see in Bordeaux in the next 10 years? What important trends, processes, etc. we should expect to see?

After the standardization trend, now the move is going to authenticity. Too many wine look alike in Bordeaux, but in the world in general. Now, the tendency is going to revealing the identity and personality of each Terroir.

It is not so much a question of techniques as wine-making techniques today are most of the time directed to correct a fault in the quality the grapes. It is more a focus of the work on the vineyard itself.

5. What influence do you think the organic, biodynamic, and natural wine movements will have on Bordeaux wines, if any?

Agricuture in general has made a big progress as the world discovered the abuses that were done in the 70’s and 80’s because of a total lack of information on the products used.  A consciousness has emerged. Now the rules of production are getting more and more strict and the legislation is forcing people which are not very aware to be much more cautious in what they use in their soils and how they run their estates.

Those organic/biodynamic/natural wines reflects this and more and more estates look in this direction now. Moreover, this is now viewed as a way to more identity/ authenticity – the trend we were describing before.

At Parenchère, we are in “Agriculture Raisonnée” (Sustainable). We have just received the Certification “ High Environmental Value” – Level 3 (the highest level). We are one of the first estates to receive this qualification as we believe that we have a responsability in our environment and what is good for the soils is good for the wine.

Thanks to Mr. Curty for his time and generous answers.  If there was a wine mentioned in this post that you want to try – be sure to contact me at cody@rooftopcellars.com and I will try and find it for you.

Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Vintages: Jean-Michel Garcion

Jean Michel GarcionJean-Michel Garcion is the wine-maker at Demour – a family owned negociant that owns a number of Bordeaux estates including Ch. La Croizille (St. Emilion), Ch. Haut Breton Larigaudiere (Margaux), Ch. La Tour Baladoz (St. Emilion), and Ch. Tayet (Bordeaux Superier).

Jean-Michel Garcion is a driven man. He did his studies in viticulture and oenology and later on a specialization in commercial business. He worked in a vine nursery (the choice of an adapted vine plant is primordial for the wine’s quality) and different French wineries making red, white (dry and sweet), sparkling wine (champenois and charmat methods) and distillation of wine and fruits for spirits. For a period of 10 years he followed practical training in different wine countries like Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zeland, USA and Spain to acquire his expertise and know-how.

With an open mind and a lot of experience, he became Jacques De Schepper’s right-hand man at Demour in 1991.

Today we interviewed him about his thoughts on Bordeaux vintages. Note: this interview was translated from French.

1. Which vintage of Bordeaux do you think is the best drinking right now?
There is a wine for every moment, for every mood, state of mind, a way of being. This perception is very personal.2. What was your favorite bottle of mature Bordeaux that you have had in the last couple of years?1989 Château La Mission Haut-Brion and 1950 Chateau Cheval Blanc.

3. Do you have a special bottle of Bordeaux in your own cellar That you are saving for a special occasion?

Yes, 2000 Château Haut Breton Larigaudière “Le Createur”.

4. Which vintage would you buy from 2001-2010 for your own cellar? And, Why would you choose this vintage?

It depends on the appellation. For a Margaux – I would choose 2001,2002,2005, 2007 or 2009 and for a St. Emilion – I would choose 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, or 2009.

5. Do you decant When you drink mature Bordeaux? Why or why not?

No. A mature wine is fragile aromas are at their fullness. They add oxygen may destroy it.

6. At what age do you think Grand Cru Classé (or equivalent wines) Reach Their Peak?

It depends on the vintage. A 2005 requires several years of aging, while the 2001, 2004 and 2008 is drunk faster. Other variables are also the characteristics of the wine such as grape varieties and terroir. The wines of the left bank, as Margaux and Pauillac, have a maturity slower. The wines of the right bank, as Saint Emilion, have a maturity faster.

We would like to thank Mr. Garcion for his time and generous answers.  If there is a wine mentioned in this interview that you would like to try – please contact me at cody@rooftopcellars.com and I will try and find it for you.

The Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Vintages: Axel Vallet

B&M_B5I6986Axel Vallet is a wine lover and negociant in Bordeaux.  He was born in the Champagne region with Basque roots 35 years ago. He describes his love of wine and how he got involved in the wine business in this way :

“I have been ‘tasting’ wine since a very young age with a father oenologist who was passionate about wine himself. After business and marketing studies in France and several years abroad in Ireland and Canada, I naturally challenged myself to become involved in the fine wine business. I have been working in this exciting environment for over 10 years.”

We interviewed him about his thoughts on Bordeaux vintages:

1. Which vintage of Bordeaux do you think is drinking the best right now?2001 – a forgotten vintage that shows excellent quality now

2. What was your favorite bottle of mature Bordeaux that you have had in the last couple of years?

1998 Vieux Chateau Certan and 1998 Trotanoy – side by side.

3. Do you have a special bottle of Bordeaux in your own cellar that you are saving for a special occasion?

Yes – shared with my father at Château Lafite Rothschild, his birthyear 1947 Château Lafite Rothschild.

4. Which vintage from 2001-2010 would you buy for your own cellar? And, Why would you choose this vintage?

2010 to cellar for decades. This is the most complex and complete vintage to me – the excellence on all aspects.

2001 to drink now and the years to come – great value

5. Do you decant when you drink mature Bordeaux? Why or why not?

It depends of the age and the quality of the wine. On top Bordeaux, when they are over 30 years old, I avoid decanting.

6. At what age do you think Grand Cru Classé (or equivalent wines) reach their peak?

Once again, it depends of the wine, the vintage and the AC, I would say from 8 to 25 years. This is the greatness of Bordeaux, you need to open bottles almost every 2 or 3 years to check the evolution and it can take many many years ! That is why you should always buy at least a full case !

We would like to thank Axel for his time and his generous answers.  If there is a wine mentioned in this interview that you would like to try please e-mail me at cody@rooftopcellars.com and I will try and find it for you.

The Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Vintages: Richard Curty

IMG_8709This is an installment of our Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux.  It is a series of interviews of people who live in Bordeaux providing their thoughts and tips on the wines, the city, and the food.

This interview was with Mr. Richard Curty the Wine Director of Ch. Parenchere.  He is a graduated oenologist and the wine-maker at Ch. Parenchere. You can visit him on facebook.

We interviewed him about his thoughts on Bordeaux vintages.

1. Which vintage of Bordeaux do you think is drinking the best right now?

For very prestigious wines, I like the 2003 vintage for its power and its fruitiness but, in general, I am a big fan of the 2005 vintage. Concentrated, fine, long-lasting; it offers everything.

2. What was your favorite bottle of mature Bordeaux that you have had in the last couple of years?

Château Margaux 2003.

3. Do you have a special bottle of Bordeaux in your own cellar that you are saving for a special occasion?

Chateau Beau-Séjour Bécot 1995.

4. Which vintage from 2001-2010 would you buy for your own cellar? And, Why would you choose this vintage?

We have had many amazing vintages this past decade, but I would choose 2010 for its strength, its balance, its fruitiness and its freshness. For sure an exceptional vintage to keep.

5. Do you decant when you drink mature Bordeaux? Why or why not?

We tend not to decant too much very mature wines (earlier than 95) as the bouquet will disappear very fast. In this case, I prefer to filter the wine in a caraf right before serving it.

6. At what age do you think Grand Cru Classé (or equivalent wines) reach their peak?

For me the pick is at 15 years as the fruit is still omnipresent but the wine is more velvety, more voluptuous and the aromas are much more complex.

7. Do you think it is a pity to drink a Château de Parenchère 2008 now (4 years after its elaboration)?

Château de Parenchère for sure has a much longer ageing potential (about 10 years and even more depending on the vintage), but, thanks to the work we do in the cellar, the wine is already quite open and silky, with a lot of red berries aromas. Of course, if you are more patient, the wine will get more complexity, but it already offers a lot of pleasure right now.

Thanks to Mr. Curty for his time and generous answers.  If there was a wine mentioned in this post that you want to try – be sure to contact me at cody@rooftopcellars.com and I will try and find it for you.

 

Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Wine: Francois Ouzoulias

Francois Ouzoulias

Francois Ouzoulias is a 5th generation organic wine-maker in Bordeaux.  His family’s lead property is Ch. Franc Pourret in St. Emilion.  He is a member of the BBVA (Bordeaux Bio Vignerons Aquitaine) – the assoication for the organic growers of Bordeaux.

Today we interviewed him about his thoughts on Bordeaux Wines. Note: this interview was translated from French.

1. Which is currently your favorite wine to drink wine?

My wine: Château Franc Pourret, and many others …

2.    Can you provide the name(s) of a Château (or Châteaux) that are on the rise?

Château Tertre Mouleyre of Saint-Emilion – Eric Jeanneteau.

3.    Can you recommend a Château from a lesser-known appellation that makes wines that consumers should pay attention to?

Ch. de Cots, Côtes de Bourg

4. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux Red Wine?

Sirloin steak, grilled on vine shoots

5. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux White Wine?

Foie gras mi-cuit with onion marmalade and roasted figs.

6. What kind of advise do you give to a Bordeaux wine lover?

Try to discover less known wines, do not only taste great names.  Try to discover lesser-known wines: each name, there are hidden treasures.

Thanks to Mr. Ouzoulais for his time and generous answers.  If there is a wine mentioned in this interview that you would liket o acquire please e-mail me at cody@rooftopcellars.com and I will try to acquire it for you.

Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Wine: Francois Portail

Francois Portail

Francois Portail is a what is termed a “courtier” in Bordeaux. He works for the Bureau Laurent Quancard. He describes himself as a french broker in Bordeaux – specialized in Grands Crus Classés.

We interviewed him about his thoughts on Bordeaux Wines:

1. Which wine is currently your favorite wine to drink?

Depends on what I eat with it. Let’s say Chateau Simone, appellation Palette, or Saint Peray, cuvee “les Figuiers”

2. Can you provide the name(s) of a Château (or Châteaux) that are on the rise?

Chateau Lanessan !

3. Can you recommend a Château from a lesser-known appellation that makes wines that consumers should pay attention to?

Mont Perat Blanc, Cotes de Castillon.

4. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux Red Wine?

Meat and game – such as dear or wild pork.

5. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux White Wine?

Blue Cheese.

We would like to thank Mr. Portail for his time and his generous answers.  If there is a wine mentioned in this interview that you would like to acquire please e-mail me at cody@rooftopcellars.com and I will try and find it for you.

 

 

Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Wine: Jean-Michel Garcion

Jean Michel GarcionJean-Michel Garcion is the wine-maker at Demour – a family owned negociant that owns a number of Bordeaux estates including Ch. La Croizille (St. Emilion), Ch. Haut Breton Larigaudiere (Margaux), Ch. La Tour Baladoz (St. Emilion), and Ch. Tayet (Bordeaux Superier).

Jean-Michel Garcion is a driven man. He did his studies in viticulture and oenology and later on a specialization in commercial business. He worked in a vine nursery (the choice of an adapted vine plant is primordial for the wine’s quality) and different French wineries making red, white (dry and sweet), sparkling wine (champenois and charmat methods) and distillation of wine and fruits for spirits. For a period of 10 years he followed practical training in different wine countries like Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zeland, USA and Spain to acquire his expertise and know-how.

With an open mind and a lot of experience, he became Jacques De Schepper’s right-hand man at Demour in 1991.

Today we interviewed him about his thoughts on Bordeaux wines. Note: this interview was translated from French.

 1. Which is currently your favorite wine to drink wine?

The wines I produce – of course. The Margaux (Ch. Haut Breton Larigaudiere) and the Saint Emilion Grand Cru (La Croizille) are of course my first choice and I am a big fan since I regularly consume.

However, I have a deep admiration for all terroir wines, whatever their geographical origin, including those of Italy such as Barolo, Barbaresco and Spanish wines made from Tempranillo.For whites, I love the great wines of Loire Chenin-based, German Riesling, the wines of Burgundy. I also have a little bit of heart for the Great Muscadet de terroir.

2. Can you provide the name(s) of a Château (or Châteaux) that are on the rise?

All the wines in Bordeaux are improving. Qualitatively Bordeaux does better wines today than 20 years ago.

3. Can you recommend a castle from a lesser-known appellation wines That Makes That shoulds Consumers pay attention to?

  • Château Boucheau, Haut-Médoc
  • Château La Rode, Côtes de Castillon
  • Château Bois de Roc, Médoc Cru Artisan
  • Château Les Cambrochets, Côtes de Blaye
  • Château Le Paradis, Côtes de Bourg

4. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux Red Wine?

Any kind of meat, red, lamb, mutton, beef and grilled.

5. What is your favorite food match for Bordeaux White Wine?

The dry white goes well with fish and shellfish. White wines with oak marry well with fish sauce or white meat. Sweet wines with foie gras and blue cheeses.

We would like to thank Mr. Garcion for his time and generous answers.  If there is a wine mentioned in this interview that you would like to try – please contact me at cody@rooftopcellars.com and I will try and find it for you.