Bordeaux’s 2014 vintage – the story so far

A real buzz surrounded the release of Mouton Rothschild’s 2014 vintage on 28th April – not least because the opening price is lower than any other physical vintage of Mouton’s. At only a few pounds per bottle more than the 2013 , which is also still in barrel, it’s exciting news, and offers some hope following the recent murmurings that En Primeur would cease to exist if no enthusiasm could be generated about this year’s campaign.

Award-winning wines
Bordeaux’s 2014 vintage

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Wines for spring – try something different!

If springtime is usually when you start phasing out red and drinking more white, then make this the year that you think outside the box and try something different. Today we’re looking at some creative suggestions for springtime drinks that might just surprise you.

Try new beverages and think outside the box
Try new beverages and think outside the box

Dry Sherry

If your only experience of Sherry is a glass of Bristol Cream on Christmas day, it’s time to think again as there is far more to this complex drink than the cream style that was largely developed for the British market. The Spaniards know that there is nothing more delightful to sip in the sunshine than a chilled Fino or Manzanilla sherry alongside some of their local cuisine. Forget everything you thought you knew about Sherry and give it a try – great with tapas, soup or salad. Continue reading

Is Parker’s Influence Diminishing?

There have been a few recent articles in the wine press suggesting that Robert Parker’s influence is on the decline – like this one from The Drinks Business quoting figures by The Wine Investment Fund. It’s an interesting question that rears its head every year, perhaps more significantly this year since Parker has made it clear he is taking more of a back seat role.

Is Parker’s Influence Diminishing? (source: telegraph.co.uk)
Is Parker’s Influence Diminishing? (source: telegraph.co.uk)

Re-scoring of the 2009s

Love him or hate him, no one can deny Parker’s impact over the last few decades. His scores out of 100 have cast a shadow on the fortunes of Chateaux, leading to many being accused of attempting to make wines that would appeal to the Parker palate in order to secure a high score. His recent re-scoring of the 2009s has shown that he is still a dominant influence on the market. In declaring 2009 to be ‘better than 1982’ and ‘the greatest vintage I have ever tasted in Bordeaux’, Parker has sealed the fate of the wines he has given perfect or near-perfect scores to, and it would be foolish for the investor to ignore this. Continue reading

A successor to Robert Parker

Robert Parker
Robert Parker

Whether we approve or disapprove of the power Robert Parker wields over the fine wine market, particularly in Bordeaux, we can’t deny that his scores remain highly influential. Parker’s initial scores have historically had an impact on wine futures, and in the last few years our attention has been drawn to the consequences of a favourable Parker re-score.

The power of the re-score

The biggest winner this year was Chateau Montrose, whose 2003 and 2010 vintages were re-tasted by Parker in 2014 and both received an elevated score. It’s clear that Parker is a fan of Montrose, and his evaluation during a vertical tasting pushed the score of the 2003 from 97+ to 99 and the 2010 crept up a single point to achieve a perfect 100/100. Of course, the market jumped on this wine, deemed by Parker to be flawless, and merchants reported an extraordinarily rapid flurry of sales. Continue reading

Award-winning wines

When you buy a wine to drink, do you ever find yourself gravitating towards one that has a little sticker on the label indicating that it has won an award? Lots of people do this – in the same way that they will tend to choose the half-price wines in the supermarket assuming they are getting a bargain, they will identify an ‘award-winning’ wine as better than the alternatives on offer. But there’s often more to that little sticker than meets the eye.

The International Wine Challenge & Decanter

Award-winning wines
Award-winning wines

Some awards are quite prestigious, such as those given out annually by the IWC (International Wine Challenge). It’s very desirable for the winemaker to display the IWC sticker on their wine and will greatly enhance their sales, so the wine that wins one of the IWC’s awards such as the ‘Argentinian Red Trophy’ will have faced some pretty tough competition. Decanter’s awards are similarly well-regarded. Wines which are up for consideration are tasted by a panel of wine industry insiders with ‘expert’ palates and allocated accordingly. So, surely it makes sense to choose a wine that has received the seal of approval by expert tasters rather than one that hasn’t? 

What would Jancis do?

Well, what are the alternatives? We could make the decision to ask a wine merchant’s advice, or buy online and put our faith in a short description of the wine, or we can look for suggestions from a particular critic like Jancis Robinson or Jamie Goode. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting some guidance when it comes to buying wine, it is a very personal thing. Although what one person liked, no matter how revered they are in the wine industry, won’t necessarily be to every consumer’s taste.

There is some snobbery about wine awards though, many who are dismissive of them are quick to point out that wines that genuinely are ‘the best of the best’ are not entered into competitions because the producers can sell their wines without the endorsement of a sticker on the label. There’s some truth in that certainly, but for the others it is a great way to promote their product to a greater audience and to improve their credibility. 

Awards worth winning

If it is just guidance you are after, that little sticker awarded by the IWC or Decanter tells you two things – the wine has been entered into the competition, so the winemaker thinks it is good enough to win. And secondly, the panel of tasters, many of them highly credible Masters of Wine, journalists and household names in the industry, agreed that it deserved their seal of approval. So don’t be afraid to plump for the award winner – it is likely to be a much better buy than the cut-price supermarket wine that appears to be a bargain, but ultimately tends to disappoint.