Finding good value among the 2009 Bordeaux wines

Few Bordeaux vintages have generated as much speculation and subsequent commentary as 2009. Thanks to Robert Parker’s glowing endorsement, there was a genuine scramble to get hold of the top wines with an unprecedented 21 wines receiving the ultimate accolade, 100 Parker points.

The power of Parker’s endorsement

 is it possible to find good value wines from the 2009 vintage?
is it possible to find good value wines from the 2009 vintage?

Although prices were undoubtedly high, Parker’s endorsement ensured that the 2009 campaign was a successful one, just as the market began to peak. So, in the wake of a couple of weaker vintages, and with Bordeaux having fallen out of favour somewhat as the pricing debate continues, is it possible to find good value wines from the 2009 vintage?

Liv-ex points to three specific groups of wines from 2009 – first growths, wines scoring 100 points, and Parker’s ‘Magical 20’, a group of second to fifth growth wines declared by Parker in a fascinating 2011 Hong Kong-based tasting to be punching substantially above their weight. Among the three groups the first growths saw a decline when the 2012 in-bottle tastings took place, but the Magical 20 wines and the 100-pointers’ value started to soar.

First growths overshadowed

The problem that the first growths encountered was that the wines were so expensive when they were released that the prices barely moved until the wines were actually in bottle. Parker’s selection and evaluation of his Magical 20 meant that the first growths fell out of the spotlight, with everyone clamouring to get hold of the wines he evaluated to be the most exciting overperformers of the vintage.

There is some crossover between the 100 pointers and the Magical 20 of course with some wines falling into both categories. Oddly despite the prestige and pedigree of the wines that fall into two categories, there is potentially some value to be found here for those wishing to buy 2009 wines today, with Liv-ex’s blog describing the current prices as recently as July 2014 as ‘off-peak’.

Buying ‘historic’ wines

So if you are considering purchasing wines from the vintage that Parker said ‘may turn out to be historic’, it may not be the worst time to do it. Ultimately we can never be entirely sure what’s around the corner with Bordeaux – factors such as the annual weather, the size of the harvest, the emergence of new markets for the top wines, and whether these markets buy for drinking or investment will all continue to play their part in Bordeaux’s fortunes. Meanwhile, what remains from the extraordinarily good 2009 vintage will continue to improve in bottle for years to come, and those that didn’t invest in those 100-point wines might come to wish they had. And we certainly shouldn’t write off those first growths just yet!

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.

BWC Management & Consulting Interviewed by China Daily Newspaper About the Chinese Wine Investment Market

Hong Kong, May 22nd, 2014 – BWC Management & Consulting was recently asked by China Daily to comment on the Sir Alex Ferguson wine auction, held by Christie’s in Hong Kong.

The ex-Manchester United manager has been a keen wine collector over the years, and recently decided to part with much of his collection, putting 257 lots up for sale in the Hong Kong auction.

Chinese Wine MarketBWC’s Insight into the Chinese Wine Investment Market

When asked to comment on the auction, BWC Management & Consulting’s senior market analyst, Daniel Paterson, offered some insight into China’s recent penchant for purchasing valuable European wines.

Paterson told China Daily that the number of collectors worldwide has increased, while the availability of investment grade wines has dwindled. This has led to an increase in the value of blue chip wines, and the Chinese market has been quick to identify this phenomenon.

“We have seen ‘staggering levels’ of increased interest from the BRIC economies as well as in Europe and the United States,” Paterson said. “The Chinese, Russian, Indian and wealthy South American countries are also consolidating their positions as both consumers and investors.”

Taking this data into account means there is good sense in Sir Alex Ferguson choosing to hold the auction of much of his wine collection in Hong Kong, where interest and demand are high.

Recent Years Show High Return on Wine Investments

Samuel Cheung, senior broker at BWC Management & Consulting, was also quoted in the China Daily article, commenting on the types of gains wine investors have been reaping in recent years. Cheung cited an example of a case of wine sold in 2001 for 1,000 pounds, which would sell today for 2,760 pounds – a 180 percent return on investment.

Highlights in the Ferguson collection include a case of Petrus 2000, expected to fetch HK$550,000, and six bottles of Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 1999, which could go for as much as HK$850,000.

Fine Wine and Food Connoisseurs

At the London based independent brokerage BWC Management & Consulting, it is all about the quest to explore the finer things in life. We believe that the delicate balance that a top quality wine brings to the palate, when correctly combined with culinary fare, is a voyage everybody should regularly embark on. Wine is not only a flavour enhancer, but also an excellent alternative investment and an age old art form. To harness the full potential of this exquisite liquid, it is important to be aware of the social decorum attached to tasting and drinking wine – and also to know a bit more about the wines and how to successfully pair it with food.

It is not Just About Swirling and Sniffing

Wine can be enjoyed in many different ways but most commonly as an aperitif, at the table during a meal or as an end to a meal to provide a sweet closure. Temperature is the first consideration and a good rule of thumb is to serve red wine at 18C and white wine at 11C. Depending on the age of the wine, it should be decanted between 30 minutes and an hour before being served. This allows the wine to breathe and improves the flavour and aroma. Red wines in particular are enhanced with aeration. Use a stemmed glass to keep the temperature stable, enjoy the bouquet and finally savour the taste. The fundamental food and wine pairing rules are: red with meat and white with fish, and the heavier the meal, the more robust the wine should be.

Vigorous Reds

Fine Wine and Food Connoisseurs

The full-bodied, earthy and spicy flavour of a quality Shiraz is ideal with red meat and hearty stews and the celebrated Cabernet Sauvignon can be similarly matched with stronger flavours. Merlot is softer and more flexible when paired with food. This wine’s signature ’round’ taste makes it easy to drink with a large variety of dishes. The complexity that Pinot Noir offers is particularly well matched with chicken, lamb and salmon.

Refined Whites

Versatile and balanced, Riesling increases in intensity with age and complements most chicken and fish dishes. Spicy food is particularly enhanced with the fruity flavour of Gewürztraminer and the wider-bodied Chardonnay is ideal with flavourful seafood dishes like smoked fish. Young Chardonnay suits Italian dishes and the older and smoother Chardonnay is better suited to being enjoyed with strong flavours like mature cheese. The crisp elegance of Sauvignon Blanc is a distinguished accompaniment to even the most delicate fish dishes, while also being suitable to poultry and light meals like salads.

To end it all

In conclusion, a good dessert wine brings the journey of flavours full circle. It appeases the senses and leaves the diner ready for yet another taste adventure, made particularly enjoyable by having the right wine as travel companion.

What to uncork when you light the barbecue

We’ve had a few glimpses of barbecue weather already this year, and if that wonderful smell of charcoal and grilled meat wafting from gardens hasn’t tempted you to dust off your own barbecue yet, it’s probably just a matter of time.

There’s nothing wrong with just cracking open a beer with a barbecue but it’s also a great opportunity to experiment with some interesting wine and food combinations – that lovely smoky flavour and texture that you get off barbecued food lends itself to wines that you might not usually consider. Below are some combinations that we’ve been tentatively exploring when the sun’s been out, and that we’ll definitely be experimenting with once the warmer weather is here.

Halloumi

Grilling at summer weekend

This hard Cypriot cheese has become a barbecue favourite in recent years. It’s saltiness and the smoky flavour that develops when it blackens make it a great classic match for Alsace Riesling – the racy acidity balances the salt and neither the wine nor cheese is overpowered. If you want to try something different, try a youthful New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The sultry smoky whiff from the wine makes it a really interesting accompaniment.

Sausages, burgers and steak

The Australians know a thing or two about barbecuing and their robust Shiraz-based wines provide a match made in heaven for barbecued red meats. However, if you want to try a different approach, how about a Primitivo from Italy? Primitivo is a similar grape to Zinfandel and has a slightly spicy, earthy edge to it that just loves a barbecue.

Chicken

You might want to reach for a full-bodied Chardonnay with just a little oak – either a good Burgundy or something from California perhaps. If you are marinating your meat in a spice rub, it is worth taking this into account when you match your wine – a spicy Gewurztraminer from Alsace or aromatic Southern French white would also be a great match.

Seasonal grilled vegetables

we’re coming to the end of the British asparagus season now but in any case most of the vegetables of spring are green in colour. Vegetables like asparagus, artichokes and fennel have strong flavours and it pays to be adventurous with the wines you choose. Think about Gruner Veltliner, Albariño or Semillon – served lovely and cold all of these will go down a treat.

Don’t forget to keep some rosé in the fridge too – it’s not just a marketing gimmick that rosé is great with a barbecue, it is absolutely true! Consider a big Australian rosé with spicy pork or sipping on a delicate Provençale as an aperitif while you are savouring the aromas and waiting for your food to cook.

What’s the (Wine) World Coming To?

How Not to Drink Wine Like an Amateur

So often in casual company you’ll see someone pour themselves a glass of wine, swirl it around, sniff it and then take a drink. People who truly appreciate wine and know how to drink it will notice any number of discrepancies in the aforementioned ritual, for example: 
• The wine dripped because the pourer didn’t perform the last, second twist of the bottle while pouring.
• The drinker gulped down the wine without sipping and swirling it in their mouth. 
• The drinker did swirl and sip the wine but it was obvious they didn’t know why they’re swirling it or what they’re sniffing for.
Here are a few tips on how to drink wine like a connoisseur

Drinking Wine with Fruits and Vegetables

Grape wineWhat? Wine is meant to be ingested with fine foods other than steak? Who in their right mind would drink wine with fruits and vegetables? The answer: People who know which fruits and vegetables work well with which wine, that’s who.

Some foods can diminish the taste of the wine. Knowing which items to mix and match with wine, and why they go well together, can enhance the dining experience. When eating fruit, you want to make sure that the wine is sweeter than the fruit that you’re eating. Also mind acidity. This applies to both fruits and vegetables. The wine should have more acidity than both of those. Bitter tasting vegetables often go better with white wine than with red.

The Art of the Swirl

Don’t swirl the wine just to look fancy. Do it because you want to release the scent for that all-important aroma that enhances the experience. A step that is often overlooked by amateurs is to follow the swirl by holding the glass up and admiring the colour of the wine. Most people overlook the subtle differences in colour tone produced by different kinds of wine.

 

Smelling and Tasting

This one might take some practice and the help of a professional to master. A gentle sniff, followed a few moments later by a sip and a taste, allows you to decipher exactly what the wine is made of and how. Being able to accurately identify the type of grapes or wooden barrel the wine was aged in will certainly impress those around you.