Cautious optimism for 2014 Bordeaux vintage

It has been a tough year in Bordeaux, and on the back of negative press surrounding the lacklustre en primeur campaign for the 2013s, much sympathy has been felt for growers this year. As July brought unseasonably cold conditions, and August brought extensive rain, it seemed like nothing could salvage 2014.

The Indian summer that saved Bordeaux

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild
Chateau Mouton-Rothschild

But a bright, sunny September has done just that, and far from being a salvage operation, it is starting to look like 2014 could be rather a good vintage. As the Merlot grapes are being picked, it has become apparent that they are in impeccable condition. Very little sorting has been required indicating exceptional quality, and this is a good sign for the Cabernet grapes that will remain on the vines a little longer before they are picked. In 2013, the inconsistency in quality of the grapes required an immense effort to sort them in order to achieve the precision required at this crucial point in the harvest. Chateau Mouton-Rothschild reportedly required almost 700 pickers in one day. Additionally, the quantity of grapes in 2014 is large – which is great news for growers since 2013’s harvest was relatively small. Another small harvest could have caused substantial problems in supplying the market. Continue reading

Using Terroir to Distinguish Wine for Investment

The mainstay of fine wines worthy of investment hails from the Bordeaux region of France for good reason. The area’s geographical characteristics, geology and perfect climate are conducive to growing the grapes that go into the finest wines in the world. When buying a single bottle or a case, whether to drink or to store, a good understanding of the wine’s terroir will help you make the best choice.

Wine Production Rules

Terroir, which refers to the physical aspects of a certain region, sums up the local environment’s characteristics and how they effect production of a certain product. The terroir concept is based on the French wine’s “Appellation d’origine controlee” system, also known as AOC. The rules regulating wine production and distribution around the world use the French model as guide for appellation laws. Besides wine, terroir can also be important in coffee, chocolate and cheese, which are all influenced by the area where they are grown or produced.

Origin of the Grapes
Fortunately, you can find all of this information on the wine’s label. Some countries put more emphasis on the types of grapes going into the vintage, but in Old World wines, such as that coming from France, it is customary to print the location. Given the specific location, the savvy buyer knows the exact terroir properties imparted to the wine. Along with that knowledge, you can also have a pretty good idea as to what type of grapes were used. For instance, if the label indicates that the wine is from the right bank in Bordeaux, than Merlot grapes are used. If the wine is from the Left Bank, than it will be produced with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

It’s fine to take chances with wine you want to put on the table, but when selecting wine as an alternative investment, stick with the tried and true from Bordeaux.