Meet the little device that could change the way we drink fine wine
For the past 12 months the wine industry has been intrigued by a new device known as the Coravin, which you may have heard of if you read the wine press regularly. This clever device allows us to draw wine out of the bottle without removing the cork, thereby allowing the consumer to enjoy a glass while leaving the remaining wine preserved as it was before for future consumption.
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.
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.
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 →
Wine-Searcher recently reported on the exclusive Premier Napa Valley auction which is coming up in February – although not the biggest of its kind, the same event last year raised nearly $6 million (read the full article here ). It’s a great opportunity for fans of ‘cult’ Napa Cabernet Sauvignon based wines to attempt to purchase emerging superstar wines. Brands like Scarecrow and Shrader have emerged in recent years, firmly securing a place for their wines in the exclusive $1000+ per bottle club, often much more.
Big names and perfect scores
The biggest names in Napa include Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate, and their success is largely due to perfect scores from Robert Parker. Unfortunately this remains the only way to get one’s wines into the exclusive club. Parker’s review of barrel samples of the wines and consequent evaluation as ‘candidates for a perfect score’ is what defines them as cult wines. Continue reading →
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 →
At the end of a challenging year across France’s wine regions, it’s great to hear that the Rhône valley has had a larger harvest than 2013, and early signs are that the 2014 wines will be ones to watch. One of the Rhône’s most renowned producers, Michel Chapoutier, has remarked that lower temperatures have contributed to the creation of wines that will demonstrate the individual character of the wines within each appellation.
Historically the Rhône has lagged behind Bordeaux and Burgundy in terms of the global popularity of its top wines but as prices have soared in both rival regions, many savvy investors as well as drinkers have turned their attention to the Rhône. Some of the appellations have become household names, widely associated with quality – wines like Châteauneuf-du-Pape can be found in any British wine merchant or even supermarket. Quality is generally high but there is great variation between wines and vintages, with 13 permitted grape varieties within the appellation. Grenache is often the dominant grape in the top wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Continue reading →
A new Napa Valley wine has recently been tipped for ‘cult wine’ status. King of Clubs, a collaborative effort between Robert Mondavi, restauranteur Justin Anthony and entrepreneur Christopher R. King, is likely to follow in the footsteps of wines like Screaming Eagle and those of Harlan Estate and other Napa superstars. But what factors give a wine ‘cult’ status?
A big name doesn’t hurt
Robert Mondavi is one of the world’s most influential winemakers. Other wines that he has been involved with such as Opus One, a collaboration between Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, are representative of the Californian blockbusters with which his name is associated. So it’s no surprise that this latest project involving Mondavi is set to be a huge success.
Parker describes your wine as ‘utter perfection’
It doesn’t hurt to have Robert Parker give your wine 100 points, which was the case when little known boutique Californian winery Screaming Eagle found their Cabernet Sauvignon suddenly in high demand. Parker’s ‘utter perfection’ comment was actually about the 2010 vintage, sending its price per bottle skyrocketing and generating interest in older vintages on the second hand market. Due to small production, tiny allocations, and allegedly a waiting list to get on the waiting list to buy a bottle directly from source, Screaming Eagle’s cult status has all but ensured most of us will never see a bottle, let alone taste it!
The elusive artisan factor
Spain’s Bodegas Vega Sicilia winery is the home of the country’s most praised wines, including flagship wine Unico. But the estate’s most elusive wine is Unico Reserva Especial – an extraordinary wine that is a blend of great and often very old vintages. The Reserva Especial is a blend of Spain’s indigenous grape Tempranillo with Bordeaux’s Cabernet Sauvignon. It is impeccably crafted, and has a true artisan quality. It is released infrequently and in high demand, so allocations are small.
For the most part, these cult wines exist as an intriguing distraction to both the fine wine drinker and the investor – the drinker might spend a lifetime trying to secure a bottle and hoping it will meet with their expectations. The investor will do well to remember their names and look out for the next King of Clubs in order to get their hands on it before Parker does.