What happens when a winery skips a vintage?

It was recently reported that the Tuscan Biondi Santi estate had decided to write off the 2014 vintage of Brunello di Montalcino, their flagship wine. Biondi Santi’s wines are among the region’s most prestigious and it is likely that others will follow suit after difficult conditions throughout the season.

Brunello di Montalcino vines (source: Wikipedia)
Brunello di Montalcino vines (source: Wikipedia)

The toughest vintage

A wet summer in Italy hit Tuscany particularly hard. Other regions such as Prosecco were also badly affected by rainfall. The cool summer and excessive rainfall led to outbreaks of vine diseases throughout many regions from north to south. Continue reading

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!