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.
When we think about wines with a global reputation, we tend to think of France first and foremost. Certainly when we talk about wines that are popular within the world’s biggest market for red wine, China, we tend not to talk about the wines of the new world. But why not? South Africa’s wines are gaining in popularity, their quality has been proven, and it seems that China has taken an interest — if recent reports are to be believed.
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
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.
As wine marketers know, there is never a lack of investors lining up to pay high prices for rare or older bottles of fine wine. We were recently reminded of that fact when a case of Château Petrus from 1998 was put up for sale. It tripled in value during the past eight years and broke all records when it sold for £26,822. Looking over the past two decades of wine sales, the 1998 Petrus was the third most expensive. According to Robert Parker’s 100-point scale, it won a rating of 98. At a recent Sotheby’s sale, Bordeaux wines from Petrus were again the top sellers when bottles of a 1990 vintage brought in £25,850. Part of the value of the wine derives from the estate where it was produced, and Château Petrus is one of Bordeaux’s most valuable estates.
Location is Everything
The 28 acres of vineyards at Château Petrus are located in Pomerol, an area in the southwest of France. Holding an international reputation for being one of the world’s best areas to produce wi
that it has earned its international reputation in a relatively short period of time. For instance, until the last century it was barely noticed but now its wines are more expensive than many of the more established Bordeaux estates.ne, it is not typical of other appellations in Bordeaux. Pomerol does not have its own classification system and it is not one of the wealthy châteaux in the midst of many others. It is unique in
Pomerol is located to the east of Bordeaux on the Dordogne River’s right bank. The highest percentage of grapes grown is Merlot, although there are some Cabernet Franc vines as well. Unlike the other appellations, Pomerol is not named for a town located in its region and it does not have an epicenter.
Other producers taking advantage of Pomerol’s excellent location are Lafleur and Le Pin.