Dom Pérignon’s art, it is said, was to be a master blender. Modern Champagne follows this principle. It is a product overwhelmingly dominated by blends – grape varieties, and village and vineyard sources, as well as the dimension of inter-vintage blending. All this in aid of making the right finished product, envisioned by the chef de cave at the beginning of the process.
Champagne as a single vineyard and single vintage wine sits out as a tiny niche minority product, and yet some of the most iconic Champagnes of all sit in this category – think Krug Clos du Mesnil, or Bollinger’s Vieilles Vines Françaises. Alongside these two is one of my favourites – Philipponnat’s Clos des Goisses.
We have just landed this fantastic Bordeaux DRINKING cellar. Whenever we get hold of a cellar like this — bought on release and professionally stored, AND in a vintage range where everything is in its optimal drinking window, the wines sell very quickly.
Please take a look at the list below. The list is represented by some of the greatest wines of the ‘80s and ‘90s – such as 1996 Latour and Margaux, but also by some great value drinking – Pavillon Rouge, Rauzan-Ségla and Rieussec. Also included, I am delighted to see, is my favourite post-’61 fully mature vintage of Château Palmer — the 1989. (The 1983 is also very highly regarded and now getting quite rare).
I recall in the late ‘00s when the 2002 Champagnes were coming on to the market. There was so much excitement about them. Here was a vintage combining classic aromas and flavours, real intensity and concentration, and fine mineral structure. Astute wine lovers tucked some of these away, and they have continued to evolve positively and to impress. For many the best drinking years are still ahead.
And then all these producers moved on to other vintages. Even at the level of prestiges cuvées we are generally now seeing 2005s, 2006s and 2007s.
The wines of J-L Chave – both red and white – have always commanded serious respect amongst wine lovers. Champions of Hermitage in the Rhône Valley, Chave wines epitomise the natural generosity this granite-laden hill bestows. The whites – with the intensity of Bâtard-Montrachet or even Montrachet, depending on the year, offer a very different texture to Burgundy Chardonnay – more glycerin-driven than acidity-driven. There is no trade off in nuance. The reds are more mineral-driven, with blackberry fruit offset by the umami-balancing notes of game blood and Provençal herbs. These are wines for appetite.
I’m sure you are familiar with Guigal’s “La La” wines – those intense, concentrated, potent yet extraordinarily fragrant and complex syrah-based wines from Cote-Rotie. I thought I would to you about them today because we have a pretty amazing selection – especially when you consider that each of them is produced in such tiny quantities (400 – 800 cases). The list, therefore, presents some interesting possibilities.
First of all, while the balance and supple qualities of these wines, as well as the intensity of fruit, do make them enjoyable young (I recently drank and enjoyed an ’06), in my view the real thrill comes after about 20 years (La Turque and La Mouline) or 30 years (La Landonne). Choose some bottles from the ‘70s or ‘80s, and make one the centre piece of a dinner.
“Les Clos” has for many years now been considered the lead vineyard amongst the grands crus of Chablis. Jasper Morris MW describes it as ‘the finest of them… primus inter pares, the first among its peers’. I would agree, and add that Domaine Dauvissat, is ‘first amongst peers’ alongside Raveneau in Chablis.
While Raveneau has the knack for capturing the potential for a creamy sumptuousness – often missing in nervy mineral-driven Chablis, then Dauvissat seems to me to be the greatest translator of the soil – a real terroir-iste!
After an extensive tasting across Bordeaux in April, these wines stood out for their exceptional quality for the price. We think these offer some of the best bargains of the entire campaign, and they come highly recommended.
2015 Château Figeac, 93-94 points, available @ HK$1,080 per bottle
2015 Château Cheval Blanc, 95-97 points, available @ HK$5,000 per bottle
2015 Château Lafite Rothschild, 94-96 points, available @ HK$4,200 per bottle
2015 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, 94-96 points, available @ HK$1,180 per bottle
2015 Château Mouton-Rothschild, 93-95 points,available @ HK$3,900 per bottle
2015 Château Leoville Las Cases, 95-97 points, available @ HK$1,350 per bottle
2015 Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, 96-98 points, available @ HK$950 per bottle
2015 Château Bélair-Monange, 94-96 points, available @ HK$1,180 per bottle
2015 Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, available @ HK$950 per bottle (96-98 points)
2015 Château Bélair-Monange, available @ HK$1,180 per bottle (94-96 points)
2015 Château Pichon Longueville Baron, available @ HK$950 per bottle (94-96 points)
2015 Château Canon-la-Gaffelière, available @ HK$560 per bottle (93-94 points)
2015 Château d'Issan, available @ HK$400 per bottle (93-95 points)
2015 Château Grand Puy Lacoste, available @ HK$470 per bottle (92-94 points)
2015 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge, available @ HK$600 per bottle
2015 Château Rauzan-Ségla, available @ HK$525 per bottle (93-95 points)
2015 Château Montviel, available @ HK$240 per bottle (93-95 points)
2015 Château d'Aiguilhe, available @ HK$175 per bottle (93-94 points)
2015 Château Pontet Canet , available @ HK$795 per bottle (94-95 points)
The 1980s witnessed something of a quiet revolution in Barolo and Barbaresco. Luciano Sandrone, and peers were labeled ‘Modernistas’ for employing new French oak barriques, shortening macerations, and making a more supple ‘international’ sort of wine from the beloved Nebbiolo. Sheer sacrilege to the likes of Bartolo Mascarello and the ‘Traditionalistas’ over the fence.
The battle of ideas that took place has largely cooled off since then, as we see more modern practices in winemaking (if not maturation) amongst the traditionalists, and a few botti and larger oak casks making their way into the once staunch modernist estates.
Angelo Gaja, a figure much like Robert Mondavi or Ernst Loosen in his enormous contribution to bringing to world market attention the wines of his region, has for several decades now made some of Italy’s finest wines. He is that sort of rare individual that can see both a vision at home – to raise quality to its maximum – and abroad – tirelessly developing export markets.
Initial winemaking is rather traditional (warm fermentation, long cuvaison), but after that there is a modern twist, with ageing in both traditional botti, as well as French oak barriques.
Bruno Giacosa has been one of the leading Barolo/Barbaresco producers of the past three decades – some would argue the leading producer. Certainly some of the most thrilling, rapture-inducing Piedmontese wines I have ever tasted have originated from this casa. Certainly in the stretch of vintages offered below, the wines are simply outstanding.
In light of where some equivalent Burgundy and Bordeaux wines are priced, I think these offer true value when you consider the quality. Take a look at those Wine Advocate ratings
Christophe Roumier, b. 1958, is the third generation at the helm of Domaine Georges Roumier in Chambolle-Musigny, and one of the very greatest vignerons of his generation.
Here he makes one of the finest domaine-bottled Bonnes Mares available today. This grands crus terroir is mostly in Chambolle’s terres blanches (white soil), giving wines of finesse and fragrance, but there is also a portion on terres rouges (red soil) in Morey, giving wines of more structure and substance. In addition to Roumier’s attention to detail and quality focus, two further factors contribute to the greatness of his Bonnes Mares: firstly, it is a blend of these two soils (about 3/4 blanches and 1/4 rouges); and secondly, he owns a sufficient portion of it – about 1.4ha - to manage elevage very precisely, something much more challenging for a small quantity (like his Musigny). The Roumier Bonnes Mares is an absolute reference point amongst Burgundy’s finest wines.
We are pleased to offer the following rarities from Domaine Emmanuel Rouget.
Rouget began making his own Echézeaux in 1985, trained by and mentored by Henri Jayer. Rouget assisted Jayer at his domaine, and so learned his craft by the greatest Burgundy vigneron of a generation.
In 1989 the first Cros Parantoux under the Rouget label appeared, sitting alongside that of Méo-Camuzet and Henri Jayer (Jayer retired – officially – in 1991, but Cros Parantoux, in small quantities, continued at Domaine Henri Jayer until the 2001 vintage). It is this vineyard that is perhaps most closely associated with Henri Jayer, because it was Jayer who brought it back from desolation, the first vintage appearing with this name in 1978.
La Romanée is the smallest grand cru vineyard in Burgundy (0.8542ha), making it also the rarest (3000 – 4000 bottles per year only). It is also regarded as one of Burgundy’s greatest vineyards – wine from this vineyard has been famous in Europe for over 600 years! It’s long fame has been closely connected to the most famous Burgundy vineyard of all – La Romanée-Conti. At various times in history these two vineyards have been combined, so too the wine. But, for the past 200 years the two vineyard – and the two wines – have been separate.
The vineyard is owned by the Liger-Belair family, and has been managed since 2002 by the 7th generation, Louis-Michel Liger-Belair who has worked hard to elevate this wine’s status and reputation to its rightful place.