BORDEAUX EN PRIMEUR

Bordeaux En Primeur

Vintage Wine Bottle Size Unit of sale Qty of unit Qty of btl Btl price (HKD) Score Location
2016 Calicem - Calicem Saint Emilion
750 ml OWC3 EP HKD 620 / BTL 30 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
30
Qty of btl
90
Btl price (HKD)
620
Score
-
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Angelus
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 2,898 / BTL 19 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
19
Qty of btl
114
Btl price (HKD)
2,898
Score
WA96-98
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Cos d'Estournel
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 1,334 / BTL 15 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
15
Qty of btl
90
Btl price (HKD)
1,334
Score
WA98-100
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste
750 ml OWC12 EP HKD 663 / BTL 4 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
4
Qty of btl
48
Btl price (HKD)
663
Score
WA95-97
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Haut Bailly
750 ml OWC12 EP HKD 939 / BTL 25 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
25
Qty of btl
300
Btl price (HKD)
939
Score
WA96-98
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Haut Brion
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 4,554 / BTL 21 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
21
Qty of btl
126
Btl price (HKD)
4,554
Score
WA97-99
Location
EP
2016 Chateau L'Evangile
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 2,024 / BTL 22 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
22
Qty of btl
132
Btl price (HKD)
2,024
Score
WA94-96
Location
EP
2016 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 3,404 / BTL 15 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
15
Qty of btl
90
Btl price (HKD)
3,404
Score
WA98-100
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Lafite Rothschild
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 5,290 / BTL 4 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
4
Qty of btl
24
Btl price (HKD)
5,290
Score
WA96-98
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Leoville Las Cases - Clos du Marquis
750 ml OWC12 EP HKD 414 / BTL 5 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
5
Qty of btl
60
Btl price (HKD)
414
Score
WA93-95
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Lynch Bages
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 1,012 / BTL 1 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
1
Qty of btl
6
Btl price (HKD)
1,012
Score
WA97-99
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Margaux
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 4,554 / BTL 3 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
3
Qty of btl
18
Btl price (HKD)
4,554
Score
WA97-99
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Montrose
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 1,288 / BTL 10 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
10
Qty of btl
60
Btl price (HKD)
1,288
Score
WA97-99
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Mouton Rothschild
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 4,738 / BTL 9 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
9
Qty of btl
54
Btl price (HKD)
4,738
Score
WA98-100
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Palmer
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 2,530 / BTL 1 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
1
Qty of btl
6
Btl price (HKD)
2,530
Score
WA95-97
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Pavie
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 2,990 / BTL 1 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
1
Qty of btl
6
Btl price (HKD)
2,990
Score
WA98-100
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Pontet Canet
750 ml OWC12 EP HKD 1,104 / BTL 10 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
10
Qty of btl
120
Btl price (HKD)
1,104
Score
WA95-97
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Quintus
750 ml OWC6 EP HKD 994 / BTL 26 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
26
Qty of btl
156
Btl price (HKD)
994
Score
WA92-94
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Quintus - Le Dragon de Quintus
750 ml OWC12 EP HKD 260 / BTL 10 case available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
10
Qty of btl
120
Btl price (HKD)
260
Score
WA89-91
Location
EP
2016 Chateau Rieussec
750 ml BOTTLE EP HKD 400 / BTL 18 BTL available
Bottle size
750
Qty of unit
18
Qty of btl
18
Btl price (HKD)
400
Score
-
Location
EP
The wines are offered subject to remaining unsold. Title to all wine remains with The Fine Wine Experience until paid for in full.
HK / HK storage; ready for delivery within 1-2 business days.
HK-Shop / available for in-store purchase in Sheung Wan.
HK-prearrival / in transition; expected to arrive HK in 2-4 weeks upon payment confirmation.
En-Primeur / wines still in chateau; will arrange delivery to once wine is received in HK

The 2016 Vintage

THE 2016 VINTAGE As always, for the best full report I recommend reading Bill Blatch’s extensive coverage. Jancis Robinson very kindly publishes it in her ‘free for all’ section here (https://goo.gl/8YoQRY). To be as brief as possible here, and to borrow mostly from Blatch, I think the following seem to be the most salient details –

  • The cycle began wet which saved the vines from a too-early bud break – its cooling effect mitigating warmer than usual temperatures.
  • Bud break and shoot development was successful, and despite erratic weather, most flowering was successful too. (Some late flowering sites fared less well due to rain). There was disease pressure to deal with in this first phase. Generally though at this stage potential crop size looked generous.
  • Summer heat began in earnest from 20th June, and began a long drought period. Access to retained water reserves in the sub-soil was now key. Also those who de-leafed too much paid a price for it. July was not excessively hot but there were two long heatwaves in August. Small isolated showers were beneficial in avoiding serious problems, but lack of water was still a major concern.
  • The ‘miracle’ of 2016 is rain that arrived on 13th September – a date that becomes pivotal. Many whites did not benefit from it. Parched soils easily absorbed the rain, and the vines were able to continue their work.
  • The next key development was a significant drop in temperature in October. Fine weather allowed for late picking of Cabernet at full ripeness (and good acidity retention).
  • Gentle extraction was a key factor to success for two reasons – 1. Some skins offered bitterness from blocked maturity during the drought, 2. An unusually high proportion of pips would also delivery bitter harsh tannins if extracted too hard. Overall though there is velvety charm and fragrance to 2016 reds, and bunches were mostly healthy and free of rot at harvest. Little sorting was required.
  • Alcohol levels are lower than in 2015 due to the summer drought slowing photosynthesis, while acidity levels are high due to retained nitrogen accumulation.

For me, the thrilling end of the 2016 vintage is this combination of moderate alcohol, fresh acidity, fresh aromatics and velvety tannins in the reds. I think the vintage especially favoured those estates who favour a gentler, less aggressive approach to vinification. The best reds have both intensity and charm, fragrance and length, and that moderate weight combined with complexity and phenolic maturity that is difficult to replicate in other successful Cabernet and Merlot regionsof the world. While 2015 seems to have been a year in which even the fruit bomb styles could really succeed, I don’t think that is true of 2016. Overall, there is much to be excited about in 2016. 

THE 2016 WINES

This year I didn’t taste so many whites, missing the chance to attend the UGC Graves tasting unfortunately. Speaking with Pascal Baratié – vineyard manager at Château Haut-Brion – he was less happy about the sémillon crop in 2016. He found it a bit dilute and as a result quite a lot of it went into their 3rd tier white (Clarendelle), and 2nd tier white – La Clarté de Haut-Brion. Both Haut-Brion Blanc and La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc are very good, but atypically Sauvignon-centric – a first in his career Baratié noted to me – and to me it feels like something missing. The problem, he noted, was the intense heat and drought in August and early September. (The welcome showers that helped the reds came too late for the whites which had already been picked). In contrast, for Sauternes, which of course is picked much later, the cooler and intermittently showery September and October allowed for extended hang time, acidity preservation for freshness, and good bursts of botrytis toward the end. Alas, I only tasted two – Guiraud and Yquem – but both were superb.

I adored Pavillon Blanc again this year. Recent vintages have showed increased intensity, power and length. The ’16 feels like a step off the accelerator to something more moderate, tangy, a bit lower in alcohol. Not the fireworks of recent vintages, but a supremely elegant, refreshing yet complex white. Again, I recommend seeking it out.

Aside from another astonishingly great Château Margaux, for the Médoc it felt like the sweet spot was further north in St.-Julien (especially), Pauillac and (to an extent) St.-Estephe. The proportion of Cabernet Sauvginon in the blend of my top Médoc wines this year is notable – Latour (93%), Lafite (92%), Margaux (94%!), Pichon Baron (85%) and Mouton (83%). Deep roots in deep gravelley soils that allowed access to moisture during the drought period was key to final quality. It’s not a level playing field that can be capitalized upon by hard work and good management alone. Note too that these top wines today often constitute a much smaller proportion of the final production than they used to. The challenge of the year can be felt in some of the 2nd wines. At Lafite and Mouton for example, the step down to Carruades and Le Petit Mouton is stark.

Other Médoc ‘16s that impressed and that have stayed in my memory include – Brane-Cantenac (this property stays on its recent high form), Pavillon Rouge (far superior today than the Château Margaux grand vin was 40 years ago, and consistently too), Beychevelle (you won’t be disappointed if you buy this), Clos du Marquis (perhaps the best ever wine under this label – remember it is a separate vineyard from Las Cases, and now has its own 2nd label to declassify into. This is serious stuff – a target for smart buying), Ducru-Beaucaillou (you really feel the sunshine again – the most seductive of the St.-Juliens), LangoaBarton and Léoville-Barton (both struck me as exactly right this year – the former will be a steal I’m sure), Léoville Poyferré (rich as usual, but better flow this year. I liked it), Saint-Pierre (very fine wine, an undoubted bargain), Talbot (you see what I mean about St.-Julien!), Batailley (I’ve always thought this château good, but quality has taken a recent upturn), Clerc-Milon (could turn out to be a particularly sexy example), Grand Puy Lacoste (the star of the 5èmes Crus Classés in my view), Lafite (quintessential fragrance and elegance – the classic reason to buy this estate), Latour (another monumental wine, but we shall have to wait years to see it), Mouton (somehow this year delivered some of its exotic personality without the attendant weight), Pichon Baron (their best yet? – I thought perhaps, the first time I tasted it, but it showed quite trickily the next morning. Personally I would buy some en primeur), Capbern (the Calon-Ségur stable’s screaming bargain), Cos (I love the direction this estate has taken. This is gorgeous), and Montrose (a fine suit and tie example – reminded me somewhat of the excellent ’89).

I did not have the chance to taste widely in Graves, but I was pretty much blown away by Haut-Bailly. I will not be surprised if in a few years time this comes to be regarded as a perfect example of this estate. It is a must-buy ’16 in any case. Both Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion are very solid, and seem more classically cut than last year’s.

The Right Bank was a bit more mixed. I felt greenness in some wines, and bitterness amongst those who extracted more heavily, and I would be weary of those who made wines in the latter style in 2016. I particularly liked this year’s Certan de May, I thought La Conseillante very good, L’Evangile was a knockout (personally I’d rather have this than their ’15), Trotanoy was very fine, classic – for the patient! It was interesting discussing VCC with the Thienponts. Key plots of Cabernet Franc did not succeed and so were left out of what became a very Merlot-centric blend. It’s a great wine nonetheless, but it lacks VCC’s ‘secret sauce’ – the incredible fragrance of the Franc which mesmerized me in ’14 and ‘15. I don’t know Lafleur’s final blend, but its own secret sauce is there in spades. This is the 2016 to beg, steal or borrow for! Cheval Blanc offers a just slightly more svelte version, clearly cut from the same cloth. This is certainly a year for those who recall, and love, those wonderfully elegant yet intense and super aromatic Cheval Blancs of old. I was impressed too at Figeac. Ausone is brilliant, and if I was to pick one more from the Vauthier collection it would be La Clotte. 

The whites

Aile d’Argent de Château Mouton-Rothschild (88-91)
Château Cos d’Estournel Blanc (89-91)
Château Guiraud (94-96)
Château Haut-Brion Blanc (93-95)
Château La Mission Haut-Brion (93-95)
Blanc Le Clarté de Haut-Brion (89-91)
Château Monbousquet Blanc (90-91)
Château Pape Clément Blanc (92-94)
Pavillon Blanc de Château Margaux (93-97)
Blanc Sec de Suduiraut (88-89)
‘S’ de Suduiraut (91-93)
Château d’Yquem (94-96) 

Graves / Pessac-Leognan

Clos Marsalette (92-93)
Château Haut-Bailly (96-98)
La Parde de Château Haut-Bailly (91-92)
Château Haut-Brion (95-97)
Le Clarence de Haut-Brion (88-90)
Château La Mission Haut-Brion (94-96)
La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion (91-92)
Château Le Pape (92-93)
Château Pape Clément (91-93+)

Right Bank Satellites

Château Bel-Air (89-91)
Château La Graviere (89-90)
Château d’Aiguilhe (91-93)
Lunelles (90-91)

Médoc / Haut-Médoc / Listrac-Médoc

Château Caronne Ste Gemme (90-92)
Château Fourcas-Borie (89-91)
Goulée by Cos d’Estournel (88-90)
Château Potensac (89-91)
Chapelle de Potensac (87-89)
Château La Tour Carnet (89-91)

Pomerol

Château Beauregard (91-93)
Château Bourgneuf (91-93)
Château Certan de May (93-95)
Château Clinet (92-94)
Clos du Clocher (89-92)
Château La Conseillante (92-94 / 93-95)
Château L’Evangile (94-96 )
Château La Fleur-Pétrus (92-94)
Château Le Gay (92-94)
Manoir de Gay (91-92)
Château Gazin (91-92 )
Château La Grave (88-89)
Château Hosanna (93-95)
Château Lafleur (96-99)
Château Lafleur-Gazin (91-93)
Château Lagrange (91-93)
Château Latour à Pomerol (92-94)
Château Montviel (90-91)
Château Nenin (89-91)
Château Petit-Village (92-94)
Château Plince (91-93+)
Château Trotanoy (94-96)
Vieux Château Certan (93-95)
Château La Violette (93-95)

St.-Emilion

Château Angelus (91-93+)
Le Carillon d’Angelus (88-89)
Château Ausone (95-97 )
La Chapelle d’Ausone (93-95)
Château Bélair-Monange (92-94+?)
Château Bellevue Mondotte (92-94)
Château Canon-la-Gaffelière (92-94)
Château Cheval Blanc (95-97)
Petit Cheval (91-93)
Clos de l’Oratoire (90-92)
Château La Clotte (92-95)
Château Couvent des Jacobins (92-94)
Château Figeac (93-95)
Château Fombrauge (91-93)
Château Fonbel (90-92?)
Château Haut-Simard (91-93)
Château Magrez-Fombrauge (88-89)
Château Monbousquet (90-92)
La Mondotte (92-94)
Château Moulin Saint-Georges (90-92)
Château Pavie (91-93+)
Arômes de Pavie (90-91)
Château Pavie-Decesse (91-93)
Château Pindefleurs (90-93)
Château Puy Blanquet (90-91)
Château Quinault L’Enclos (93-95)
Château Quintus (92-94)
Le Dragon de Quintus (90-91)
Château La Serre (91-93)
Château Simard (90-92? ) P.22

Margaux

Château Angludet (90-92)
Château Brane-Cantenac (93-95)
Château Cantenac-Brown (91-93)
Château Dauzac (92-93)
Château Ferriere (92-94)
Château Giscours (89-91)
Château d’Issan (92-93)
Blasson de Château d’Issan
P.28 Château Kirwan (88-90)
Château Labegorce (87-89)
Château Lascombes (85-87)
Château Malescot St. Exupery (91-93)
Château Margaux (96-98)
Château Monbrison (87-89)
Château Marquis de Terme (87-89)
Pavillon Rouge de Château Margaux (92-94)
Château Palmer (92-95?)
Alter Ego de Château Palmer (91-93?)
Château Rauzan-Gassies (89-90)
Château Rauzan-Ségla (90-92) 
Château du Tertre (85-86)

Margaux

Château d’Armailhac (91-93 / 92-93)
Château Batailley (92-93+)
Château Clerc-Milon (93-95)
Château Croizet-Bages (87-89)
Château Duhart-Milon (91-93 )
Château Grand Puy Ducasse (88-90 )
Château Grand Puy Lacoste (94-95 / 93-95+)
Château Lacoste-Borie (90-91)
Château Haut Bages Libéral (91-92)
Château Lafite-Rothschild (96-98)
Carruades de Lafite (89-91)
Château Latour (96-98+)
Les Forts de Latour (92-94)
Pauillac by Château Latour (90-91)
Château Lynch Bages (92-94)
Château Lynch-Moussas (86-88)
Château Mouton-Rothschild (95-97)
Le Petit Mouton (86-89)
Château Pibran (89-91)
Château Pichon Baron (96-98 / 94-95+)
Les Griffons de Pichon Baron (91-92+)
Les Tourelles de Longueville (90-92)
Château Pichon Lalande (90-92/ 92-93)
Reserve de la Comtesse (89-90)
Château Pontet Canet (N/R ) P.40

St.-Julien

Château Beychevelle (93-95)
Château Branaire-Ducru (88-89)
Clos du Marquis (93-95)
La Petite Marquise du Clos du Marquis (87-88)
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou (94-96)
Croix de Beaucaillou (90-92)
Château Gloria
Château Gruaud Larose (91-92)
Château Lagrange (N/R )
Château Lalande-Borie (90-92)
Château Langoa-Barton (93-95)
Château Léoville-Barton (94-96)
Château Léoville Las Cases (94-95+)
Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases (90-92)
Château Léoville Poyferré (94-95)
Château Saint-Pierre (92-93) 
Château Talbot (92-94)

St.-Estephe

Château Calon-Ségur (91-93)
Le Marquis de Calon-Ségur (89-91)
Château Capbern (90-92)
Château Clos Labory (87-89)
Château Cos d’Estournel (94-96+)
Pagodes de Cos (91-93)
Château Lafon-Rochet (86-88)
Château Montrose (94-96)
La Dame de Montrose (91-93)
Château Les Ormes de Pez (85-88)
Château de Pez (88-89)
Château Phelan-Segur (88-89)
Château Tronquoy-Lalande (90-92)

 

WHY BUY EN PRIMEUR

The most obvious traditional answer was price. The basic deal was that the best price would be the en primeur or ‘futures’ price – the consumer rewarding the merchant, the merchant rewarding the negocient, the negocient rewarding the châteaux with cash up front, long before anyone would see the finished wine in bottle. This system broke (as it does every few decades or so) with the 2009 and 2010 vintages, where the price of the final delivered wine fell siginicantly below what customers paid en primeur. Price for the 2016s will be something to watch, though fortunately it doesn’t look this year (so far!) like aggressive pricing will be the order of the day.

Of course you are not buying an entire vintage, you are picking out individual wines, so over-performers who nonetheless price ‘normally’ may well prove to make financial sense.

But there are some other reasons to buy en primeur

- Provenance is assured. You will be the first to take delivery of the wine and you will have control over its handling and storage from day one, with all the assurance for preserving condition that that brings. Years down the line that will mean either drinking the wine in its optimal condition, or being able to offer it for re-sale with complete assurance to the next buyer. Everyone benefits from assured provenance.

- Access. This isn’t Burugndy, but it is true that some of these wines appear later in the secondary market in much lower quantities. This is the best chance to ensure you can own what you want.

- Sunk cost. It’s not an obvious one, but taking the pain of the expense now is something akin to savings. The wine will feel like a bonus when it comes to drinking it!

- Choice of bottle formats. If you like to own your favourite wines in a nice mix of halves, magnums and imperials, this is your best – often only – chance to have the wine bottled in formats you want. (Subject to availability and advance ordering).

- If you had a child born in 2016, or got married, this is a very nice way to mark the occasion from the outset – investing in furture anniversaries and birthdays.

SOME CAVEATS AND SOME ADVICE ABOUT CHOOSING WINES

It’s important understand that tasting and evaluating barrel samples is not as assured as tasting finished wine from bottle. The first point here is that we are not tasting finished wines. They are just a few months in to their barrel ageing and will change more in the next year in barrel than any subsequent year in bottle. Faults like aggressive tannins or greenness aren’t going to go away with bottle age, but sometimes other issues might be hidden at this stage, or a wine might improve considerably in barrel. Samples can also vary – in my experience – a great deal from day to day, and location to location. I taste a sample, I write down what I experience. For the sake of transparency, and to show just how much variance is possible, where I tasted a 2016 more than once I have given both notes here. You will see for yourself how much variance is possible.

Secondly, for some châteaux what you taste is the final blend. They have already assembled the young wine and re-distributed it back to barrel for further ageing. At other châteaux the final blend will be made many months later after they see how the components develop in barrel. In this latter case an ‘approximate blend’ is made from the components to represent the envisaged final blend. Can you see where there might be an issue here? I couldn’t possibly comment.

Finally, these are my experiences tasting a range of samples over a week in Bordeaux in April 2017. To this I would make two points: firstly, though I tasted many of the higher ranked wines (which are the ones of most relevance to Hong Kongers considered buying en primeur), there are in fact thousands of wines possible to taste. My preliminary views are therefore based on less complete observations than many others – especially the critics – who tasted for weeks and complied extrensive reports. My second point relates to the first – do not rely on any single opinion. My best advice to you is to pass on advice I received many years ago: pick two or three 2016 Bordeaux vintage reports – especially where you know how the author’s taste relates to your own – and compare the notes from each. This will give you a more reliable sense for how a particular château performed. From there, trust your own taste. There is no such thing as a ‘100-point wine’, or a ’90-point wine’. They don’t exist. What exists is a 100-point experience one person had with a wine on an occasion. Your mileage may vary.