In the last two decades, cork producers have been researching ways to combat TCA and salvage the tainted reputation of corks. Carla Capalbo reports on the latest developmentsA satisfying sound: pulling the cork on a bottle of wine...
Pop! The celebratory sound of a cork being drawn from a bottle is thrilling to wine lovers. Cork stoppers are associated with prestigious, long-aged reds and first-class Champagnes, and with the promise of pleasurable drinking. They’re kept in jewellery boxes as mementos of special meals and moments.
Yet, for all the good vibes that natural corks can evoke, there’s occasionally another, less positive association too. Corks often signal that a wine may have been tainted in the bottle. ‘The smell of a corked wine, once learned, is unforgettable: mouldy and dank, taint masks the fruit on the wine’s nose and palate to varying degrees,’ says Julie Peterson, a consultant to US wine importers.
While only a small proportion of faulty wines can be attributed to cork taint, or TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole), the apprehension about corked wines caused the closures industry to undergo major changes. The late 1990s saw the advent of both screwcaps and synthetic solutions as the market share of natural corks dropped dramatically.
The total wine bottle market is currently around 19 billion bottles, of which about 12bn use cork stoppers, either whole or in agglomerates. Screwcaps are around 4.7bn, and the remaining 1.8bn plastic closures.Investing in research
Far from ignoring the problem of taint, the cork industry has been working hard to eliminate TCA contamination in cork stoppers and now has significant, tangible results to show for its investments in new safeguards.
- Carla Capalbo is an award-winning food, wine and travel writer. Her books include The Food and Wine Lover’s Companion to Tuscany
Patricio Tapia, South American wine expert and Decanter World Wine Awards judge, looks back at the creation of this Chilean wine and picks out his top 10 wines from a complete tasting of every vintage produced...A passion for polo, a passion for wine
- Fine wines to know from Chile and Argentina
- Almaviva: Tasting a New World ‘grand cru’
- Barca Velha vertical: Superstar of the Douro
Move over Malbec – Cabernet Sauvignon is making a name for itself in Argentina. Alistair Cooper MW selects 18 bottles that reveal the grape’s considerable potential...
In boxing parlance, Malbec is the undisputed heavyweight champion of Argentina, a title it has held for many years. Its closest contenders are Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon.
Despite Bonarda’s significant plantings, it can’t compete in the same division. So what kind of shape is Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon in at the moment, and just how well can it perform?
The flavour profile of Cabernet Sauvignon on the eastern side of the Andes is quite distinct to that of neighbouring Chile, where deep cassis, spice-laden, often minty styles are found.Related content:
His pioneering vision and sheer determination have helped to propel Chilean fine wine onto a global stage. Peter Richards MW meets the widely respected winemaker, family man and adventurer who describes himself as ‘a survivor’ and who has been named Decanter Man of the Year for 2018.Eduardo Chadwick.
It was the final ascent. The peak of Ojos del Salado, the highest active volcano in the world, was within touching distance. But then disaster struck: Eduardo Chadwick, precarious on the ladder, suddenly got cramp. ‘My biggest worry,’ he recounts, smiling broadly, ‘was that the bottle of Seña I had with me to unveil at the summit was in my breast pocket – so if I fell, there was a very real chance it would be driven through my heart.’
The story reveals much about Chadwick. There’s the driven, ambitious, relentless, single-minded, talented mountaineer in him. Also the savvy marketeer and businessman: teller of stories, creator of positive opportunities, irrepressible. Finally, there’s the man: courteous, with a ready smile, a healthy sense of humour and humanity, aware of his frailties yet resolute not to let them limit or define him. ‘It’s a question of persistence,’ he says, softly. ‘I’m a survivor.’
Eduardo Chadwick is a man on a mission. His self-appointed task? To prove that Chile produces fine wines to rival the best in the world – and has the potential for more to come. Nowhere was this captured better than at what has become known as the Berlin Tasting of 2004, when Chadwick (‘scared to death’) pitted his top Cabernets against the global elite (Lafite, Latour, Margaux, Solaia) in a blind tasting with trade professionals chaired by Steven Spurrier, who had himself upset the established wine world order at his famous Judgement of Paris tasting in 1976, when Californian wines usurped French classics.Eduardo Chadwick at a glance
Born March 1959
Education 1976-1981, Universidad Católica (industrial engineering)
Family Married to María Eugenia Braun. Four daughters: María Eugenia, Magdalena, María José, Alejandra
Main brands Errázuriz, Seña, Viñedo Chadwick, Don Maximiano, Kai, La Cumbre, Las Pizarras, Caliterra, Arboleda
Hobbies Tennis, swimming, mountain climbing
Likes to say ‘Finesse and elegance’World class
Famously, in Berlin Chadwick’s wines prevailed, rated in the two top spots. He went on to repeat the exercise 21 times, reaching 1,400 wine professionals in 17 countries, and achieving an admirable consistency of results for his wines. This was followed by a series of 10 further blind tastings, dubbed the ‘Seña verticals’, focusing on ageing potential by assessing past rather than current vintages. The results delivered a similarly consistent vindication of Chadwick’s message, with a Seña wine ranked top on every occasion.
‘We never expected these results, nor their consistency,’ admits Chadwick. ‘The Berlin Tasting was born of frustration that Chile wasn’t getting the critical attention or ratings it deserved. It was about justice. But we gained confidence from this and saw it finally converting into critical recognition, for us and for Chile.’
This is a crucial point. The Berlin and Seña tastings did not just raise the profile of Chadwick’s own wines (his main brand is Errazuriz but Seña, Viñedo Chadwick and Don Maximiano are his top Cabernets). They have also, by extension, provided validation for Chile as a whole. When I asked Chadwick what this Decanter award meant to him, he said: ‘More than for us, this award is for Chile. It’s recognition that Chile has entered the realms of fine wine. Previous recipients – Mondavi, Antinori, Torres – have helped prove their countries are part of this world-class family of wine terroirs. That’s what I have been trying to do.’Change of direction
It could have played out very differently. Chadwick initially trained as an engineer and, after university, was working in Saudi Arabia – the world of wine a distant reality. But the critical juncture in Chadwick’s life came in 1983 when his father Alfonso, a talented polo player whose business interests included wine-growing, seized an opportunity to buy back what had once been the family winery, Viña Errázuriz. (The family had lost control of the estate in the mid-20th century and the country’s attempts at land reform had left it effectively ruined.)
On accepting his father’s invitation to revive Viña Errázuriz, Chadwick set about re-establishing what had once been a proud brand begun by his ancestor Maximiano Errázuriz in 1870. ‘I’d done odd jobs in my father’s vineyards,’ he remembers, ‘so I had a little knowledge, but not much. At that time, there was no culture of fine wine in Chile; it was all very basic.’ What was needed was investment and ambition – both personal and financial. Aided by the family’s wider business interests in malting, brewing, soft drinks and distribution – responsibilities he continues juggling to this day – Chadwick took to the task with gusto.
As well as renewing winemaking equipment and expanding the vineyards, Chadwick took time to visit Bordeaux and Burgundy, meeting the likes of Emile Peynaud, Denis Dubourdieu and Paul Pontallier along the way. On return, he began laying the foundations necessary for fine wine at Errázuriz: re-launching Don Maximiano as ‘an icon red for the modern era’, planting his father’s polo field in Puente Alto to become Viñedo Chadwick, and establishing Hatch Mansfield agencies in the UK.Timeline of major achievement
- 1870 Maximiano Errázuriz founds his eponymous winery in Aconcagua
- 1983 Family takes back control of Viña Errázuriz; Eduardo Chadwick joins
- 1985 Travels to Bordeaux and Burgundy
- 1987 Marries María Eugenia
- 1991 Meets Robert Mondavi in Chile
- 1992 Plants his father’s polo field in Puente Alto to form Viñedo Chadwick
- 1994 UK agency Hatch Mansfield acquired by Viña Errázuriz, Louis Jadot and Villa Maria
- 1995 Joint venture with Robert Mondavi to create Seña
- 1998 New dedicated vineyard for Seña planted in Ocoa
- 1999 Viña Errázuriz becomes Principal Supporter of Institute of Masters of Wine
- 2002 Summits Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak outside Asia, brandishing a bottle of Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserv
- 2003 Helps re-establish Wines of Chile’s UK office
- 2004 Viña Errázuriz assumes sole control of Seña and Caliterra following Mondavi’s takeover by Constellation
- 2004 The Berlin Tasting sees Chadwick’s wines beat the world’s finest Cabernets
- 2005 Planting starts in new Aconcagua Costa site as Seña vineyard starts conversion to biodynamics
- 2010 New Don Maximiano Icon Winery inaugurated on Viña Errázuriz’s 140th anniversary
- 2015 Poses at 6,893m altitude with a bottle of Seña, atop Ojos del Salado
A fateful moment in Chadwick’s career came in 1991 when he volunteered to chauffeur Robert and Margrit Mondavi, fresh from a fishing holiday in the south, around Chilean wine country. ‘At the time, the Mondavi operation was twice the size of the entire Chilean wine industry and our average export price was US$10-$12 per case,’ recalls Chadwick. ‘At the end of the trip, Bob said, “There’s great terroir and potential in Chile.” He was in his 80s, already an iconic figure, I was early-30s. We did talk about doing something together, but it seemed a distant dream.’
Nonetheless, the dream became reality in 1995 when Errázuriz and Mondavi created a ground-breaking joint venture encompassing the Caliterra brand and creating a new icon wine: Seña. Chadwick was profoundly aware of how Mondavi’s own joint venture with Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Opus One, had raised the profile of California’s Napa Valley – and hoped his own association would do the same for Chile, whose fine-wine credentials were proving harder to assert than he’d envisaged. In 1998, a dedicated vineyard for Seña was developed in Ocoa, Aconcagua, which was subsequently converted to biodynamic cultivation under the late Alan York’s guidance from 2005.Ambitious plans
Although Mondavi’s involvement came to an end in 2004 following Bob Mondavi’s death and the firm’s takeover by Constellation, Chadwick sees the positives. ‘I see Bob as a mentor: he opened my eyes to how to do things. We were too humble and closed in Chile: we needed to get out into the world, to raise the reputation of our country and put our wine on the map as a luxury item.’
Getting out into the world has been Chadwick’s mission since. And yet this is not to gloss over significant investment and achievements at home. Viña Errázuriz has been at the forefront of many positive trends in Chile, such as the development of Syrah and Sangiovese, hillside plantings, drip irrigation, biodynamics and wild ferments. Talented chief winemaker Francisco Baettig, a renowned Francophile, has long upheld the value of travel and wide tasting to improve winemaking. Most recently, the development of the Aconcagua Costa vineyard on the basis of detailed terroir analysis has given rise to two of Chile’s most exciting, elegant and nuanced wines of the modern era: Las Pizarras Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
And there have been challenges. Chadwick has felt many personal losses, including that of his father, brother and two infant children. Professional too: Chadwick relates how finding a foothold among the Bordeaux négociants proved challenging at a time when non-Bordeaux wines were not particularly welcome. Just one (CVBG, run by Mathieu Chadronnier) took a risk. These days, sales are brisk across 15 négociants.
As for regrets, Chadwick is frank. On a personal note, he says: ‘I regret taking life too seriously at times, not enjoying the journey and time with my family as much as I might have.’ To this, he adds not becoming a Master of Wine (Chadwick came close to becoming Chile’s first MW while living in the UK but had to abandon the course to return home). On a professional note: ‘I regret that as a nation we didn’t focus on fine wines earlier, and that we’re not more united. Bob [Mondavi] never kept secrets, always shared his knowledge. This is still work in progress.’
For Chadwick, despite the increasingly prominent accolades, the mission is far from accomplished. ‘There’s lots of work to do: more miles, more education. We’re not there yet – I was in China recently and no one in the room had visited Chile. It’s still early days: this is just the beginning.’ It’s telling he mentions China, as Asia is central to Chadwick’s plan of developing Chile’s fine wine future.
The final words go to Patrick McGrath MW, the MD of Hatch Mansfield and fellow mountaineer. ‘At the top of the mountain, Eduardo just keeps going, never losing his sense of humour. He has helped change the perception and future of Chile. Those who will really see the results of his hard work are his daughters – and his country.’Tributes to Eduardo Chadwick
‘In 2003 and 2004 Eduardo was living in Oxford, studying to become a Master of Wine, and his four daughters were with him, attending local schools. In January 2010 Sebastián Piñera, newly elected President of Chile, invited him to be the Chilean Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Eduardo declined this honour, stating that he did not wish to have his daughters move once more. He was already and continues to be the best ambassador his country’s wines have ever had.’ Steven Spurrier, 2107 Decanter Man of the Year
‘Too young, too charming and too good-looking are presumably the only three reasons for Eduardo Chadwick’s belated anointment as Decanter Man of the Year. On a serious note, this award is testament to Eduardo’s innovative spirit and his tireless quest for quality, whether at the quintessence of Chile level of Seña, Don Maximiano and Viñedo Chadwick or in his unrivalled portfolio of more affordable, deliciously drinkable wines.’ Anthony Rose, wine writer and DWWA Regional Co-chair for Australia
‘Over the years, my son Miguel and I have always been impressed by the will and capacity of Eduardo Chadwick to raise the quality and prestige of Chilean wine. In so doing, Eduardo has not only proved that Chilean wines can compete with the wines of the Old World, but he has also inspired a whole generation of Chilean oenologists by making them conscious of the potential of Chile’s great wine terroirs.’ Miguel A Torres, 2002 Decanter Man of the Year
‘I first met Eduardo three decades ago, in the days when Chilean wine was hard to find outside South America and almost no one took Chile seriously as a source of real quality. Eduardo’s blind Berlin Tastings (two of which I have been lucky to have participated in ) had a radical impact on changing those impressions. But so too have his enthusiasm for Carmenère (almost unknown 30 years ago), biodynamic viticulture, regionality and effective super-premium brand-building. Robert Joseph, publisher of www.thewinethinker.com
‘I have known Eduardo Chadwick for more than 25 years and had the pleasure of working with him to create Seña, one of the first wines of Chile to be recognised among the great wines of the world. Eduardo always impressed me with his passion, dedication and sophistication. His commitment to learning, producing and advocating the great wines of Chile has elevated the reality and awareness of Chilean wine, and led me to think of Eduardo as the Robert Mondavi of Chile. I applaud Decanter for their thoughtful selection, and congratulate my good friend Eduardo for being recognised as Decanter Man of the Year.’ Tim Mondavi, partner in Continuum Estate and co-creator of Seña
‘Eduardo Chadwick’s tireless and resolute crusade to champion his wines and those of Chile on the international stage has been extremely successful. Through his brilliant work Eduardo has demonstrated that he is both a great visionary, a superb innovator and a fabulous ambassador for the Chilean wine industry; someone who has inspired many. More importantly he is a great man and a true gentleman. Bravo Mr Eduardo Chadwick!’ Gerard Basset OBE MW MS, 2013 Decanter Man of the Year
‘Eduardo is a tireless ambassador of Chilean wine, championing its quality and leading by example: as the pioneer of iconic wines that often beat the best of Bordeaux in blind tastings; in realising the potential of Aconcagua, which he single-handedly placed on the world wine map; by launching the most minerally Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that may challenge Burgundy… The full list would fill this page. Eduardo is also a talented taster (he passed the practical component of the Master of Wine exam), an avid sportsman, a wonderful friend and true family man. What makes him so deserving of being 2018 Decanter Man of the Year is that the admiration he has won for his achievements in wine are overshadowed by the love and high regard that his family and friends have for him.’ Jeannie Cho Lee MW is a DWWA judge and Decanter contributing editor for AsiaHall of Fame: previous recipients
- 2017 Steven Spurrier, England
- 2016 Denis Dubourdieu, France
- 2015 Alvaro Palacios, Spain
- 2014 Jean-Pierre & François Perrin, Rhône
- 2013 Gerard Basset OBE MW MS, England
- 2012 Paul Symington, Portugal
- 2011 Giacomo Tachis, Italy
- 2010 Aubert de Villaine, Burgundy
- 2009 Nicolás Catena, Argentina
- 2008 Christian Moueix, Bordeaux
- 2007 Anthony Barton, Bordeaux
- 2006 Marcel Guigal, Rhône
- 2005 Ernst Loosen, Mosel
- 2004 Brian Croser, Adelaide Hills
- 2003 Jean-Michel Cazes, Bordeaux
- 2002 Miguel Torres, Penedès
- 2001 Jean-Claude Rouzaud, Champagne
- 2000 Paul Draper, California
- 1999 Jancis Robinson OBE MW, London
- 1998 Angelo Gaja, Piedmont
- 1997 Len Evans OBE AO, Australia
- 1996 Georg Riedel, Austria
- 1995 Hugh Johnson OBE, London
- 1994 May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, Bordeaux
- 1993 Michael Broadbent MW, London
- 1992 André Tchelistcheff, California
- 1991 José Ignacio Domecq, Jerez
- 1990 Professor Emile Peynaud, Bordeaux
- 1989 Robert Mondavi, California
- 1988 Max Schubert, Australia
- 1987 Alexis Lichine, Bordeaux
- 1986 Marchese Piero Antinori, Tuscany
- 1985 Laura & Corinne Mentzelopoulos, Bordeaux
- 1984 Serge Hochar, Lebanon
- Peter Richards MW is an award-wining writer, author, consultant and broadcaster on wine, and the DWWA Regional Chair for Chile
The post Eduardo Chadwick named Decanter Man of the Year 2018 appeared first on Decanter.
Below, Anthony Rose looks at the varying styles of Aussie Riesling, and John Stimpfig comments on the results of this panel tasting. Decanter Premium members can read the full report and see all 133 wines...
Few countries outside Germany take Riesling quite as seriously as Australia, reports Anthony Rose.
Its history with the variety goes back to the first half of the 19th century, after the country’s first viticulturist, William Macarthur, travelled to the Rheingau to bring back Riesling cuttings.
Early Pewsey Vale Rieslings were described by Thomas Hardy as ‘fine, light, delicate… and nearer in type to the Rhine wines than any produced in the Colony’.
No Rhine River runs through South Australia’s Clare or Eden Valleys though, and the climate is relatively warm and dry by German standards, which makes the wines from these two valleys – the dominant terroirs for Riesling in Australia – an enigma.Related content:
- Understanding Grosses Gewächs Riesling
- Ten exciting dry and off-dry German Riesling wines
- Cool-climate Australian Chardonnay: Panel tasting results
Some wines can taste sweeter than they really are, with oak, fruit, acidity and alcohol levels all playing their part in tricking your palate into detecting the presence of residual sugar, says David Glancy MS, of San Francisco Wine School.French oak barrels at the Opus One winery in Napa Valley, California.
There are four main reasons for wine tasters at all levels perceiving sweetness in a wine that is classed as dry and contains very little – if any- residual sugar, according to David Glancy MS.Lower acidity
When two wines have the same level of residual sugar, the one with lower acid would seem sweeter.The ripeness of fruit
Take white wines as an example, when you’ve got tropical fruits, such as mango and pineapple, which we would assume to be very sweet as opposed to lemon—we wouldn’t expect lemons to be very sweet.Higher alcohol
With all other things being equal, alcohol seems both sweet and bitter. So higher alcohol can make the wine seems sweeter.Oak
The vanilla, caramel and baking spice markers [can] make our nose think ‘sweet is coming’. When we put it into the mouth while still smelling it, we may think it’s sweet, but there’s no sugar. [Recent research has looked at how oak can induce sweetness in wine as it ages in the barrel – see below. Ed.]Read more: Why oak ageing can make wines taste sweeter as they mature
Sylvia Wu is editor of DecanterChina.com and is visiting California as part of a media trip hosted and funded by the California Wine Institute.To get your question answered, email us: email@example.com or on social media with #askDecanter
Decanter’s long-standing consultant editor hand-picks fine wines for drinking now and recommends others to lay down, all priced from £25 upwards.
Almost 20 years ago, the much-missed practical joker and fortified wine expert, Tim Stanley-Clarke, created the Shortest Day Lunch, attended by his contemporaries in the wine trade and held on the nearest possible day to 21 December at London’s Garrick Club. On that day last year, we celebrated his memory in style.Steven Spurrier recommends:
Around 1,500 bottles of Piper-Heidsieck Champagne were served during the Oscars 2018 awards ceremony and Governors Ball, including one cuvée described by critics as a legend-in-the-making.Chocolate oscars were just one of the treats offered to guests at the 90th Academy Awards.
Nominees who didn’t win an Oscar at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday night (4 March) might at least have been lucky enough to console themselves with a glass of one of the best Piper-Heidsieck Champagnes produced this century so far.
A wine list for the evening showed that organisers planned to serve 1,500 bottles of Piper-Heidsieck, including the ‘Rare’ 2002 vintage cuvée.
Champagne expert Richard Juhlin has tasted the Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002 for Decanter in 2014 and reported that it ‘looks like becoming another legendary Piper in the same style and league as 1988, ’76 and ’55’.
Most of the Piper-Heidsieck Champagne served at the Oscars ceremony and Governors Ball was Cuvée Brut, poured from limited edition magnums.
The EPI-owned Champagne house also made available its Rare 1998 in magnum.
In a repeat of the 2017 awards ceremony, Piper-Heidsieck was joined on the menu by Francis Ford Coppola wines.
Around 2,400 bottles of Coppola wines were served, including ‘Director’s Cut Oscars 90th Edition’, Director’s Cut Sauvignon Blanc, Director’s Cut Chardonnay 2015, Francis Coppola Reserve Pinot Noir 2016 and Archimedes 2014.
Archimedes is a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant ‘Bordeaux blend’ that also includes Cabernet Franc from Knights Valley. It is named after the Godfather director’s uncle Archimedes.
At the Governors Ball – the official post-ceremony party – wines were served alongside a range of culinary treats, including 100 pounds of scallops, 400 pizzas, 250 Main lobsters, 6,500 wood-fired flatbreads, 300 pounds of Miyazaki Wagyu beef, 1,000 hibiscus flowers, 7,000 mini chocolate oscars and 15kg of caviar.
The post Oscars 2018 menu: Piper-Heidsieck, Coppola wines and 15kg of caviar appeared first on Decanter.
This Napa Valley winery has had a rollercoaster journey since being founded in the 1970s. Elin McCoy reports on a visit to its Spring Mountain home and on recent work to improve the quality of the wines...Newton’s vineyard in the Yountville appellation
Glossy black dinner plates inscribed in glowing gold with Newton Vineyard’s iconic ‘Pino Solo’ logo graced the Napa winery’s official 40th anniversary event last spring, but the stars were in the glasses: three brand-new, stunning, single-vineyard Cabernets.
As we savoured Newton’s future, Jean-Guillaume Prats, the architect behind the winery’s new Cabernet direction and CEO of Moët-Hennessy’s Estates & Wines division, wore a pleased but slightly anxious smile.Scroll down to see Elin’s top picks from the range Elin McCoy is an award-winning journalist and author who writes for Bloomberg News
Multi-vintage blends may sound like a novel idea, but they’re part of a long tradition. What’s more, says Anthony Rose, they offer creative freedom for innovative winemakers...
Where would wine be without its vintages?
The concept of vintage is so ingrained in our psyche that the very name itself has become an all-singing, all-dancing descriptor for products as diverse as cars, watches, dresses and even football.
Vintage is a great hook: the key to the values of fine wines in the marketplace, the cheat’s guide to wine, a vertical stroll through the back pages of fine wine. Without vintages, there would be no vertical tastings, no heated debates about the weather and no guessing the-year-games in blind tastings.
So is wine without a vintage a lost soul?Scroll down for Rose’s top multi-vintage blends
Rose’s top multi-vintage wines to try:
Anthony Rose is the wine correspondent for the Independent and i newspapers, and the DWWA Regional co-Chair for Australia.
Andrew Jefford tastes some 2010 Vins Jaunes – and more...Don't miss the 2010 and 2011 vintages in Jura.
In last week’s ‘Jefford on Monday’, I described the recent ‘Vin de Voile’ Symposium organised prior to this year’s Percée de Vin Jaune in the Jura, with the participation not only of local Vin Jaune growers but of sherry producers Equipo Navazos and Williams & Humbert, too, as well as Tokaji producer Samuel Tinon. This week, let’s take a look at the wines themselves.Tasting Vin Jaune
Six years’ ageing means that the latest vintages of Vin Jaune to reach market are 2010 and 2011. If you’re a fan of Vin Jaune, don’t let these slip by: 2010 was a small but high quality vintage, while 2011 was an abundant vintage of good to very good wines. Subsequent vintages have usually been much tougher propositions for growers, both in terms of quantity and quality, and prices will surely rise for this sought-after but necessarily rare wine style.
Buying young Vin Jaune, by the way, is a much less riskier procedure than it once was: the controls, checks, supervision and understanding of these wines has greatly improved over the last two decades, and they are much more consistent as a consequence. Connoisseurs love to age these wines further and the producers themselves often give ‘drink by’ dates three decades hence, but I’m not convinced by this: the older vintages shown at the Symposium weren’t uniformly successful, and my own preference, save in the case of truly outstanding young wines, would be to drink within five years of purchase.
Producers are listed by alphabetical order, regardless of appellation, and the wines were tasted sighted. Most wines carry a local retail price of 25€ to 35€ on release, though those of Stéphane Tissot are more expensive.
Ch d’Arlay, Côtes du Jura Vin Jaune 2010
This beautifully labelled wine, from a property formerly owned by Moët visionary and French Resistance hero Robert-Jean de Vogüé, is mid-gold in colour, with a sweeter, creamier scent than its peers and a touch of honeysuckle charm, too. Don’t be misled, though: on the palate it’s a loosed arrow: pure, long and incisive, with more elemental Savagnin character than many of its peers, modulating towards the end of the palate towards umami and nuts. Comte Alain de Laguiche, the present owner, talks of its ‘droiteur et pureté’: an accurate description. 91 (14%)
Domaine Badoz, Côtes du Jura Vin Jaune 2010
Full gold, with a scent of crushed citrus zest and white pepper in addition to some bready warmth. It’s slender and zesty on the palate, too, but with great purity, drive and vividness from the wine’s resonant acid architecture. 90 (14.5%)
Dom Baud Génération 9, Côtes du Jura Vin Jaune 2010
Full gold in colour, with a creamy, lemony scent in which bready aldehyde notes are more than usually apparent. There’s a typical Côtes du Jura acidic nerviness to this Vin Jaune, and an almost saline edge; you might also recall bread and seaweed. The palate finishes with unexpected warmth and richness, and some apricot fruit notes. Concentrated and complex. 92 (14.5%)
Fruitière Vinicole d’Arbois, Château Béthanie, Arbois Vin Jaune 2010
With 270 ha under vines, this is the Jura’s largest producer, and its 2010 Vin Jaune is a fine effort: mid-gold in colour, with fresh, bready fruit notes lent richness by the creaminess of soft, white, new-season hazels. It’s a true Arbois on the palate: broad, vivid, rich and mouthfilling, with less overt acid strike than Côtes du Jura Vins Jaunes. Its resonant orchard fruit is qualified by dried mushroom and savoury umami notes, too. Despite its amplitude, it leaves the mouth fresh and longing for more. 93 (15%)
Fruitière Vinicole de Voiteur, Château-Chalon Vin Jaune 2010
Jura has one of the oldest co-operative traditions in France, and regional standards are admirably high; the Voiteur co-operative, sited at the foot of Château-Chalon, is the largest single producer of this rare wine, vinifying a quarter of the appellation’s 55 ha of vineyard. The wine is relatively pale at present, with soft, subtle scents combining creamy sweetness and plant sap. On the palate it is refined, pure and elegant, with well-rounded lemon fruit, stony purity and a tickle of nutty, grainy complexity on the finish which a little more bottle age will certainly amplify. A classic to buy with confidence. 93 (14.5%)
Dom Henri Maire, Château-Chalon Vin Jaune 2010
Henri Maire passed into the ownership of the Boisset group in February 2015, but most of the credit for this wine should go to the Verdoso Industries team, who took over the company in 2010. It is a fine benchmark for the region, which wasn’t always true in the past: full gold in colour, with ample bready, yeasty, mushroomy aromatic intrigue. The palate in this case delivers what the nose promised with generosity and exuberance: it’s a big, bready mouthful with a clean, long, tangy and saliva-inducing finish. 91 (14.5%)
Rolet, Arbois Vin Jaune 2010
A bright mid-gold in colour, with apple, lemon, quince and forest mushroom scents. There’s a creamy undertow, and the wine is very clean and spotless. On the palate, it is intense and vivid with more acid drive and thrust to it than many Arbois peers. That insistently taut, tight, apple-lemon fruit suggests this would be better after a two or three-year wait, with plenty of ageing potential in store. 93 (14.5%)
André et Mireille Tissot, Château Chalon Vin Jaune 2010
How do you describe Stéphane Tissot? Perhaps ‘human firework’ comes closest; he fizzes and crackles with energy, bonhomie, positivity and creativity, and he and his wife Bénédicte have, in the 25 years since he took over from his father, turned this into one of the finest French domains in any region, as well as one of Jura’s most sizeable, offering a colossal range of 28 different cuvées, including three different Arbois Vin Jaune cuvées and a Château-Chalon, too. For Tissot, the difference between the two appellations is that that Château-Chalon has “more finesse, more delicate fruit and more citrus character.” That’s certainly true of this magnificent example, still a relatively pale gold in early 2018. There’s huge aromatic complexity here, if you just give it a little time to emerge: moss, woodruff, mint and lemon verbena, cushioning understated but supportive summer or light citrus fruits – though not, as yet, much nut or mushroom complexity. On the palate, the wine almost has the acidic energy and lunge of a Riesling though the allusions seeping from that acidic force are quite different – crushed stone, green plum skins and green apple with a chicory, acorn or dandelion-sap bitterness. It’s resonant, energetic and almost caustic in the mouth, yet there is a little umami warmth, too, and given time (which this wine needs) you will see a glowing shapeliness emerge. Magnificent Vin Jaune. 97 (15%)
Jacques Tissot, Arbois Vin Jaune 2010
Mid-gold in colour, with a warm, comforting, nourishing, well-rounded nose, cleanly and sweetly expressed though without great aromatic intricacy. Ripe, rounded and tangy on the palate, with warm, earthy, savoury, meat-stock flavours lending depth and intricacy to the subdued orchard fruit. 92 (14.5%)
Jean-Louis Tissot, Arbois Vin Jaune 2010
The Arbois style tends to be forceful and exuberant compared to the nuance, subtlety, grain and finesse of Château-Chalon. This mid- to full gold example from Valérie and Jean-Christophe Tissot has a mellow, rich, enveloping aromatic profile of woodland savoury sweetness and a vivid, deep palate, combining forest mushroom and simmering stock notes with ringing, singing acidity. There’s almost a tannic dimension to its structure: grand Arbois which surely has got the legs for a decade or more. 94 (14.5%)
Philippe Vandelle, L’Etoile Vin Jaune 2010
Pale gold in colour, with scents of threshed grain, dry straw and a little peach juice. Lemon, bread and dried mushrooms provide the palate allusions in this poised, resolute and firmly structured Vin Jaune. There’s a bright, ample, satisfying finish. 92 (14.5%)Tasting the Cousins
As I suggested last week, the sensual experience of Fino and Manzanilla (produced from low-acid Palomino in multi-vintage solera systems) is a very different one to that of Vin Jaune and other voile-aged wines produced from the high-acid Savagnin produced from a single vintage.
Two wines from Spain took us a little closer to a valid comparison. The first is the unfortified Bota de Florpower from Equipo Navazos, a 12% wine from two old-vine vineyards in Sanlúcar where you can see Palomino fruit quality (and some soft acidity) as well as the effects of flor (the current release is Bota 77 MMXV from 2015). Williams & Humbert, meanwhile, offers genuine single-vintage (añada) wine as ‘Crianza Tipo Biologica’ – see a review of the 2010 below, alongside a review of Equipo Navazos’s La Bota de Fino 68 and Samuel Tinon’s 2007 Tokaji Szamorodni Száraz.
Equipa Navazos, La Bota de Fino 68, Macharnudo Alto
This solera-aged blend draws all its new wines from the celebrated albariza vineyards of Macharnudo Alto. The flor in the solera stage itself, from which the wine is bottled, is almost exhausted – though this is drawn from the first and second criaderas, which are richer in flor, as well as the solera itself. It’s a pale burnished gold in colour with scents of milled grain, seaweed, anis and green tea, with creamy, almost chewy flor flavours of impressive breadth and depth. 93 (15%)
Williams Colección Añadas, Fino En Rama, Crianza Tipo Biológica 2010
This lightly fortified wine, from the albariza vineyards of Añina and Carrascal, is translucent pewter-gold with gently bready scents but a subdued fruit warmth, too. That fruit aroma disappears on the palate, though, which is low acid (4 g/l), plump and rounded, but bright and alive with chewy, tingly-tangy flor character; you do feel you are getting much closer to the flor in this wine than in most vins jaunes. 92 (15%)
Samuel Tinon, Tokaji Szamarodni Száraz 2007
An unfortified wine made from 90% Furmint with 10% Hárslevelű harvested at one moment using healthy, shrivelled and botrytised grapes which are fermented together to dryness. The wine is a light, translucent tawny in colour, with scents of dry leaves, varnish and old library bookshelves – the oxidative elements, in other words, are more prominent than any legacy of the voile. On the palate, the wine is tangy, bright, light, open and very clean, with something of the searching acidity of Vin Jaune (5.1 g/l here) and a dusty-apricot fruit complexity. 89 (13.8%).
Four more students have gained entry to the exclusive club, swelling the ranks of Masters of Wine globally to 370.Institute Masters Wine
The four new Masters of Wine so far in 2018 are:
- Cassidy Dart MW, based in the UK
- Caroline Hermann MW, based in the US
- Simon Milroy MW, based in the UK
- Martin Reyes MW, based in the US
There are now 370 Masters of Wine living in 28 countries, said the Institute of Masters of Wine.
Martin Reyes MW was described by the Institute as ‘the first Master of Wine of Mexican descent and a first-generation American’.
He lives in California, where he heads up Peter Paul Wines, works as a consultant on wine buying and retailing, and also teaches with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
His research paper was: ‘Crowdsourced ratings for wine: exploring the rise of the consumer critic and its impact on purchasing behaviour in a USA retail environment.’
Cassidy Dart MW is director of wine for Pol Roger Portfolio in the UK, has also consulted for Mullineux and Leeu Wines in Swartland, South Africa.
His research paper was: The Swartland in transition; obscurity to recognition 2010-2016.
Caroline Hermann is based in Washington DC, where she is the programme manager for wine, beer and spirits at the US Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
She is also a WSET teacher.
He research paper was: ‘Assessing market potential for imported wine: a case study of the Washington D.C. metro market.’
Simon Milroy MW is a biochemistry graduate of the University of Bristol who subsequently secured a place on Majestic Wine’s graduate trainee scheme. He has worked in wine retail since then, including for The Sampler and Domaine Direct.
He judged at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2017 and also teaches at WSET.
His research paper was: ‘What are the attitudes and perceptions of Jurançon sec within the London independent off-trade and what is the potential for this style within this channel?’See also: Eighteen new Masters of Wine sworn in – November 2017
How good are 'third' wines from Bordeaux châteaux?
The tower at Château Latour
Dominic Haig, Brighton, UK asks:
I understand some Bordeaux châteaux are producing third and even fourth wines. How easy are these to find and how good are they in terms of quality and value?
Jane Anson replies:
Yes, an increasing number of top châteaux are producing third wines, such as:
- Le Pauillac de Château Latour
- Margaux du Château Margaux
- Le St-Estèphe de Montrose
Fourth wines are less common, because even to produce the third wine an additional selection process must happen; the remains of this will usually end up being sold as bulk to négociants for branded wines.
Third wines tend to be made from the property’s youngest vines, and are in many ways an inevitable side-effect of the drive towards more quality, and higher prices, for the first and second wines.
They are also a reminder than many of these iconic Left Bank classified châteaux have bought extra plots of land over the past decade, which don’t yet make high enough quality wine to be included in the grand vin.
Third wines are quite easy to find, because they are meant to extend the brand into more affordable areas, although distribution tends to focus on just one or two importers per country.
You might also find them by the glass in restaurants.
Third wines of the crus classés have merit, but I feel there’s more interest in the first wines of Médoc cru bourgeois, which are similarly priced but will be putting their very best grapes into the bottle.
Jane Anson is Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent and a contributing editor.
This question first appeared in the April 2018 issue of Decanter magazine, subscribe to Decanter here.Latest Bordeaux tasting notes on Decanter.com:
The post Is it worth buying Bordeaux third wines? – ask Decanter appeared first on Decanter.
Tricky to grow and produced in a range of styles, it can be hard to pin down the character of great Californian Zinfandel. Stephen Brook suggests starting your search in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley, and picks out his favourite wines.
Driving up to the Nalle Winery in Dry Creek Valley, I find Doug Nalle standing outside surrounded by bins of freshly picked Zinfandel. I peer into one and remark on how healthy the grapes look. There had been a heat spike a few days earlier and Zin grapes, which had been exposed to temperatures of up to 45˚C, are susceptible to shrivelling or raisining.
‘You’re looking at the bin that has been sorted. Here’s the bin of raisined grapes – this is fruit I don’t want in my vats. And over there is the bin with the bunch rot. That’s going to be thrown out. The raisined grapes I’ll ferment separately and we’ll probably make a lateharvest wine from it. May as well.’
When you’re making wine from Zinfandel, pragmatism has to be the order of the day.
It’s a tricky grape at the best of times, being prone to uneven ripening, so winemakers may end up with unripe and overripe berries in their fermenters. Rigorous sorting helps reduce this unevenness, but it does make decisions on when to pick extremely difficult. ‘Flowering is always uneven and so is the maturation,’ says Nalle, ‘so you get grapes at various stages of maturation in the same cluster.’
It is a mantra in California that grapes need to be optimally, or phenolically, ripe to be considered ready for harvest. By the time the bunches reach that ideal position, sugar levels are likely to be very high, and the result will be wines with ferocious alcohol. This, surely, is the reason why Zinfandel is controversial.
At the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards, a judge who happens to be one of America’s top sommeliers threw up his hands when I announced that the next tasting flight would be Zinfandel. ‘Count me out,’ he said. ‘I just hate Zinfandel, so my low scores will scupper any wine’s chances.’Expect the unexpected
Strong words, but not uncommon. A visit to Dry Creek Valley, generally accepted to be the source of California’s finest Zinfandels, provided the key. There can be few wines made in so many styles.Brook’s pick of Dry Creek Valley Zinfandels
Article continues belowBest sites
The valley is by no means uniform. The more northerly stretches can be considerably warmer than the southern ones, and by the time the valley reaches the outskirts of Healdsburg the climate is generally too cool to be optimal for Zinfandel. The best sites are on the eastern benchlands and the western slopes and hills. Nalle explains: ‘These sites are well drained, and that’s essential for Zin. If it’s growing on poorly drained, valley floor areas, the berries will swell. Zin needs warmth but doesn’t like excessive heat. Sometimes the western side can give harder or edgier wines. Overall I find the eastern vineyards more consistent, especially around Canyon Road.’
Kim Stare Wallace, whose father David Stare founded Dry Creek Vineyard in 1972, broadly concurs: ‘The western side has more iron in the soil, which is reddish and rocky, and this is ideal for Zin. The eastern side has more sedimentary soils that give softer wines with more elegance.’ Shelly Rafanelli, winemaker at the eponymous estate that owns vineyards on both sides of the valley, finds the western side better in torrid years, as it can resist shrivelling more consistently.
Diurnal range is an important factor too. Chappelle and Sbragia both note that nighttime temperatures can be around 12˚C, even in summer. ‘But that,’ Chapelle points out, ‘is the secret of Zin’s healthy natural acidities – if you don’t pick too late.’ Elevation also makes a difference and helps to explain the wide flavour spectrum of Dry Creek Zinfandel.
As Favero points out: ‘Vineyards at higher, cooler elevations with marine influence give more red-fruited wines and spice, while valley floor sites give jammier flavours. But it also depends on when you pick, as more raisined fruit will also give darker flavours.’ Some higher sites on the western side are extremely close to the fashionable high-elevation vineyards of the Sonoma Coast, and these ripen later and have a different structure.Versatile variety
David Amadia, president of Ridge Vineyards, says it’s not surprising that Zinfandel can be made in so many styles, even within one valley, as it’s notoriously diverse. ‘Historically, Zin was used to produce not only dry reds, but rosés and Port-style wines,’ he explains. You can also add blush wines to that list. This makes it impossible to pin down the variety’s typicity, as there are so many variables.
Another factor that has nothing to do with terroir or vine age is consumer taste. There’s still a strong following for ‘killer Zins’, wines that can exceed 16%. A few days visiting top producers persuaded me that those coarse, palate-numbing styles were on the way out; but a generic tasting of wines from estates I had no time to visit showed that those styles still cling on. Some winemakers like them too.
Teldeschi’s wines have a kind of rugged grandeur, but no one would call them elegant. But some of these burly monsters soon fall apart, as they are fundamentally unbalanced. Chappelle is convinced that there’s a renaissance of Zin made in a fresher style, the approach championed for decades by Nalle and today by Jessica Boone of Passalacqua.
Richer, weightier styles that avoid excesses, especially of alcohol, can be very enjoyable, are generally balanced and can age well. Ridge’s splendid Lytton Springs wines fall into this category, as do some of Mazzocco’s single-vineyard bottlings. They’re indisputably big wines, but are balanced. Zinfandels made by the likes of Seghesio, Nalle and Ridge can and will age. Amadia poured a Lytton Springs 1997 that was still going strong, but admitted that such longevity couldn’t be counted on.
Paul Draper, former chief winemaker of Ridge, once told me that Zin can close down after seven years; it may bounce back and continue to evolve, but then again it may not. Zin enthusiasts love the variety for its fruit, and for its lifted and varied aromas. Obscure that fruit with too much oak or alcohol, or with overripeness, and that appeal soon vanishes.
Unbalanced wines still exist, but most don’t travel beyond Sonoma’s borders. In an American context Zinfandel is reasonably priced, with good examples between $30 and $60 (£22-£44), the latter being the price of a bargain-basement Cabernet.
Despite the emergence of Pinot Noir as a credible West Coast grape variety, Sonoma’s Dry Creek Zinfandel has its place in the roster of Californian reds that deserve to be taken far more seriously.
Our three-strong panel has blind tasted and rated 174 wines from the vintage. Below, Premium members can be among the first to see which wines came out on top, with an introduction to the vintage by Karen MacNeil and a report on the results by Tina Gellie.
One hundred million dollars-worth of destruction – that’s often the first thing that comes to a Napa Valley producer’s mind when you mention the California 2014 vintage.
The figure, from analyst Rob McMillan at Silicon Valley Bank, is an estimate of damages that resulted from a 6.0-magnitude earthquake that ripped through the valley at 3am on 24 August 2014.
The harvest was already well underway, having started early on 30 July with grapes intended for sparkling wine.
More than 60% of Napa Valley’s 450-plus wineries sustained damage – mostly to structures, machinery, barrels and wine in vats. Much of the Cabernet Sauvignon, luckily, was still on the vine.
- Mature Californian wines from the cellar
- Tasting historic Lynch-Bages wines
- Domaine Georges Roumier: Profile and wine ratings
Why it makes the Decanter hall of fame...Wine Legend: Williams Selyem, Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir 1988, Sonoma, California, US
Bottles produced 1,296
Composition 100% Pinot Noir
Release price $25
Price today N/AA legend because…
The post Wine Legend: Williams Selyem, Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir 1988 appeared first on Decanter.
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Created by Decanter in partnership with ARAEX GrandsHow well can you read a Spanish wine label and do you know what to look for in the glass?...
Pingus creator Peter Sisseck has implored fellow winemakers in Spain to remember the 'art of blending' grapes from different locations alongside a more recent trend for single vineyard recognition.The wines of the first masterclass at DFWE Spain & Portugal, comparing classic and modern Spanish wines with Sarah Jane Evans MW. The wines were from Zárate, Pazo de Señorans, Laventura, Viña Tondonia, Barbadillo, Roda, Artuke, Álvaro Palacios, Mas Doix, Sei Solo, Dominio de Pingus and Bodegas Alonso.
Spain has a great heritage of blending grapes from a variety of vineyards and it would be a shame it that was lost, Peter Sisseck told an audience at the Decanter Spain & Portugal Fine Wine Encounter last weekend.
Sisseck did not criticise moves to give individual vineyard sites greater recognition, such as the Rioja single vineyard classification that was agreed last year.
But he said, ‘When we talk about Spain and Rioja, even though we are understanding more about single vineyards, we should not throw the baby out with the bath water. We should not forget what was done really well in the past as well.’
He referenced the Rioja Gran Reserva wines of the 1940s and 1950s as a particular high-point of that region’s blending prowess.
It was hard to guess the precise sites used for those wines, but the cellarmasters of this era ‘knew exactly where the grapes came from and [this method] was a fantastic way of blending things together’, Sisseck said.
Pingus Psi is produced by blend several terroirs in Ribera del Duero, whereas flagship wine Pingus comes from Tempranillo vines aged more than 60 years in the sub-region of La Horra.
Now available on Decanter Premium:Ructions in Rioja – by Sarah Jane Evans
Sisseck also spoke to Encounter guests about his belief in preserving ‘old vines’, where possible.
‘When I arrived in Ribera there were only 9,000 hectares of vineyards and 6,000 were more than 50 years old.’
Things have changed since then as Ribera has expanded and modernised. Ribera del Duero now has 22,552 hectares of vines, according to its DO body. Sisseck told Decanter.com that he believed there were around 2,000ha of vines left over 50 years old.
‘Some would call it the success of Ribera, but I call it the horror of the Ribera, which is that everybody forgot about old vines and pulled them out and planted new ones.’Vines: How old is too old? – Ask Decanter
Debate around the extent to which older vineyards should be preserved is common across the wine world.
Yields generally drop off as vines pass their peak age, and older vineyards have been replanted for financial reasons – albeit old vines are prized by some winemakers for conveying extra complexity and concentration in the wines, and a sheer sense of place and history.
There is no legal definition of what constitutes an old vine. In Bordeaux, it is common for vines to be replanted after around 35 years.
Also read on Decanter Premium:Why I find Ribera del Duero hard to love – by Sarah Jane Evans
The post Don’t forget Spain’s blending heritage, says Pingus owner appeared first on Decanter.
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Jane Anson examines some of the changes at Château Brane-Cantenac and tastes a decade of vintages of both the first and second wines.Château Brane-Cantenac is a second growth based in Margaux. Go straight to Jane Anson’s tasting notes on Brane-Cantenac and Baron de Brane spanning the past decade Available exclusively for Decanter Premium members
It’s exactly 10 years ago, in March 2008, that I did a barrel tasting with Château Brane-Cantenac’s technical director Christophe Capdeville and owner Henri Lurton, comparing pre-fined samples of the 2006 vintage that had been aged using a variety of barrels from the cooperage houses of Seguin Moreau, Demptos, and Taransaud.
The aim was to look at the impact of different toasts, of different forest sourcing in both France and Russian oak from the Caucasus forest in the Adygué Republic, and of different lengths of seasoning from 24 to 36 months, and from either inside a drying park or outside with exposure to the natural elements, most importantly rainfall.
This was just part of a regular series of technical experiments that the estate runs.
Brane-Cantenac has worked in partnership with the Bordeaux Faculty of Oenology since the 1960s, and continually carries out research and microvinifications across a variety of vineyard, winemaking and cellar management programmes.
The estate has its own weather station linked up to the European-wide DEMETER network and for more than 10 years has used an extranet website run by Météo France with daily reports, rain radar, satellite pictures and long range forecasts that ensure fully targeted treatments (the estate is fully organic for over one third of the total area, so heading the way of Lurton’s brothers and sisters, who are known for their organic and biodynamic farming at estates like Climens and Durfort Vivens) and encourages biodiversity through hedgerows, rabbit warrens, dry meadows and other things.
Lurton himself has a Masters in biology, another in ampelography and an œnology diploma from the University of Bordeaux.
And it’s clear that his continued interest in analysis is part of the success of Brane-Cantenac over the past ten years, a decade that has really seen this Margaux Second Growth step out from the shadows.
It also meant that I was not surprised to see that for this tasting, held in late 2017, they were more than happy to compare the ageing potential of both Brane-Cantenac and their second wine Baron de Brane, side by side.
It was a fascinating vertical, tracking not only the results of the barrel experiments that have made Brane one of the best practitioners of oak ageing in my opinion, to serious vineyard changes in terms of plantings (the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon has been pushed upwards from 56% of the blend of the first wine in 2005 to regularly 70%-plus in the more recent years).
The effect on the wine is clear, with a deepening in structure and complexity as the Cabernet Sauvignon increases, a nice nod to the past owner – who gave his name to the property – Baron Hector de Brane, who was a key driver in the popularity of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape in the Médoc.
The Carmenère grape has also been introduced, a grape that is notoriously difficult in its early years and often shows unkindly during en primeur, but that Lurton believes in for its complexity and spice.
Brane is never the most showy of wines and yet it has become one of the most sought-after names in Margaux, impressing through the most beautiful layering of aromatics and textured, confident fruits, perfectly encapsulated in the 2005 and even the undervalued 2012.
The winners hands down during the tasting were the usual suspects of 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2016 (with my money on the Baron de Brane 2010 for drinking now), but once we sat down to eat afterwards, the 2008 Baron de Brane was one of the stars, as was the 2007 of the main château wine.
Proof not only that verticals have their limitations, and can sometimes hide the wines that will give most pleasure in a less charged situation, but also that these are the kind of estates that you need to go to in the more challenging vintages like 2007 and 2013.
Don’t think about cellaring them, but take advantage of the lower prices for these classified properties in the less prestigious years, and enjoy.
Oh, and you might be interested to learn that Henri Lurton, that most modest of men in Bordeaux, is also finding himself at the centre of a growing wine event thousands of miles away, in Baja California.
This region is getting a ton of interest from sommeliers, with Lurton one of its biggest names through his Bodegas Henri Lurton.
It’s somehow entirely in keeping with the man that he has chosen to invest in Mexico’s growing fine wine region – that dates back 500 years and yet is still in its infancy – rather than the more established and prestigious regions a little to the north in California.
Because Baja, surely, is where he can best continue to satisfy that itch to experiment and explore.
Château Brane-Cantenac production: 75 hectares (185 acres), producing one-third first wine and two-thirds Baron de Brane/Château Notton (also known as Le Margaux de Henri Lurton). In the Lurton family since 1925, the first wine of Brane-Cantenac comes from a single block of 45 hectares – the original vineyard of the estate, unchanged in size since the 18th century.Top scoring Brane-Cantenac and Baron de Brane wines