Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild dies, aged 80

Philippine de Rothschild has died at the age of 80.

Baroness Philippine was one of the most influential people in the wine world in the 20th century, She took over the running of Mouton Rothschild, one of only five Bordeaux First Growth estates, in 1988. Now Mouton is considered one of the most sought-after wines in the world, with a huge demand from China, thanks largely down to the running of the estate and the chateau's iconic bottles, which feature images from famous artists each year.

Not only did 'The Baroness' keep up the great traditions of Mouton, but she also embarked on global endeavours with the Mouton brand. In Chile, Mouton partnered with Concha Y Toro to create Almaviva. A second wine to Mouton, 'Petit Mouton' was also introduced - now a huge favourite in the Chinese market.

Philippine was a true heavyweight in the Bordeaux wine world. She will be sorely missed the world over.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Are we Seeing an Upturn in Fortunes for Bordeaux?

2014 has been a difficult year so far for Bordeaux. However there are signs that the downturn is coming to an end.

Last week Liv-ex (London International Vintners Exchange) reported that its top five 'market movers' were five vintages of the Bordeaux First Growth, Haut Brion (1995,2000,2006,2009,2010). This was great news for Bordeaux, not least because two of the successful vintages were the twin powers of 2009 and 2010. The best back-to-back vintages since 1989 and 1990 caused a huge interest in the market, but prices could not be sustained and started to see a small decrease from 2012 onwards. Now it would appear the worst is over, and these two great vintages can start to see the type of growth that everyone knows they can achieve.
This week it was reported that the 2014 Bordeaux vintage was 50% up on last year's meager vintage, and showing signs of good growth. Yes, it is early doors, but any good news from now from France's most famous wine-growing region is being pounced upon.

We have started to see some other positive signs in the market of late:

Auction Prices have begun to rise e.g. DRC Romanee-Conti 2009 case sold for over $150,000 and older Bordeaux vintages have begun to see a rise in popularity -5 bottles of Latour 1961 recently sold for just under £10,000.

Margaux and Haut Brion have accounted for 21% of the trade by value on the market, more than the other three First Growths combined (Lafite, Latour, Mouton).

With the run-up to the Autumn Festivals in China and the Christmas & New Year period coming, the trade is confident the final half of 2014 will be more productive than the first half.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Grapes Behind The Fine Bordeaux Wine

The Bordeaux wine region covers a large area of 120,000 hectares in vines, making it the second biggest wine region in the world. The diversity of its soils, its mix of climates and combinations of grape varieties allows Bordeaux to produce a variety of different wines including dry and sweet white, red, rosé, clairet and sparkling wines.

The red wines of Bordeaux rely primarily on three grapes—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. However, Petit Verdot and Malbec are also permitted and grown in small amounts in some of the fine vineyards. The white wines make up around only 11 % of the vineyards and are mainly based in Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

The Bordeaux region is unusual in that its wines are created by blending different grapes. Other French regions, such as Chablis or Beaujolais use just one variety. The production of Bordeaux wine is very particular and can be quite a complex process.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is one of the best known black grape varieties and makes up 10% of Bordeaux production. This wine enhances the fruitiness of the wine, by enhancing the different berry flavours. The plants are more tolerant of poor soil quality and dry conditions. It is mainly grown for blending with cabernet sauvignon and Merlot.

DNA analysis indicates that Cabernet Franc is one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, a cross between that grape and Sauvignon Blanc.

Cabernet Sauvignon (Red)

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the main grapes in the Médoc wine region. It makes up around 26% of Bordeaux production and is rich in tannins. It works to enhance the structure of the wine and assists with ageing. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Merlot created the earliest examples of Cabernet Sauvignon wine. However, Cabernet Sauvignon was first blended in Bordeaux with Syrah, a mixture that is now widely seen in Australia.

Merlot (Red)

This grape makes up 50% of the Bordeaux production and is used mainly in the Cotes wine region vineyards. It is often used for the Bordeaux blend but is able to stand alone. This grape is known to set and ripen unevenly, making it quite difficult to grow. Merlot adds to the flexibility and to the body of Bordeaux wines. It enhances colour and matures more quickly than Cabernets.

Sauvignon Blanc (White)

Sauvignon Blanc is planted in many of the world famous regions and produces a crisp, dry and very refreshing wine. It goes very well with a variety of foods, and it also costs less to produce than Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc works well in a variety of different styles and can blend well with oak and Semillon. The wine is best served in its youth, but can benefit from spending a short time in a cellar. The wine produces a complex range of flavours and tones -making it suitable for many different preferences.

Sémillon (White)

Semillion makes up 8% of the Bordeaux production. It is the main ingredient for sweet wines and is important for the production of dry, fresh and lively white wines. In Bordeaux, the grape is normally blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. When the grape is used to make the sweet white wines, such as those from Sauternes, Barsac and Cérons - it is often the dominant variety within the blend.

To conclude, when creating fine wine of a high standard, the quality of the grape is very important. All Bordeaux wines are made only using the finest and that is why they are one of the most commonly sought after varieties when it comes to investment wine.

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