Bordeaux En Primeur 2009 - Where to find the wines...

The en primeur system allows anyone to buy from any merchant around the world and have access to the wines in two years time, just as if you bought them from the caviste next door. So if you are still looking for some cases of Bordeaux 2009, then you can contact me. Based in Singapore we have been offering en primeur at fantastic prices and with reasonnable quantities available!

If you wish to receive the list, send me an email (email is in my profile) and I will revert as soon as possible. There are still some great wines to grab at first release prices!



2009 Bordeaux En primeur...


It is clear that the fine wine world has come out of the crisis as fast as it got in...
Indeed there was a crisis, and we all saw the value of top chateaux going down for a while, following the poor vintage in 2007 and a world wide financial slump in 2007-08, things were not looking bright.
And yet, Auction houses recorded there highest sales in 2008...
What really happend, is many private collectors in the US and Europe were in need of cash and prepare to sell their holdings for lower prices, as long as they can liquidate them. But buyers were not keen to go on a spending campain and prices continue to go downwards. But when it came to auction offerings, the BIG spenders were not looking at slowing down their bids and because so many wines that were hiding in private collectors cellars, came back on the market, it was the best time to buy.
As for the crisis, it did not last very long. 2008 vintage turned out to be quite good, or even excellent for the top properties and the world of $ has slowly recover with the "humongus" bail out from gouvernments. Prices went down on the en primeur, which stimulated sales and all Bordeaux needed, was a great vintage to go back to post 2005 prices.

The 2009 en primeur...

Outstanding weather conditions, great care in the vineyards and wineries, attention to detail on the fruits, tannins and structure of the wines, 2009 was aiming for the bull's eye!
The top chateaux have not yet release their prices, but we can imagine the level of 2005 coming back to be the norm accross the upper end of the properties.
So what wine did perform really well on the first barrel tasting?
According to this is the list of the best wines, from an average of all critic's point systems:

1. Chateau Latour
2. Chateau Haut-Brion
3. Chateau Lafite-Rothschild
4. Chateau Margaux
5. Chateau Lafleur
6. Chateau Ausone
7. Eglise Clinet
8. Petrus
9. Chateau Mouton Rothschild
10. Chateau Leoville Las Cases

Where are the buyers?

A major shift in the share of the market has been seen recently with asian buyers starting to bid more and more at auctions and buying stock for investment from major UK merchants.
They were however against the purchase of wines at such an early stage. Only when bottled, they would buy what came out to be the best.
But this year, things have change and 2009 will be the Asian 1982's of the US. China will not be the only one, with other countries joining the buying wave.

Should I buy 2009 or 2008?

These two vintages are perfect for two types of buyers. The 2008 "drinkers" and the 2009 "investors". 2008 will be great drinking for the 2 or 3 decades ahead, and that's were the value is. And even though it has great potential for the future, I am afraid it will be shadowed by 2009. Just like 95 and 96 in Champagne.
2009, is and will be a shining star over the next 40 to 50 years for the top chateaux and will definitely be a great investment vintage. And for the lucky ones, a beautiful drinking vintage too!


Tasting Note : Domaine Etienne Sauzet Le Montrachet Grand Cru 1996

Domaine Etienne Sauzet Le Montrachet Grand Cru 1996

Deep gold colour with orange tint. It looks like the wine has aged a little fast. On the nose, aromas of honey, pineapple, creme anglaise and almonds. There is a slight presence of oxdation. On the palate, the acidity is somehow faded but the structure is still very well balanced. Round with oaky falvours well integrated, it shows more honey and floral aromas on the mid palate. I expected a much longer finish for a Montrachet. The wine seems to have reached is peak.

I am a great fan of Etienne Sauzet whites and one of my favorite white Burgundy, is his Chevalier-Montrachet. This particular Montrachet we tasted was excellent, but I was expecting something a little more mind blowing. I guess after 14 years, some of the bottles have variation and one should be ready to accept that.


Tasting Note : Domaine Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie 'Cuvee Classique' 2006

Domaine Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie 'Cuvee Classique' 2006

Elegant bouquet of dark cherry on the nose with some subtle spices. On the palate, the acidity is quite high but very well balanced and gives great freshness on the mid palate. The fruits are showing well, with blackcurrant, dark cheeries and blueberries with a second layer of provencal herbs and white pepper. I really like the freshness in this wine. It is joyful, yet has a great presence in the mouth with a solid structure. Soft finish with more spice.


Tasting Note : Chateau d'Yquem 2001

Chateau d'Yquem 2001

One could spend hours just looking at it. Beautiful golden and orange colour of a youthful wine, starting a long and promising life. With just a gentle swirl for a minute at least, it opens up in the glass and only then you can take a deep smell. Explosion of lemon and orange zest, honey, peach, apricot... so much, it's difficult to recognise them all! The nose is thrilling, it gives you a hint how incredible this wine will be on the palate... The first sip is also overwhelming with flavours and aromas, with more honey, peach, pineapple and then layers of light spices... The sweetness is simply perfectly balanced with the acidity that seems to help the whole structure to stand on the upper part of the mouth. The finish is still in its very early days, but the lasting is luscious, lingering and 'sensual'. I found a stunning feminine touch in this Yquem.

Absolutely amazing!


James Bond and Bollinger...

Not only famous for its fine taste of women and cars, 007 has also a very fine palate when it comes to Champagne. And Bollinger has used this fantastic marketing tool to become the Champagne of choice of the most famous British spy and continue the dream of very men, to have a sip of Bollinger Grande Annee at a million dollars casino table with a license to kill and Sophie Marceau or Eva Green sitting next to you!


Where is the world of wine going... really?

A view of the wine world in a few years...


The Bordeaux 2008 En Primeur campain... Bargain?

For the top Chateaux, the 2005 vintage had set a new benchmark of pricing for the future. With demand going stronger than ever and the quality of the vintage being outstanding, the negociants knew they had to make the best out of it and prices started to climb up like a rocket in the sky! And in no time, a Chateau Ausone for example would sell at 6 times its price from the 2004 vintage!
For most buyers, 2006 en primeur was going to be hard, as most Chateaux produced excellent wines and prices were unlikely to go down, but on the days of release the negociants and producers lowered their prices as they new it would not be as easy as 2005.
Came 2007. A "bad" vintage for some, an "average" for others, many thought prices will go back to pre-2005's, but it only came down by 30% at most. Chateau Cheval Blanc for example, was 3 times more expensive in 2007 than it was in 2004!

It was in the 2008 En Primeur campain, that the real "bargain" would appear. Indeed, prices were not falling down as one would have liked, but they did hit a low unseen over the last 3 years and most of all, the vintage was pretty good!
Not to mention the obvious, the worldwide crisis was the main and probably the only responsible for this slow down. The usual buyers (Chinese, Americans, Russians, Japanese...) were very cautious and made things a lot harder for negociants.
As a result, everyone would beneficiate from this hit and I have listed below some of the wines that you should look for in the 2008 vintage, because of their decrease in value compare to 2005 vintage and their high quality:

Chateau La Conseillante 2008 (92-94+)
Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 2008 (RP98-100)
Chateau Cos d'Estournel 2008 (94-96+)
Chateau l'Evangile 2008 (RP93-95)
Chateau Haut-Brion 2008 (RP95-97)
Chateau Margaux 2008 (RP95-97)
Chateau Leoville Las-Cases (RP95-97+)
Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 2008 (RP94-96)

The most impressive of all, was Chateau Latour (RP96-98) at 2.8 times cheaper than 2005 and back almost to 2004 released price!

PS: In my opinion 2008 vintage will be a vintage to drink rather than invest.

Tasting Note : Louis Roederer Brut Cuvee Cristal 1999

Louis Roederer Brut Cuvee Cristal 1999

In one word : Woaw! The nose is full of toasted brioche, apples and roasted hazelnut. The bubbles are very "precise" and fine and give elegance and finesse to the well balanced structure. Incredible depth of flavours with a creamy roudness and just the right amount of acidity. What an impressive wine! The concentrated flavours continue through to the mid palate and are bursting into the mouth to an impressive 3 minutes finish. Superb!


Tasting Note : Joh Jos Prum Riesling Welhner Sonnernuhr Aulese 1983

Joh Jos Prum Riesling Welhner Sonnernuhr Aulese 1983

From the first smell in the glass, one could tell blind folded, this wine was outstanding! Joh Jos Rieslings are designed to age and I was lucky to witness how they can develop over a 27 years period! A wonderful nose of honey suckle and peach. The mouthfeel is luscious, with a very well integrated sweetness. The acidity is still there and gives even more depth on the back palate. Voluptuous and silky, the wine just keeps lasting in the mouth. The finish is mineral with hints of apricot flavours. Simply Gorgeous!
A must have if you can find it!


Tasting Note : Domaine Vincent Girardin Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2005

Domaine Vincent Girardin Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2005

Opulent nose of strawberries and blueberries. On the palate delicate aromas of raspberries and more strawberries. Silky almost velvety structure with a great depth. A powerful but elegant wine that gives its full potential on the mid palate and finish. fantastic expression of the Pinot Noir grape with no sour flavours and a lingering ending. After tasting this kind of wine, we can understand why 2005 is such a great vintage. One of my nicest Pinot's I had in a while. Well done!


Tasting Note : Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 1999

Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 1999

A beautiful nose of hazelnut, toasted wood and vanila. A rich and luscious structure with flavours of pistachios and brioche. The acidity (even though it is a 1999) is lifting the wine on the mid palate giving it a wonderful mouthfeel. Well integrated wood aromas leading to a decadent finish tasting just like a glazed lemon tart... Wonderfully crafted wine!


Tasting Note : Chateau Cheval Blanc 1990

Chateau Cheval Blanc 1990

Deep ruby colour. The nose exhibits black cherries and herbs. On the palate the structure is nicely balanced with a rich but light mid palate and soft tannins. The wine was a little shy at first, but starts to open up after 15 minutes in the glass. Aromas of cocoa and raspberry come forward and the wine becomes silky... Cheval Blanc starts now to show is true side! The finish last for over 1 minute with plenty of rapsberry flavours.


Tasting Note : Domaine Rene Mure Gewurztraminer Clos St Landelin Vendanges Tardives 2002

Beautiful golden colour with shades of orange. On the nose, aromas of tropical fruits, lychees and pineapple with a distinctive spicyness. On the palate, it is a well balanced wine. The residual sugar and acidity are perfectly in line. Aromas of caramel, orange zest and candy on the mid palate. The luscious and delicate texture gives a beautiful roundness to the wine. A long finish with hints of citrus fruit.


Opening and keeping Vintage Port wine

Vintage Port wines are some of the most incredible wines I have ever drunk. Their aromas are unique, they can age for a very long time, they are good value (even 40 years after they have been made!) and even after opening a bottle, they can keep (in the right conditions) for a month or more in your cellar... I personnally don't know many wines with so many qualities. However, their reputation has slowly faded and they were almost forgotten in the 90's. But it seems, they are slowly making a come back and should you decide to open a bottle one day, here is how you can get the best out of it.

Opening the bottle: Before you decide to open the bottle, place it upright for a few hours in your cellar to help the sediment to settle at the bottom rather than the side. Do not shake or move the bottle too quickly in order to avoid the solids to mix too much in the wine.
Remove the foil entirely and assess the quality of the cork. Depending on the age of your bottle, they will be more or less damp. With very old Port (over 50 or 60 years old), the cork might drop in the bottle as you try to screw the bottle opener. Don't worry it is normal. (In this case, you will not be able to use the bottle for double decanting, unless you manage with water to catch the cork and push it out of the bottle)
If you can pull it, do it ever so slowly and re screw the pig's tail of the bottle opener to give some guidance to the fragile cork.

Filtering: Once the bottle is opened, you will need to filter the solids using a funnel and a fine metalic filter. (if you don't have one, a white paper napekin can also do the job. Try not to use a coffee filter as they remove too much colour and flavours)
Pour slowly the Port wine from the bottle to the decanter until all solids and liquid are out. The end of it is usually just a black paste, but it contains some very flavoursome wine.

Double Decanting: Once the wine is decanted, rinse the bottle with cold tap water. Do it a few times to ensure nothing is left in the bottle. Pour back the Port wine from the decanter to the bottle. The reason you want to keep it in the bottle and not the decanter, is that Port bottles are opaque and thick which keeps best the wine away from light. It also limits the air contact which starts oxidation.
For closure, I use plastic vaccum stopper. They allow you to pump the air out in a few seconds and seal perfectly the bottle.
With this technique, you can enjoy your Port up to 1 month or more!!!


What has been happening in the fine wine market over the last 12 months?

As some of you might be wondering if the fine wine market has crashed as badly as the financial one, here is a little overview of the evolution of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild over the last 12 months.

The best % return can be awarded to the 2004 vintage with around 72% return per case of 12 bottles (75cl). The Lafite 2000 has seen its price climbing up to 14,000 per case, making it the second best vintage for Lafite in the period with a % return of 51%.

2005 and 2006 are the least with respectively 18% and 14% return.

As a good bechmark of the fine wine market, Lafite has been showing some incredible returns even though the world has gone through one of its worst financial crisis. With China and the rest of Asia opening its door slowly, such wines have an almost endless clientelle ready to spend the extra thousands of $ to drink them or to invest in stock that will come back on the market in a few years.

As the number of bottles diminishes every day, it is safe to say that blue chips labels will continue to be one of the most reliable source of alternative investment.


Tasting Note : Masi Amarone 1967

Masi Amarone 1967

At first the nose was very close and on the palate the wine was short with a strong port-like flavours. But after a few minutes it started to develop. Aromas of ground coffee, liquorice with some toasted wood on the mid palate. The acidity was not there anymore and the sweetness was coming forward more and more as I was tasting it. The length was quite short.
A wine that had oviously passed its best a while ago, yet showing some old but typical flavours of Amarone after a few minutes of opening.


Tasting Note : Chateau d'Yquem 1906

Chateau d'Yquem 1906

(and my dear wife)

Dark opaque black colour. The cork dropped inside the bottle as soon as I tried to pull it out. The nose was showing burned coffee beans, leather and distinctive Madeira aromas. As it was sitting in the glass, the wine changed slowly to an attractive caramel aroma, as if the wine was finally awaken! On the palate, the sweetness was overwhelming and the wine had a strong Madeira style, but we could still detect some fragant flavours of mint or herbs. The alcohol and acidity had disapear, but there was still freshness in this wine with a nice lingering finish, bringing more toffee.

As the oldest wine I had ever drunk, I wasn't sure what to except from a Chateau d'Yquem with a black opaque colour of over 100 years old. But it was an amazing experience to actually see it evolving in our glasses as we were drinking it. Far from being shy, it actually had a lot of power and sweetness to show. A once in a lifetime tasting note I guess...

Here is a picture of the Chateau d'Yquem 1906 compared with Chateau d'Yquem 2001.


Tasting Note : Louis Michel & Fils, Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir 1989

Louis Michel & Fils, Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir 1989

A lovely golden colour with shades of orange. The nose presents some honey, orange zest and pronounced farmyard aromas. On the palate, the wine has a suprising freshness and shows a good minerality. The structure is round and generous with creme brulee falvours. The acidity has disapeared with age, but I enjoy the overall balance of the wine. It was a very nice experience to taste this wine after 21 years of ageing but it should be consumed now as it has reached its plateau a little while ago.


The Wines of the Titanic...

The Legend of drinkable vintage Champagne from the Titanic stays a mystery. The cellar contained upon departure over 1000 bottles of wines and Champagnes, it is therefore very likely that a few have survive the incident and some might probably be still drinkable.
In 1987, the US Senate banned the sale of any artifacts that was retrieve from the wreck of the Titanic. But in 2002, an Australian company called Wineflyers International, whose regular customer includes people like David Bowie, announced it had sourced 6 bottles of wine from the Titanic to a high profile customer in Asia.

Quentin's Tip : Opening a Bottle of Champagne

They are a few ways to open a bottle of Champagne. And when some may think of the "chivalrous" Knight Sword bottle neck's cutting or in today's world a large kitchen knife, there is in fact only one "good manner" to open a bottle of the beloved bubbly liquid.
The most important for me is to ensure no one gets hurt! After many years of watching people with a few drinks already finished, taking a bottle of champagne by the neck and "bang" the cork is flying into some one's face! Not a pretty picture.
So, to ensure everyone will be able to enjoy their favorite bottle, the most important is to always keep the bottle facing up to the ceiling and always keeping your thumb over the cork. This way no matter what happens, it won't happened fast and it won't happened in some one's face!
The first step is to remove the foil. Some may be easy to remove and others might give you grief. (No one I know has ever been able to remove the foil of a bottle of Dom Perignon in one piece!) Anyway, once the foil is removed we can move to the second step.
The metallic cage wrapped around the cork is meant to hold it into place as the pressure inside the bottle is about the same as the car tyre. Therefore, it is very important to unfold slowly the metallic cage and with your thumb securing on the top, you want to gently loosen the grip by pulling it from side to side until it come off on its own.
The next step is to remove the cork. most of the time, the pressure will push out the cork and all you need to do is to let it go slowly. (ensure not to let the big pop happen... it's a little much) If the cork does not move, then you will need to get some air in by twisting the cork clockwise and the bottle anti clockwise. Do not apply too much pressure on it, otherwise it might break.
If you are opening a really big bottle, such as 9 L or 15 L, it will be near impossible to open it this way. My suggestion is to break the top of the "mushroom" and using a corkscrew, pulling it out like a normal bottle of wine.
Once the cork has been removed with a "pcchhhh" start serving. Always the guest of Honor to taste, the ladies and then the rest of us, and finish by the person that tasted.
You may find sometime, the champagne is flat in one glass and not in another. This happens when they are some residual rinse additive on the inside of the glass. The reaction simply remove all the CO2 in the Champagne almost instantly. Always give a little polish with a dry, clean cloth before serving Champagne in the flutes.

Tasting Note : Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux, Vacqueyras Cuvee Lopy 2004

Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux, Vacqueyras Cuvee Lopy 2004

On the nose, the wine has a sensual fruit aromas with some herbs and spices. The alcohol is very present at the first smell. Aromas of Plum and dark cherries on the mid palate with some well integrated tannins and acidity. The fruit are becoming riper after 6 years of ageing. The finish is leathery, soft and long. A wine that is really worth exploring!


Tasting Note : Vinoptima Gewurztraminer Gisborne 2004

Vinoptima Gewurztraminer Gisborne 2004

On the nose, developed aromas of white flowers and honey. The wine seems to have lost with time its tropical fruit style and aged with rounder aromas. The residual sugar is quite hgh, but not overly which gives an enjoyable luscious structure in the mouth. A good presence of acohol on the mid palate, followed by a lasting length of honey and orange flavours.


Tasting Note : Thornbury, Pinot Gris Waipara 2009

Thornbury Pinot Gris Waipara 2009

Fresh on the nose with caramel and orange aromas. On the palate the wine has a structure medium built with some a distinctive acidity, probably still high due to the vintage. We can also taste some nice residual sugar which balance itself with the acidity. The finish is of medium length.


Tasting Notes : Chateau Simian, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2007

Chateau Simian, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2007

This small domaine is run by Jean-Pierre Serguier, and produces some of the most attractive Chateauneuf-du-Pape I have come accross recently.
Beautiful aromas on the nose of leather, toasted wood and dark berries. On the palate, the concentration is great with balanced tannins (even though the wine is super young!) and acidity. The alcohol is high, but does not over shadow the finesse and softness of the wine. The length is long with a beautiful silky texture. A must try!

Tasting Notes : Vin Perdu, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvingon 2005

Vin Perdu, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

This is the second wine of the famous, Amuse Bouche from the joint venture, Heidi Barrett and John Schwartz. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

The nose is round and attractive with liquorice and blackcurrant. On the palate the wine is well balanced with a great integration of the tannins and the acidity. Plenty of fruits on the mid palate with some raspberries, probably coming from the Cabernet Franc. The soft texture leads to a great finish!


Tasting Note : Chateau Cheval Blanc 1967

Chateau Cheval Blanc 1967

Aromas of raspberry on the nose with tobacco and cedar wood. The leafy style, due to its age, gives the wine a pleasant farm yard character. On the palate, the wine has a suprising level of acidity that you would not expect for an 43 years old wine from a vintage like 1967. The fruits are still present, however we can see the wine has reached is peak a while ago and starts now to decline.

I must admit that trying this Cheval Blanc blind, I was not expecting it to be so aged and it was a nice surprise to see it could still stands its grounds in the glass and was a real pleasure to drink.