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!