Monday, 26 December 2016

HV Wines: Aguaribay, Flechas de Los Andes Malbec 2014 Argentina

I was the other day in a French supermarket nosing around (always interesting to see if the French look outside their borders, most will with a flair of arrogance say "why should we?"). The choice of foreign wines does not fill the appetite, and fairly poor I must say, especially in the new world. But then I saw this wine from Argentina, Aguaribay, €10.99 $ 12.10 £9.10, 100% Malbec, but then the arrow emblem quickly gave the fun a sour twist as it is part of the Rothschild portfolio, this time not Philippe but Edmund Rothschild.

So I do presume that we all know Rothschild but amongst them (French or English) maybe not many might have heard of Edmund? Well as so many of the Rothschild's he is quite some guy, he is from the French branch of the Rothschild's and it was James Rothschild that bought Chateau Lafite in 1868 (so when the 1855 classification was established Lafite was not in the hands of the Rothschild's then), more then a century separates James and Edmund (Edmund is James great-grandson), but he took the reigns over and pushed the adventure further by acquiring in 1973 two Cru Bourgeois; Chateau Clark in Listrac-Medoc and Chateau Malmaison in Moulis-en-Medoc. He then founded the company, vinicole Baron Edmund de Rothschild. They bought vineyards in South Africa, Spain, New Zealand and Argentina. Chateau Lafite stays nonetheless an entity on its own. The estates the vinicole company holds is six, in France; Chateau Clarke and Chateau des Laurets, in Spain; Macan, South Africa; Rupert and Rothschild, New Zealand; Rimapere and Argentina; Flechas de Los Andes.

This valley makes part of the most known wine region in Argentina, Mendoza. It lays southwest from the city of Mendoza. It is fairly young as a region but it is a region with much talent and pulls huge attention. Its average vineyards finds itself on about 1000 meters above sea level. It is a valley with pretty much almost perfect conditions, hot days cold night, rain fall little but water sources from all sides (many rivers good for irrigation), it holds about 20,000 hectares of vineyard. Malbec is the most planted grape about 35%. Most grapes planted here are the usual suspects, merlot, cabernet-sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Bonarda and sauvignon blanc. Besides Flechas de Los Andes (winery in question for this blog), there are a couple other well known ones, such as Clos de Los Siete, Monteviejo, Val de Flores, Alma Negra, Francois Lurton/ J.F Lurton.

Flechas de Los Andes
As mentioned already this is part of Baron Edmund de Rothschild vinicole group. Benjamin de Rothschild (son of Edmund), Laurent Dassault (owner of Chateau Dassault a St Emilion Grand Cru Classe) and Michel Rolland, they bought huge amounts of land in the Uco Valley. This estate brings to the world a whole range of wines (red and white), it is at the end of the 90's that they planted their first vines. First wines from this estate hit the market in 2004. It is relatively a young domain but with Michel Rolland as consultant (he owns Los de Los Siete in the same valley), they are moving on a solid path. So 1999 property bought and first vines planted, 2003 they build the cellar, 2004 first vintage sold, 2006 Gran Corte (top cuvee) was given by Parker 92+ points, (Rolland and Parker are very good friends and Rolland knows what wines Parker likes, and Parker doesn't do blind tasting)

The estate has;
The Gran Malbec, 100% Malbec, density of the vines 5800 vines per hectare, vineyard age 16 years, ageing time 14 months, vineyard area for this wine 114 hectares, soil, rocks, granite pebbles, sand and Andean gravel. 

Rimapere, 100 % Sauvignon blanc, density 1800 vines per hectare, vineyard age 8 to 10 years, ageing time 3 months, vineyard area 26 hectares, soil Omaka stony silt loam. 

Punta de Flechas, 100% Malbec, density 5800 vines per hectare, Vineyard age 16 years, ageing time 12 months, vineyard area 110 hectares, Soil, alluvion des Andes, sand, gravel, granite stones. 

The Gran Corte, 60% Malbec, 30% Syrah, 10% Cabernet franc, density 5800 vines per hectare, vineyard age 16 years, ageing time 18 months, vineyard area 110 hectares, soil, rock, granite pebbles, sand, Andean gravel. 

Aguaribay Malbec 2014

This is the entry red wine from the estate, as it says 100% malbec, a density of 5800 vines per hectare (still very reasonable as in most grand estates in Bordeaux and Burgundy the density is for some estates double). Vineyard age is 16 years, ageing time is 12 months, 110 hectares of vines are spend on this wine, with soil type, Andean silt, sand, Gravel and granitic rocks. 

Price; €10.99 $12.10 £9.10

Alcohol; 14.5%

Visual; dark currant red, perfect transparency, a fair brilliance (acid indication, you check that by looking straight down from above and check how shiny the reflection is), heavy drop but the legs appear thin/skinny, it expresses energy, youth, masculinity, a touch of seduction. 

Nose; appears discreet not to expressive, fruits come along like cherries, hints of green vegetables but no clean directions, a grasp of green peppers, and here and there a little bit berries, no complexity, fairly simple. 

Palate; first impression, feels fresh, tannins present but medium soft, slight astringent, light to medium body, easy drinking (feels also the intention of this wine), acidity well balanced, dry, a wine that is designed with a purpose, easy drinking simple with no fuss, it has a short lingering. 

Conclusion; Pleasant on any night, but not for the grand ball, a discreet nose little going on (designed wines that are destain for a mass that judge wine on taste not nose), I preferred a little more muscle and power, although that this one is the entry wine, I had wines in that price category and from Argentina who live up better to the expectation. This is a family that knows how to make wines, I was a bit disappointed by it. It was ok but certainly not bad. 

Score; I rate this wine 15.75/20 79/100

Until next time please do drink responsibly.  

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

HV Wines: The 11th edition of the 100 power list 2016 of fine wines.

Live-ex has released its 100 power house list of the 2016 and this year it is Bordeaux 1st growth that take in all first five spots. This list is purely based on trade, which wines were most in demand and traded three or more vintages in the past year and must be at a trade value of at least £10.000€11.900 $12.400. The last time that the 5 top spots where taken by the first growth was in the 2010 vintage.

57 of the 100 wines are from Bordeaux, 19 from Burgundy, 9 from Italy, 6 from Champagne, and 9 from other regions. The fine wine market seems to broaden with collectors investing in top brands from Tuscany, Piedmonte and Champagne. Buyers diversification continues, with the variety of wines and vintages traded wider then ever before. This year 670 brands traded, up 265 from the previous year, which indicate that the wider world is closing in on Bordeaux and France. Although it still will take some time for it be levelled but niche markets like the top USA wines, who have their brands and vintages in huge demand begin to be noticed in Europe and the rest of the world by a much larger audience. Of the brands 199 qualified for the 2016 ranking and increase of 19.8% on 2015. Still the first 32 wines in the list are all French, on the 33th place stands Opus One.

100 Power wine list 2016

  1. Lafite Rothschild. In 2015, 11. In value and volume,1. Price per case avg €4,470 £3,757 $4,658
  2. Mouton Rothschild. In 2015, 1. In value and volume,3. Price per case avg €3,877 £3,258 $4,039
  3. Margaux. In 2015, 6. In value and volume, 9. Price per case avg €3,277 £2,754 $3,414
  4. Haut-Brion. In 2015, 2. In value and volume, 5. Price per case avg €3,511 £2,951 $3,659
  5. Latour. In 2015, 13. In value and volume, 7. Price per case avg €3,542 £2,977 $3,691
  6. DRC. In 2015, 5. In value and volume, 56. Price per case avg €21,587 £18,141 $22,494
  7. Angelus. In 2015, 3. In value and volume, 22. Price per case avg €2,619 £2,201 $2,729
  8. Petrus. In 2015, 16. In value and volume, 37. Price per case avg €20,487 £17,216 $21,347
  9. Pavie. In 2015, 4. In value and volume, 13. Price per case avg €2,444 £2,054 $2,546
  10. Cheval Blanc. In 2015, 8. In value and volume, 18. Price per case avg €4,048 £3,402 $ 4,218
  11. Palmer. In 2015, 15. In value and volume, 23. Price per case avg €1,693 £1,423 $ 1,764
  12. Ducru-Beaucaillou. In 2015, 17. In value and volume, 16. Price per case avg €1,187 £998 $1,237
  13. Leoville Las Cases. In 2015, 10. In value and volume, 12. Price per case avg €1,432 £1,204 $1,492
  14. Lynch Bages. In 2015, 20. In value and volume, 4. Price per case avg €1,065 £895 $1,109
  15. Mission Haut-Brion. In 2015, 7. In value and volume, 21. Price per case avg €2,441 £2,052 $2,544
  16. Montrose. In 2015, 14. In value and volume, 9. Price per case avg €1,235 £1,038 $1,287
  17. Cos d'Estournel. In 2015, 19. In value and volume, 8. Price per case avg €950 £799 $990
  18. Pape Clement. In 2015, 42. In value and volume, 15. Price per case avg €936 £787 $975
  19. Armand Rousseau. In 2015, 29. In value and volume, 73. Price per case avg €5,115 £4,299 $5,330
  20. Ausone. In 2015, 49. In value and volume, 49. Price per case avg €5,092 £4,279 $5,305
  21. Pichon Baron. In 2015,42. In value and volume, 17. Price per case avg €1,047 £880 $1,091
  22. Pichon Lalande. In 2015, 26. In value and volume, 25. Price per case avg €1,000 £841$1,042
  23. Calon Segur. In 2015, 35. In value and volume, 27. Price per case avg  €562 £473 $586
  24. Pontet Canet. In 2015, 40. In value and volume, 2. Price per case €1,059 £890 $1,103
  25. Yquem. In 2015, 44. In value and volume, 32. Price per case avg €2,335 £1,963 $2,434
  26. Beychevelle. In 2015, 24. In value and volume, 29. Price per case avg €716 £602 $746
  27. Domaine Leflaive. In 2015, 9. In value and volume, 60. Price per case avg €1,326 £1,115 $1,382
  28. Gruaud Larose. In 2015, 73. In value and volume, 47. Price per case avg €616 £518 $642
  29. Le Pin. In 2015, 23. In value and volume, 93. Price per case avg €20,590 £17,303 $21,455
  30. Moet et Chandon. In 2015, 22. In value and volume, 28. Price per case avg €1,268 £1,066 $1,321
  31. Guigal. In 2015, 21. In value and volume, 34. Price per case avg €2,047 £1,721 $2,134
  32. Leoville Poyferre. In 2015, 31. In value and volume, 14. Price per case avg €897 £752 $932
  33. Opus one. In 2015, 51. In value and volume, 56. Price per case avg €2,463 £2,070 $2,566
  34. Vega Sicilia. In 2015, 48. In value and volume, 51. Price per case avg €1,687 £1,418 $1,758
  35. Fleur Petrus. In 2015, 78. In value and volume, 76. Price per case avg €1,513 £1,272 $1,577
  36. Duhart Milon. In 2015, 65. In value and volume, 11. Price per case avg €537 £452 $560
  37. Comte Vogue. In 2015, 60. In value and volume, 89. Price per case avg €3,303 £2,776 $3,442
  38. Penfolds. In 2015, 46. In value and volume, 26. Price per case avg €2,047 £1,721 $2,134
  39. Leoville Barton. In 2015, 34. In value and volume, 20. Price per case avg €793 £667 $827
  40. Vieux Chateau Certan. In 2015, 39. In value and volume, 40. Price per case avg €1.275 £1,072 $1,329
  41. Smith Haut Lafitte. In 2015, 25. In value and volume, 65. Price per case €1,029 £865 $1,072
  42. Lafleur. In 2015, 53. In value and volume, 48. Price per case avg €4,748 £3,990 $4,947
  43. Clerc Milan. In 2015, 60. In value and volume, 50. Price per case avg €604 £508 $629
  44. Talbot. In 2015, 70. In value and volume, 46. Price per case avg €552 £464 $575
  45. Grand Puy Lacoste. In 2015, 57. In value and volume, 30. Price per case avg €548 £461 $571
  46. Haut-Bailly. In 2015, 32. In value and volume, 42. Price per case avg €746 £627 $777
  47. Gaja. In 2015, 54. In value and volume, 45. Price per case avg €1,339 £1,126 $1,396
  48. Salon. In 2015, 33. In volume and value 44. Price per case avg €2,861 £2,405 $2,982
  49. Eglise Client. In 2015, 55. In value and volume, 41. Price per case avg €1,551 £1,304 $1,616
  50. Domaine Leroy. In 2015, -. In value and volume, 110. Price per case avg €7,283 £6,121 $7,590
  51. Masseto. In 2015, 50. In value and volume,56. Price per case avg €5,496 £4,619 $5,727
  52. Rauzan Segla. In 2015, 80. In volume and value 54. Price per case avg €634 £533 $660
  53. Joseph Drouin. In 2015, 58. In value and volume, 128. Price per case avg €2,861 £2,405 $2,982
  54. Lascombes. In 2015, 63. In value and volume, 66. Price per case avg €669 £563 $698
  55. Sassicaia. In 2015, 27. In value and volume, 6. Price per case avg €572 £481 $596
  56. Evangile. In 2015, 63. In value and volume, 55. Price per case avg €1,452 £1,221$1,514
  57. Clos Fourtet. In 2015, 82. In value and volume, 75. Price per case €940 £790 $979
  58. Krug. In 2015, 101. In volume and value, 83. Price per case €2,666 £2,241 $2,778
  59. Giacomo Conterno. In 2015, 119. In value and volume, 106. Price per case €2,861 £2,405 $2,982
  60. Maison Leroy. In 2015, 144. In value and volume, 32. Price per case €270 £227 $281(for me there is a price error, hard to believe that a case of this house is so cheap)
  61. Louis Roederer. In 2015, 37. In value and volume, 18. Price per case €1,249 £1,050 $1,302
  62. Figeac. In 2015, 72. In value and volume, 97. Price per case €912 £767 $951
  63. Bollinger. In 2015, 69. In value and volume, 24. Price per case €1,007 £847 $1,050
  64. Bouchard Pere et Fils. In 2015, 29. In value and volume, 74. Price per case avg €1,845 £1,551$1,932
  65. Domaine Chevalier. In 2015, 97. In value and volume, 43. Price per case avg €543 £457 $566
  66. Armailhac. In 2015, 110. In value and volume, 38. Price per case €347 £292 $ 362
  67. Chapoutier. In 2015, 28. In value and volume, 99. Price per case avg €1,101 £926 $1,148
  68. Conseillante. In 2015, 37. In value and volume, 80. Price per case avg €1,068 £898 $1,113
  69. Screaming Eagle. In 2015, 47. In value and volume, 70. Price per case avg €16,333 £13,726 $17,020
  70. Beaucastel. In 2015, 56. In value and volume, 36. Price per case avg €504 £424 $525
  71. Taitinger. In 2015, 92. In value and volume, 30. Price per case avg €812 £683 $846
  72. Giscours. In 2015, 112. In value and volume, 62. Price per case avg €449 £378 $468
  73. Ornellaia. In 2015, 62. In valeu and volume, 35. Price per case avg €1,156 £972 $1,205
  74. Comte Liger Belair. In 2015,  125. In value and volume, 140. Price per case €10,101 £8,489 $10,526
  75. Peby Faugeres. In 2015, -. In value and volume, 67. Price per case avg €791 £665 $824
  76. Robert Groffier (Pere et Fils). In 2015,-. In value en volume, 140. Price per case avg €1,627 £1,368 $1,696
  77. Joseph Faiveley. In 2015, 99. In value and volume, 109. Price per case avg €2,149 £1,806 $2,239
  78. Branaire Ducru. In 2015, 66. In value and volume, 59. Price per case avg €502 £422 $523
  79. Henschke. In 2015, 68. In value and volume, 92. Price per case avg €2,797 £2,351 $2,915
  80. Coche Dury. In 2015, 18. In value and volume, 130. Price per case avg €5,508 £4,629 $5,739
  81. Sylvain Cathiard. In 2015, 12. In value and volume,158. Price per case avg €3,326 £2,795 $3,465
  82. Jacques Frederic Mugnier. In 2015, 95. In value and volume, 137. Price per case avg €4,234 £3,558 $ 4,411
  83. Sainte Pierre. In 2015, 105. In value and volume, 39. Price per case avg €347 £292 $362
  84. Tignanello. In 2015, 45. In value and volume, 52. Price per case avg €643 £541 $670
  85. Clinet. In 2015, 71. In value and volume, 64. Price per case avg €661 £556 $689
  86. Solaia. In 2015, 86. In value and volume, 78. Price per case avg €1,320 £1,110 $1,376
  87. Bruno Giacosa. In 2015, 113. In value and volume, 115. Price per case avg €2,108 £1,772 $2,197
  88. Troplong Mondot. In 2015, 73. In value and volume, 90. Price per case avg €1,200 £1,009 $1,251
  89. Dominus. In 2015, 52. In value and volume, 68. Price per case €1,569 £1,319 $1,635
  90. Henri Boillot. In 2015, 76. In value and volume, 114. Price per case avg €734 £617 $765
  91. Petrolo. In 2015, 87. In value and volume, 68. Price per case avg €305 £257 $318
  92. Meo Camuzet. In 2015, 36. In value and volume, 116. Price per case avg €735 £618 $766
  93. Brane Cantenac. In 2015, 102. In value and volume, 102. Price per case avg €472 £397 $492
  94. Trotanoy. In 2015, 85. In value and volume, 99. Price per case avg €1,617 £1,359 $1,685
  95. Beausejour Duffau. In 2015, 75. In value and volume, 125. Price per case avg €1,468 £1,234 $1,530
  96. Issan. In 2015, 135. In value and volume, 82. Price per case avg €456 £384 $476
  97. Lambrays. In 2015, 59. In the value and volume, 101. Price per case avg €1,120 £942 $1,168
  98. Lagrange St Julien. In 2015, 122. In value and volume, 76. Price per case avg €441 £371 $460
  99. Vougeraie. In 2015, 153. In value and volume, 165. Price per case avg €906 £762 $944
  100. Thibault Liger Belair. In 2015, -. In volume and value, 150. Price per case avg €736 £619 $767
The list has some interesting new names, but it still is obvious that France dominates. But as said earlier, change is happening and its getting more excited. As I already said on several occasions, wine is a very interesting investment. You have to be with a trusted source and be guide in fairness as in everything there are false players as in so many aspect of our society. Some wines/brands are very well priced and for portfolios with budget of 10 thousand and up there is game. Do not forget more people invest in a particular wine more value it will take. Prices are quoted by case of 12 bottles.

So till next time please do drink responsibly.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

HV Wines: Herdade do Peso Alentejo Colheita 2013 Portugal

I came across this wine a couple days ago when a friend brought it over for a taste, as he thought it was intriguing that here was a Portuguese wine using other grapes then the traditional ones. On first thought you wouldn't think any of it but as I told him on many occasions before that Portugal was still one of the few countries using their own indigenous grapes to make their wines, Touriga national, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz just to give you a few examples, having Syrah in the blend was a surprise.

I know these days the international varieties are entering many wine countries and the younger generation of winemakers are also more adventurous and explores. So we sat down, had some ciabatta bread with different smoked hams, homemade houmous, olives, marinated garlic cloves, some salad and off we went.

First let us look a bit further into the region and Portugal itself.
Image result for alentejo portugal
A region not so well known, (compared do Douro) but it is well in the up regarding wine making, well more in the spotlight should I say. The region lays to the south of the country, from Lisabon downwards towards Faro and the Algarve. The region covers about one third of the country, and according to the rumours the other two thirds often complain about the popularity of the Alentejo wines. I must be honest and although I am a fan of Portuguese wines and always open to discover. I haven't heard to much about this region in connection with wine. But as Portugal is open to explore I am all ears and lips to learn and taste.

The region has a long history as there are still sign of the Dolmens, Cromlech. Arab and Roman culture, remnants can be seen all over the region. Sign of live from the past, medieval castle to make a statement. To the northeast of the region (towards Spain) are beautiful towns and castles, making up the Rota dos Castelos or the castle route, Portalegre is a very well known town in the region. One of the most beautiful towns in the land finds itself towards the south of Alentejo "Evora" here the landscape is more open and flatter, but what about the vines?
Well first of all this region is mostly known for its red wines, climate does not really permit for whites to flourish beautifully only a handful apparently (haven't come across), with the right skills and the ideal location.

Alentejo has 8 sub regions; Portalegre, Borba, Evora, Redondo, Reguengos, Granja-Amareleja, Vidigueira, Moura. Here it gets really hot during the summer so it is a challenge to keep sugar under control and acidity alive. But thanks to evolution and trials and error from the past, there are some interesting wines emerging, still there is a lot that does not hold the road.
Besides their wines, this region is also known for its cork, it is here that the best corks are made and they have plenty of it as the population here isn't as dense as more up north around porto. Portugal has a population of about 10.4 million people, it almost 3 times bigger then Belgium and belgium has 11.2 million people.

The grape varieties used here are predominately, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Castelao, Trincadeira and since late there has been the introduction of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In all Alentejo has been a key region in the renaissance of the Portuguese wine in the last few decades.
Image result for alentejo portugal

Herdade do Peso Alentejo Colheita 2013.
This wine or vineyards is part of the Sogrape Vinhos group, they hold 16 vineyards and are amongst Portugal's biggest group. Since 1942 Sogrape has been investing in Portuguese vines. They bought Herdade do Peso in 1996, with the intention to produce an Alentejo wine worthy of the image and character of the region. The estate underwent a huge transformation, (updating of the winery with the latest technology), this is not a small production vineyard it holds 465 hectares of land of which 160 hectares of planted vines. There is 20 hectares dam on the property which provides the much needed water for the vines. They haves 152 hectares of red grape planted and 8 hectares of white. They produce about 12 wines, white, rose and red. 
Image result for Herdade do Peso Alentejo Colheita 2013.
Grape: Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, Touriga national

Alcohol: 14%

Price: €6.99 $7.59 £5.90

Visual: Dark ruby red/ black cherry red, young, vibrant, perfect transparency, brilliance good. legs are skinny (expected them thicker), this is a young stallion, inviting, fresh and somewhat excited.

Nose: First hit fruity, cassis, currants, candy, slight hit of alcohol, has power, presence good, then you detect peppers, little oak, no complexity but then I wasn't expecting one, it is a straight forward wine, no magic, but good composition.

Palate: Soft tannins, attack is not strong or organised, fruit appears but flushes through, palates warms up slightly, it has a gentle finish and lingers on for a brief moment. it is an easy drinking wine, pleasant without glory, at the very end there is little return hit of cassis (a syrah trademark).

Conclusion: I am not entirely convinced about the grape combination, price wise it is very good value for money, it doesn't disturb and it passes through very pleasantly, a wine with no fuss but with acceptable structure, not for a special diner night but on a casual evening with friends in trainers and joggings. A good wine but no life time memory.

Score:  I rate this wine 15/20 75/100

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

Friday, 9 December 2016

HV Wines: Chateau Belle-Vue Cru Bourgeois Haut-Medoc 2011

In the category wines/classic/ affordable and fairly well made, is it fair to say that with Chateau Belle-Vue we do sit in measures comfortably. This is part of the follow up of last blog when I bought two wines in promotion in the running up to Christmas. It was a promotion for Bordeaux wines, in Belgium where I bought them, the Bordeaux market still dominates the aisles. It is also a country that has and always will have close links with French wines, many Belgians are proprietors of a house in France or are standing high ranked in the hierarchy of one of the houses (with house I mean Chateau, Clos, Domaine...).

But, there is change but at a slow pace, the old habits are hard to move and the younger generation seems not to look at wine in the same way as the older generation. Also beer is fighting hard to gain some more place as in many European countries, wine is on the rise (which includes also sparkling wine).

Image result for bordeaux cru bourgeois
As I have gone through the medoc in my last blog, I will here elaborate a bit more the Cru Bourgeois status. As there are so many different etiquettes in the world of wine, it is always handy to know how to read labels as they do actually help you guiding through the maze.

Cru Bourgeois
Image result for bordeaux cru bourgeois
The history of the Crus Bourgeois goes back quite a bit, its legacy started in the middle-ages. It were the Bourgeois inhabitants of Bourg in Bordeaux, a merchant town and craftsmen, who during the period of the English rule, acquired rights and privileges, including exemption from taxes on the sale of wines from their vineyards locally and abroad. 
By the fifteenth Century, enriched by their international commerce, the Bourgeois of Bordeaux were able to acquire the finest properties in the region, which initially were referred to as "the Crus de Bourgeois", and then later simply as "Crus Bourgeois"

In 1740 there is a text containing the first selection and pricing of the wines of the Medoc. 1789 a landmark date for the French, their revolution broth of course headaches to the Bourgeoisie as all their privileges were revoked and the Crus Bourgeois suffered during that period.

Over the centuries the Crus Bourgeois played and increasingly vital role in developing the wines from the Medoc. In the nineteenth Century the club of the Cru Bourgeois with about 300 chateaus were still well present and their prices have already been established as being higher than the Crus Artisans and Crus Paysans. 

After the 1855 classification the authorities planned to make additional classes in the already famous existing classification, with a view to incorporate some of the Cru Bourgeois. Around that time 248 Crus Bourgeois were listed, 34 Bourgeois superieur. 64 bons bourgeois and 150 Bourgeois ordinaire.

WWI brought an abrupt stop to this growth, and the depression of 1929 didn't help either. While the number of properties decreased, there were enough that kept the Crus Bourgeois description alive and in use. 

In 1932 the Bordeaux wine brokers under the joint authority of the Bordeaux chamber of commerce and the Gironde chamber of commerce designated 444 Crus Bourgeois. 

On 21th of May 1962 a union of the Crus Bourgeois was created in Pauillac. 

In 1979 the European community labelling regulations, approved the term Crus Bourgeois.

In 1985 there was a substantial increase in demand for Crus Bourgeois wines. 

In 2000 the ministerial order of 30th November 2000, stipulated the rules for the organization of the Crus Bourgeois classification. The classification consist of three categories; "Crus Bourgeois exceptionnel", "Crus Bourgeois Superieur", and "Crus Bourgeois"

In 2003 the ministerial order finally approved the official classification of the Crus Bourgeois du Medoc which recognised 247 chateaus out of 490 candidates. 
Of course this brought huge controversy , some were judging it unfair, so it was banned as it was said that one could not judge, if one has self interest. 

Finally in 2009 the Crus Bourgeois du Medoc official selection has been published and is published each year since 2010. 

There are today 278 Chateaus listen under the Cru Bourgeois. Before it was all going tits up there were three categories, so now in the new structure all have Crus Bourgeois as a mark of quality and no more differentiations. Which as with all, the Crus Bourgeois exceptionnel were not so happy with that. But it is what it is and so when you buy a wine from Bordeaux with Crus Bourgeois on it, than you are guaranteed a certain level of quality, higher then Bordeaux Artisan, Bordeaux, Bordeaux supérieur.

Chateau Belle-Vue Crus Bourgeois 2011
Image result for chateau belle vue medoc
This Chateau has come to light in its modern era, before it was fairly obscure and little known about. Chateau Belle-Vue era starts in 2004 when it was bought up by Vincent Mulliez, he made his fortune working for JP Morgan (sadly died at the very young age of 44), but during his time at the helm he invested hugely in the Chateau and brought the wines and the terroir out of the dark. Vincent actually never saw the fruits of his efforts as they showed sign of much improvement in the 2009 and 2010 vintage. 
Chateau Belle-Vue is based just outside Margaux, separated by the original drainage ditches (build by the Dutch)next to Giscours. The very first vintage of the Chateau was in 1996, when the owner then Remy Fouin, took plots of his other estate, Chateau de Gironville, to make a wine worthy of the Margaux appellation. 
Do not confused this Chateau with Chateau Bellevue (one word) which is based in St Emilion. The Chateau holds about 10.4 hectares of vines with predominantly Cabernet sauvignon 50%, Merlot 27%, Petit Verdot 20% and Carmenère 3%. 

Much work goes into making this wine; table sorting the grapes, 20 days cold soak at 5 degrees celsius, fermenting in stainless steel vats, 45 days maceration with frequent gravity driven delestages. Malolactic fermentation takes place in the barrels, aged for 14 months in 40% new French oak. So as you can see much thought and work begin this wine.

Price: €19 $20 £17

Alcohol: 13%

Visual: Ruby dark red with a good transparency, the brilliance lays good and the legs are heavy. Overall gives this wine a sense of soberness and little reticence, it appears to be hazy but boosting a masculinity, more like a male in transformation.

Nose: It appears discreet not powerful, wet wood, mushrooms followed by oak, peppers, little hints of alcohol, more on a later stage do appear the fruits, black currants. It feels and smells like a very classic style of wine but also a wine that is still looking to clarify its identity. It needs a couple more elements to be clarified and purified if I may say so.

Palate: Rigid and somewhat rough, tannins are still stiff but begin to round off and become softer, it feels warm (gums heating up slightly), the mid-palate is ok holds for awhile but falls away towards the end, it has a medium lingering and somewhat astringent in the back of the throat, it also feels dry as a wine.

Conclusion: As a young stallion I hope to see more of it in the future and hopefully follow its progress as it can work itself into a category of very well respected wines.As we know it is still a very young house so time needs to be given to grow and develop. Maybe due to the loss of its pillar, needs it some time to adjust and hopefully grow stronger. It would be an honor for Mr Mulliez to have his dna live life further through this wine.

Score: I rate this wine 16.25/20 82/100

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Monday, 5 December 2016

HV Wines: Château Les Grand Chênes Cru Bourgeois 2011

As we approaching the end of year, there is a gearing up of promotions and actions for all of us to dig in and buy. Wine is no exception, I was wondering around over the weekend and saw offers I thought might be worth to try so I bought two wines, both from Bordeaux (the offer was specialized on Bordeaux wines, I guess they must have had to many left over). Both vintages are 2011, and the one I want to elaborate first is Chateau Les Grand Chênes Médoc Cru Bourgeois, 2011. It is a revisit as a couple of years I look over his 2007 vintage.

This is one of the properties in the hands of Bernard Magrez, a grand master in wine, very well respected and holds one of the most prestigious Chateau in Bordeaux Château Pape-Clément in Pessac-Léognan.  Here Les Grand Chenes is situated in Medoc, so on the north side of Bordeaux (Pessac-Léognan lays south of Bordeaux) Château Les Grand Chênes Cru Bourgeois 2011
Image result for medoc
If we go back in history, the medoc was for a long time a wild, marchland squeezed between two water masses. It was in the Gallo-Roman period that the Bituriges Vivisci arrived, Celts from the Bourges region, it was them who founded Burdigala (known today as Bordeaux), which also became the capital of Aquitaine, and still is. Before the middle-ages there was virtually no sign of vines. During the Roman times a few plots of vines were planted but concentrated around the city of Bordeaux. At the time the inhabitants were indulging in hunting, fishing and drinking large quantities of barley beer.

It is during the middle-ages that religious communities and feudal lords created the first wine organizations. Macau, Cantenac where amongst the first areas where vines were planted.  Amongst the first manor houses where; Castelnau, Lesparre, Latour, Blanquefort. They were modest micro-vineyards and produced Claret, much appreciated by the English. The medoc progressively welcomed pilgrims from northern Europe, who went back with a taste of Medoc wine. So bit by bit the career of medoc wine began.

Of course much ups and downs, the 100 year war consolidate the links between England and Aquitaine. Of course many of the medoc nobles where faithful to the Anglo-Gascon party and when the King of France defeated them, they paid dearly with their lives.
So of course one's death is the others breath and the parliamentarians saw the opportunity to get very rich quickly and bought the vineyards and took very quickly over the medoc and as bourgeoisie they had the right to sell their wines first.

In the 17th Century the medoc expanded out towards gravely marshlands that were drained by Dutch engineers. The old feudal lands became vast properties owned by powerful and titled parliamentarians.
It is through the 17th Century that trial and error was a curve to take, and it was also a Century with one of the coldest winters known to man. Much replanting, studying the terroir, new techniques were introduced and it appeared that the medoc wine became more qualitative. Until then the wine couldn't be kept for long, when the wine turned sour it was sold off at a rock bottom price. From around 1730 due to those new techniques, they began to talk about the new French claret, what we today call the grands Crus of the medoc.

Of course the biggest disaster still had to come, with mildew and of course phylloxera destroyed so many vines all over France all over Europe,that was 18th century.  Although that the Medoc wines do come a long way it is the 20th Century, well not the beginning, early 20th weren't that fantastic with global war and financial crisis, it is after the second world war that medoc has started to grow progressively and beacons today as one if the the most star quality region on the world.

Medoc facts

Medoc has 8 appellations; on the left-bank the 8 medoc appellations, which includes 2 sub-regional appellations (Medoc- Haut-Medoc), and 6 communal appellations (Saint-Estèphe, Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Moulis en Médoc and Listrac-en Médoc).

16.500 hectares of vines are shared between these communes.

Medoc grape variety are: Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Malbec (also named Cot) Petit Verdot and Carmenere. 

Harvest is decided by a commissioner who announced by year from what time a particular grape can be harvest (not all grapes mature at the same time) This commision is composed of growers, oenologist, technicians and relevant administrations.

The annual yields is set by the INAO (National Institute for Original Appellation) each year.

All growers claiming their wine to be an AOC, has to abide to the rules set by the Defense and Management Organisation or the DMO.

Classifications: The most prestigious classification is th 1855 medoc classification. 60 wines are labelled under this status.
Then you have the Cru Bourgeois classification, there 444 Cru Bourgeois wines, divided into 3 distinctive categories. 6 Cru Bourgeois Supérieur Exceptionnelle, 99 Crus Bourgeois Superieur and 339 Crus Bourgeois. 

Then there are 44 Crus Artisan. 

These are the major Crus in the Medoc, there are also 9 cooperatives brands in the Medoc.

Medoc vintages; starting from 1946 ( 1 very poor 5 exceptional)
1946; 2  1947; 4  1948; 3  1949; 4
1950; 3  1951; 1  1952; 4  1953; 4  1954; 1
1955; 4  1956; 1 1957; 2   1958; 2  1959; 5
1960; 2  1961; 5  1962; 4  1963; 1  1964; 4  1965; 1
1966; 4  1967; 3 1968; 1   1969; 2
1970; 4  1971; 4  1972; 3  1973; 2  1974; 2  1975; 4
1976; 3  1977; 2  1978; 4  1979; 3
1980; 3  1981; 3  1982; 5  1983; 4  1984; 2  1985; 4
1986; 4  1987; 3  1988; 4  1989; 5
1990; 5  1991; 3  1992; 2  1993; 3  1994; 3  1995; 4
1996; 4  1997; 3  1998;4   1999: 4
2000; 5  2001; 4  2002; 3  2003; 4  2004; 4  2005; 5  
2006; 3  2007; 2  2008; 3  2009; 5  
2010; 5  2011; 3   2012; 3 2013; 2  2014; 3  2015; 4

Chateau Les Grands Chenes Cru Bourgeois Medoc 2011
Image result for chateau les grands chenes 2011
This is a giant in the world of wine, Bernard Magrez holds 61 estates to his name world wide. From France to Spain, from Argentina, to Chile, Uruguay, California, Japan, Morocco and Portugal. He has a very talented team of wine growers and makers, of course his absolute jewel is Chateau Pape-Clement in Pessac Leognan, a wine that holds a very prestigious history and a wine that has a hefty price but a wine made from exceptional talent. Les Grand Chenes is situated in Saint-Christoly du Medoc. It holds 38 hectares of vines and they make 2 wines here the Grand Chenes and La Temperance des Grands Chenes. Vines are about 40 years old and the merlot grapes is dominate. 70% planted,  29% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1 % Cabernet franc. The density is about 7500 vines per hectare. Average yields 45 hectoliters per Ha. Aged for 16 months, Michel Rolland is the enologist.

Price: €17.00 $18 £14

Alcohol: 13.5%

Visual: Ruby red of appearance, a fair transparence little hazy, a fair brilliance (acidity indication), has a masculine appearance and holds heavy legs (alcohol content)

Nose: Medium attack on the nose, a little discreet but green peppers came first, followed by black currants and berries, little alcohol on the nose (not ideal) little oak, hints of mushrooms, not complex and a certain simplicity which is not always a bad thing.

Palate: Medium bodied, tannins half round, warm feel in the mouth, oak and slight fruits in the mid palate, holds fairly well together, little astringent  in the back (sharp feeling in the back of the throat)with a medium lingering. A dry wine.

Conclusion: If you like your Bordeaux wines and have the budget to buy this wine (which is fair priced many a tat over), he will come over as very pleasant and easy drinking, which these days is very important. Not everyone has the tools to attack complexity. Meats and wild will work but also on its own. I enjoyed this wine and could consider this wine to classify in the everyday drinking category.

Score: I rate this wine 16.5/20 83/100

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

HV Wines: Francois Cotat La Grande Cote Chavignol Sancerre

I can still remember the first time I selected this wine for a quite exclusive dinner. It was 2008, London, in one of the most exclusive streets of the city "Addison road". It all happen a bit accidentally as initially I was not in charge of selecting the wine, I just had to come and serve make sure it was done properly. But the house didn't do their homework very well and it end up that the white wine for the dinner wasn't delivered. Thankfully we were not far from one of the top wine shops in London that sadly is not there anymore today.

The dinner was for a very big insurance/finance firm with as star guest ex prime minister Mr.Tony Blair. So no pressure what so ever to make sure that I get this wine right. I can not remember exact what the starter dish was but, I remember it had to be a fairly rich, ideal not to oaked and by magic I wanted it to be a sauvignon blanc. So when I fell onto Francois Cotat La Grande Cote and with some professional advice from the shop owners, I took the case of 12 bottles and headed back, in hope I could cool them down in time (dinner was for about 14 ppl). I still remember after dinner when Mr Blair came by and congratulate everyone, he did make a point on the white wine, mention that is was exceptional and asking from who it was. I knew then that I did my job right. So last week when this domain made its appearance again, I had goosebumps and couldn't wait to taste it again.
Image result for loire valley vineyards

Who that do like a glass of white wine hasn't tasted a Sancerre?
Very few I presume and yet, it is often not recognised as a high quality wine and more like easy drinking and reasonably priced. I know, that some will shout at the screen but, through my experience in work and social, I have often heard Sancerre to be classified as simple and easy drinking, which is far from the truth.
Sancerre is situated in the Eastern part of the Loire valley. The loire valley is known as the garden of France, with its luscious green scenery and rivers. The capital of Loire valley is Orleans and its from here that the "Tarte Tatin" and the goat cheese "chevre de Chavignol" comes from. Of course Loire wines are not just coming from the loire valley department, it is divided into three regions, the upper Loire (Sancerre, Pouilly Fume), the Middle Loire (Touraine, Saumur, Chinon, Vouvray) and the Lower Loire (the Muscadet region). There is about 75,000 hectares of vines in the Loire and produce around 4.7/5. million hectolitres a year.

It is also here in this region where you will find the famous "Chateaux de la Loire" (The castle of the Loire Valley),  Image result for chateau de la loire Chambord the most famous.

Sancerre, is known for its Sauvignon Blanc in the first place, but they have also Pinot noir of which a red sancerre is made of, (Cabernet franc, Grolleau, Gamay and Pinot d'Aunis are also produced in the Loire Valley but not used in Sancerre AOC) and of course excellent rose wines. Sancerre holds three distinctive terroir types; Terres blanches, caillottes and silex (white soils, caillottes is a type of gravel and flint). So the style of wine made here are from full-bodied to medium/dry, to light and crisp. Much variety and style is created amongst the wines from Sancerre, it is advised to look a bit further than your local supermarket and you will see what a difference a Sancerre can be.
Sancerre was created as an AOC in 1936, with white, red and rose style wines. Its size is 2,750 hectares big and has an average annual production of about 164,000 hectolitres of wine. Most of the Sancerre wines have aging potential between 1 to 5 years, of course there are some exceptions and one of them is Francois Cotat.

Francois Cotat La Grande Cote Chavignol
Image result for francois cotat
Francois Cotat took over from his dad, Paul in 1998, who he himself separated from his brother which is now also in the hands of his son Pascal Cotat. Francois was already making wines under his name since 1987, he has about 4.2 hectares of vines, on quite some mythical hills in Sancerre, La Grande Côte, Mont Damnés and Cul de Beaujeu. Harvesting everything by hand and very late as he wants the grapes to reach their full ripeness potential. Creating wines of course with complexity, depth, richness and texture. No pesticides are used and follows the lunar cycle to works his vines and wines. His wines are barrel fermented  and all his wines are unfined and unfiltered. He creates wines that age for decades.

Francois Cotat La Grande Cote 2005
Image result for francois cotat la grande cote 2005
Francois Cotat La Grande Cote Chavignol Sancerre
Yes, I know very lucky to have been part to taste this 2005 vintage. I could not have been more happy.

Grape: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Alcohol: 13%

Price: €83 $93 £76

Visual: due to its age has the wine begin to reflect a slight riper yellow colour. Still vibrant and energetic. A transparency fair to rather good, even so he doesn't filter or unfined his wines. A brilliance that indicates a good balance of acidity. A very elegant looking wine.

Nose: It gives you shivers as the exotic floral note start the attack, quickly followed by a variety of white juicy fleshy fruits, peach, pear, melon, hints of grapefruit and little citrus. It is wonderful 11 years later that this wine still goes so strong and in full life. The aromas are coming back again and again. Everything sits just right and shows to anyone doubting the quality of a great Sancerre and if you do get the chance please do not turn it away, you have no idea what you will miss out.

Palate: Here again fruits in abundance, pears and concentrated peaches with strings of chamomile, even some lemon curd I would say. The  mid palate is so beautifully balanced and hold superb together, round and smooth yet still good acidity. A finish that lingers on for days on ends so to speak. A wine you do truly indulge from eye, through the nose to the back throat. Wonderful.

Conclusion: I remember well my first Francois Cotat and I have been lucky to re-encounter this wine on a regular basis. Each time I drink a wine from this house it give me so much satisfaction and pleasure that I wished to have more of these on the market, but then it might become mundane. This house has in total a very small production about 35,000 bottles in total so they are not everywhere to find, but and I put my tone on the BUT, if you ever come across and can afford it (he has les Caillottes which is cheaper but still very good), please do not hesitate and open it for one very special moment with people/friends who you know will truly appreciate a great unique wine.

Score: I rate this wine 19/20 95/100

Till next time please do drink responsibly.