Lanson, ‘99 claret and a pint of beer
Tuesday 23 June
I’m having a couple of days off after a 14-day working marathon but there’s still time to update my blog…
Champagne Lanson launched its new Extra Age Brut at Vinexpo and Wimbledon this week
The new blend has been release ahead of the company’s 250th anniversary in 2010 and, in keeping with the house style, hasn’t undergone any malolactic fermentation. It’s a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards, and takes parcels from the 1999, 2002 and 2003 vintages. All the wines in the blend have undergone at least five years on lees and it’s incredibly yeasty, almost mushroomy.
My tasting notes said: “Round and developed. Baked apple, Christmas cake fruit, and almonds on the nose. Lovely concentration and definition in the mouth with fresh acidity.”
It’ll set you back fifty of your finest English pounds but I think that’s fair. I’ve been watching Lanson closely for the past year and they’ve been steadily upping their profile and have just launched a major consumer campaign. We’ll see if that translates into sales.
On a completely different theme…Here’s a quick update from the 1999 Bordeaux tasting on my last post. All participants were asked to mark their favourites with Ch. Latour, Lafite, Palmer and Lafleur coming out victorious with Ausone and Vieux Chateau Certan runners up.
Interestingly, two wines that were, in my opinion, spoiled by brettanomyces made it into the best value category (Gruaud-Larose and Haut Bailly). It seems that other people like that farmyardy aroma it gives off but it was way too overpowering for me. Perhaps I’m getting too pernickety – I blame this darn Master of Wine course.
Now, back to wee break: mostly getting sunburnt in Greenwich Park and drinking Deuchar’s IPA. Life is good.
Tuesday 9 June
The world of fine wine is undergoing an internet revolution.
Fine wine trader Bordeaux Index launched Live Trade, a two way trading service for 60 of the world’s top wines two months ago, giving the public the power to bid and sell wine directly without a broker. The company claims it has recorded around £4m worth of trade in its first two months.
Now wine broker Fine+ Rare has launched a new web tool allowing users to value their fine wine collections and sell them at the click of a mouse. Users of the site can type in their portfolio to find out current market prices. It takes a 10-15% fee for brokering the wine if you wish to sell.
Hot on their heels is Berry Bros & Rudd. The London-based fine wine merchant is set to launch a new service that will allow customers to trade their reserves on the BBR site and set their own bid prices. Berrys takes a 10% fee from the sale.
So what does this all mean? The customer ultimately benefits from greater transparency of prices and gains greater control over buying and selling their own wines. The public have greater information than ever before about the quality of the wines on the market and their value.
However, this doesn’t mean the merchant is becoming obsolete. The public still need reliable advice and trusted avenues to buy and sell. Established names like Berrys, and Fine + Rare will continue to profit amid the proliferation of (sometimes untrustworthy) internet traders.
Let me know what you think about the changing face of fine wine investment.
Check out my Fine + Rare story and BBR article on decanter.com.
Grange, Gago and rebeccagibb.com
Friday 1 May
Rebeccagibb.com launches on the same day as Penfolds Grange releases its 2004 vintage so it seems an apt way to kick things off. I hope the website and I will mature as gracefully as the Grange looks set to do.
The 2004 has already been hyped up by Australian wine critics and is expected to retail between AUD$520-$650 a bottle. I guess I’ll have to marry a rich man to pay if I want to get my hands on it.
I caught up with the affable Peter Gago, chief winemaker at Penfolds, last week.to ask him a bit more about the vintage and the future of Grange. According to Peter, the 2004 is a cracker (he would say that, wouldn’t he?) and compares it to the 1996 and 1986 vintage. He points out he made two special bin wines in 2004 (Block 42 and Bin 68) which is a good indicator to the calibre of the vintage.
With the 2008 en primeur Bordeaux frenzy calming, I ask Gago why Grange doesn’t go down the en-primeur route? ‘We have thought about en primeur,’ he admits. ‘We released the special bins en primeur electronically, to dip a toe in the water. It’s an ongoing issue and is always up for review,’ he says.
‘But I look at the en primeur system in Bordeaux and it’s a bit of a joke,’ he adds. You can’t really argue with him.
For the moment, Grange will be sold on release. But watch this space….