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We are very pleased to announce that we received the International Wine Challenge 2018 award for UK Burgundy Specialist Wine Merchant of the Year.

The Award ceremony took place at the historic Grosvenor House Hotel on Tuesday 10th July 2018.

We would like to thank our incredibly talented growers and all our clients who share with us their passion for Burgundy and enjoy its excellent wines.

Chief Executive, Tom Stopford Sackville, and Marketing Director, Philippa Wright, receiving the 2018 IWC Burgundy Specialist award from judges Charles Metcalfe and Peter McCombie MW
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Goedhuis Blog by Catherine Petrie Mw - 1M ago

I spent last week with a team of journalists and wine buyers from the UK trade, holed up in Savigny-lès-Beaune’s comfortable Hameau de Barboron for four days, as we tasted our way through 243 white Burgundies from the 2015 vintage.

This group has been tasting together for many years, always in Burgundy, and always tasting the vintage three years on. By this moment the young wines have had time to settle in bottle and embark on their journey of development. It gives the tasters a chance to revisit a comprehensive line-up of a vintage’s wares, often for the first time since tasting from barrel in the winter following the harvest (most of us had tasted the 2015s between November 2016 to January 2017). And so, on 22nd May, 11 of us met bright and early in Savigny to start tasting our way through the 2015 whites over four days.

The tasting is limited to premiers and grands crus from Chablis and the Côte d’Or, with samples sourced from the domaines. It was with absolute joy, excitement, and a small touch of nervousness that I accepted an invitation to join the Burgfest group this year. Tasting this widely across the region and sampling its top producers and vineyard sites in such a condensed and concentrated environment is a rare experience. The wines are all tasted blind, although they are grouped by appellation. We score out of 100, and discuss the wines before revealing the producers. This means bias is largely avoided, and it gives us in the wine trade a brilliant opportunity to assess how the growers we work with are performing against their peers. It also gives us a very complete impression of the vintage. Of course, there are a few atypical examples amongst the hundreds of wines we taste, a few blindingly brilliant wines, and a few disappointing flops; but beyond the individual performance of each of the wines, this tasting gives us an unparalleled opportunity to understand the character and style of the vintage as a whole.

Around the lunch table on the final day we shared our impressions of the vintage. It was agreed that the vintage had shown itself to be a fine one, with considerable ageing potential but also juicy, approachable appeal in its youth. At the time of their release in January 2017, the 2015 whites were perhaps unfairly dismissed. They had a tough act to follow; the scintillating 2014s had seduced the market with their searing acidity, fine-boned structure and ethereal complexity. The warmer, rounder 2015s were at a disadvantage in a market that placed value on acidity and angular restraint in its white wines.

But having tasted from barrel, we had commented as much at the time: 2015 was a warm year, and its reds are rich in fruit, alcohol, tannin, and weight. The whites had a ripe volume of fruit, but also showed a distinct and welcome freshness. It was far from the overripe vintage for Chardonnay that some had feared. Last week reinforced this message – the wines were ripe, certainly some displayed a touch of exotic fruit, and almost none showed under ripe, green characters. But, crucially, they also had bright freshness and balancing acidity. We discussed similarities and differences with other ‘solaire’ years such as 2009 and 2003. Through a combination of the vintage’s natural balance and the advances in viticultural and winemaking practices, it was felt the growers of Burgundy had managed 2015’s generosity with widespread success. The plump volume of fruit supported the oak very well on the whole, and the reductive style of winemaking so à la mode these days has meant the wines maintained a level of tight, mineral tension. These two aspects of oak and reduction management when matched with the ripe, juicy style of fruit of the vintage, has meant the 2015s are hugely attractive in their youth. The good level of concentration also means they are likely to age well, and many should enjoy long drinking windows.

Although, as I mentioned, the performance of some individual wines broke the general trends, there was a general thread through the group’s average scores that suggested the soils with a higher clay content had been the most successful of the vintage. Some Puligny Montrachet premiers crus were excellent (particularly Pucelles and Caillerets), Meursault had a good hit rate, and Chevalier Montrachet and Le Montrachet concluded things on a triumphant high. It was felt that Chablis had shown less typicity of terroir, and more vintage character (i.e. the warmth and sunniness of the year) than the wines of the Côte de Beaune. But I would defend Chablis’s appeal in 2015 nonetheless. Although the wines lack that oyster shell, tight, briny reverb, they offered smooth orchard flavours and long, juicy finishes. A glass of 2015 premier or grand cru Chablis in hand will be no hardship.

Some Goedhuis growers who showed particularly well during the week include: Pommier, Pinson, Droin, Marc Colin, Paul Pillot, and Jacques Carillon.

In the afternoons I found some time in the afternoons to visit a few domaines – Ghislaine Barthod (Chambolle Musigny), Louis Boillot (Chambolle Musigny), Tollot Beaut (Chorey-lès-Beaune), and Jean Grivot (Vosne Romanée), where I had a sneak peek of the 2017 reds from barrel. The vintage looks very promising. Not only is there volume (hallelujah, at last) but there is evident quality – there is a bright, vital energy displayed in these young wines, resplendent in crunchy red fruit flavours and elegant tannin structure.

You will be able to read extensive reviews and scores by Jasper Morris MW on his forthcoming Jasper Morris Inside Burgundy site, Neal Martin on Vinous.com, William Kelley on The Wine Advocate, and an article by Neil Beckett in The World of Fine Wine magazine with the team’s calibrated scores, in the coming months. We shall taste and score the 2015 reds in September this year.

A full list of 2015 white Burgundies available here.

If you would like to read more about recent vintages reviewed by the press and trade, you may want to consider Southwold: Bordeaux’s equivalent tasting, which David Roberts MW partakes in every January. A group of the UK wine trade and journalists gather to taste a vintage with two years in bottle. This year they reviewed the 2014 vintage: click here for David’s review.

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Goedhuis Blog by Arthur Coggill - 1M ago

The prospect of a wine tasting at Tenuta Le Calcinaie on a Monday, the day after our wedding, seemed a little foolhardy as we drove past San Gimignano, especially given the tasting was deep in the Tuscan countryside down a winding track that I’d never driven down before at 3pm in the afternoon. Thankfully any worries I had with regards to our enthusiasm or this being a poor idea were immediately dispersed by Simone Santini’s warm welcome, vivacious spirit, and frankly delicious wines.
Two things immediately struck me as we began our tasting, firstly that Simone is supremely passionate winemaker and secondly that we should all be drinking more Vernaccia di San Gimignano in the UK. Upon sitting down, we instantly had a cool glass of Simone’s 2017 thrust upon us, which was just the best way to start a tasting; minerally, fresh, with hints of almond stone and acacia blossom. Sadly, as I was driving it was spittooning all the way.

One thing I hadn’t appreciated is that much like the best Sancerres Vernaccia can age, and Simone produces a separate cuvée, blended with 5% chardonnay, called Vigna Sassi Riserva showcasing its longevity. Made with a little more love in the cellar, skin fermented, more lees contact and a co-ferment with the Chardonnay, the Vernaccia takes on more body, a creamier texture, and just a hint more depth of flavour to the mineral nuance.

After tasting through a range of vintages, including a really interesting 10-year old 2008 Vernaccia, we finished on the simply excellent 2011 Vigna Sassi San Gimignano Riserva, which had aged beautifully, developing almost mature Semillon notes of waxy honey and lanolin.

We then moved onto Simone’s reds where we immediately discovered my wife’s dislike of young tannic wines, much to his amusement. Frankly a good thing though as it meant we were lucky enough to try some of the delicious local Finocchiona, fennel salami, that Simone very generously sliced for us then and there, and which I thought perfectly matched his Chianti Colli Senesi ’16. Unsurprisingly the salami also went very well with Tenuta Le Calcinaie’s “super-tuscan” Teodoro, a wine that Simone describes as a difficult but enjoyable project.

After the tasting Simone very kindly showed us around his small but state-of-the-art cellar, which went a long way to explaining the quality of wines we’d tried. However he doesn’t just limit himself to wine as the Tenuta also makes Olive oil and honey. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to try either of the latter but if ever you come across them I’m sure they’d be as good as his Vernaccia was.

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Goedhuis Blog by Arthur Coggill - 2M ago

The prospect of a wine tasting at Tenuta La Calcinaie on a Monday, the day after our wedding, seemed a little foolhardy as we drove past San Gimignano, especially given the tasting was deep in the Tuscan countryside down a winding track that I’d never driven down before at 3pm in the afternoon. Thankfully any worries I had with regards to our enthusiasm or this being a poor idea were immediately dispersed by Simone Santini’s warm welcome, vivacious spirit, and frankly delicious wines.
Two things immediately struck me as we began our tasting, firstly that Simone is supremely passionate winemaker and secondly that we should all be drinking more Vernaccia di San Gimignano in the UK. Upon sitting down, we instantly had a cool glass of Simone’s 2017 thrust upon us, which was just the best way to start a tasting; minerally, fresh, with hints of almond stone and acacia blossom. Sadly, as I was driving it was spittooning all the way.

One thing I hadn’t appreciated is that much like the best Sancerres Vernaccia can age, and Simone produces a separate cuvée, blended with 5% chardonnay, called Vigna Sassi Riserva showcasing its longevity. Made with a little more love in the cellar, skin fermented, more lees contact and a co-ferment with the Chardonnay, the Vernaccia takes on more body, a creamier texture, and just a hint more depth of flavour to the mineral nuance.

After tasting through a range of vintages, including a really interesting 10-year old 2008 Vernaccia, we finished on the simply excellent 2011 Vigna Sassi San Gimignano Riserva, which had aged beautifully, developing almost mature Semillon notes of waxy honey and lanolin.

We then moved onto Simone’s reds where we immediately discovered my wife’s dislike of young tannic wines, much to his amusement. Frankly a good thing though as it meant we were lucky enough to try some of the delicious local Finocchiona, fennel salami, that Simone very generously sliced for us then and there, and which I thought perfectly matched his Chianti Colli Senesi ’16. Unsurprisingly the salami also went very well with Tenuta Le Calcinaie’s “super-tuscan” Teodoro, a wine that Simone describes as a difficult but enjoyable project.

After the tasting Simone very kindly showed us around his small but state-of-the-art cellar, which went a long way to explaining the quality of wines we’d tried. However he doesn’t just limit himself to wine as the Tenuta also makes Olive oil and honey. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to try either of the latter but if ever you come across them I’m sure they’d be as good as his Vernaccia was.

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Goedhuis Blog by Catherine Petrie Mw - 3M ago

Every year in early April the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGC) organises a series of tastings in all the major appellations of the Bordeaux region. The British wine trade descends on the city in droves to sniff, sip, and pass judgement on the freshly drawn barrel samples of the six-month-old vintage that will hit the market in the ensuing en primeur campaign in May and June. The Goedhuis team has tasted its way across the 2017s of the Médoc, Right Bank, Pessac Léognan, and Sauternes. You can read detailed accounts of each day of the UGC week here.

Following the 2015-2016 double – vintages that were both widely praised as outstanding – 2017 had its work cut out. Frost will dominate much talk of the vintage, and indeed its importance in certain areas should not be underplayed. But the frost, widespread as it was (indeed across the whole of Europe), was patchy across Bordeaux, and many estates were left entirely untouched. The growing season that followed was a fairly straightforward one and had the potential to produce some very good wines in capable hands.

Understanding the frost:

Five consecutive nights at the end of April brought frost to Bordeaux. The nights of 27th and 28th April were the worst, with temperatures dropping well below zero accompanied by a slicing wind from Siberia that funnelled through the vineyards. Despite their best efforts (helicopters, fires, smoke screens and so on) some Bordelais lost hectare upon hectare of newly burst buds to the frost. St Emilion, Pomerol, parts of Pessac Léognan, and Sauternes paid particularly dearly, with Ch Climens in Barsac losing 100% of its crop. Those in the Médoc did not escape either, although those properties nearer the river benefitted from its protection and many of the top terroirs were left unscathed. The reported damage across the whole region stands at 40%.

The precocity of the growing season meant that, unlike the case of the even later frost in 1961 (29th May), the vines had the chance to grow new buds, and many produced a crop of ‘second generation’ fruit that ripened in time for harvest in late September/early October. Those affected by the frost therefore had a decision to make: whether to use second generation fruit or not. It is vine growing lore that, unlike many other forms of disaster that can strike a vineyard, frost does not damage quality, only quantity. That is, if the bud is frosted, it does not grow. Therefore there is no quality to judge, it is simply absent from the blend. But vines are determined and resourceful plants, and given half a chance, they will attempt to grow again after disaster strikes. And so the plot thickens in an early vintage like 2017 that had (just) the adequate time to ripen this second generation of growth. Decisions around whether to include this fruit in the final blend do in fact have a bearing on the character of the wine, and thus the quality. We heard arguments on both sides of this conundrum, and it was down to the decision of individual estates to interpret the vineyard’s production in the most favourable style of their own.

So, where and why did the frost strike? Cool air is heavier than warm air, and so lower lying vines are at much greater risk of frost damage. This is why most premier and grand cru vineyards in Burgundy, for example, are situated on the mid-slope, with village level vineyards on the flatter land below. They benefit from the protective ‘thermal zone’ of the hillside. Gabriel Vialard at Ch Haut Bailly explained that the vines planted in a very slight depression at either end of the property were the ones affected by frost, whilst those on the slight rise in the middle of the estate escaped. This pattern follows exactly the historical planting of the estate, showing how previous generations of growers had realised the greater risk to lower lying land.

For these reasons, there is no pattern to the frost affecting one variety more than others, or vines of a certain age over others. Its damage was meted out purely on topographical lines. As a result, some properties have unusually weighted blends compared to previous years. Ch l’Evangile is 100% Merlot this year because all of their Cabernet Franc, which usually accounts for 6-10% of the blend, was frosted.

Beyond the frost:

There is much else to consider in 2017 than the frost, unlikely as it is to be remembered for anything else. Some parts of the growing season were the best in recent years, like flowering, for example. This occurred around 19th – 30th May (around 10 days ahead of the average) and took place in beautifully warm, dry weather. This lead to excellent fruit-set with next to no millerandage (small grapes) or coulure (aborted grapes). Veraison (berries changing colour) coincided with a gentle level of water stress meaning this stage was completed with rapidity and uniformity. This clement growing season meant that, for un-frosted vineyards, yields were high and healthy. Had the April frost not happened, this vintage could have gone down as a big and beautiful one.

June was warm and dry, and the threat of drought began to concern some in the region. Having had a dry winter and warm spring, water reserves were running low. A torrential downpour at the end of June calmed nerves (120mm fell in Pessac Léognan in 3 days).

July and August were unusual: warm (roughly average for the time of year), but consistently cloudy. In very general terms, temperature governs phenolic ripeness: tannins, anthocyanins, and other phenolic compounds. Sunlight governs physiological ripeness: acidity and sugar, and therefore potential alcohol. It is difficult to precisely distinguish these two forms of ripening in a given climate or vintage, mainly because warm temperatures usually go hand in hand with high sunlight strength and vice versa. But in the unusual case of 2017, the warm temperatures with little sunlight meant the vines did not photosynthesise lots of sugar and behaved more like they would in a ‘cool’ vintage, whilst tannins and other phenolic compounds developed as they would in an average year. The result in is a vintage with lower alcohol than the previous two years (many on the Left Bank are between 12.5-13.5%), with perfectly ripe tannins. Nothing seems cooked or stewed, nor does it seem green or under-ripe. Consequently, many producers are coining it a ‘classic’ vintage, with elegant balance. For the most part, I would have to agree. The flaw some wines suffer from is an absence of fleshy mid-palate. The fruit is pretty, aromatic, and poised; the tannins are ripe and fine-grained; the acidity is fresh and well balanced. But somehow some wines lack that luxurious and profound drive the best red Bordeaux possess.

July and August, importantly, lacked rain. Only 44mm fell in Margaux over the two months. Along with 2000, 2005, and 2012, it is amongst the driest summers in the past 20 years. Much of Europe suffered an acute drought during this period with extreme conditions in Italy and Spain, and catastrophic wildfires raging across Portugal. A little water stress is beneficial for fruit quality as the vine strives to spread its seed, struggling against the slight discomfort of thirst. Too much, however, and the plant shuts down resulting in a cessation in fruit maturation. We asked producers whether water stress over this summer period had been a concern. Many replied that it hadn’t. Some explained that they were approaching the limit, but given the downpour in June, and the rain that fell in September, the vines in Bordeaux did not reach that critical point where they begin to shut down. Water stress is often as much to do with soil as it is to do with rainfall. Lilian Barton-Sartorius explained a combination of ploughing the soils (helping the drainage of the heavy June rainfall), proximity to the river (and thus a high water table) and old vines (with deep roots) meant they suffered no water stress at all at Chx Léoville and Langoa Barton. The vines had just enough stress to strive for quality.

So, although the frost was distinctly heterogeneous in is impact, the rest of the growing season can be noted for its homogeneous nature, with vines developing through the growing season at a steady and uniform rate, clearing all the hurdles of flowering, fruit-set, and veraison with ease, and sitting out the potential drought without significant loss or delay in ripening.

The months of September and October presented some critical decision points over picking dates. The season was early, and most properties making whites had started picking in late August. The harvest for Merlot took place from the second week of September. Rain was forecast towards the end of September, and some estates decided to keep moving and pull in all the later-ripening Cabernets before the threat of botrytis rot had a bearing on quality and yield. Indeed, this rain brought on a rapid botrytis infection in Sauternes, much to the growers’ delight. But the majority of those making dry red wines took a gamble and briefly paused from picking during the rain, holding out for some dry weather to follow. They were well rewarded by a gloriously dry, warm spell at the end of September running into early October. This last stretch gave the Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc an extra lift for those who had waited, and these wines have a creamier density compared to the grippier character of those picked before.

To conclude:

Whilst some parts of the fine wine trade might have a deservedly conservative image, this is not something one could level at the viticulturalists and oenologists in Bordeaux. The region might have a traditional image, but they are ever ready to embrace innovation in the vineyard and cellar. The Bordelais have wrestled with a complicated season and have shown a great deal of initiative. The general trend for a lighter touch in the winery with less extraction was a perfect match for 2017. The result is a vintage with much greater consistency than we had anticipated: a classical balance of fresh fruited aromas, medium weight, moderate alcohol, and in many cases fine, silky tannins. Amongst the many good wines are a few seriously high quality ones.

Our full brochure will be published at the beginning of May, with detailed analyses of each appellation, as well as tasting notes and scores for individual wines. A lot, as ever, will depend on price. It might not have the cachet of the two preceding vintages, but 2017 should not be snubbed on quality. If you choose carefully there are some wonderful wines to be enjoyed here.

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There are more and more Côtes de Provence Rosés coming from operations resembling the Carlsberg factory in Northampton, so it is a wonderfully uplifting experience arriving at Château St Baillon.

You are greeted with the first glimpse of the Château as you drive through woods full of morels and wild asparagus, where Obelix would be in his element.

This is where the wonderful Marie Delon continues to expand and improve on what our old friend Ervé Goudard started back in the early 1980s. She is doing an amazing job, which includes digging out huge boulders to create new vineyards in the beautiful and varied terroirs surrounding the Château.

Hand picking, no irrigation, great soils and a desire to make even better wines all adds up to make the magic wines of Château St Baillon.

 

The 2017 is arriving in two weeks but don’t panic, as we have stocks of the excellent 2016 which is still drinking at its peak.

See the wines ⇒

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Day four of our Bordeaux En Primeur 2017 trip sees us staying close to the city in the neighbouring appellation of Pessac-Léognan, starting with Château Haut Bailly. We are greeted at the estate by technical director, Gabriel Vialard, who walked the team through the vineyards and cellars en route to their tasting room which overlooks the vines.

With every new vintage, the team at the Château try to describe its individual character, and this year’s “The Wonder of Nature” serves as a reminder of nature’s ability to rebound, and that truly showed in the quality of the wines. Haut Bailly lost 30% of their total production due to the April frost, however the weather that followed in the summer, warm days and cool nights, allowed the grapes to reach peak but not over-ripeness at harvest time. The resulting wines were an excellent introduction to Pessac-Léognan. The second wine, La Parde, saw more Merlot than usual, as some plots usually destined for the Grand Vin went into this wine, creating a wine that is very juicy, with a solid mid-palate. The Haut Bailly with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, is very pure, precise and polished, with gorgeous silky tannins from the strong performing Cabernet. Definitely a pair to get behind.

Goedhuis team with Veronique Sanders and Gabriel Vialard of Ch. Haut Bailly

The wines of Haut Brion were next.  An almost automatic silence settled over the room as the team went straight to work tasting the wines before us.  La Chapelle de La Mission showed very strongly, very plush with silky, velvety tannins.  It was hard to pick a favourite between La Mission and Haut Brion, each played towards their strengths: exuberance for La Mission, and reserved, stony, tannic structure for Haut Brion.  It split the room, but I really enjoyed the La Mission. Next up the mythic whites, the Sauvignon this year was very pure.  La Mission Blanc was fuller and fruitier on the finish, Haut Brion Blanc followed its red counterpart and was powerful yet restrained. It was tough spitting these wines, and it was nowhere near lunch time!

Following this we went to Smith Haut Lafitte, where they produced one of the best white wines they have ever made, it was complex and elegantly balanced. The estate harvested very early for both red and white and lost nothing in the Grand Vin vineyards.

Our last stop before lunch was the only UGC tasting of the day at Malartic Lagravière, to taste through the reds and whites of Pessac-Léognan and Graves. To me the whites are the standouts of the appellation, they are fruit driven, mineral and very elegant. Excellent examples: Domaine de Chevalier, Pape Clément, and Carbonnieux. On the red side, Domaine de Chevalier, Pape Clément and Carmes Haut Brion stood out.

On our way to lunch at Domaine de Chevalier our mood was instantly lifted by the arrival of blue skies and the sun! Few things have been missed this week more than sunshine. Upon arriving at the Château we are greeted by the charming Adrien Bernard and his wonderful parents, Anne and Olivier. Olivier Bernard said this was a vintage where if you have an early flowering, and an early harvest, combined with a summer that wasn’t too hot, the result is the lovely 2017. If the summer is too hot, the result is 2003. He was very pleased with his wines in this 2017 vintage.

After lunch various members of our team left to catch their flight back to London. A small contingent continued back up to St Julien and Léoville Barton, for a chance to taste Langoa and Léoville with the lovely Lilian Barton-Sartorius. She produced a knockout pair of wines, the most approachable young Langoa and Léoville I have tasted! Our last stop of the day is the Ulysse Cazabonne tasting where they were showing a large majority of the wines we tasted throughout the week. This was great as it let us revisit and reconfirm our assessments of wines tasted earlier in the week.

This has been a very interesting week of tasting as it isn’t a Left Bank or Right Bank vintage. Each appellation and indeed each château had their own successes despite or even thanks to the stresses they faced: frost, drought, rain, a cooler than expected summer, or any combination of these factors.

The most important thing to take away from this week is that while the frost may have been an initial scare, it did not necessarily affect the quality of the wine produced, just the quantity. Our recommendation when considering what to buy this vintage is to do a little research and of course to reach out to us as we want you to select the best wines for your cellaring needs.

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After a mixed second day where the communes of St Julien, Margaux and Pauillac delivered strong glimpses of real quality, today we head over to the right bank to focus on the twin appellations of St Émilion and Pomerol.

First up, our traditional early morning visit to Jean-Pierre Moueix to taste a wide range of  St Émilion and Pomerol 2017s. The problem they had to face on the right bank was the drought more than the frost. Clearly the element of this vintage is the presence of tannins, adding structure to the wines. 2017 is like a modern day 1988 – they all have their reserved subtleties; they will never be exuberant wines, however they are really sound and I have no doubt they will come together with time in the cellar. Hosanna, La Fleur Petrus, Trotanoy and Belair-Monange all stand out this morning, showing class and beautiful persistence.

The UGC at Château Gazin in Pomerol revealed some surprises. First up Château Beauregard, with a blend of 40% Cabernet Franc and 60% Merlot – this is clearly a good vintage for the Cabernet Franc, evident via Beauregard (of course it is all down to location, and it shows how sporadic the frost can hit individual plots). Château Clinet is very elegant, picking early has helped create a beautiful wine with lovely balance. Château Gazin has good structure and underlined power. You will have to drink this while waiting for the 2015 & 2016 to hit their stride!

Next up L’Evangile (100% Merlot) all of their Cabernet Franc vines were hit by frost and they lost over 50% of their crop in total to the frost. This always shows very well En Primeur, they have managed to get beautiful natural freshness with polished tannins. I love the degree of richness which isn’t always apparent in this vintage. It just keeps singing, you can still taste it minutes after.

The classically in styled 2017 La Conseillante (85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc) shows impressive freshness and elegance but still closer to 2016 in style and concentration than 2015 with crisper tannins and less alcohol. There are some wines on the right bank that are a bit creamy, but here the tannins are very silky. The wine is so perfectly weighted with incredible balance and will easily age for 20 years plus. Each new vintage is different but this has the hallmarks of the brilliant 2001 vintage. La Conseillante continues its hot streak with a solid wine in 2017. This could easily be my wine of the vintage.

Now on to Vieux ChâteauCertan (81% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) with the enormously talented Alexandre Thienpont. 2017 brings VCC back to a classic and elegant vintage; Everyone loves a bbq…this is haute cuisine. The Merlot shows ripe fruit, freshness and silky texture. This is right up there with the best wines we have tasted today. I love the style of this vintage for Pomerol. VCC managed to avoid the frost in 2017. For info, Pomerol has a total of 800 hectares under vine; 300 hectares was frozen 100%, 300 hectares was frozen 50% and 200 hectares had no frost at all.

A journey later and we arrive at Petrus. we are delighted that we have been officially confirmed as one of the UK’s four importers and representatives of Petrus. I don’t think I need to mention why this wine is so brilliant. Petrus is one of the rarest and most exquisite wines in the world and yet again they have produced an intoxicating wine in 2017.

Next up the very special Cheval Blanc. This famous estate’s vineyard is situated at the juncture of Pomerol and the sandy, gravelly soils of St Emilion, facing the two noble estates of l’Evangile and La Conseillante. Unlike much of St Emilion’s limestone soil, Cheval Blanc has more in common with Pomerol’s soils due to its high clay content.

Lunch wines with Pierre Lurton and Pierre-Olivier Clouet: 2015 Le Petit Cheval Blanc, 2011 Quinault l’Enclos, 2009 Cheval Blanc (this is ethereal, it will be fascinating to follow the evolution of the 2009). Paired with the stunning 2006 Cheval Blanc (this is very Pauillac in style, I’m a big fan). Tough life!

The 2017 Cheval Blanc includes a solid 14% of Cabernet Sauvignon and just over double that of cab franc. Despite this atypical blend for the chateau, the style is unmistakably Cheval. It has the prettiness and elegance of Cheval Blanc. Some wines of this vintage feel hollow, this has a desireable mid palate density – a very left bank version of Cheval Blanc.

Just a short drive down the road from Cheval we hit Château Canon. Without a shadow of a doubt, Château Canon has been one of the hottest Bordeaux properties during the past three En Primeur campaigns. The 2017 will be a serious contender for the most in-demand wine of the vintage. It was a wonderful opportunity to taste Château Berliquet (purchased by Chanel last year), their vines sit adjacent to Château Canon’s and the 2017 is a true delight to drink (sorry, taste!).

Our Buying Team: Catherine Petrie MW & David Roberts MW

Up the hill to Château Ausone. No Simard, Haut-Simard or Fonbel this year because of frost. Moulin Saint Georges has gorgeous notes of violet and well integrated tannins, lovely drop (I’ll be buying some of this for my cellar). Finally Ausone which is very structured and concentrated… this is a wine that oozes class.

Figeac has an unusually high proportion of gravel in its soils for St Émilion and Cabernet Sauvignon thrives here, making up 47% of the blend in 2017. Much of the crop was lost to frost. This is a vintage for conviction, decision and action. Château-Figeac was the work of true “haute-couture” – the team should be very proud for what they have created in 2017. This is a wine of great length, harmony and class. A classic in the making!

Next up we taste the stunning wines from the great Denis Durantou’s Pomerol based stable. Denis’ estate lies at the heart of the Pomerol plateau. La Chenade and Les Cruzelles are always a delight to taste but the ‘star buy’ for me has to be La Petit Eglise, this is one of the unbeatable bargains in Pomerol (should feature in everyone’s cellar). Finally we finished with the great L’Eglise Clinet – a wine of great pedigree. Always one of the most pleasurable visits on our annual buying trip.

Next up Tertre Roteboeuf with the ever enthusiastic Mark Savage. Francois Mitjavile’s small, low tech cellar perched on a hill above St Émilion feels a world away from mainstream Bordeaux. His graceful, powerful, thrilling wines always wow the critics, and this year is no exception – the 2017 is real class! It just goes on and on. It’s very rare you walk out of this place without a smile on your face!

To summarise there is plenty to be happy about on the right bank in 2017. The frost will obviously be the focal point of the vintage – all those not impacted by the frost have created excellent wines. Right bank is more variable than left it seems. It’s a vintage where you see the importance of terroir.

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Goedhuis Blog by Philippa Wright - 3M ago

It’s not just the buyers and sales team who love great wine at Goedhuis – en route to the ski slopes of Lake Tahoe our Financial Controller, Dan Lane, stopped off at Ridge and sent back this report:

A fantastic trip to Ridge Monte Bello today. The winery is at the very top of the San Jose mountain range looking down on the San Andreas fault line and Silicon Valley with the new Apple HQ in view. Ridge are very proud that they make their wine with minimal intervention, letting the natural yeasts work.

Head winemaker Eric Baugher gave us a very special behind the scenes tour of areas not usually open to the public.

We tasted the 2016 Monte Bello straight out of barrel, first from French Oak then from Kentucky Oak showing enormous differences. Then we tasted the 2017 from barrel which was very toasted coffee at this early age, but already showing very well.

We then tasted the baby Monte Bello, their Cabernet Estate 2017 which was not showing the toast of its big brother, but was rich in red fruit and tannins.

We moved on to the predominantly Zinfandel Geyserville 2017 which was a totally different beast, very smooth plum and red cherry palate. They have recently purchased the Geyserville plot, which they previously leased, for $7m for just 35 acres to preserve the future of this wine.

We continued the cellars and tour of the facilities leaving Eric at the upper vineyard to drive back down to the tasting rooms at the lower vineyard.

We started here on the 2017 Chardonnay which was totally Burgundian in style and nothing like usual creamy Californian Chardonnays.

Moving onto the 2016 Geyserville which surprisingly contains 3% Alicante Bouschet grape. This plot, as well as Lytton Springs, are field vines which have been planted over many years. They have calculated there are 14 different grape varieties within the plots.

Next came the 2016 Lytton Springs which has not yet been released and is due out in the fall. Raspberry and cassis with toasted oak and a long-lasting finish. They feel this has the potential to age for longer than the Geyserville.

Next was the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate which moved us into Bordeaux territory. Spice and cassis on the nose with blackcurrant on the palate and a long, balanced finish.

We moved onto the 2015 Monte Bello which was a more complex wine with spice, cherry, cassis on the nose and utterly delicious.

We finished on a $350 bottle of 2004 Monte Bello which had aged beautifully with plenty of fresh fruit and lengthy finish. All in all an amazing and insightful tour and tasting. Such a privilege. Huge thanks to Eric and the team at Ridge.

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An inauspicious start for the team joining those already on the ground; delayed at a foggy Luton followed by a 5am fire alarm at our hotel after the night manager burnt a batch of croissants! Bleary eyed but in high spirits Goedhuis’ packed schedule on day two was now underway.

Château d’Issan

First appointment of the day is at the Margaux 3rd Cru d’Issan; elegant, rounded style medium weight. Soft and not as concentrated as 2015 and 2016. Violet high toned red fruits. Very balanced. A delicious wine that will be accessible and provide much pleasure early doors.

And so to our 1st Union des Grand Cru tasting hosted by Château Siran. A bit of a mixed bag from Margaux. Brane Cantenac, concentrated, fine high toned red fruits and intense – a perfect start. Giscours has lovely volume and balance. I enjoyed Malescot St Exupery and Kirwan too, both unforced and and showing lovely balance. However there are a few that are far too over extracted allowing an unripe astringency in the tannins to be present.

Château Palmer is next. Their 2nd wine Alter Ego: violet, morello cherry, unforced and supple. Tannins are so engrained. Really delicious. Château Palmer: really sophisticated and on a different level to anything else so far from Margaux. Softness, velvety, very pure and a wonderfully elegant and feminine expression of the commune that focuses heavily on its old vine Merlot grapes. A balanced masterpiece that’s very different to the more powerful ‘15 & ‘16 but very successful for the vintage.

And so to Château Margaux – a pivotal classic example of how great Margaux as an appellation can be when the wines are made in line with the style of the vintage. Thibault Pontallier as eloquent as his late father introduced us to their on site of cooperage (used to make one third of their barrels). It won’t come as too much of a surprise that Margaux has again knocked it out of the park – really spectacular. Such fine tannins, density of flavour and underlying power yet wonderfully velvety and exquisitely balanced. The Pavillon Rouge is a delightful junior version too.

Château Margaux

Leading up to lunch, Château Rauzan-Ségla is absolutely stellar in 2017 and a must buy. I don’t say it lightly but this year, alongside Palmer, it is only a fraction off the pace of Château Margaux. Totally sublime, perfectly weighted and a total pleasure to taste.

Las Cases next, the range begins with Potensac and I’m surprised how appealing this is at the more entry level. It has definitely upped its game. Clos de Marquis was lovely. The big gun Las Cases continues to impress after its stunning 2016 showing marvellous depth of flavour, red fruit focus, precision, concentration and balance. Such elegance and freshness too. This will be one of the best that we taste all week.

The next UGC: Château Beychevelle. The St Juliens here all live up to their reputation for reliability and consistency. I can’t remember tasting a Talbot that’s so appealing in youth. Sensational. Also enjoyed Leoville Barton, Leoville Poyferre, Langoa Barton, Branaire Ducru and Lagrange. There’s an element of reassurance with in the uniformity of many of these wines, perhaps without that captivating excitement of a great vintage, but this really isn’t a negative thing. There’s plenty to love and enjoy here for lovers of St Julien. The wines are delicious and will provide much pleasure.

After having lunch at Château Lafon Rochet another UGC under the same roof. This time featuring some of Pauillac and St Estèphe’s big names. The obvious star turns of this little lot are Pichon Lalande (amazing), Lynch Bages (typically firmly structured, lots of potential), D’Armailhac, Clerc Milon, Batailley and Ormes de Pez. The overriding impression so far is that this vintage is red fruit driven with supple tannins and relatively forward bar a few exceptions. There’s plenty to like that will give delicious early appeal.

Château Lafon Rochet

Next up a visit to possibly my favourite Château, the glamorous Ducru Beaucaillou. Torrential rain was not going to dampen our spirits as once again Bruno Borie has produced three exceptional wines. The Lalande Borie is stunning and offers delicious value for future drinking. La Croix is no longer a 2nd wine but a separate vineyard in its own right. Lovely concentration counterbalanced with gorgeous freshness. Finally the grand vin Ducru, perfectly weighted with exquisite depth, volume and suppleness and a wine that while accessible in youth will develop into a truly fantastic Ducru over the next 20 years.

Finally, the UGC for Sauternes at La Lagune. Highlights: Rieussec, Fargues, Guiraud and Coutet – all of these have a delightful zip of acidity to underpin the ripe sweet citrus fruits.

Impressions so far? This a vintage where selection and input from ourselves is highly advisable. There are some scintillating highs to be had from the familiar protagonists but some you will need to avoid.

Looking forward to seeing what the right bank has to offer tomorrow.

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