In April 2019, the Goedhuis team went on a 2018 wine tasting tour in Bordeaux, France. We visited five of the most sought after Bordeaux estates– Cheval Blanc, Domaine de Chevalier, Grand Puy Lacoste, Léoville Barton and Rauzan Ségla. We have learned what makes the 2018 wines so exciting, and what makes the 2018 wines worth buying.
于2019年4月，Goedhuis团队开启了法国波尔多2018年期份的葡萄酒品鉴之旅。我们拜访了五家最受追捧的波尔多酒庄——Cheval Blanc，Domaine de Chevalier，Grand Puy Lacoste，Léoville Barton和Rauzan Ségla 。我们学习了是什么特色令2018年期份葡萄酒激动人心，是什么特色使2018年期份葡萄酒值得购买。
There are a whole host of good reasons to visit Bordeaux – fabulous architecture, half the city’s grand buildings are UNESCO listed; the world’s largest reflecting water mirror at the Place de la Bourse; the spectacular Cité de Vin museum; a seemingly infinite choice of restaurants, from the staunchly traditional to the uber-experimental; a burgeoning art scene, from myriad small galleries to the fabulous Museum of Decorative Arts & Design; excellent shopping, from high fashion to famous fleamarkets; stunning St Emilion – to name a few. But for us, of course, it is all about the wine.
Bordeaux city centre
As we visit Bordeaux numerous times each year, we wanted to share the recommendations we have built up over the past decade or so. This is not intended to be in any way an exhaustive guide to the region, simply some of our favourites addresses in the region; the places we find ourselves going back to time and time again.
Bearing in mind that we are (almost) always travelling for business, our requirements are focussed on location and convenience, but there is certainly no shortage of boutique glamour to be had in the city and across the wider region.
More often than not we find ourselves at Hotel de Seze ideally positioned in the Allees de Tourny. Two characterful, but slightly less central choices, are L’Avant-Scene and La Maison Bordeaux. Although not bang in the centre of town, both are still easy walking or tram distance to the centre of the city.
Les Sources de Caudalie at Ch Smith Haut Lafitte
Unsurprisingly Bordeaux and the surrounding area has more than their share of excellent restaurants. Impossible to list them all, but here are a few recommendations.
Le Noailles – absolutely classic French brasserie, conveniently located in the Allées de Tourny. Our local!
L’Estacade – on the river overlooking Bordeaux so you get an amazing view of the city at night time.
L’Univerre – off the beaten track, but definitely worth the taxi ride for the epic wine list.
Moelleuses et Persillés – on the Quai des Chartons. THE place to go for serious steak, opened by a former manager of Goodman in London.
Garopapilles – with just 20 covers, a 500 bin wine list, one Michelin star and a glorious tasting menu. Be warned: only open for dinner on Thursday & Friday nights.
L’Alchimiste Le Café Boutique – not a restaurant, but if you want a proper coffee this is the place to head for. The coffee is roasted just across the river and the small café in the city centre would not be out of place in Shoreditch…
L’Envers du Decors – our new favourite in St Emilion. Perfect for lunch, epic roast chicken and frites, great service.
La Terrasse Rouge –La Dominique’s restaurant in the midst of the St Emilion vineyards has the best views in the region from their eponymous red terrace which looks out over Cheval Blanc and La Conseillante.
Le St Julien – gorgeous spot in St. Julien. Run by husband and wife team, Claude and Rosy Broussard.
Café Lavinal – a classic bistro in Pauillac from the Cazes family of Lynch-Bages fame
Auberge les Vignes – a very famous old school auberge in Sauternes which cooks steaks on vine prunings.
La Terrasse Rouge
Inevitably the welcome that awaits a wine merchant tasting a new vintage, is different from that of a passing visitor. While not every chateau has yet embraced New World levels of wine hospitality, there are plenty of opportunities for the wine lover to get an inside view of what goes on behind the château doors.
If you have a favourite château simply start by checking out their website, some welcome visitors, others not so much.
A few that offer some fabulous tastings and tours are:
– Château Beychevelle offers three visits: the Admiral’s Tour, Secrets of the Winegrower and Masterclass.
– And if you are heading to La Terrasse Rouge in St Emilion, you can also drop into Château La Dominique for a range of tastings in their ultra-modern Jean Nouvel cellar.
If you have time, a trip to Cap Ferret, weekend retreat of the best-heeled Bordelais, is the perfect end to a visit. Walk for miles along the wild windswept Atlantic beaches that run down the western side of this spit of land. Rent bikes and cycle around the postcard-perfect fishing village, stopping for a plate of oysters and glass of Bordeaux Blanc at any of the seafood sheds which line the shore of the Bassin d’Arcachon looking across to the Dune du Pilat. Stay at the romantic 11-room hotel La Maison du Bassin, built in an old forest house just under the lighthouse. And then it’s an easy drive back to Merignac to catch a flight home.
The first half of the year has seen the Bordeaux market remain a relative haven of calm. This despite some testing conditions in the global economy and the softening of top end wine prices in other regions. With the 2018 En Primeur campaign now well underway and attention firmly fixed on Bordeaux, we look at the current situation and where the opportunities may lie.
The Liv-ex Bordeaux 500 is Liv-ex’s most comprehensive index for Bordeaux wines. It represents the price movement of 500 leading wines from the region and is calculated monthly using the Liv-ex Mid Price. The index comprises six sub-indices: the Fine Wine 50, the Right Bank 50, the Second Wine 50, the Sauternes 50, the Right Bank 100 and the Left Bank 200.
At the end of April, the Liv-ex 100 finished at 309, flat on the previous month and a down a mere one percent year on year. Going back another year and the story was not much different, April 2017 saw the index close at 303. However, a clearer picture becomes apparent if one looks further back, across the ten months from the end of June 2016 to April 2017 the index rose 16.5%. The Brexit vote on the 23rd June 2016 saw sterling lose 10% against the dollar and 7% against the euro overnight and overseas buyers took full advantage. From June 2016 to December 2017, the index rose 20%. After such a dramatic surge, it is perhaps not surprising that the index ran flat over the course of 2018, finishing the year where it started at 312.
The reasons for the lack of volatility can be split between steadier exchange rates during the period and that the index is weighted towards Bordeaux wines (65%). Whilst other regions have posted healthy returns, Burgundy in particular, Bordeaux prices have held steady. This latter point compounded by buyers’ interests moving away from Bordeaux towards other regions. As mentioned in previous reports Burgundy has enjoyed a remarkable run with various producers’ wines reaching eye-watering levels; DRC and Rousseau in particular. Italian wines too, have seen a marked increase in interest particularly the Tuscan estates of Sassicaia and Ornellaia, equally the wines of Piedmont; Barolo and Barbaresco are making an impression on the market.
Despite its market share coming under pressure from other regions, there are still compelling reasons to purchase wines on release. Those chateaux that release en primeur at well-judged prices, in relation to the quality of the vintage itself, offer an opportunity for the buyer. If we look at a snap shot of wines from the two most recent physical vintages the trend becomes clear.
2014 is a high-quality vintage, that produced wines of charm and substance and crucially many were released at a fair price. These wines were not only astute buys at release, they remain good buys now as they compare favourably with their peers.
2015 is a great vintage, the wines rightly sit in the very top echelon. Whilst prices increased from the previous year, many wines still offered value en primeur. Furthermore, bearing in mind the tremendous quality of the vintage they still offer value to the buyer now.
Nearly two months into the campaign, there have been a number of notable releases which have kept clients on their toes. Beychevelle, Calon Segur, La Clotte, Les Carmes Haut Brion, Palmer, Rauzan Segla and Canon have all sold out. Clearly, when the release price is right, this is a vintage which requires decisive action. A second tier of wines which offer exceptional quality for the price, such as Branaire Ducru, Leoville Barton and Domaine de Chevalier, have sold strongly, but are still available. And finally, there are some excellent bargains to be had at the entry level; Meyney, Gloria, Potensac and Les Cruzelles have all produced wonderful wines. The common dominator to all these wines success is fair pricing in relation to their quality. To that end, those that have released below the current price of their 2016s have found favour.
Now that Vinexpo has come and gone, and whilst a few bigger names have come out, many cru classé chateaux are still to release, including the First Growths, Super Seconds and their Right Bank peers. The campaign can unquestionably be a great success if the lead of some of the early releases is followed: the quality is beyond question, as ever the question is price.
The 2017 wines will be delivered later in the year, at the same time critics will release their in-bottle scores.
Whilst there is the occasional, notable amendment for the most part there is little deviation outside the barrel score range, as shown in the table above. Those wines that have scored highly at en primeur tend to score highly when physically released and here lies the opportunity.
In a vintage like 2017, which suffered its share of challenges, quality is less homogenous but there are some outstanding wines. Mouton Rothschild (97-99pts), Lafite Rothschild (97-99pts), Vieux Chateau Certan (96-98pts), La Conseillante (95-97pts) produced wines that transcend the vintage. Should these wines settle within the spread of their in-barrel scores, those who bought at opening price may well be smiling come the critics’ reviews.
The latest edition in our “An Introduction” series might not seem as interesting as decanting and glasses at first glance, but you would be surprised just how often we get asked about corkscrews. So many kitchens only boast a blunt, thick, winged corkscrew, or an ineffective, over-designed novelty corkscrew. In this, as in so many areas of life, simplicity really is the answer…
Bottles of wine have a variety of closures, the two most common being cork and screw caps. Screw caps were first considered as an alternative to cork for bottling inexpensive wines. This view has changed dramatically, and they are used by wine producers, not only in the New World countries for bottling increasingly premium wines, but they are being used more frequently in the Old World such as France and Italy.
That said, the vast majority of wine we sell has a cork closure and so, to enjoy a glass, you must have a trusty corkscrew to hand! Before we even get to the corkscrew, we cannot recommend a foil cutter highly enough… Any of the simpler widely available styles will do the job perfectly, avoiding ripped foil and cut fingers.
Back to the corkscrew: the first one was designed in Oxford, by Rev Samuel Henshall in 1795 and since then many other developments/inventions have followed. It is interesting to note that some of the very early examples are extremely sought-after objects amongst collectors.
When purchasing a corkscrew be mindful of the maturity of the wines (ergo, the corks) that you have stored in your cellar. The length of the spiral (or worm) is also important; it should be neither too long nor too short. Too long and you can easily puncture the cork with ‘cork crumbs’ falling into the wine; if it is too short it could tear the cork on extraction.
While there are many increasingly pioneering corkscrews out there in the market today, we would like to focus your attention here on three very different examples, which we use here at Goedhuis.
1. Pulltap’s Classic 500 | Double-Hinged Waiter’s Corkscrew – ‘Waiters Friend’
The first is the ‘Waiters Friend’ – these textbook corkscrews are both durable and easy to use for removing all types of corks. Small (it will fit in your pocket), incredibly easy and efficient to use, this really comes into its own when faced with a maturing cork that is tricky to extract. It also incorporates a foil cutting knife and bottle opener.
Top tip: if the cork is quite clearly tearing, unwind the corkscrew and approach it at another angle, with very gentle pulling this corkscrew will pull out even the most stubborn of corks.
2. Le Creuset LM 250 Lever Corkscrew The second is the ‘Le Creuset Lever Pull’, which will pop the corks on a whole case of wine in under a minute (having used your foil cutter initially, of course). Best to avoid using this one on old bottles though, as there is a slight risk of pushing in the cork.
3. Butler’s Thief Cork Remover Thirdly, if you have very old bottles of wine, we would recommend purchasing a ‘Butlers Thief’ corkscrew. A two-pronged corkscrew that is arguably the best corkscrew to pull out damaged, or very old and crumbly corks. You initially slide the longest prong between the cork and the bottle neck, followed by the shorter prong, until the handle touches the top of the bottle. As you pull the cork from the bottle, a gentle upwards twist completes the job.
10 thought-provoking questions & answers from Pauillac, Bordeaux. Meet Christian Seely of Château Pichon Baron.
Christian Seely is also responsible for looking after Châteaux Pibran in Pauillac, Petit-Village in Pomerol, Suduiraut in Sauternes as well as Domaine de l’Arlot in Nuits-St-Georges, Disznókő in Hungary and Quinta do Noval in Portugal.
1. What is your most important wine experience?
There have of course been many. But one experience that left a lasting impression on me was drinking a bottle of Palmer 1961 with my father James Seely when we were working together on his first book, Great Bordeaux wines. The chateau had given us the bottle to try at our leisure and so we did that. We were travelling on an author’s budget so we drank it in a very basic tiny restaurant in Lesparre one evening. The preposterous contrast between the magnificent generosity of the wine in the glass and our rather straightened circumstances only enhanced the moment and I remember thinking that the people responsible for making that wine had done a wonderful thing. I was very moved to taste the Palmer 2018 a couple of weeks ago with Thomas Duroux which reminded me of the greatness of the 1961. That’s the kind of potential the best 2018s have.
2. Have you made a ‘wine pilgrimage’ and if so, where and why?
Yes. It took me a long time to get round to it but I finally visited DRC a few years ago. The first great wine I ever bought and shared with someone in a restaurant was a La Tache 1971 a long time ago and I remember the moment well. It was wonderful to be able to taste a young La Tache in barrel and feel I had returned to the source of that extraordinary experience. That afternoon the person with whom I had shared the original bottle of La Tache 1971, and to whom I had not spoken for years, called me by the purest coincidence and I was able to tell her about it. Mysterious things can happen when great wine is involved!
3. Who do you prefer to drink wine with?
I like to share wine with anyone who enjoys it. The degree of knowledge does not matter in the least: what matters is enthusiasm and enjoyment.
4. What would your best recommendations be if someone came to visit your area?
If you come to visit Bordeaux come with a reverence for the great vineyards that have produced such wines over the years; do not allow that reverence to overshadow the pleasure and enjoyment which are the primary purpose of a great bottle of wine; come with someone, or with people who will share these feelings with you.
5. Who do you dream to work with and why?
I would love to have my late father present in the blending sessions anywhere in Bordeaux, the Douro, or indeed anywhere else. He taught me everything about wine appreciation, was a wonderfully precise taster, but however seriously he was applying himself to the job in hand always brought an effortless gaiety to the moment and never forgot that it was all about enhanced enjoyment.
6. Who is or was your mentor and why did you choose them? I think I have just answered that question, in that my father started me off. However in recent years I have had the pleasure of working with Antonio Agrellos, the brilliant blender and technical director of Quinta do Noval, who retired last year in favour of his equally talented nephew Carlos, but with whom I worked for nearly 25 years in the tasting room of Quinta do Noval, where we would taste together almost every day during the nineties when I was living at Noval. I learned enormously from him.
7. What motivates you?
The responsibility and the pleasure of looking after some of the great vineyard terroirs of the world, and the dream of trying every year, working together with a team of great professionals who share the same aim, to produce the greatest wine possible that those terroirs can give in the climatic circumstances of the year.
8. What is the biggest challenge you face today?
When managing vineyards and making wine at the very highest level, the challenge is constant: every day to make sure that everything possible has been done to enable the vineyard to produce the best wine possible at the end of the year. It is a challenge I share with the teams of highly professional people who work with me in each vineyard. This sounds as if it were very stressful, but it is not: it is part of the huge pleasure involved in managing great vineyards such as Pichon Baron. Every day counts.
9. What is your greatest achievement?
My four sons.
10. And now?
I am on the aeroplane from Bordeaux to Porto where we are launching the wonderful 2017 Vintage Ports to the Portuguese press. With the great and historic year of 2018 from Bordeaux to show en primeurs and the 2017 Vintage Ports to show in bottle, 2019 is proving so far to be a hugely enjoyable year!
As our financial year ends in March it is always interesting to look back and see how we have performed against expectations and analyse our sales to pick out any unexpected trends or developments over the previous 12 months. In summary 2018-2019 was a year with weaker Bordeaux En Primeur sales, growing Burgundy sales, increased broking and strong sales growth in Champagne (80%), American (74%) and Italian (22%) wines.
Non En Primeur sales grew by 10% with a growing source of supply being the wines held in reserve for our clients and one-off cellar purchases. In total we purchased £7m+ from private clients.
Burgundy sales remained strong and we saw a 44% increase in white burgundy sales. Burgundy En Primeur sales increased by 23% as we added some exceptional new Domaines (Tortochot, Yvon Clerget, Rapet and Antoine Jobard) to our already impressive list.
Bordeaux was our biggest selling region accounting for 38.5% of our sales with Burgundy being just a fraction behind at 37.7%.
Highest selling wine by total value: Dom Pérignon Vintage 2008
Highest selling Chateaux by value: Château Lafite Rothschild, closely followed by Château Mouton Rothschild
Highest selling Domaine by value: Domaine Ponsot
Highest selling wine by volume: Ch St Baillon Côtes de Provence Rosé
We processed 13,900 orders in the year selling 417,000 bottles of 6,494 different wines.
The 11th day of the month generated the most sales and the third day the least – 58% less. Go figure!
Finally, by far our most significant source of new business is referral by existing clients. Firstly, a huge thank you to every single person who enjoys what we do enough to recommend Goedhuis to your friends, family and colleagues – please don’t stop! And secondly, please let us know if there is anything more we can do to keep your wine buying and drinking interesting and enjoyable.