Monthly Archives: April 2013

Robert Parker Jr releases his report on Bordeaux 2012 with Pomerol on top

Posted by on April 29, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012, Cult Wines Ltd News / No Comments
Robert Parker Jr published his tasting notes and scores for Bordeaux 2012

Parker’s description of the 2012 vintage as ‘not great’ rings true in direct comparison to the recent back to back iconic vintages 2009 & 2010, but his ratings clearly acknowledge the fact that some very good wines were produced in 2012.

Pomerol was the clear winner with the only potential perfect wine of the vintage, L’Eglise Clinet (96-100pts) topping the scores closely followed by another two wines from the Right Bank commune Trotanoy (96-98pts) & Petrus (95-98+pts),  Pessac-Léognan & St Emilion also produced some excellent wines, with the top St-Emilion’s scoring very well & according to Parker offering wines that are ‘not far off the mark of 2010 and 2009’- quite the accolade. Pavie (94-96+pts) & Angelus (94-96pts) released their wines ahead of the Parker scores last week, offering the inaugural vintages to have Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé (A) on their bottles at an increase on 2011 pricing, which was poorly received. Will the high scores ensure these wines find a market?

The Right bank dominated the top list of wines, leaving Mouton Rothschild (95-97pts) a forlorn figure as the only Left Bank wine in the top 20 rated by Parker. At under £3,000 per 12 the best scored First Growth 2012 looks a great buy, particularly encouraging as Parker proclaims this effort as ‘one of the few 2012s that comes close to equalling what was achieved in both 2009 and 2010’.

Lafite Rothschild (92-95pts) also scored well comparing the newest vintage to the 1998 which currently trades upwards of £6,000 per 12 ,  other strong Left Bank performers were : Haut Brion (93-95pts), Latour and Margaux (both 92-94) & Rauzan Segla (93-95pts).

The futures market for Bordeaux is undoubtedly ‘at a crossroads’ (RPJ) especially after prices failed to come down for the below average 2011 campaign. Parker has once again called for prices to drop and paid recognition to Christian Moueix, who released his 2012 stable of wines at a 20% discount on 2011. Credit must also go to Mouton & Lafite who came down substantially on 2011 pricing and have subsequently found an active market.

Now that all the scores are out, we are expecting a busy week of releases so please make sure to register your interest in order to ensure you receive an allocation of the unreleased wines.

Below is the list of the top rated 2012s.

2012 Haut Brion Blanc (98-100)
2012 La Mission Haut Brion Blanc (96-98+)
2012 L’Eglise Clinet (96-100)
2012 Trotanoy (96-98)
2012 Ausone (95-97)
2012 Mouton-Rothschild (95-97)
2012 Pape Clement Blanc (95-98)
2012 Petrus (95-98+)
2012 Angelus (94-96)
2012 Bellevue Mondotte (94-97)
2012 Cheval Blanc (94-96)
2012 Hosanna (94-96)
2012 La Fleur Petrus (94-96)
2012 La Mondotte (94-97)
2012 Pavie (94-96+)
2012 Troplong-Mondot (94-96)
2012 Beausejour (Duffau Lagarrosse) (93-95+)
2012 Belair-Monange (93-95)
2012 Climens (93-95)
2012 Clos Fourtet (93-95)
2012 Croix de Labrie (93-95)
2012 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc (93-95)
2012 Feytit Clinet (93-95)
2012 Gazin (93-95)
2012 Gracia (93-95+)
2012 Haut Brion (93-95)
2012 Larcis-Ducasse (93-95)
2012 Le Pin (93-95)
2012 Leoville-Las Cases (93-95)
2012 Rauzan-Segla (Rausan-Segla) (93-95)
2012 Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc (93-95)
2012 Beau-Sejour-Becot (92-95)
2012 Branon (92-94)
2012 Canon la Gaffeliere (92-94)
2012 Chateau Louis (92-94)
2012 Chateau Margaux (92-94)
2012 Clinet (92-94+)
2012 Clos de Sarpe (92-94+)
2012 Clos Dubreuil (92-94)
2012 Clos St Julien (92-94)
2012 Cos d’Estournel (92-95)
2012 De Fieuzal Blanc (92-94)
2012 Domaine de Chevalier (92-95)
2012 Fleur Cardinale (92-95)
2012 La Clarte de Haut-Brion Blanc (92-94)
2012 La Conseillante (92-94)
2012 La Fleur de Bouard Le Plus (92-94)
2012 La Fleur Morange (92-94+)
2012 Lafite-Rothschild (92-95)
2012 Lafleur (92-94+)
2012 Latour (92-94)
2012 Le Dome (92-94)
2012 Magrez Fombrauge (92-94)
2012 Montrose (92-94)
2012 Palmer (92-95)
2012 Pape Clement (92-95)
2012 Pavie-Decesse (92-94)
2012 Pavie-Macquin (92-95)
2012 Smith-Haut-Lafitte (92-94)
2012 Vieux Chateau Certan (92-94)
2012 Vieux Chateau Mazerat (92-94)
2012 Aile d’Argent Blanc (91-93)
2012 Bellevue (91-93+)
2012 Canon (91-94)
2012 Chapelle d’Ausone (91-93)
2012 Chateau Saint-Pierre (91-93)
2012 Clos du Marquis (91-93)
2012 Clos l’Eglise (91-94)
2012 Cos d’Estournel Blanc (91-93)
2012 Haut Bailly (91-93)
2012 La Confession (91-93)
2012 La Croix St Georges (91-93)
2012 La Fleur de Bouard (91-93)
2012 La Fleur de Gay (91-94)
2012 La Gaffeliere (91-93)
2012 La Mission Haut Brion (91-94)
2012 La Violette (91-93)
2012 Le Gay (91-93+)
2012 Les Asteries (91-93)
2012 Malartic-Lagraviere (91-93)
2012 Malartic-Lagraviere Blanc (91-94)
2012 Monbousquet Blanc 91
2012 Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux Blanc (91-93)
2012 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (91-93)
2012 Pontet-Canet (91-94)
2012 Le Petit Mouton (90-92)
2012 Leoville-Barton (90-92)
2012 Les Cruzelles (90-92)
2012 L’Evangile (90-94)
2012 Pichon-Longueville Baron (90-93)
2012 Beychevelle (89-91)
2012 D’Armailhac (89-91)
2012 Les Forts de Latour (89-91)
2012 Alter Ego (88-90)
2012 Duhart-Milon-Rothschild (87-89)
2012 Goulee (87-90)
2012 Carruades de Lafite (87-89)
2012 Lynch Bages (87-89)

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Bordeaux 2012 Vintage Report ‘General Impression & Overview’

Posted by on April 24, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012 / No Comments
Vineyards at Lafite

The wines of 2012 have been compared with those of 2008, neither iconic, neither straight-forward, but neither disappointing. I think it’s safe to say that 2012 needs to be approached judiciously, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have plenty to offer. More than anything, it displays just how far Bordeaux has come. In days gone by, the resulting wine from a vintage such as this would have been drastically different, vignerons wouldn’t have gone to the lengths that they go to today, such as sacrificing yield to sustain quality. Since the mid-1990s, there has been a vast improvement in viticultural practices, today more producers are harvesting grapes at optimal ripeness, thanks to improved pruning throughout the year, higher trellising, more astute use of agro chemicals, and the implementation of canopy management.

Price is undoubtedly the major lynchpin dictating the overall success of this campaign. No one likes being overcharged, and that is precisely what happened last year. As a result, there was a very defensive air hanging over the campaign. This year, merchants, journalists and aficionados all clubbed together to echo the same message, that prices must be reasonable.


The barrel room at ‘Cheval Blanc’

We received e mail confirmation on Friday morning advising us that first growth Chateau Mouton Rothschild had released their prices, which were considerably lower than last year; follow this link for more information:

The question is, will they be the first of many to release at a modest price? If so, the first hurdle will be potentially cleared, meaning that our attention can now focus on the price quality ratio of the wines.

Our overall conclusion was that for this so called ‘lesser’ vintage, vineyards on the best sites maintained quality through targeted wine making practices, whereas vineyards on slightly inferior sites perhaps didn’t fare so well.

For the wines of the Médoc, achieving ripeness for Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc was the major preoccupation. Avoiding methoxypyrazine accumulation, which manifests itself in the wines as ‘greenness’, or ‘herbaceous’ character, was a paramount objective for producers.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild for instance sits smugly on the highest part of the gravel coupes of the Medoc (30 m high), and under the leadership of technical director Philippe Dhalluin has seemingly far from struggled this year. In an interview with James Molesworth of the Wine Spectator Dhalluin explained that: “Budbreak, the date of flowering, and of veraison and harvest, were all within the normal range.” He then went onto explain that: “It was the weather at that time of those events that was different. The vines did what they do normally and they ripened the fruit, but under difficult conditions. In the end, look at the blend of d’Armailhac, for example—it’s basically the same as always, including Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. So yes, we did get ripe fruit in the Médoc. But selection was critical.”

Dhalluin also stated that the due to the drought, the berries were very small, which helped ripening to occur. Ripeness here refers to the phenolic or physiological ripeness, which signifies a change in tannins occurring in the seeds, skins and stems, and the assimilation of acids and accumulation of sugars. On tasting the Chateau D’Armailhac, Clerc Millon and the grand vin, Mouton Rothschild, we would have to agree. In optimal years, Mouton gets described as almost exotic, in truth, the 2012 isn’t, and whilst we noted power it is a lot more graceful than the 2009 or 2010, expressing poised cassis, damson, and classic Pauillac cigar box notes.

Another major objective in Bordeaux this year was avoiding the autumn rain, which started on October the 18th, Mouton started on the 11th and had stopped picking by the 15th. Luckily for them, phenolic ripeness was achieved by this date. Optical sorting was also carried out in order to counteract any outstanding heterogeneity amongst the harvested grapes, resulting in harmonious wines, without a hint of over-extraction: (follow this link to read more about the definition of extraction in wine making).

The whites

The whites were an absolute pleasure to taste this year, expressing immense elegance and personality. The harvest in Pessac- Léognan and Graves was two weeks later than it was in 2011, conditions throughout the ripening period were perfect, warm sunny days, cool evenings and nights, which helped to preserve aromas and acidity. Grapes were harvested in perfect condition, without any sign of grey rot, sugar and acid levels were higher than they were in 2011. Hence, the whites at best were opulent and already harmonious, and more than anything we discovered that there is a tremendous amount of diversity. However, at worse, the wines displayed flabby oily characteristics, where the grapes had not been harvested in time to savour the acidity.

Semillion provides structure to the blend and makes the wine have more affinity with oak, whereas Sauvignon Blanc provides vibrancy, consequently a high proportion of Semillion results in a more full bodied wine with more propensity to age. Bordeaux whites are extremely versatile, working as an aperitif wine, and also matching anything from seafood to game. The table below details some of the our favourite whites from en primeur week.


Buying Advice whites:

We have tried to highlight wines that won’t break the bank and also ones that would be worth breaking it! Some of these have already been released and are available to buy.

Estimate Price: £ = less than £20 p/b ££ = £20 -£50 £££ = £50+

Chateau Cos d’Estournel Goulee £££

Pape Clémant Blanc- Pessac- Léognan £££

Smith Haut Lafite Blanc Pessac- Léognan £££

Chateau Monbousquet (£35 IB) ££

Domaine de Chevalier Blanc Pessac- Léognan £££

Clos des Lunes- Bordeaux Blanc – (£12.50) £

Buying Advice Reds:

We encountered some outstanding second wines this year, in fact certain members of the team consistently rated these wines in preference to the grand vins. However, there was a distinct degree of variability, and with yields being down on last year, there was a feeling that some of these wines were too heavily laden with the rejected grapes from the grand vin’s. However, through process of elimination we sought out the beauties amongst the beasts, gallantly tasting our way through, discovering some wines that offer spectacular value for money. Of which some of our favourites included:

Estimate Price: £ = less than £20 p/b ££ = £20 -£50 £££ = £50+

Pezat- Bordeaux Superieur (Ch. Teyssier) £ (less than £10)

Ch. Lascombes ££

La Conseillante £££

Le Carre (Ch. Teyssier) ££

Chapelle D’Ausone ££

Ronan-Clinet £

Château Capbern Gasquerton ££

Château Duhart- Milon (£47 p/b IB) ££

Alter Ego (£35 p/b IB) ££

Petit Cheval £££

Quintus £££

Clerc Milon (£28.75 p/b IB) ££

Château Bellevue Mondotte (£95 p/b IB) £££

Goulee (Cos d’Estournel) £

Chateau Gloria £


Investor & Collector Advice:

As previously mentioned inevitably this year the focus is very much on pricing with everyone in agreement that prices need to come down to generate buyer interest. Negociants described this as a ‘restaurant’ vintage and a ‘buy and sell’ vintage, but on closer inspection the quality in some cases was significantly better than expected. But regardless of the quality of the vintage for 2012 wines to sell and work there needs to be a real incentive for buyers, still it seems that both proprietors and merchants were on the same page, and this has already been in evidence with the early and well-priced release of Mouton Rothschild 2012 at a 33% decrease on 2011. At the market price for private customers at £2,750 it makes the 2012 the cheapest available vintage of Mouton on the market and significantly less than lesser vintages such as 2004 & 2007 (c. £3,150).

This will be a campaign of wait-and-see for investors and collectors. Historical data shows that some of the most speculative returns in the past have been generated from off-prime vintages such as 2008. Of course Parker scores could completely change the complexion of things but with many critics giving positive praise to the best performers, solid if not spectacular scores are expected.

It will be interesting to see how the other Chateaux react to the first week of releases but if wines are priced below any available vintage by 10-20% at least then it should capture people’s imaginations.


A strong case to buy?


First Growths: ex-chateau release price of 150-200 euros would merit investors and collectors attention.

Super Seconds/Flying 5ths: minimum of 10-20% below any available vintage should work. More than 20% and a definite buy recommendation.

Right Banks: good vintage for many of these wines and with much lower production than left bank counterparts hard to see significant price drops. Value versus Quality will decide investment merit.


View of the Le Pin Vineyards

View from the ‘Le Pin Vineyards’

CULT WINE TEAM – Favourite wines of the week

Helen Tate: Le Pin ‘The experience was undoubtedly enhanced by the rarity and the scale of the property, everything was miniature, from the tanks to the barrel room. But aside from the actual experience, the wine was unreal, very delicate and perfumed with astonishing length’.

Tom Turner: Le Pin ‘Hands down the top wine of the trip. Ausone not far off… But Le Pin just has a uniqueness, a smooth & full texture that makes you feel like you could drink a bottle on the spot. Unlike nearly all other 2012’s there’s plenty of ripe fruit there, leading into a delightful long finish – encore s’il vous plait??’

Philip Gearing: VCC ‘Always such a delight to visit VCC for the sheer quality of the wine and the pleasure of tasting with the Thienpont’s. The 2012 is has beautifully delineated layers of fruit, very elegant, very feminine style with a perfumed nose that will delight those who prefer subtle complexity. Bravo’

Tom Gearing: Palmer ‘A property known for its higher proportion of merlot in the blend really shone through. Furthermore with damage to the vineyard in 2011 reducing yields, it’s even more impressive they’ve turned out such a fantastic effort in this vintage. Powerful & elegant’.

Aarash Ghatineh: Pontet Canet ‘After producing perfect wines in 09/10 & one of the superstars of a below average 2011 campaign, Pontet 2012 had a lot to live up to… it didn’t disappoint. The 2012 represented one of the wines of the left bank for me and suggests that the recent great success of this estate is no accident. Biodynamic philosophy of the estate sets Pontet Canet apart in more challenging vintages & always a pleasure to discuss the vintage with the charismatic Alfred Tesseron’.

Jonathan Stevenson: ‘Cheval Blanc In the words of Cat Stevens ‘the first cut is the deepest’ and these words rang true for me last week at EP2012. Cheval Blanc was the first visit of the week and although many fantastic wines followed, none seemed to quite compare with this fabulous and refined effort from Saint-Emillion. Beautifully soft and long in the finish with a rich sweetness throughout that reminded me of my grandma’s jam…delicious!’





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Bordeaux 2012 Releases Update: Valandraud, Lafite, Duhart, Carruades & l’Evangile

Posted by on April 22, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012, Wine offers / No Comments

Well only a week into this year’s en primeur campaign and we have already had two of the major releases, Mouton at the end of last week, and as anticipated Lafite Rothschild today. It came a few hours after right bank garage wine Valandraud was released early this morning at an attractive price. Following the major releases last week, today’s followed a similar pattern coming onto the market as the cheapest available vintage – will this be a common theme? We hope so. Prices whilst not drastically reduced, have sparked interest at their discounted prices and ahead of Parker’s report on Bordeaux 2012 being released on Friday (12pm EST) poses some interesting questions.


Wine RPJ JS WS Price per 12 Price vs. 2011
Lynch Bages 2012 n/a 93-94 91-94 £665 -13%
Mouton Rothschild 2012 n/a 94-95 93-96 £2,750 -33.3%
Valandraud 2012 n/a 91-92 88-91 £850 -46.2%
Lafite Rothschild 2012 n/a 93-94 93-96 £3,900 -21%
Carruades 2012 n/a 88-89 91-94 £1,050 -12%
Duhart Milon 2012 n/a 90-91 91-94 £570 -14%

Lafite Rothschild @ £3,900 per 12:

Trading on the market at 2/3 of the price of physical off-prime vintages which all sit around the £6,000 mark – it seems that Lafite have priced their 2012 well. It’s not a return to 2008 (154% more than the ex-neg price that year) but it’s definitely welcome and will generate interest. For further analysis and comparison below are the current Off-Prime Market Prices:

Wine Price RPJ JS WS
Lafite Rothschild, 2012



93-94 93-96
Lafite Rothschild, 2011



Lafite Rothschild, 2008



Lafite Rothschild, 2007



Lafite Rothschild, 2006



Lafite Rothschild, 2004



Lafite Rothschild, 2002



Lafite Rothschild, 2001



Valandraud @ £850 per 12:

With right bank wines faring best in 2012, the release price of Valandraud makes a case as a stong buy recommendation.


  • Price -46% on 2011
  • -65% on 2010
  • -66% on 2009
  • Average price for the last 5 vintages is over £1,660 per 12
  • 2012 scored 93-96 pts from Wine Spectator
  • Parker rated the 2011 at 92-94pts, expecting similar if not higher scores for the 2012


Wine Price RPJ WS
Valandraud, 2012




Valandraud, 2011



Valandraud, 2010



Valandraud, 2009



Valandraud, 2008



Valandraud, 2007



Valandraud, 2006



Valandraud, 2005



Valandraud, 2004



Valandraud, 2003



Valandraud, 2002



Valandraud, 2001



Valandraud, 2000



ave price


(off prime) ave price


2012 vs. off prime

28.3% discount

Carruades @ £1,050, Duhart @ £600  & l’Evangile @ £1,070

Similarly to Lafite – Carruades and Duhart were released down on their prices last year and again at market price represent the cheapest available vintage.

Looking primarily at the former, which at £1,050 per 12, is over £200 less than the 2011 and £500 – £1,000 less than the current prices of the rest of the other modern vintage – it looks like an enticing price. The same can be said of Duhart – which was roundly appreciated by the Cult Wines team at the recent tastings in Bordeaux. So it will be interesting to see the Parker scores on Friday and the affect that might have on demand.

Lastly, l’Evangile which was one of the most well-liked wines during the tastings by the trade came out at the same price as last year. Parker last week confirmed his preference for Pomerol in 2012 and some believe l’Evangile to be better than Petrus this year. At present the price looks quite heavy but post-Parker scores on Friday, it may look like a bargain at £1,070 per 12.

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Extraction Defined

Posted by on April 19, 2013
Wine making / No Comments

‘Extraction’, is a term that has reportedly been used by Robert M. Parker Jr. 901 times in about 30,000 tasting notes, but what exactly does it mean, and what does it mean when a wine is overly-extracted?

Rémi Edange, assistant manager at Domaine de Chevalier, explained the dangers of over-extraction to Decanter Magazine in 2009 stating that:

‘When you have thick, hard skins like this, you do not want to pump over or pigeage too much because you could force out some hard tannins.’

Devising a maceration schedule is a lot more complicated than one might imagine. As Jonathan Multus explained to us last week at Château Teyssier: ‘After pin pointing the exact moment to harvest, the second critical point is having the ability to taste the juice and control the validity of the wine through creating a regime of wine making operations’. Maceration and pump over decisions will be dictated by the degree of physiological ripeness in the grape, measurements will be conducted, such as pH, total acidity, sugar, tannin and phenolic quantification, however none of these equate to a definite answer with regards to how vigorously, at what temperature and for what duration maceration or pump overs should be carried out, simply because there are too many variables involved. Increasing temperature will enhance the release of polyphenols as will increasing the addition of Sulphur dioxide. Consequently, the wine maker will also need to use their experience and expertise, as well as chemical analysis to make calculated decisions.

After crushing, involving the release of the juice, the yeast present on the skin will mix with the juice, and fermentation commences, this produces alcohol, which aids extraction of polyphenols (held in the skin- containing tannins and anthocyanins). Carbon dioxide is also produced, creating bubbles which become entrapped within the solid matter, forcing it to the surface, producing the ‘cap’ (chapeau in French). Cap management must then be carried out for two primary reasons; acetic bacteria present will turn the wine into vinegar should the cap not become submerged, and the floating cap of skins needs to be in contact with the liquid, in order for the flavour and colour to be released. The mixing of the cap process can be performed in a number of ways; human foot, manually punching-down using a pole (being careful not to slip into the tank and become asphyxiated by the carbon dioxide), the submerged cap process, mechanical pumping-over systems, délestage or rack and return (the clue is in the name), and various other methods. All techniques must be carefully controlled in order to not ‘over extract’. Figure 1: illustrates a cross section interpretation of a grape. Good tannins are located in the skins, juice and pulp, whereas bad tannins are found in the seeds and stalks, these bad tannins impart a bitter taste and harsh sensation. Hence, the real skill lies in managing the operations to achieve a balanced wine. Leading research oenologist Emile Peynaud explains that “Diverse flavours from acids, sugars, salts and phenolic substances … that blend into a form, a more or less harmonious volume which makes up structure. [These essential flavours] constitute the bricks and mortar of a wine, its framework, also sometimes described as its bone structure.”

The need to achieve sufficient extraction is also paramount, with certain wine critics highly praising the presence of intense fruit and body within the wine. Therefore wine makers might choose to adopt techniques that maximise extraction. The Oxford Wine Companion defines extraction as: “The sum of the non-volatile solids of a wine: the sugars, non-volatile acids, minerals, phenolics, glycerol, glycols and traces of other substances such as proteins, pectins and gums.” Essentially everything in the wine minus the liquid, which can be perceived as the wines personality.

In conclusion, a wine that gets classified as being ‘over extracted’, at worse will be displaying bitter and harsh tannins, and at best will be too in your face, having lost its harmony and finesse.

Fig 1: source


Bordeaux 2012 Releases Update: Mouton Rothschild, Lynch Bages, Petit Mouton, Rauzan Segla

Posted by on April 18, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012, Wine Market News / No Comments
Mouton Rothschild 2012 released 240 euros ex-negociant

So the En Primeur Campaign has swung into action with the release of first growth, Mouton Rothschild, at an extremely welcoming discount to their 2011 offering. Officially the wine was released at €200 ex-Chateau and c. €240 ex-negociant. As this is the first tranche release and with more expected, the London release price is yet to be finalised but it seems it will be around £2,800 per case (12). Their second wine, Le Petit Mouton, was also released this morning at €66 per bottle, which represented a slightly less significant discount on their 2011 of 8.3% but comparing against other ‘off-prime’ vintages where the average market price is over £1,000 per case – this looks like a very fair offering.

Mouton’s release has somewhat overshadowed the 2012 offering from Margaux cru classé Rauzan Segla, which was released 36.6% down on last year and again compared to available vintages looks well priced!

UPDATE: This afternoon, on an unexpected day where there has been a flurry of releases – Lynch Bages – another big name and ever popular wine with investors & collectors was released at €60 ex-negociant representing a 13% decrease on their 2011 release price. Whilst not huge, it means that the 2012 will be the cheapest available vintage of Lynch Bages on the market which should make it a good seller.

So a very optimistic and interesting start to the en primeur campaign: early releases, discounted prices and incentive to buy – WHAT EN PRIMEUR SHOULD BE? lets hope the others follow….

To enquire please call 0208 332 9386 or email 

Mouton Rothschild 2012

We can offer 6x75cl cases @ £1,375 (equivalent £2,750 per 12)  
 -33.3% on 2011 ex-negociant

“Wonderful beauty to this wine with currants, blackberries and flowers. Full body, with ultra-fine tannins and a long, long finish. Creamy texture with a minerally, almost salty undertone to the wine.” 94-95 pts James Suckling

Critic Scores:

Tim Atkin                            95

Jean-Marc Quarin            94-95

Matthew Jukes                 19

James Molesworth         93-96

James Suckling                  94-95

Average price of Mouton (lesser vintages) = £3,240
Cheapest vintage = 2007 @ £3,000

Lynch Bages 2012 @ £665 per 12

 -13% on 2011 ex-negociant

‘A fruity wine for the vintage with dense tannins. Full body, with impressive structure. Long finish. Generous and attractive. I like the balance and precision for the vintage’ 93-94 pts James Suckling

Critic Scores:

Tim Atkin                            91

Jean-Marc Quarin            92

Matthew Jukes                 17.5

James Molesworth         91-94

Average price of Lynch (off-prime vintages) = £725-£800


Petit Mouton 2012 @ £715 per 12 
 -8.3% on 2011 ex-negociant

Tim Atkin       91

Average price of Petit Mouton (lesser vintages) = £1,130
Cheapest Vintage = 2011 @ £770

Rauzan Segla 2012 @ £420 per 12
–36.6% on 2011 ex-negociant

Balanced and structured with lots of polished tannins. Full and refined with a lovely core and length. Goes on for a long time.’
James Suckling  92-93

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Mainland China Cashing In On ‘Passion Investments’

Posted by on April 17, 2013
Cult Wines Ltd News / No Comments

As the property sector in mainland China appears to be slowing down and stock prices remaining stagnant, millionaires are reportedly scoping out art, fine wine and watches for investment.

Hurun Research Institute and Industrial Bank published a report which stated that 56% of mainland millionaires spent money on ‘passion investments’, defined as: art, fine wine, jewellery, jade and watches.

The economic slowdown has resulted in the slowest increase of millionaires on the mainland in four years, growing 4% last year to 2.8 million.

In the past, high-net-worth individuals have concentrated their investment in property and stocks in order to battle inflation and the meagre interest rates offered by banks. However the banks efforts to subdue the property sector and stock market, have prompted these high earners to pursue alternative investments.

Buyers from mainland China are said to be the biggest spenders in global art and luxury markets. According to global consultancy Bain & Company, consumers from Macau and Hong Kong were responsible for a quarter of global luxury sales last year.

The number of super-rich on the mainland, defined as individuals with a net worth of no less than (HK$124.1 million), rose 2% to 65,400 last year.

South Morning China Post



Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining- Clos des Lunes, Lune D’argent

Posted by on April 17, 2013
Wine offers / No Comments
Lune d'Argent label

Prior to our visit to Bordeaux for the 2012 en primeur tasting we received a sample bottle of Lune d’argent 2012,  produced by Clos des Lunes. We tasted the Sémillon Sauvignon Blanc blend blind at the office, and everyone agreed that is was astonishingly well priced.  We tried the wine again last week in Bordeaux at Chateau Belgrave, just to make sure, and were all equally impressed once again by its structure and elegance. We have managed to secure some cases at a great price, and with the sun allegedly making an appearance in the next few weeks, this wine will make the perfect every day drinking spring time wine. Next week we will be sending out an e mail with details on how to purchase.

Lune d'Argent

Clos des Lunes, located in Sauternes was purchased by the Bernard family, owners of Domaine de Chevalier, in August 2011, where they chose to focus production almost entirely on still wine production. They re-named the property Clos des Lunes as a tribute to the Chinese festival of the moon which takes place during Vendange. Many Sauternes producers have started moving towards producing dry whites for a number of reasons, namely; the minute yields obtained. For instance, this year Yquem, Suduiraut, Rieussec and Raymond Lafon have all stated that they did not produce enough quality grapes to warrant making a wine under their first label. The reason for this is that the success of the wine is dictated by the degree of the benevolent form of botrytis cinera, a fungal colloquially known as noble rot, infecting the grapes. Grape varieties particularly susceptible to Noble Rot include: Sémillion, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, this is due to the fact that they have very thin skins. Once infected, the grape skins are reduced to a brown pulp, which then causes the escape of the majority of the water in them, leaving behind the sugar, acids and phenolic content, resulting in super concentrated berries. The harvest this year in the Sauternes region was problematic largely due to summer drought and autumn showers. Water stress was caused by dryness from July- August, except on limestone soils where water is retained and stored more easily. There was still no evidence of botrytis in the region by the 22nd of 22nd September, by this date the still white grapes had all been picked. The mould is triggered by mild, misty nights, and then multiplied during the heat of the day. Following rainfall, the first outbreak of botrytis was recorded on the 23rd ,25th  and 26th of September. This then initiated outbreaks in various vineyards, most prolifically on Barsac’s limestone plateau, where grapes were harvested in early October. Vineyards planted to soils where summer water stress was severe were particularity hindered, as the late developing botrytis reduced the potential time frame for weather favourable to concentration. The development of rot became slower and slower, and was again interrupted by rain in mid-October. Finally the harvest came to a grueling halt in the first week of November.

The precariousness of production, with many variables dramatically affecting yield has resulted in producers thinking outside of the box in order to generate cash flow, hence the emergence of still white wines.

The silver lining of the cloud is that these wines being produced express incredible purity and opulence. They are of course, in some ways reminiscent of the sweet wines, despite the fact that they are bone dry, the high proportion of Sémillon provides superb complexity and minerality. The whole team felt that the Lune d’argent was an undoubtable winner, not only is it delicious but the label and foil are really stylish the uniqueness of the wine makes it a great dinner party choice.

The Lune d’argent 2012 is composed of 70% Sémillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc, with vines that are on average 30 years old. Two exceptional terroirs combine; Sauternes, bringing power and Bommes bringing freshness. The wine is aged for 6-7 months in 25% oak barrel and 75% stainless steel tanks.

CW tasting note:

Dark lemon in colour with an apricot hue. On the nose: lemon meringue pie, almond, honey and fig. Vibrant, precise acidity on the palate, with opulent tropical notes of golden kiwi, pineapple and a touch of pistachio. Wonderful as an aperitif or serve with grilled fish or chicken. Drink now- 2016

e mail: to register your interest.

Bottle price  £12.50/6 for £75

  (ex. DELIVERY)


Day 4: Bordeaux en primeur 2012 ‘Grape Britain Garagistes’

Posted by on April 12, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012 / 2 Comments

Not that we are patriots, but our man in Saint Emillion, Jonathan Maltus of Le Dome, was undoubtedly the host with the most. The most in terms of charisma, amusing stories and humility, as we discovered over lunch at Château Teyssier.  He took us through the range, which included some entry level wines that exhibited outstanding value for money such as the Pezat – a Bordeaux Superieur, which was complex and weighty wine with stunning packaging and retails at a mere £10 per bottle. Le Carre and the Vieux Château Mazerat (VCM), both were elegant and complex, the VCM was perfumed and smokey.

Maltus gave us a unique insight into life as a Château owner living in the Right Bank relayed using some killer analogies. Our favourite was one regarding wine critic subscription paid websites and free blogs. His point was that today there are a multitude of resources available to people wishing to learn about his wine, high-quality free blogs and social media. This discussion led onto the fact that Jancis Robinson repeatedly declines to score his wine, despite Maltus personally communicating with her. Whilst this isn’t problem per-se, because other critics jump at the chance to rate his wine, it raises the point that they can be unjustifiably fickle and get away with it. Plus as a winemaker he would rather have discourse and opposing opinions rather than no comment at all.

Maltus explained that he rather conveniently got badged as a garagistes right around the time when the whole world decided that this movement was ‘cool’, he speculated that it helped that the definition sounds like garage music. Michele Bettane actually coined the term, and it simply referred to the fact that the production levels are so small that they could be made in one’s garage. JCP Maltus has moved on from these early days, with significantly more hectares under his management and with plans afoot for further winery construction (a lot more space than a garage!).


Le Dome has the highest Cabernet Franc content of any wine in Bordeaux, and is the most expensive wine of this variety in the world. Maltus explained that when Cabernet Franc is blended with Merlot it rounds off the blend, providing the full stop of the wine, without it there would be a lack of structure. We chatted about the 2010 that received 100 points from the Wine Advocate, and Maltus explained that Bob (Parker) had joked that it would be downhill from then on! Luckily Maltus isn’t the kind of guy to let the success go to his head or to get stressed by the pressure of trying to equal this perfect score.  He spoke of innovative wine making techniques, explaining that one factor has been using oak more judiciously. Other crucial factors included knowing exactly when to harvest, and in this case, that involves Maltus walking the vineyards himself and sampling the grapes, looking for that magical moment when phenolic ripeness occurs. After this he explained that the second critical point is having the ability to taste the juice and control the validity of the wine through creating a regime of wine making operations.  Le Dome ’12 will certainly rank alongside the other successes of this vintage, most of which have come from the right bank, but more importantly it showcased the level of consistency found at this estate.

For lunch we enjoyed poached salmon stuffed with Roquefort and mushrooms in a cream sauce to start, followed by veal for main, and strawberry sorbet, accompanied by his Bordeaux white – Clos Nardian, as good as a top northern graves, and the 2007 vintage (a classic vintage *cough) of another Maltus estate, Laforge and Le Dome.

Our second and last visit of the day was Château Haut Brion, the rumours circling about via Twitter were extremely positive, so we were eager to see for ourselves. The tasting room with its French rococo dream interior provided yet another contrasting approach to marketing and image you find across the Bordeaux Châteaux. Opinions varied in terms of the favourite wine, Le Dragon de Quintus was very good for a second wine, with distinctive savoury flavours whilst the grand vin of this newly acquired right bank estate clearly showed they are moving in the right direction with this project.


The Château Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion were everything you would expect, refined, elegant and structured. But in all honesty lacked the je ne sais quoi encountered in a spectacular vintage. The whites here did impress though, with the oily and seductive Haut Brion Blanc stealing the show and offering a last minute claim for wine of the week.


With that, our week of en primeur tasting was over and we headed home to gather our thoughts and quickly reflect ahead of the first releases expected next week.

Please be aware we are in the process of compiling a comprehensive report on our overall thoughts, which will be e mailed out next week and uploaded to our Facebook and Twitter. Similarly if you would like to register your interest for en primeur 2012 please get in touch.

Day 3: Bordeaux en primeur 2012 ‘Magnifique Margaux’

Posted by on April 10, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012 / No Comments
Left to right: Aarash Ghatineh (Sales Manager), Tom Gearing (Director) Philip Gearing (Director) Tom Turner (Head Buyer) Jonathan Stevenson (Senior Portfolio Manager) Helen Tate (Sales and Marketing Manager)

If we had a euro for every time we have been told that this year is a wine makers vintage and last year was a classical vintage we could probably buy a scarf from the Cos D’ Estournel gift shop or maybe even a polo shirt from Mouton.

But what exactly does that means? Wine maker’s vintage sounds like human intervention was necessary and success dictated by the dexterity of the wine making team. As opposed to classical, which insinuates that things went rather smoothly. In that case this year is arguably all about how much manipulation went on, and the quality of the grapes in the first place. But to what extent is grape quality quantifiable in this context from a scientific point of view? En primeur is all about making a stab at the potential evolutionary trajectory of the wine, and what this symbolises in terms of price. So what makes a wine age? One factor is the phenolic content, this includes the anthocyanins which are responsible for colour and the tannins and to some extent the mouth feel. They act as a sink for oxygen giving colours and aromas an extended lease of life. It is said that 2.5 g/l of phenolic content will render a wine as a potential ager. Unfortunately this isn’t the only pre-defining pre- requisite, pH for example is said to set the frame work for other reactions to unfold. Degree of Hydrolysis, the capacity of ethanol and acidity to break down and release volatiles making new compounds in the process is another fundamental reaction that will determine how age-able a wine will be. The catch 22 is that none of these chemical reactions can be accurately predicted, which is what makes wine so interesting …. Right?

This morning the team set off full of life on the way to Château  Leoville Las Cases, not really, we all felt exhausted from the night before, which had involved more wine tasting in Bordeaux city center, where famed oenologist Michel Rolland was hosting a party to showcase his portfolio of wines. It was useful to taste some international wines and interesting to speak to Rolland who explained that he spends a lot of time in Argentina, and is very excited about the new estates that he has invested in, one of which is 3,000 feet above sea level. We tried some superb wines from Argentina, France and South Africa, all of which were modern, fruit driven and vibrant.

Le première degustation pour le jour was at Château Leoville Les Cases, when we actually managed to find it, we experienced some typical Saint Estephe wines, full of poise with clear evidence of longevity, firm tannins and lively acid.

Château Ducru Beaucaillou was a colourful and eccentric experience, just like its owner Bruno Borie. Another photo moment at the grape reception area that had been modified to resemble a film premiere red carpet scene, with a pop up studio to capture the team. Very original, except for the fact that Clinet clearly had the same brain wave! So after our photo shoot we hit the art embellished tasting room. The Grande Reserve Croix Beaucaillou really stood out for being extremely vibrant and forward. Jade Jagger designed the label in 2010, and even when with a wine like this, wine quality transcends the packaging, the gold embossed label looks pretty special, and adheres to the flamboyancy of the estate.

Next we headed to Château Saint Pierre in Saint Julien de Beychevelle, again not an easy place to locate, its lucky we speak such good French to ask for directions (yea right). We arrived at the office where we were greeted by the owner Jean Riaud, it felt just like another day for them, no photo shoots, strawberries or bottled mineral water, just a frank explanation from Riaud who explained that the vintage had been tough and despite the set-backs presented in the form of disease and climatic influence they remained positive about what they had achieved. This family run estate has only recently switched to temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, reinforcing the feeling that their philosophy is quite purist and back to basics. Riaud joked with us that he wouldn’t embrace a modern system which allowed him to control the temperate using his cell phone, just in case he was out on the town and made an inebriated adjustment!


Château Belgrave was our next visit for the Dourthe tasting where we managed to squeeze in a quick pre-lunch flight of wines delivered straight to our table. This format was a bit of luxury as it allows you to focus more more intensely on the wines. But the Smith Haut Lafite Blanc stole the show for having incredible intensity and elegance. The Clos Lunelles (dry white Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend) described as a new sauternes and produced by the Domaine de Chevalier estate was also impressive, a wine that we intend to obtain allocation of as at the price point of less than £20 per bottle retail is very impressive indeed.

Lunch was delicious, oysters, vegetable and fish terrine, creamy mushroom cray fish to start, followed by roast chicken and mash potatoes for main, accompanied by Chateau Yquem 1996.


After lunch we continued tasting at Belgrave, where we encountered some more absolute gems, again we feel that these wines deserve further coverage in the form of a dedicated blog post in the next few weeks. But Conseillante, Lascombes & Le Gay were three in particular that stood out with the former being a candidate for best wine of the week.

Feeling rejuvenated after lunch we headed for the illustrious Château Margaux. We all knew that we were in for a treat, and the twenty minute wait in reception actually felt sort of appropriate. We tasted the wines in amongst the tanks, despite this vintage being described as less than magnificent, it is still pretty amazing. The Pavillon rouge and the grand vin were already incredibly integrated and clearly capable of some serious aging. Perfumed and delicate, the 2012 wines will be ready for drinking in just a few years as the tannins are so soft. The only disappointment being Pavillon Blanc which despite 2012 producing some fine whites, was below par especially in comparison to their efforts in 2011 and 2010.

Our final destination was Château Palmer, an estate blighted by the weather in the last two vintages reducing crops but yet still maintaining fantastic consistency. The barrel room is transformed with spot light lit tables for each individual group. Our host, a member of the marketing team spoke frankly about the vintage, detailing the troubles they experienced with Coulure and shot berries, he also explained that this reduction in yield has resulted in more concentration. Despite our palates feeling slightly jaded, almost everyone felt that the Palmer wines were the stars of the day, superb finesse and complexity was found. Noting that Palmer is famed for their higher than usual Merlot compared to other left bank estates, its no surprise that 2012 has worked well for them.

Today has shown that whilst this year has been tough for the wine makers, it is a testament to the expertise found in Bordeaux. It has forced producers to be innovative and adapt their wine making practices, and will prove to expose the weak and highlight the strong.

Ce soir we are heading into town and tomorrow we finish with La Mission Haut Brion & Haut Brion as well as the other Clarence Dillon wines. In between we will get to enjoy a lunch with Jonathan Maltus at recently awarded 100 pt producer Le Dome in Saint Emilion and a visit to Pape Clement.

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Day 2: Bordeaux en primeur 2012 ‘Cabernet Country’

Posted by on April 10, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012 / No Comments

On our way to Cabernet country this morning the Cult Wines team either slept, or quietly discussed the day ahead. Unlike yesterday, where we knew that the Merlot based wines ahead of us would most likely be showing well, king Cab, didn’t fill us with as much confidence.The attribute we were hoping not to encounter to an excessive degree within the wines was Isobutyl methoxypyrazine, or bell pepper, this compound has been reported to feature in Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon based wines this year, due to a number of factors. Namely; a long, spread out version which aggravates the accumulation, blocked ripening due to the prolonged summer drought, and insufficient leaf stripping and fruit thinning. All of these combine to result in a measurable level of the compound higher than the human olfactory detection threshold. Too much vegetal characteristic is deemed undesirable by wine critics, as it unbalances the wine and masks other aromas and flavours that would normally be perceived.

So with that in mind we headed to Chateau Calon Segur, in Saint Estephe. This third growth estate, is an impressive sprawling expanse of topiary, walled gardens and out buildings. This year’s yield was down from 45hl/ ha in 2011, to 38 hl/ ha. Which is partly down to 2012 being a particularly bad year for Coulure, which is where wind, rain and chemical deficiencies during flowering prevent flowers from being properly fertilised, this results in the flowers dropping off. As these flowers would normally turn into individual grapes on the cluster, the result then becomes deformed bunches with gaps where the missing berries should be, and consequently a reduced yield. So not only did Cabernet have to endure this downfall, but as a later ripening variety, growers also had to avoid the rain that took place during harvest, this resulted in some heterogeneous ripening hence, virtually any producer you ask in Bordeaux will tell you that their hl/ha was reduced compared with last year.


Our mission today was to ascertain whether or not producers had gone to their best efforts to overcome these obstacles without jeopardising quality.

It was clear that Calon Segur implemented some rigorous berry selection because there wasn’t a hint of ‘bell pepper’, to be seen. The wines were all vibrant and expressive, the Capbern Gasquerton was particularly captivating and represents an excellent price quality ratio.

Our next destination was Chateau Montrose, where we encountered intensely powerful wines. The quintessence of the vintage had clearly been captured through judicious vinification practices, such as a long reportedly long maceration period of 26-28 days, in order to extract phenolics from the thick skins.

Cos d’Estournel didn’t fail to impress. It is like the fantasy land of Bordeaux, the barrel room is like nothing else you will find in France, a sea of barriques can be circumnavigated via an impressive bridge walk way that leads to a feature cellar room containing large format back vintages stored in a Jumanji style high tech storage facility. But even if the winery was a plain Jayne, the wine was still sublime. The Cos d’ Estournel Blanc has been altered this year to provide more of an immediate pleasure, so the blend contained a higher proportion of Sauvignon Blanc compared with Semillon, 77%, 23% respectively. It was deemed by the team to be almost parfait… exhibiting implausible length. The rest of the range was equally good.


Cos d’Estournel was followed by Lafite Rothschild. Where Charles Chevallier greeted us, juxtaposed in amongst the grandiose of Lafite, looking more Latin teacher than Lafite super star wine maker. We discussed this year’s vintage, and Lafite’s decisions to pick much earlier, resulting in 12.5 % ABV, compared with last year’s 13.5 % ABV. Chevallier explained that when deciding the exact moment to pick, he will walk the vineyards and taste the grapes himself in order to make a decision. He also mentioned that they employ students to carry out in-depth crop estimations, where bunches and berries are weighed, sugar, acid, pH are recorded, but actually ‘he doesn’t really care much about this’… and will simply go by his own intuition… Presumably these protocols are implemented more to identify if something peculiar happens, to give work experience kids something to do, or for the sake of harvest reports, and less to pin point harvest dates. But with the amount of vintages under his belt that Chevallier has, instinct and experience will presumably override any other analysis. We tasted the Carruades de Lafite, the Chateau Duhart- Milon and the Chateau Lafite Rothschild. All of which exhibited precision and elegance, but the Duhart particularly captured our attention for providing refinement and personality.

Lunch at Pontet Canet was (as always) impressive, especially the heart attack instigating cheese buffet, with at least 30 different cheeses on offer. The starter was a delicious Terrine de Volaille, Fois Gras au Naturel, and the main a Fondant de Joue du Boeuf, served with the 2002 and the estate owned Cognac Tessaron.

We then hopped along to Chateau Mouton Rothschild en board the iconic golf buggy’s that ferry you to the tasting room. We tasted the Chateau D’Armailhac, Clerc Millon and the top wine the Mouton Rothschild all of which were obviously powerful and refined despite the fact that they will need time to integrate. This year the property have decided to increase the number of tanks from 28 to 56 in order to allow micro-vinification of tiny plots of vines, this will mean that they can blend more judiciously, which is especially during a tough vintage like this year.

Next we went back to Pontet Canet for our scheduled tasting, on the way to the tasting room we passed the new amphora maturation vessels. Owner Alfred Tesseron explained that the Technical director Jean-Michel Comme has spent the last three years trialling different sizes and shapes of amphorae, which are manufactured by the estate. This is with the aim to reduce oak influence, and as Tesseron put it, ‘Oak is fashion, which doesn’t always last’. Evidently they are thinking outside the box and the wines reflected immense purity and freshness. Jean-Michel Comme is a dedicated winemaker, obsessive some may say but it all combines to produce results that are truly sensational!


To understand where Zinedine Zidane fits into a lengthy discussion with PG, keep checking this blog for a full summary which will follow soon.

Last stop Latour. Following the usual security check procedure at the gate we headed for the tasting room. To our delight we were served the three wines Latour released recently as their first non-primeur release, the Pauillac 2009, Forts de Latour 2005 and the Latour 1995. These wines were outstanding, and perhaps enhanced due to our full on day of tasting en primeur. It was a great way to round the day off and provided a useful bench mark for visualising how a fine wine can evolve.

latour 2012 en primeur

Our general summary of the day was that of all of the property’s we visited each and every one of them appeared to have executed wine production skill in order to get the most out of a tricky vintage. We were not disappointed and felt that some of the second and third wines we tasted offered exceptional value.

For a vintage we had low expectations for, we have been pleasantly surprised…roll on day 3.

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