En primeur

Bordeaux 2012 Releases: Pichon Baron, Smith Haut Lafitte, Clos Fourtet & Calon Segur

Posted by WineInvestment.org on May 13, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012, Wine Market News / No Comments
Pichon Baron Wine Investment

We have had some new releases onto the market this morning including Pichon Baron @ £700 (90-93 pts), Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge @ £440 (92-94 pts), Clos Fourtet @ £485 (93- 95 pts) & Calon Segur @ £420 (90-92 pts)

Given the quality of the vintage and Parker scores, I don’t believe the Pichon Baron or Smith Haut Lafitte warrant much attention from an investment perspective although not priced badly.  The former for example is the same price as the 2006 vintage, which is scored at 92 pts and physically available with a number of years in bottle.

The right bank estate, Clos Fourtet however, which has been singled out by liv-ex in recent times as being one of the best performers in the market following some strong performances in vintages since 2001 looks an attractive proposition. The 2003 currently trades at c. £750 per 12 and is scored 94 pts, similar to the 2012 (93-95pts). As a small production wine, 2,500 cases, with a rising reputation and increasing quality this looks a very smart buy at £485 with potential of 50% growth in the unit price.

Château Calon-Ségur: with the Moueix stable now part owners, we expect this wine to be pushed onto the next level and the 2012 is a solid start to their involvement. With recent successes in the 09 and 10 vintages, Calon Segur is widely regarded as one of the best value for quality wines in Bordeaux and in comparison to neighbours Cos d’Estournel and Montrose – it has fantastic pedigree on which to build. With comparative vintages trading at £500-£600 per case, again this looks like a smart buy for a wine that offers value and growth potential.

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En Primeur Releases: Pontet Canet, Haut Brion, La Mission Haut Brion & La Mondotte

Posted by WineInvestment.org on May 03, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012, wine investment / No Comments

Thursday Morning saw a flurry of en primeur releases as the Bordelais returned to their offices following a well deserved break to bombard smart phones with an alternative alarm! Of the releases the three major wines to take notice were Pontet Canet, LMHB and Haut Brion. For us the Clarence Dillon wines, tasted last during our time in Bordeaux, were a definite highlight with Haut Brion in particular impressing. Pessac was one of the best performing appellations in 2012, and we believe these two wines will develop into two of the best from this vintage over the coming years. At their release prices, they are reduced from their 2011 which is welcomed, and make them look good value for money.

Similarly, Pontet Canet one of the recent stars of the left bank was released at a 9% discount to the 2011 price (Unsurprisingly at the same ex-neg price as fellow ‘Flying Fifth’ Lynch Bages). Although this vintage didn’t quite find the same favour with Parker as their back to back 100 pt wines in 09 and 10, we were impressed with the precision and balance of this wine once again and equally critics seemed to favour the bio-dynamic and organic estate with solid scores from Suckling & Jancis Robinson. From a drinking perspective, Pontet always delivers, and from an investment point of view it’s our belief that as an estate the fifth growth is continuing to grow in stature and prices across the board are likely to increase, so to buy for less than £700 p/case in a few years may well look like a smart buy.

Offers subject to availability:

Bordereaux (RED)

2012 Pontet Canet    @ £640 per case (12)                                         RP: 91-94              JS: 94-95

2012 Haut Brion                @ £2,600 per case (12)                                  RP: 93-95              JS: 95-96

2012 LMHB                      @ £1,600 per case (12)                                  RP: 91-94                JS: 93-94


Winemaker of the Vintage: Denis Durantou Wines

Also released this week were the wines of Eglise Clinet’s Denis Durantou. If you are buying for drinking in 2012, I wouldn’t look past these wines, as they are fantastic value for money.

Les Cruzelles @ £75 per 6   RP: 90-92

La Chenade @ £55 per 6     JS: 88-89

Investment Recommendation: La Mondotte

This release has taken our fancy- La Mondotte, which was – very surprisingly – released at a hugely reasonable price. They only produce 650-1,000 cases per annum of this wine, which was elevated last year to St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru classé ‘B’, having previously been unclassified. In a vintage where the Right Bank wines excelled and crop yields were down, we expected this ‘micro-cuvee’ to release at a far higher price, especially when we saw the Parker score of 94-97 points a couple of weeks ago.

However, they’ve recognised the calls for lower pricing this year and come out at a hugely reasonable £575 per half-case (6x75cl). The table below compares the 2012 to other back vintages (we’ve highlighted those vintages which are comparable to 2012 in terms of quality):


Vintage RPJ-In Barrel/In-Bottle Current Price (£/cs)
2012 94-97 £1,150
2011 92-94 £1,110
2010 96-98+/99 £2,988
2009 95-98+/100 £3,200
2008 93-95+/96 £1,560
2007 90-93/91 £1,242
2006 93-96/97 £1,786
2005 96-100/99 £2,580
2004 93-95/93 £1,430
2003 92-94/95 £2,360
2002 88-90+/88 £1,351
2001 92-95/94 £2,460
2000 96-98/98+ £3,440



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The fine wine market in 2013- Aarash Ghatineh, Cult Wines UK Sales Manager gives us his thoughts:

Posted by WineInvestment.org on May 01, 2013
Cult Wines Ltd News / No Comments

With en primeur 2012 fast approaching and the first quarter of the year drawing to a close we took time out to speak with Aarash Ghatineh, our UK Sales Manager, to understand his thoughts on the start of the year for the fine wine market, and what he expects for the rest of 2013. As UK Sales Manager his day-to-day role involves liaising with all new and existing clients as well as overseeing our entire sales team, formulating existing and on-going investment strategies.

2012 was a tumultuous year for all investment markets, including fine wine, what were your thoughts on the year and were there any positives to take out of 2012?

A.G: 2012 saw more worries with continued fears about Europe, U.S. double dip concerns & weaker growth in the emerging markets. These tough economic conditions coupled with faltering prices for investment grade wines & a dismal Bordeaux en primeur campaign contributed to what was a testing year for the Fine Wine Market. Withstanding the turbulent market conditions, there are some great highlights & positives to take out the year’s trading. The Bordeaux 2009 vintage fared extremely well upon Parker’s in bottle assessment awarding 19 estates the coveted 100pts, leading to strong price development. Foretelling Parker’s scores can be a risky business but our stock selections from the 2009 vintage saw an average increase of over 50%. Exciting developments for the Right Bank at the end of last year, with Angelus & Pavie which were promoted in the recent St. Emilion Classification and are now trading at all-time highs. The market correction for Top end Bordeaux meant that buyer’s appetites widened with an increase in demand for Burgundy, Super-Tuscans & Champagne, and I expect this interest in other regions to continue in 2013.

People are predicting a positive year for the wine market in 2013, would you go along with this?

A.G: 2013 has started very positively & the general global demand for Fine Wine is at a high point, which suggests that we are in line for a market resurgence this year. In the past, prices reached ‘bubble’ territory for certain wines & the aftermath of that bubble bursting has undoubtedly been tough. However, the market correction represents a good buying opportunity and it seems that confidence is returning to the market.


What trends would you expect to shape the wine market this year?

A.G: I think a lot of buyers have learnt their lessons over the past 18-24 months and the days of sustained blanket buying are behind us. I think we will witness a return to a genuine focus on quality and value, with a much more selective market. I think our customers will continue to diversify their portfolios, paying particular attention to Rhone and Super-Tuscans. The regions that have been relatively untouched by new markets offer a strong investment opportunity.

And subsequently where do you think there are investment opportunities?

A.G: The Bordeaux First Growth market has come down significantly in price so I think there are some strong buying opportunities for well scored vintages. The Bordeaux 2010 in-bottle scores have been released & whilst certain wines were released slightly high En Primeur, we feel there is some great value to be had in the top scored wines such as Pape Clément 2010, the best value 100-point wine currently available at £1,500 per case of 12. There is no doubt that the market focus will be firmly directed at the 2009/2010 vintages which represent the pinnacle of Bordeaux wine making. The recent acknowledgement from Parker of Northern Rhone’s achievements in the last three vintages will undoubtedly stimulate interest in the region’s top producers such as Guigal & Chapoutier. Production for these specialist wines are extremely limited, and they often become very scarce within a few years of release. With the market continuing to broaden further, Champagne is a worthy portfolio addition, it is quite a safe option, as it is a region also untouched by the Far Eastern market, and could be in line for a substantial price increase in the coming years.

Following the disappointing EP2011 campaign, how important do you think EP2012 will be to the on-going recovery of the market?

A.G: I will defer opinion on the vintage until the rest of the team and I taste the wines in April. It is clear that the market is in recovery mode and a lot healthier in terms of demand, but of course the EP2012 campaign is a key cog in this wheel. In terms of pricing, you would like to think that the prices will have to come down on the last three years to really excite buyers but I feel that the price of 2012 will be similar to the 2011s. Historically, en primeur returns have been at their greatest in off-prime vintages so if pricing & timing is right then it could provide a boost to the on-going market recovery. Equally, if prices are too high this will have a negative impact on the market.

Having advised private clients in the market for the past 5 years, what would be your best piece of advice?

A.G: This is a cyclical market, do not take a snapshot view or expect to make a quick buck, take a medium to long term outlook.

What is your desert island wine?

A.G: Ch. d’Yquem 1988


What would you eat with it?

A.G: If there doesn’t happen to be a big slab of blue cheese knocking about, it would have to go with a freshly caught Salmon.




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Bordeaux 2012 Updated Offers

Posted by WineInvestment.org on May 01, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012, Wine offers / 2 Comments
l'eglise clinet 2012 tasting

Following further releases this week and with a break in play whilst the French enjoy a bank holiday (one of many during the month of May!) below are our updated 2012 offers, all available, subject to:

And whilst perusing the list it might be worth considering the wise-words of Jancis Robinson:

“In general 2012 is offering much better value than any vintage since 2008…  If you did want to buy a first growth, this is a vintage to consider since prices have come down but quality has not.” 

Wine 2012 En Primeur RPJ JS WS Price Per 12 Enquire Price vs 2011
Lynch Bages 87-89 93-94 91-94 £665 BUY -13%
Mouton Rothschild 95-97 94-95 93-96 £2,900 BUY -33.30%
Valandraud 90-93 91-92 88-91 £850 BUY -46.20%
Lafite Rothschild 92-95 93-94 93-96 £3,900 BUY -21%
Carruades 87-89 88-89 91-94 £1,050 BUY -12%
Duhart Milon 87-89 90-91 91-94 £570 BUY -14%
L’Evangile 90-94 94-95 92-95 £945 BUY 0%
Angelus    94-96 93-94 ~ £1,900 BUY +30%
Bellevue Mondotte    94-97 91-92 92-95 £1,060 BUY -8.50%
Pavie    94-96+ 94-95 ~ £1,900 BUY +58% 
Troplong-Mondot    94-96 92-93 91-94 £575 BUY -6.70%
Gazin    93-95 ~ 90-93 £440 BUY -7.10%
Rauzan-Segla (Rausan-Segla)    93-95 92-93 89-92 £410 BUY -37%
Beau-Sejour-Becot    92-95 91-92 89-92 £340 BUY -14%
Chateau Margaux    92-94 93-94 93-96 £2,800 BUY -33%
Le Dome    92-94 92-93 ~ £745 BUY -1%
Palmer    92-95 92-93 90-93 £1,650 BUY  -1%
Pape Clement Rouge    92-95 92-93 89-92 £530 BUY -13%
Vieux Chateau Mazerat    92-94 ~ ~ £635 BUY ~
Les Asteries    91-93 ~ ~ £635 BUY ~

If you are looking for any of these wines or those not listed, please get in touch or submit a wishlist  - orders@cultwinesltd.com

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

Posted by WineInvestment.org 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 Releases Update: Valandraud, Lafite, Duhart, Carruades & l’Evangile

Posted by WineInvestment.org 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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Bordeaux 2012 Releases Update: Mouton Rothschild, Lynch Bages, Petit Mouton, Rauzan Segla

Posted by WineInvestment.org 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 orders@cultwinesltd.com 

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             timatkin.com    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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Day 3: Bordeaux en primeur 2012 ‘Magnifique Margaux’

Posted by WineInvestment.org 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 WineInvestment.org 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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Day 1: Bordeaux en primeur 2012 ‘Right Bank Royalty’

Posted by WineInvestment.org on April 08, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012 / 6 Comments


The Cult Wines team from 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).

The first day of en primeur tasting has been a really long and arduous day (but someone’s got to do it!). We arrived in Bordeaux last night just in time for aperitifs on the terrace in our très belle, centre of town maison. We wisely turned in at a conservative hour in order to wake up fresh for the first day of tasting on the right bank.

Our first destination was Château Cheval Blanc, we arrived full of excitement- naturally, as we were about to taste one of the right banks most revered wines.

En primeur tends to be a rather one in one out kind of affair, as schedules are packed, so the pressure is on for the wines to make a significant enough impression during those vital minutes, so that merchants and critics leave feeling inspired and delighted by the wines – and our first appointment didn’t disappoint. Château Cheval Blanc’s grand vin was fresh, vibrant, structured and elegant, displaying a delicate floral bouquet with profound violets and rose aromas and flavours.

Cheval Blanc introduced new tanks two years ago, of which they own the patent to the design, the genius thing about their tanks is that the conical shape allows for less ‘remontage’ to be carried out. The carbon dioxide generated through fermentation forces the grapes upwards and naturally funnels them into the tighter area at the top of the tank, thus achieving a natural maceration via the grapes being squashed together.



The team concurred that the grand vin, which is a blend of 54% Merlot and 46% Cabernet Franc is a powerful wine of exceptional length and precision, and will therefore be eager to taste this wine again in 2014.

Next stop was Château Ausone, a humble operation by Bordeaux standards, but producers of phenomenal wines and one of the most picturesque settings in all of Bordeaux. We were suitably impressed by Ausone and its second wine Chapelle D’Ausone, which exhibited astonishing concentration, and we feel that this wine offers excellent value for money. Having said that the Fonbel also really shone, clearly the Vauthier family along with Michel Rolland have worked hard to achieve such excellence during a tough vintage.

Following this we visited Château Pavie which having been upgraded in the September Saint Emilion re-classification and a few weeks away from the completion of their new cellars are having a particularly good year. Tasting the range of Gerard Perse wines the team very much enjoyed the Clos Lunelles and the Bordeaux Blanc, Chateau Monbousquet, both were expressive and refreshing. Pavie itself was a slightly different in character to previous years when it has been criticised by some from being over-extracted and not representative of the terroir – but in our opinion the team here can be very proud of producing a very good wine once again.

After a tough morning and with the storm clouds gathering overhead, we headed off for Lunch which turned out to be quite a decadent affair, at Château Fombrauge hosted by Bernard Magrez and the multi-michelin starred Joël Robuchon . We sat with some good suppliers of ours from Bordeaux, and enjoyed a fantastic meal. The menu was the perfect mid tasting revitaliser, a starter of Chou farci du homard with a beurre rouge (yes…we were as confused as you – it turned out to be an exquisite lobster and cabbage dish), a main of chicken with foie gras stuffed ravioli, accompanied by two vintages of fombrauge blanc and rouge.


The afternoon highlights were abundant.

Château L’Eglise Clinet was a refreshingly un ostentatious experience, the tasting room is a very plain room adorned with some slightly dubious artwork. Sadly, Dennis Durantou wasn’t there to host to the tasting, but the wines spoke for themselves. Again, intensity, freshness and balance was found.

Château Le Pin was an almost surreal experience, a first time for everyone in the team. We were all struck by the absolute minuteness of the property; the tanks, vineyards and cellar are all a reminder of how tiny this property of 2.7 ha is. Jacques Thienpont greeted us, along with his two young sons, we all felt extremely privileged to taste the wine in his company. We were surprised by his excellent sense of humour, not that Belgians have a reputation for having a dodgy sense of humour or anything… But he really proved that there is no need for taking things too seriously when you know you’re at the top. Unsurprisingly the Merlot dominated wine topped most of our team’s list at the end of the day.


Château Vieux Chateaux Certan was next on our itinerary and also the other Thienpont family run vineyard just a short drive away from the tiny Le Pin vineyard. Alexandre Thienpont hovered unassumingly throughout our tasting hosted by his son in their cellar surrounded by picturesque buildings and vineyards. Thienpont quotes on the homepage of their website that his job is ‘to know how to stay in the background and let the wine express its true personality’. This couldn’t be more accurate, their minimal intervention approach results in a massively complex and elegant wine that probably exhibited the most individuality of the whole day.


Last stop, Château Clinet, for perhaps the most fun winery experience one can have. Monique Montepini, head of marketing, explained that Ronan Laborde, the owner of the Château wakes up each morning with a new, eccentric idea for his estate. His vision for the en primeur tasting week experience was to transform his winery with coloured lights and a huge, highly detailed cinema screen backdrop with incredible images of the estates projected on a slide show behind the tanks and press. There was also a film premiere style pop-up photo studio erected for visitors to have their photo taken in front of= FUN! (especially for those of the team that like to have their photo taken) The wines were striking, the Ronan-Clinet was fruit driven with excellent structure and length, whilst being a total steal at less than 10 Euros a bottle. The Fleur de Clinet was equal to this and their top wine outstanding too. We got to re-taste the 2010 Clinet as well which really showed what a fantastic wine it is.


The sun made a sneaky, brief appearance for the last few hours of day light, so we headed for St Emillion for a beer to round the day off with. But not without a lot of walking up and down cobbled streets, which proved difficult for our newest member of the team in her high heels.

Our overall conclusion for the day was that the wines were genuinely impressive and expressive, our Château visits couldn’t have been more varied in terms of how the wines were presented. However, this just proves that with the average size of vineyards in St Emillion, being around 7 ha, the region provides a joyous tapestry of diversity and personality, and whilst it may sound like a bit of a cliché, the characters we encountered were also evident in their wines.

it was also clear at the end of our first day that 2012 is a vintage that suited the Merlot grape and with many of the properties we saw today using record levels of Merlot in their final blend, it will be interesting to see how the left bank wines compare.

Tonight we are relaxing at the house, where PG is cooking dinner ………check back tomorrow for more on Bordeaux 2012. You can also keep unto date with us via twitter @cultwinesuk and by using the #bdx12 hashtag.

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