At Chateau Angelus, as ever, Hubert de Bouard was in great form and so were his stable of wines. I was particularly taken by the 2010 Carillon d’Angelus (91 points), but less so by the Bellevue which was bigger and more austere than the Carillon – and therefore, I feel, less successful. 89 points.
And what of the Grand Vin at Angelus? This year it is, as one would expect in such a vintage, full, dense and long with layers of primary black fruit, ripe, generous tannin and terrific acidity. The blend is 50% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Franc and a 3% sprinkling of Cabernet Sauvignon. Once again, the key to the success of this wine isn’t in the statistics – it’s in the balance, structure, taste and length. Happily, this Angelus is one of controlled power. Hubert de Bouard has successfully managed to tame the tannins and let the fruit shine to considerable effect. 96 points.
Above: Vineyards at Chateau Angelus
After Angelus, I retired to prepare for the evening and left the team to go on to Troplong-Mondot. However, I hope to taste the Troplong Mondot later this week because several of them raved about this wine. I know the estate well and it enjoys one of the best and most elevated positions in St Emilion. Since Michel Rolland began to consult for this large and very attractive 33 hectare property, they have begun to pick later and later.
Last year, Troplong produced a controversial wine with 15.5% alcohol and this year, they have done exactly the same with an equally powerful and alcoholic wine. Interestingly, they have not made a second wine this year because they were so pleased with the quality that they felt able to put everything into the Grand Vin.
The wine is 90% Merlot and 5% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Again, I feel this is going to be a wine that divides opinion because of its alcohol and structure. But my team were very much in favour describing it as ripe luscious and balanced with sweet black fruit and a massive mouth-filling finish. It sounds like a Parker wine to me, but one I am looking forward to tasting to make my own judgement.
Above: Fermentation tank and artwork on the walls at Chateau Troplong-Mondot
Tomorrow, I have a limited amount of time to cover Pomerol and look forward to reporting back. I also look forward to telling you about the wines that we are going to drink at Chateau de Sours this evening. One of the great things about En Primeur isn’t just the new vintage, it is also a bit of a celebration of old friendships and old wines. If past form is anything to go by, it promises to be quite a party!
Finally, a word on the demand for the 2010 vintage, which I haven’t really discussed in my blog so far. In my view, global demand is likely to be strong – depending, of course, on the price at which the wines are released by the chateaux. Certainly, there is a considerable Far Eastern presence this week. Also, American accents have been noticed in greater numbers. Naturally, traditional markets are also here in force. But the big question is who will buy which wines?
Price is key. My feeling is that the 2010 will be released at similar prices as 2009. Firstly because the quality is again outstanding – albeit different from 2009 - and secondly, production is down from last year. The Bordelais will see no reason to drop their prices.
Equally though, my view is that they won't dare to raise them while the economic recovery remains fragile. This caveat will only apply to those properties whose wines are successful and have been well received by press and critics.
However, I’m not so sure I see 2010 as being a short-term speculative vintage. Assuming prices are at their upper limit this might not leave anything for investors in the short term. That said, I do think the best wines from this vintage will go up in value – but over the longer term and moreover, I would certainly argue that there are plenty of genuinely great wines from this vintage which collectors and investors will definitely want to have in their cellars.
Tomorrow - More from the Right Bank and a report on our lovely dinner at Chateau de Sours...
Above: The AWC Team - Ready for dinner at Chateau de Sours. (L-R) Robert Hankey, Julia Scales, David Ruvalcaba, Julien Froger, Jing Dong and Deborah Ives
Tags: Right Bank, En Primeur, Chateau Angelus, Troplong Mondot
En primeur | Travel | Wine tasting
Hong KongThe Mandarin Oriental’s limousine is ready and awaiting my arrival in Hong Kong and I am immediately impressed with the efficient service that is the norm in this fast-paced city. This landmark hotel is now managed by one of my very first Asian clients, Jonas Schurmann, who when I met him twenty years ago was the Food & Beverage Director at the legendary Oriental Bangkok.
Within two hours of my plane landing, I’ve checked into to my room, have showered fresh, and I am sitting at my desk in The Antique Wine Company’s Hong Kong offices enjoying the sunset view over Hong Kong’s exclusive residential district ‘The Peak.’After taking care of a few administrative matters, my local director (Julien Froger) and I set off for dinner with ‘Mr. Pavie,’ one of Hong Kong’s numerous wine collectors. We dine at Cepage, a Michelin-starred restaurant owned by an Antique Wine Company client from Singapore, and take pleasure in a dinner that would knock the socks off many meals at notable European restaurants.
During the evening we compare the various virtues of La Mission Haut Brion versus Chateau Haut Brion from the now deliciously drinkable 1999 vintage. The La Mission is deep and powerful, with an austerity that will serve the wine well for a long life yet to come. The Haut Brion is more about elegance, finesse, and the classic minerality that for me is the hallmark of this great wine.Afterwards it is back to the hotel for a mandatory nightcap and some time to play catch-up on the ever-growing email inbox because the European business day is still in full swing. I am finally ready for bed around 2:00AM, which I take as a good indication that my jet lag has reduced itself from seven to a mere three hours of discomfort.
The following two days are spent in client office meetings and hashing out deals over lunches and dinners. It is a very full agenda, but I also manage to sit for an interview with the Wall Street Journal about the phenomenon of the Hong Kong wine market. The interview includes making a visit to a private wine cellar at a spectacular home on Hong Kong's famous St. Andrews Golf Course, which is located about an hour drive away in the New Territories. Here we see another side of Hong Kong which reminds me of Gibraltar twenty years ago.
My final day in Hong Kong includes a visit to our logistics company. They provide us with a very secure and temperature-controlled storage facility in the Sha Tin District. The visit is followed by lunch with another one of our importers/exporters to mainland China. Over the best Dim Sum lunch I have ever tasted we talk about the Chinese market and how consumers are now developing interest in wines other than just Chateau Lafite.
While Lafite looks certain to remain the iconic wine for gift-giving, it seems there is a rapidly growing demand for many other Grand Crus and their second wines.
We spend some time studying the 1855 Classification in detail and interpreting the Chinese translation of each name. Leoville Las Cases, for example, means “Wine of the Lion.” Angelus is translated as “Golden Bell.” In China it is not only the taste of the wine but also its name, its meaning and its price that are important factors in the market.
I manage to get an hour in at the Mandarin Oriental's spa before my final dinner, a meal with one of Hong Kong's most prolific collectors, ‘JC.’ We meet at one of his buildings in the former manufacturing, but now choice residential, area of Kowloon.
It is a modest 50-storey affair, about the same size as London's Park Lane Hilton, and inside JC has installed two wine cellars.
One cellar houses about 10,000 bottles of his personal wine collection, and the other is divided into 100 smaller lockers which are rented out to fellow wine collectors for their own storage. "It’s just a hobby business," he tells me casually as we sip on Pol Roger's 1998 Cuvee Winston Churchill and tour his personal cellar - which seems to contain every great wine ever produced. We examine cases of DRC, Comte de Vogue, and Comtes Lafon going back to the 1950's, along with Petrus, Cheval Blanc and all the other First Growths. Later, over a Japanese dinner in his boardroom, we share Louis Latour's 1989 Corton Charlemagne, Bouchard Pere et Fils Batard Montrachet 2000, Armand Rousseau's Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques 2000, and Chateau Palmer 1983. It is a delightful finale to my three day visit to Hong Kong, and I am dropped back at my hotel with enough time to pack for my 5:00AM departure. However, as I step into the hotel elevator, out walks ‘Charlie’ - one of our longest-standing clients from Bangkok. What a coincidence in this small world! Charlie, who is now running JP Morgan's Hong Kong office, and I enjoy a nightcap at the bar together, a drink well worth it because I pick up an order for a few more cases of 1982 First Growths, including a case of Chateau Latour in superb condition that we acquired recently in a cellar purchase in Switzerland.
Thank goodness I am able to get some sleep on my Singapore Airlines flight back to Europe the following day. That is of course after the Krug, caviar, and roast lamb washed down with plenty of their standard Bordeaux - Chateau Cos d'Estournel 2004! For The Antique Wine Company, Asia is currently the fastest growing sector of our customer base, but we still don’t know enough about our clients there. They remain a complex mix of wine traders, hoteliers, and private collectors. During the coming year my objective is to get to know them and their needs better.Travel arrangements booked by Amex Platinum Travel Service.
Tags: Bordeaux, Chateau Angelus, Chateau Latour, China, Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Fine Wine, Fine Wine Asia, Food, leoville, palmer, Singapore Airlines, Stephen Williams, The Antique Wine Company, Wine in China, Wine Travel, chateau palmer, mandarin oriental hotel, pol roger champagne, hong kong, wine hong kong, chateau haut brion, chateau la mission haut brion, cos d'estournel
General | Travel
Fresh into the start of the Cannes International Film Festival, I cannot help but think of the various films over the years which have featured fine wines, some of which, even making wine their main plot.
In 2004, Sideways brought us into the American wine country, where we followed Miles, a divorcee wine aficionado, and Jack, his soon to be married best friend. Throughout their week-long trip, and their various perils, we especially got to see the Santa Ynez Valley wine country, and Miles gave us an insight into his favourite wines. The film's commercial success, and Miles’ high regard of Pinot Noir while denigrating Merlot, surprisingly affected the sales in the wine industry. That year, Merlot sales dropped by 2%, whereas the Pinot Noir sales increased by 16%, both in America and Britain. This just goes to show how deeply film culture is rooted in our society, probably even more than we would have thought!
As a high point of the movie, Miles is seen drinking a 1961 Cheval Blanc; an excellent wine, rich and lush with tobacco scents, but it is best drunk around now rather than keeping it in your cellar. I only hope Miles was still able to enjoy this fine wine out of his foam cup! Antique Wine Co has a few very nice bottles of this wine currently in stock with levels still in the very high shoulder.
Bottle Shock is another film worth mentioning. Napa Valley is at the heart of this stor
Finally, even though it did not receive critical success, “A Good Year” directed by Ridley Scott brings us to the Provence region and to the joys of winemaking. Max Skinner (played by Russell Crowe) takes us on the journey from his high powered life as a London securities trader to finally inherit and enjoy from his uncle the finer things in life including the winery and chateau.
Over the years wine has also been featured in many famous movies. Humphrey Bogart enjoyed Veuve Cliquot 1926 vintage in Casablanca, Dom Perignon, Bollinger and more recently Chateau Angelus has been featured in the Bond movies, and my own role at The Antique Wine Company has continually brought me into close contact with the film industry. Two most memorable moments include the occasion when Paramount Pictures asked me to find several bottles of 1912 Top Bordeaux for producer James Cameron and his team including Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet to celebrate their Oscars won for the movie “Titanic”; 1912 being the relevant year. Sony Pictures have also used Antique Wine Company’s vintage gift service on scores of occasions, and I also remember a few hours touring Chateau Latour with Stan Winston, still considered to be the most talented “special effects expert”, a man who certainly appreciates the explosion in every glass of exceptional wine!
During this week I will be continuing my Riviera Radio broadcasts on wine from the Cannes Film Festival, and these are available for download here and best played on our I-phone app downloadable here.
Tags: Movies, Cheval Blanc, Napa Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Provence, Veuve Cliquot, Dom Perignon, Bollinger, Chateau Angelus, Chateau Latour
Stephen Williams, Founder and CEO
Stephen Williams began trading as a wine merchant in 1982 and wishes he had stocked his cellar with Château Pétrus on day one. Since founding The Antique Wine Company, Stephen has built The Antique Wine Group into an organisation with clients in 63 countries and a global network of offices, representatives and business groups. Regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in fine and rare wines, he has created some of the greatest wine cellars and collections in existence – in châteaux, palaces, wineries, hotels and private residences across Europe, Asia and North America. As a popular commentator on the wine industry, fine wine investment and the global wine market, Stephen is frequently quoted by both the UK and international press corps. Along with his regular lectures at AWC Wine Academy, this blog offers a behind-the-scenes view into the world of fine wine.
Get notified when a new post is published.