Last week, we were delighted to welcome Henri-Bruno de Coincy to present wines from his estate, Château Belle-Brise, which is one of Pomerol’s greatest secrets. This tiny, 2 hectare property has a miniscule, annual production of just 800 bottles (similar to neighbouring, Pomerol stand-out, Château Le Pin).
Due to the small output and the fact that they do not sell any of their wines via En Primeur, in most vintages Château Belle-Brise can barely satisfy the market demand from their pre-existing, long-time customers. Principally this includes some of the world’s greatest, Michelin starred restaurants in locations such as Monaco, Switzerland and Japan, as well as the Élysée Palace in Paris and Hôtel Matignon, the official residence of the French Prime Minister.
During the welcome reception, guests were treated to glasses of Franck Bonville Blanc de Blancs Champagne and canapés prepared by AWC’s in-house chef, all of which featured local, seasonal ingredients. These included such delights as warm asparagus, goat cheese and black olive tartlets with red pepper pesto, pork and fennel sausage rolls and mini shepherds pies.
Reflecting the artisanal and family focused approach that Henri takes with his estate, it was lovely to see him arrive with his two daughters and wife for the masterclass.
As the guests took their seats, he greeted everyone warmly and began his very personal and illustrious presentation of the Château’s history and production – entirely in French. Luckily, AWC’s Purchasing Manager, Robert Hankey, was there to provide an excellent and continuous English translation.
Following the introduction, guests enjoyed a vertical of the 8 most recent vintages, aside from 2003 due to it being completely sold out – even Henri said he has none left in his library cellar:
Guests remarked that the purity of each vintage was outstanding and that the varying influences of the weather and harvest shone through on the palate. The 2010 was bold, with very ripe, dark fruit flavours and firm tannins, while the 2009 displayed a more elegant palate of sweet, red fruits and softer tannins, being quite reminiscent of a very fine Burgundy from a warm vintage.
Henri spoke at length about his transition from the banking industry to the world of fine wine, as he first settled in Bas-Armagnac – where his family has made Armagnac for over 700 years at La Fontaine de Coincy - and he worked on reuniting more than 30 separate plots of land that had been sold off over the generations to re-form the original Domaine de Toujun estate, which now produces a still white wine.
He confessed his passion and commitment to all things natural and to the concept of complete terroir expression. Through his acquisition of Château Belle-Brise in 1991 he settled in Pomerol and adopted the same methods that he had already been practicing in Armagnac. Although many Left Bank estates have already done so, Henri is now the first producer in Pomerol to reintroduce the use of horses to work the vines.
While the guests enjoyed discussing the intricacies between the various, recent vintages, a show of hands proved 2005 was the clear wine of the night.
One of the guests commented that, “I thought the wines were very good and [I now] understand the Burgundy comparison…the 2009 and 2005 were my favourites (along with the 2008)…the 2005, in my opinion, was the shining star, [with] really good structure, complexity, excellent length and balance...it was a surprising tasting for me because I haven’t been too excited about Bordeaux recently but it proved to me that I shouldn’t forget them…also that good Pomerol is really classy and can have excellent texture and weight.”
Following the presentation, attendees revisited the wines alongside freshly prepared polenta with mushroom ragout and slow roasted lamb shoulder served over sweet potato mash.
If you’re interested in purchasing selections from Château Belle-Brise, please contact us directly as AWC is now the exclusive agent, importer and distributor for the estate in the UK.
We also have some fantastic events coming up here at AWC Wine Academy, including a 2005 Bordeaux Horizontal: Fine Wine Seminar with Stephen Brook on 23rd July, and a WSET Level 2 Certified Course running between 21-23 August. We hope to welcome you to one of these evenings, or to one of our many other upcoming events in the near future.
Tags: Château Belle-Brise Vertical, AWC Academy, Henri-Bruno de Coincy, en primeur, le pin, vertical, pomerol, bordeaux, wine tasting, Burgundy, vintage, wine events, armagnac
Education | Wine tasting
Above: Old meets new at Château Cheval Blanc
Earlier this week, whilst visiting Bordeaux with an American client, I enjoyed the opportunity to return to Château Cheval Blanc and watch the inaugural vintage going into the newly constructed, state-of-the-art winery that is adjacent to the historic Château buildings.
This was my first trip back to the Château since their celebratory Grand Opening of the new winery during Vinexpo some three months ago.
The sight of the newly-installed cement tanks – with their distinctive pod shape - now full of fermenting grape juice is both memorable and impressive. One cannot help but notice the immense attention paid to absolute cleanliness here. The entire new facility resembles something between a clinical operating theatre, an opera house and a food processing plant.
During our tour, I also observed a number of small but important new details. For instance, not only does each vat now display the relevant reference information about the specific parcel from which the grapes contained within were harvested, it also shows the age of the vines from the relevant plot, often dating back between 50 and 100 years. It is clear that the ability to carefully track each individual plot has become absolutely vital to producing a successful modern vintage.
The 2011 growth cycle in this area of France has been one of continual challenges. Incredibly however, after months of inclement weather, during our particular week in Bordeaux (as was the case across much of Europe), a wonderful Indian summer had arrived.
I have no doubt that my friend Pierre Lurton, who spreads his talents between here and Château d’Yquem, will be especially excited about the prospect of another magnificent vintage. Thus far, it certainly looks to be something very special for the sweet wines of Sauternes.
However, here at Cheval Blanc, I couldn’t help but notice that the Cabernet Franc and Merlot berries coming into the winery required the strictest of selections during triage – a process that the many St. Emilion Mesdames and Messieurs on hand were approaching with both concentration and vigor. This harsh selection was necessary even though a significant part of the crop had already been dropped earlier in the summer during what is known as the green harvest, when unripe fruit is taken off the vines after a poor or uneven flowering period.
As I head back to London, my reflections are that, despite such a massive investment by LVMH, ultimately it is nature that still plays the leading role in making great wine. Surely my worst fear of further rising prices due to low yields (reduced from 35hl to 25hl per hectare) will not materialize this year!
By happenstance, en route back to the airport, I noticed Jacques Thienpont (Le Pin) and Alexandre Thienpont (Vieux Château Certan) messing about with a few final bunches in one of their roadside vineyards. I pulled the car over and we spent a few minutes casually talking about the past En Primeur sales campaign and the prospects for the next one. Candidly, Jacques explained that, “the little thing that holds children money in it, the savings, it is broken. The piggy bank,” he said, “it’s broken.” Jacques is a smart guy!
It seemed to me that this marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the marketing!
Tags: 2010 pricing, antique wine company, Pierre Lurton, Bordeaux, Bordeaux 2010, Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau Le Pin, Cheval Blanc, Le Pin, Stephen Williams, The Anique Wine Company, thienpont, Vieux Chateau Certan, yquem, Chateau d'Yquem, Jacques Thienpont
Travel | Wine tasting
Since we opened AWC Wine Academy at our headquarters in Marylebone, it has been a real privilege to receive clients who occasionally stop by and taste great wines with our team. This is mutually beneficial because we like to stay up to date with vintages and our clients get the chance to share the expertise of those on hand.Earlier this week we had the pleasure of receiving one of our North American clients whose favourite tipples are the top wines of Pomerol. We decided to take a look at how the Right Bank wines from the 2000 vintage were coming along. Having tasted some of the Left Bank First Growths from 2000 recently, I felt that they were still too tight and tannic - not yet getting close to their best drinking window. However, on the evidence of this tasting, the Right Bank, Merlot-based wines are already more approachable. We began on a high with the 2000 Pétrus. Self-evidently, it is still a complete baby. This was immediately clear from the depth of colour – barely a hint of ageing around the rim of the wine. The nose is also full of primary fruit; still no secondary aromas at this stage. In the mouth the wine cascades over your palate, with sweet cassis, cherry and plum fruit, followed by an echo of cream and minerals. The acidity gives the wine a sense of vim and vigour with the tannic structure giving it the necessary stuffing to keep everything in harmony and balance. Significantly, while the tannins are beautifully ripe, they are just beginning to open up and soften. Although this will develop for several more decades (and will be worth the wait), it is undoubtedly very enjoyable already. 98 Points.
How do you follow Pétrus? The answer is, with difficulty. However, a bottle of 2000 Le Pin was the perfect foil. As with many Le Pin vintages, what struck me most was the accessibility of the wine – its texture noticeably silkier than the more muscular Pétrus. The fabulously perfumed nose was exquisite – blackcurrants, violets and camphor. The utterly refined, sweet and creamy palate was more of the same, with a finish that seemed endless. One cannot help but love Le Pin’s exotic, flamboyant and hedonistic style. This was right up there with the best vintages from this tiny estate. But will it age as well as the Pétrus? On this, the jury is still out. According to my tasting notes, there’s definitely no rush to drink this or the Pétrus just yet, as both will repay considerable cellaring. However, my money would be on the Pétrus to make the oldest bones out of this pair of sumptuous Pomerols. 97 Points. Last, but by no means least, we uncorked the 2000 Lafleur to see how it was shaping amongst such esteemed company. Happily, it too shone quite brightly – though closer to Pétrus than Le Pin in style. This wine is impressive due to the purity of plum and damson fruit along with the cedar and mineral components - all of which were cushioned by à point acidity, balance and texture. Again, this is still one for the cellar. Yet, like both the Pétrus and Le Pin, it too is beginning to come out of its shell as the tannins are now starting to mellow. 98 Points.On the evidence of this tasting, my advice would be to resist pulling the corks on these wines for a little while yet. However, if you do, you certainly won’t be disappointed. The message for our clients is - next time you’re passing through London, we would welcome you to stop by. We prefer a little notice though, so we can be sure to have the wines decanted and ready!
Further to this profound tasting, we wanted to provide you with the opportunity to enjoy these phenomenal wines yourself, particularly since we now have case quantities of these rarities available. As we’ve just tasted these wines and can comment first-hand on their exceptional quality, speak with one of our expert advisors today to secure them as your own.
I look forward to hearing your own thoughts on these wines and towards recieving you in our beautiful facility when you are next in London.
Stephen Williams, CEO
Tags: Le Pin, Lafleur, Chateau Lafleur, Chateau Petrus, petrus, AWC Wine Academy, antique wine company, fine wine, Jacques Thienpont, pin, private tasting, Stephen Williams, The Anique Wine Company, thienpont, wine education, wine academy, wine, wine school, wine tasting
Looking back over the recent en primeur tastings, a number of things have become clear... The first and most obvious thing is that Bordeaux has another great vintage on its hands, albeit one which is very different from the remarkable preceding vintage of 2009. The success of 2010 is due to the near-perfect and unusual weather patterns which developed during the vintage. In particular, the weather was dry but not too hot, with many cool nights. Several appellations did experience drought conditions but fortunately rain came at the right time in September. This provided welcome relief just when the vines were at their most stressed.The result was grapes that were small, healthy and concentrated and wines which are high in alcohol, acidity and tannin. As Jean-Guillaume Prats of Cos d’Estournel pointed out – this was genuinely remarkable. ‘Most wine regions can produce one or two of these three components. Only Bordeaux has been able to do all three at the same time!’
Below: Jean-Guillaume Prats discusses the differences between 2009 and 2010
Once again, this was another great year for Left Bank Cabernet. Firstly, this was because the weather conditions suited Cabernet Sauvignon, which ripens a bit later than Merlot and generally has lower potential alcohol. Secondly, this was because some Merlot vineyards suffered from coulure (poor fruit set), which reduced the crop in certain areas. As with 2009, some of the Merlot-dominant wines have come in with very high alcohol levels – whether or not this happened depended on their individual terroirs and the time of picking. On the Left Bank, many chateaux used less Merlot this year and much more Cabernet. Mouton is a case in point. For the 2010, the blend is 94% Cabernet (up from around 80% in 2009). However, this is by no means an exclusively Left Bank vintage. The Right Bank had some notable successes, particularly in Pomerol and, to a lesser extent, in St Emilion. Equally, Graves did well with both their red and white wines. For instance, at both Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, big, powerful, and concentrated reds have again been produced. However, the power of these wines is tempered by the excellent acidity so prevalent in this vintage. The same goes for the whites produced by both properties. They are particularly impressive in 2010.
Below: One of the stellar Sauternes of the vintage - Chateau Suduiraut. Notice the interesting thermometer collar below the label, ensuring that the wine is served at the correct temperature.
Sauternes was also a success. The chateaux were blessed with a big crop and the wines exhibit good botrytis character and an excellent balance between sweetness and acidity. However, the wines do lack the sheer intensity and power of the 2009s.
As a result, there is near universal acclaim for 2010. However, some caveats should be issued when it comes to buying the wines – both stylistically and by individual chateaux. Consumers need to realise that the wines from this vintage have a very different profile than that of the more opulent and easy-going 2009s. The difference is that in 2010 the best reds are beautifully balanced but have a much more tannic structure and much higher acidity levels. This means that many will take quite a bit longer to develop. Yet, it is important to understand that they will indeed develop and that the resulting wines will be absolutely stunning. In many ways, this is very much a ‘classical’ Bordeaux vintage that will appeal to traditional European palates.
This was a difficult and challenging vintage to taste - particularly coming on the heels of 2009. There are many gorgeous wines in 2010 but the most successful are unquestionably those which showed some restraint with regard to tannin/extraction levels and percentage of alcohol. Unfortunately, some properties have produced tannic, over-extracted and highly-alcoholic wines. These wines may come around at some point in their development and allow the underlying fruit to shine through. Equally however, they may not.
In 2010 there are some real vins de plaisir, as well as vins de garde. The First Growths and Super Seconds have once again produced some exceptional wines. However, this year, their second wines have also taken a massive step forward. Carruades de Lafite, Le Petit Mouton and Alter Ego de Palmer are all scintillating wines and we will be buying as many cases of them as we are able to secure.
Above: One of the vins de garde - Tasting at Chateau Pontet Canet. Brilliant balance.
Ultimately, the commercial success of the vintage will largely depend on price. My view is that the Bordelais will not price 2010 any lower than 2009 for several reasons. First of all, they know that they have produced another excellent vintage that is similar in quality to 2009. Secondly, they have made slightly less wine than last year – overall production is down. Finally, they need to price it at least at the same level as last year simply to protect the current 2009 prices. Equally, it seems that the chateaux cannot raise prices significantly either. The global economic recovery is far from assured or complete. It also remains to be seen whether the American market will return after a long En Primeur absence.
Above: Will the chateaux embrace correct market pricing or will they burn the opportunity?
Another question is how much slack the Far East markets will take up this year. The Chinese are beginning to buy into the concept of purchasing En Primeur, and there was a notable presence of Chinese buyers in Bordeaux during our time there. Finally, what about Europe? After last year, some European collectors may feel less inclined to buy quite as much this season if the prices significantly increase. All of these factors lead me to expect prices to be released at similar levels to 2009.Of course, there will be exceptions to the rule. Those chateaux which have produced better wines in 2010 than in 2009 may be inclined to break ranks, particularly if Robert Parker endorses them with a big score later this month. In some instances, such price increases will be entirely justified. Against that, my inside information on Parker’s thinking is that he is likely to rate 2010 ‘a notch lower than 2009’.
Above: What will Robert Parker score the wines of Lafite-Rothschild?
At the Antique Wine Company, we will be offering specific advice to our clients as the campaign unfolds throughout May and June. Our counselling will be based heavily on our first-hand experience with each individual chateaux and the quality-to-price ratio of each wine. I believe that, no matter what, 2010 is a vintage that serious and knowledgeable collectors and consumers will want to include in their cellars. Prices are unlikely to fall in the near term and certainly over the long haul, the top wines will inevitably rise in value.Always remember, En Primeur is the best time to purchase top wines at their lowest market prices. It is also the only time consumers and collectors can obtain a substantial volume of their favourite wines and be unequivocally certain of provenance. Demand for the top wines from this vintage will be strong. As a merchant, it is always somewhat of a challenge to satisfy the many demands of the négociants, who require us to purchase vast quantities of their lesser wines, pro-rata to the First Growths and premium wines. The négociants decide which merchants are currently in favour and they like to see those merchants buying not only the First Growths but also promoting the less prominent and lower–hierarchy wines.In almost every vintage, market demand for the First Growths exceeds supply. Each year we find that we can easily sell our entire allocation of these wines. Therefore, we are constantly trying to increase the size of our allocations and 2010 is no exception. Thus, as we head into the 2010 En Primeur campaign, clients wishing to secure larger volumes of First Growths might also consider purchasing other classified wines. In good vintages - where the quality is more homogeneous - these lower hierarchy wines are perfect for many occasions and moments. It is a timely convenience that the 2009 vintage produced wines of this type – exceptional quality and ideal for early drinking.Therefore, clients should consider balancing their allocation requests for 2010 First Growths with a quantity of 2009 lower–classified growths. These 2009s can then be consumed and enjoyed while the 2010s continue to undergo élevage. This creates a win–win situation for everyone involved - including you, the client, The Antique Wine Company as your merchant, and both the châteaux and the négociants. Our Top Picks from the 2010 Bordeaux Vintage -LafitePalmerMargauxHaut-BrionHaut-Brion BlancVieux Chateau CertanLe PinLe Petit MoutonCarruades de LafiteCos d’EstournelAngelusCheval Blanc
Tags: En Primeur, Bordeaux, 2010 vintage, wine tasting, Stephen Williams, Chateau Lafite, Chateau Palmer, Haut-Brion, Vieux Chateau Certan, Le Pin, Chateau Mouton, Le Petit Mouton, Carruades de Lafite, Cos d'Estournel, 2010 pricing, 2010 versus 2009 Bordeaux, Angelus, Cheval Blanc, Saternes, Alter Ego de Palmer
One advantage of having a sizeable crew here this year is that we can cover much more ground. Conflicting appointments between Latour and Le Pin resulted in The Antique Wine Company needing to be in Pauillac and Pomerol at the same time, so I tasted at Chateau Latour.Once again Frederic Engerer has fashioned some fabulous wines in 2010. The third wine, simply called Pauillac is predictably the least complex of the trio and has a higher percentage of Merlot in it – 53% versus 47% Cabernet Sauvignon. As a result, the wine was very accessible, with easy tannins and sweet, jammy black fruit. 89 points. For a third wine it is truly excellent. However, it is not for sale En Primeur. You will have to wait until the wine is in bottle in order to purchase it.
Above: Plowing the biodynamic (experimental/test) parcel at Chateau Latour
Les Forts de Latour was a considerable step up in stature. This wine really has its own identity and is easily the quality of a good Second Growth. Indeed, the philosophy at Latour is not necessarily to make a second wine that is more accessible than the Grand Vin. The approach is to make the best possible Les Forts - in its own right. The 2010 result was a powerful, dense Les Forts that was a little bit austere compared to Lafite’s Carruades. There is a very high percentage of Cabernet in the wine and it was muscular and tannic with good primary cassis fruit and no lack of acidity. This is a wine built for the long term. 93 points.As for Latour itself, this was also a prodigious vin de garde with high alcohol, compact, ripe tannins and really expressive, layered, black fruits and minerals. Made from a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, the balance here is brilliantly judged and there was not the slightest hint of oak. Equally, this was not as immediately appealing as Lafite or perhaps as open as Haut-Brion. But for those who love a great, classical Latour (one that expertly expresses its terroir), it will not disappoint. 96 points.
Below: Jing Dong, of our London and Hong Kong offices, taking careful tasting notes at Chateau Latour
From Latour, I took the team back to Pomerol and to the Union des Grands Crus tasting. Having heard Stephen enthuse about both Vieux Chateaux Certan and Le Pin, I was keen to see what the rest of Pomerol had to offer.In general, I was extremely impressed by these wines which backed up Stephen’s initial positive assessment. Although some of the wines we tasted didn’t quite have the terroirs of Le Pin and VCC, it is clear that Pomerol in general had done very well in 2010.The pick of my bunch were Chateau Clinet (95) and Chateau Croix de Gay (95) which outpointed both Chateau La Conseillante (94) and Chateau Gazin (91). I felt that the latter two were clearly good but lacked the near perfect concentration and depth of Petit Village and VCC. Also quite good was Chateau Beauregard (94) which seems to be punching above its weight with the 2010. Sadly, Chateau La Pointe was a little on the lighter side although the 2005 we tasted at lunch was much better - weighty, impressive and delicious.Over the next few days we’ll also be publishing a full re-cap of our week in Bordeaux, so check back here frequently.
Post by Julien Froger
(Julien was previously Director of AWC’s Bordeaux Office and currently based at AWC’s Hong Kong office).
Tags: Pauillac, Pomerol, Chateau Latour, Latour, Le Pin, Les Forts de Latour, Vieux Chateau Certan
En primeur | Travel | Wine tasting
Although I enjoy the annual En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux enormously, it can feel rather like a red wine marathon after two or three days of continuous and intensive sipping and spitting. Tasting so many tannic, adolescent wines really can become a challenge to one’s skills and requires both concentration and physical stamina. So, it is always a highlight of the week when Martin Krajewski generously throws his annual En Primeur party at Chateau de Sours, which this year was on Wednesday evening. It is the perfect opportunity to relax for a short while and catch up with old friends and each year there is a different mix of people and of course, different wines.
Above: Dusk at Chateau de Sours - Guests heading to a magnificent dinner.
On this occasion, the forty guests included Allan Cheeseman and Ken Christie, MW, who are both now consulting for various clients, as well as a few fellow merchants. A handful of journalists also usually attend, this year we shared the table with top wine communicator Matthew Jukes as well as Adam Lechmere and Amy Wislocki from Decanter Magazine.Per usual, Martin put on quite a dinner and pulled out some great wines for us to drink, rather than just taste. We quaffed a lot of the brilliant Chateau de Sours sparkling rosé in the early evening sun and then tucked into some of Martin’s excellent Chateau la Sours Blanc, which showed extremely well with the first course.But pride of place went to an Imperial of 1982 Leoville-Las-Cases which Martin had purchased from The Antique Wine Company some years ago. The wine was drinking beautifully, so too were the numerous bottles of 2001 Figeac, which, by the end of the evening I suspect we drank an entire case of. Just to finish things off I brought along an Imperial of 2002 Chateau d’Yquem which enabled us all to retire with a sweet taste on our palate. As ever, it was quite the evening and the best possible mix of business and pleasure.
Above: The end-of the evening at Chateau de Sours - 1982 Las Cases and 2002 d'Yquem (Note: Conseillante and Mouton had been consumed earlier in the week.)
Despite the late night, we managed an early start on Thursday morning in yet more splendid spring sunshine. Our first appointment was at Chateau Le Pin in Pomerol, where Jacques Thienpont was as warm and welcoming as ever. The last time I saw Jacques was in London when, quite coincidentally, we happened to be in the same restaurant for dinner. As we parked the car in front of this modest property, I couldn’t help but notice the extent to which the new cellars, designed by a Belgian architect, have progressed since I was last at Le Pin. Jacques is hoping to have them ready by June, which can only add to the extraordinary quality coming out of this extraordinary property.Before we tasted the 2010 Le Pin, I asked Jacques how he felt the vintage had gone. ‘It was a very good vintage,’ Jacques replied. ‘We had a bit of coulure and millerandage but August was dry and not too hot. By September, we needed some rain and when it came in September it really saved the vintage. I then took the decision to pick very soon after that even though the grapes were still a bit damp. Some people chose to wait and pick later, but I am happy I didn’t.’The 2010 Le Pin exudes effortless power and concentration, not to mention deep colour, fabulous freshness and pinpoint acidity. This is a textbook Le Pin with 14.2% alcohol, ripe fleshy tannins and superb purity of sweet black fruit, concentrated minerals and a sumptuous finish. The wine is not as flamboyant as 2009 but it is every bit as good and will age and develop beautifully - of that, there is no doubt. 98 points.Of course, Le Pin is beyond boutique and just produces a tiny amount of wine each year that collectors fight to get their hands on. This year, the production is likely to be about 5-6,000 bottles. Demand will be as strong as ever for this exceptional wine.However, for those like me who would like to taste Jacques’ handiwork more regularly, I can report that he is producing a new St. Emilion Grand Cru, starting from 2010, having bought seven hectares of land adjacent to Troplong-Mondot last year. He is not going to sell the wine En Primeur this year but will instead wait to see how it develops. Nevertheless, he is extremely optimistic about its quality and given the terroir of the location, it will surely be another star in the making. Also, he told me that he has decided on a name for the new wine. It is to be wittily and cleverly called L’If – French for “yew tree”. Le Pin, (French for pine tree), was so named because of the pine tree outside the old chai.Before we left, Jacques also kindly poured the 2008 Le Pin for us to compare with 2010. The wine was almost Burgundian on the nose and had lovely fresh, sweet raspberry and strawberry fruit, full of finesse and elegance. The wine was delicious and altogether more delicate and fine boned than both 2009 and 2010. For me it is typical of the vintage but perhaps might not have the longevity of its younger siblings?From Le Pin, it was a very short drive to visit another Thienpont – Alexandre - at Vieux Chateau Certan. Already, rumours had circulated that VCC had made something very special in 2010 and I was keen to see if the wine lived up to its billing. First, Alexandre explained how the small yield had produced such perfectly concentrated grapes. ‘Everything was perfect – we had good alcohol, ripe (but not over-ripe) grapes and superb acidity.’ For those of you who like the technical figures, that translated into 14.5% alcohol, a score of 90 on the tannin index, 3.3g/L of total acidity and 3.7pH.
Below: Vieux Chateau Certan's Alexandre Thienpont. Producer of one of the very best wines of 2010
‘What is remarkable is that we achieved such results twice in a row. Although, I would say that 2010 is even more concentrated than 2009,’ he added. For me these two vintages are better than 89 and 90. You have to go back to 1949 and 1950, which were superb in Pomerol, to match 2009 and 2010. These sort of vintages really only happen once in your lifetime. So to get two in succession will make it very difficult for us to upstage in 2011!’Again, the key to the success of this wine was not extracting too much. ‘We pumped over with great care, more often but much more gently,’ Alexandre revealed. ‘And we were constantly tasting it to make sure that we never pushed it too far.’Is the hype surrounding VCC justified? The answer is an unequivocal yes – because this is certainly one of the wines of the vintage. The wine has everything – poise, balance, structure, stunning damson fruit, length, seamless tannins and a waft of acidity which lifts the wine into a different dimension. 99 points. Put this on your wish-list as soon as possible. In Day 4, Part 2, coming later today, Julien Froger covers another foray back to the Left Bank, this time to Chateau Latour...
Tags: Le Pin, Chateau de Sours, Jacques Thienpont, Pomerol, St Emilion, Vieux Chateau Certan
Sitting in a warm, comfortable West London restaurant on a cold February afternoon with my Managing Director, I reflected on just how lucky I am to be in the fine wine business...
After a brief blind tasting of the 2006 Domaine des Beaumont Chambolle Musigny, our main course of red mullet arrives at the table; the crisp skin and delicate flavours of the fish marries perfectly with the gentle, subtly perfumed Musigny. As the conversation turns from our respective summer holiday plans to the upcoming 2010 en primeur campaign, a small party of people spills through the front door, including none other than Mr. Jacques Thienpont, owner of Chateau Le Pin. This unexpected surprise provides the perfect opportunity for an impromptu catch-up and the chance to discuss the 2010 vintage (which we can’t wait to taste). It also serves to remind us all of what a small world it really is.
Trying to keep my waist line as thin as possible for The Antique Wine Company’s impending marathon effort this weekend - when, along with Will Buckland, Wine Investment Analyst and Levi Hensel, Online Marketing Manager, I will be going the full 26.2 miles for the first time! - I opt for the assortment of sorbet to finish. It is a perfect palate cleanser.
Normally, I would accompany the description of such a gastronomic and vinous treat with a picture of us enjoying the wine as well. However, as we were both laid a bit low with winter colds, any photos of us imbibing were off the menu this time around. Check back here regularly for more accounts of beautiful meals, great wines and interesting encounters with renowned individuals from the world of fine wine.
Nicholas Connell, Executive Assistant to Stephen Williams
Tags: Burgundy, Chambolle Musigny, Bordeaux 2010, Chateau Le Pin, Jacques Thienpont, Le Pin, The Antique Wine Company
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.
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