Latest from Westgarth

Bordeaux 2016: Will Politics Impact The Vintage?

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The big wine story is taking place in Bordeaux, where several thousand enthusiastic merchants and journalists are being welcomed. They’re swooping in from around the globe for en primeur, the region’s famous annual spring ritual. (Some call it a circus.)

Bordeaux 2016 En Primeur Begins To High Demand

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Olivier Bernard, head of the Union des Grands Crus (UGC), which is hosting Bordeaux 2016 en primeur tastings this week alongside individual estates, said that member estates have already seen 6,500 people come to taste. That’s around 2,000 more than normal at this stage.

Sotheby’s Withdraws Magnum Of 1959 Romanée-Conti From Upcoming Sale Pending Investigation

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Auction house Sotheby’s has withdrawn a magnum of 1959 Romanée-Conti from its next London sale after a query surrounding a strip label it carries. The magnum of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti was due to be sold during the London leg of the ‘A Monumental Collection from the Cellars of a Connoisseur’ sale on 29 March.

A New Look Coming To Bordeaux?

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Traditional wine labels from the Bordeaux region of France are changing, slowly. Inspect a half-dozen labels: many include an image—drawn or photographed—of a stately country manor, often with vines planted out front. These less than exciting and hardly eye-catching images focus on the château (plural: châteaux)—the residence associated with a vineyard.

Château Latour Goes Organic

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Organic wines are becoming more and more popular. Even the ultra-traditional Bordelais are doing it.

Spotlight On: 2009 La Conseillante

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The competition between the 2009, 2005 and 2000 La Conseillante will be interesting to follow over the next twenty years. There was more of a selection process at this estate in 2009 than there was in 2000, resulting in a beautiful Pomerol offering notes of mulberries, sweet cherries, spring flowers, raspberries and truffles. The color is a healthy deep plum/ruby/purple and the wine is medium to full-bodied with silky tannins, a broad, layered mouthfeel and wonderful freshness as well as length. This gorgeous, complex, Burgundian-styled Pomerol will be drinkable in 4-6 years and should keep for 30-40. (The 1970 is still alive and that was not nearly as well made as the 2009.)

Who Will Take Parker’s Throne?

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Despite Robert Parker’s recent retirement from reviewing Bordeaux, his scores continue to have a profound impact on price. With Parker’s influence likely to decline as time goes on, there has been considerable discussion around what or who will influence the market next. Will there be an heir to Parker’s throne, or will a system based on consensus or average scores emerge as the market’s new barometer of wine quality in Bordeaux?

Spotlight On: 2015 Cheval Blanc

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The 2015 Cheval Blanc represents the entire vineyard this year, since there is no Le Petit Cheval (two plots that did not meet requirements were not included in any blend). A blend of 45% Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon and 55% Merlot, matured in 100% new oak, it has a very complex bouquet, subtle and tightly wound, very precise with dark berry fruit, hints of graphite, minerals and a hint of black pepper, perhaps a little spicier than recent vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with extraordinarily fine tannin. Beautifully balanced, perfectly controlled, this Cheval Blanc gently builds in the mouth, but remains strict and precise. The Cabernet Franc here is very expressive (though apparently the Merlot was showier prior to malolactic). This is an intellectual Cheval Blanc, thoroughly enjoyable, but it will need 10-12 years to really show its pedigree. A profound wine in the making, it will rank with the great wines of the past. – Neil Martin (March 23, 2016)

American Billionaire Buys Three Bordeaux Châteaux

Chateau Moya New Owner

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Thomas Sullivan, billionaire founder of Lumber Liquidators and Cabinets to Go in the US, has bought just under 30 hectares of vines across three Bordeaux Right Bank estates.

Spotlight On: 2009 Haut-Brion

2009 haut-brion

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What a blockbuster effort! Atypically powerful, one day, the 2009 Haut-Brion may be considered to be the 21st century version of the 1959. It is an extraordinarily complex, concentrated effort made from a blend of 46% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc with the highest alcohol ever achieved at this estate, 14.3%. Even richer than the perfect 1989, with similar technical numbers although slightly higher extract and alcohol, it offers up a sensational perfume of subtle burning embers, unsmoked cigar tobacco, charcoal, black raspberries, wet gravel, plums, figs and blueberries. There is so much going on in the aromatics that one almost hesitates to stop smelling it. However, when it hits the palate, it is hardly a letdown. This unctuously textured, full-bodied 2009 possesses low acidity along with stunning extract and remarkable clarity for a wine with a pH close to 4.0. The good news is that there are 10,500 cases of the 2009, one of the most compelling examples of Haut-Brion ever made. It requires a decade of cellaring and should last a half century or more. Readers who have loved the complexity of Haut-Brion should be prepared for a bigger, richer, more massive wine, but one that does not lose any of its prodigious aromatic attractions. – Robert Parker Jr. (2012)

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