Bordeaux: where to visit

Bordeaux: where to visitIt’s Europe’s place to be in 2015, according to Bordeaux resident 
Jane Anson, who picks out the best places to go in the city, by the river and in the vineyards. The Garonne river runs through Bordeaux, with the two banks joined by the Pont de PierreWe made it to the Garonne quayside just as a small boat was drawing up at one of the new floating piers, place in place to encourage the further reclamation of the city’s waterfront, for centuries past the starting point of its route to the world.
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Jefford on Monday: The 104-Point Second Wine

Jefford on Monday: The 104-Point Second WineWine scores will be with us as long as human beings drink wine, but is more context needed, and how much can one score be compared to another? Andrew Jefford reports on a subdue pressing issue in this column re-published from 2013 as part of Decanter's 40th anniversary build-up. Montrose signDomaine de Montrose sign, Andrew Jefford ©
Scores for wines are philosophically untenable, aesthetically noxious – but have fantastic practical value. Wine scores will, therefore, be with us for as long as human beings drink wine. A shockingly gorgeous recent bottle made me reckon about a small-discussed aspect of this analytical tool.
It’s there in the small print on the cover of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: “The numerical rating given is a guide to what I reckon of the wine vis-à-vis its peer group.” This small sentence should be written in red ink, in bold type, and possibly embossed, too. These are the most vital 20 words of the preamble.
I assume all of those who score wine for a living would agree with Mr Parker. I assume, in additional words, that no scorer of wines claims that he or she is using a universally applicable scale. (Does anyone claim this?)
It matters, because I suspect most casual ‘users’ of scores don’t appreciate the nuance, though it changes everything. For them, 97 points is 97 points, regardless of the wine’s origins. But it isn’t, and it never will be — as long as human mouths and human minds rather than apparatus are used to gauge wine quality.
Should any professional scorer of wines want to suggest universality, then he or she should issue a suite of correction factors based on regional origin (i.e ‘peer group’) for their scores, consequential from their own palate pantheon. Scores for the regions whose wines they regard most highly should be multiplied by some factor of more than 1, and those whose wines they consider less universally impressive would be multiplied by some factor less than 1.
As this will signal a bit mad, I reckon I’d better tell you about the bottle that set me off down this path. When I was tasting in Bordeaux last year, I had the chance to taste samples of Montrose 2009 and 2010. As I wrote in Decanter’s 2012 Bordeaux supplement, they struck me as two of the most gorgeous young clarets I had ever tasted. Their fee is further than my drinking budget, and in any case it would be a shame to broach them prematurely – but I did, in Development this year, buy a case of the 2010 La Dame de Montrose. Second wines are always best in fantastic vintages, and it seemed most likely that a small of the stardust would have rubbed off. I’m now on my third bottle of this wine.
It’s gorgeous. I’m enraptured by it. Magnificent scents of chocolate, leather, plums and currants, with the oak a whispered perfume. Tapered power on the palate; a shapely silhouette. But it just gets better; the wonderful Médocain austerity and sobriety grows as the beguiling front palate fades. The quality of the tannins is astonishing: so fine yet so firm. It already has a bucketload of gratifying sediment. Balance, fruitfulness, poise, vivacity, concentration: all perfectly judged. Of course I’m drinking it too soon, but too terrible. I find it hard not to exclaim after each sip. Not many wines make me do this.
Its RP score is 94 (his sensible advice is “to buy in abundant quantities”, the only drawback being that it costs 47€ a bottle). I don’t doubt that the score of 94 is spot-on against its 2010 left-bank followers – but I’m also sure that it is much, much better than any additional 94-point wine I’ve drunk in the last five years.
It thus needs, I judge, a correction factor of something like 1.11 – or, place differently, if all the additional 94-point wines I’ve sampled have been correctly assessed, then La Dame de Montrose 2010 deserves 104 points. Indeed whenever I taste fantastic Bordeaux, it often seems to me that it should be scored in a different way to additional wines – it’s just better. (Fantastic Bordeaux, note – not all the dry, dreary, over-oaked and below-wined ones.) This is obviously a function of my private pantheon and you may feel the same way about Burgundy, or Mosel Riesling, or Argentine Malbec or whatever your bag is – though market prices suggest that more people probably feel this way about Bordeaux than about any additional wine.
Remember, folks, the score is not the score – without the peer group.
This article was originally published on 23 September 2013 and has been re-published and updated on 10 August 2015 as part of a celebration of Decanter’s archives in its 40th anniversary year. Andrew Jefford is away.
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DAWA judge: Nicolas Deneux

Nicolas Deneux, sommelier and operation manager at On Dining Kitchen & Sprawl in Hong Kong, is a judge in the Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA). DAWA judge: Nicolas DeneuxNicolas Deneux is the sommelier and operation manager at On Dining Kitchen & Sprawl as well as High Modern Bistro (a venture he started with Philippe Orrico, Jeremy Evrard and Giancarlo Mancino). Nicolas was earlier the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong’s Hotel sommelier and assistant director of food and beverage, where he was in payment of the wine program for the hotel’s nine outlets, including Grissini, the Grand Hyatt Steakhouse and One Harbour Road. A graduate of the hospitality schools of Saint-Germain-Laval and Paris-Médéric (2003 and 2005), he has extensive experience in the food and beverage industries, including working as a sommelier at Michelin-starred Paris restaurants La Tour d’Argent, Le Meurice, Goumard and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée. Nicolas was appointed as chief sommelier of Spoon by Alain Ducasse at the Large-scale Hong Kong in January 2009, where he worked for more than three years previous to joining the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong in July 2012. Nicolas Deneux has been a Decanter Asia Wine Awards judge since 2014.
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California Cabernet 2013 ‘better than 2012′, say winemakers

California Cabernet 2013 ‘better than 2012′, say winemakersExpectations are subdue rising for the California Cabernet 2013 vintage, which many winemakers believe will turn out better than the already highly rated 2012. Napa Valley harvest 2013Two bumper and high quality California Cabernet vintages in 2012 and 2013 have helped winemakers to go on from a weather-blighted 2011 crop.
And, while excitement for the 2012 wines helped to double sales at last year’s Premiere Napa Valley auction, the 2013 vintage matched that demand at this year’s auction and is now being tipped to be even better in the glass. Read more

Argentinian Malbec blends: panel tasting results

Argentinian Malbec blends: panel tasting resultsDecanter experts give their verdict, tasting notes and drinking windows on Argentinian Malbec blends.With 79% of wines recommended, this very excellent tasting showcased the extra dimension that supporting grapes can lend to Malbec, and the progress these blends have made.
‘A fantastic tasting,’ opened Phil Crozier. ‘Cheering and very excellent for Malbec blends. We’re seeing a really high consistency of quality.’ Patricio Tapia was equally pleased, likening Malbec to ‘the joker who can make a party out of nothing’. Dirceau Vianna Jr MW echoed the sentiment: ‘Malbec is lively, dependable and fruitforward – and adding a blending partner gives it another dimension.’
Each judge applauded Malbec’s usefulness, though Crozier felt it was best for blending when it was the dominant grape: ‘If it plays second fiddle, it loses its effectiveness.’ He thought Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were Malbec’s ideal blending partners, while Vianna Jr preferred Touriga Nacional. ‘It’s predictable to use the Bordeaux varieties. Yes, Touriga Nacional is a hard grape because its yields are low, but as a blending component it’s incredible.’
As a group of wines, Malbec blends are a dependable buy, where consumers can be confident of a excellent wine.
So which vintages are worth seeking out? ‘2010 was a fantastic vintage,’ said Crozier. ‘Wines from 2011 and 2012 were hard. 2013 was incredible but 2014 and 2008 were very problematic. The wines from 2007 now are fantastic, but you won’t find much left now.’
For drinkability, Vianna Jr advised readers to ‘open the vast majority’ of these wines now. ‘Argentina is about exuberance of fruit and these blends have so much of that.’ Crozier urged consumers ‘not to buy cheap’, with Tapia claiming that value in terms of Malbec blends meant between £15 and £25. Read more

Masi Agricola valued at 150m euros after listing

Masi Agricola valued at 150m euros after listingMasi Agricola has listed on the Italian stock exchange and hopes to set a trend for additional wine producers in the country. Bottles in a private cellar owned by Masi Agricola.Masi is listed on Borsa Italiana’s AIM index for small and medium-sized businesses, having sold 20% of its share capital for €4.60 per share.
The share issue realised total receipts of €29.6m, building it the largest Italian AIM flotation to date, and was 1.3 times over-subscribed, according to reports in Italy.
The flotation means Veneto-based Masi is valued at just below €150m. Shares were continuing to trade at or around €4.60 today (5 August).
Both Italian and foreign investors bought shares.
‘I hope that additional producers will see us as pioneers,’ said Sandro Boscaini, head of Masi Agricola. ‘The diverse group of producers that make up today’s wine sector need putting in order to succeed in a market that is increasingly global.
‘We want to do our bit while maintaining our identity and remaining in the small circle of leading, quality Italian wine brands.’
According to a study by Milan’s Bocconi University, Italy’s GDP would rise by 1% if the number of companies listed on its stock market doubled to 600.
Masi’s listing follows that of a number of additional leading Italian food and beverage businesses recently, including food chain Eataly and pasta maker De Cecco.
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