Our Wine Spectator Grand Award Winning List

Posted on Posted in Dining, Wine

By Matthew Turner, Wine Director

It’s been a great few weeks. Winning the Wine Spectator Grand Award was truly humbling, and a professional milestone as a sommelier and wine director. Without past and present mentorship and support, this would not be possible.  Working with the team at Wally’s Beverly Hills has been an incredible journey, and this award is truly a collaborative effort and representation of the love and passion we have for this business. Thank you everyone for the continued support. Like a fine wine, for me, the best is yet to come!

Check out Matt’s featured wines by the glass here!

NV 164th Edition Krug Grande Cuvée Brut, Reims- $39

A very complex nose with ripe, deep lemon and grapefruit aromas on offer, plus some restrained chalky elements, biscuit, roasting herbs, hints of pepper, and a little tobacco. The palate has a wealth of different fruit flavors like lemon, peach, nectarine, and plums. The finesse in terms of structure, detail and precision is staggering; sherbet-like elegance with immense concentration and power.

2014 Jonathan Didier Pabiot Prédilection Pouilly-Fumé- $24

Fresh lemon flavors and flinty, mineral notes on the nose. Piquant in the mouth, this is a powerful yet pure, fine, refreshing, and very elegant wine. It possesses grip, tension, and a dry, tight, and minerally-flavored finish with fresh fruit aromas.

2015 Barda Pinot Noir, Patagonia- $16

An interplay of fresh and dried fruits, gentle florals, citrus peel, and a little milk chocolate. The finish is clean, with just a touch of bacon that adds nuance.

2014 Flor De Pingus, Ribera del Duero- $35

Rich, powerful and seductive. Blossoms in the glass with heady aromas of fresh blackberry, boysenberry and smoky minerals, complicated by pungent hints of vanilla, violet and allspice. Lush, intensely flavored and focused, offering deep dark berry and cherry compote flavors and a suave spice cake nuance.

Wally’s Exclusive Central Coast Cuvées

Posted on Posted in Wine

By Perry Koon, Central Coast Wine Buyer

Wally’s reputation has been built on offering our customers unique and rare wines that are hard to find anywhere else. Thanks to our relationships with wineries all over the world, we are fortunate to get exclusive access to boutique wines and sometimes even entire single vineyard productions. Our most successful and well received endeavor, however, has been our exclusive cuvée program.

Over the past several years, Wally’s has worked in conjunction with a few top-tier wineries, such as Patz & Hall, Ken Wright, and Tayson Pierce, to produce unique, small-production blends exclusively made for Wally’s. We are selective in making these and only work with producers who share our passion for elevating the food and wine experience. We create blends that capitalize on our connections, creativity, and have a consistent quality level, so year in and year out our customers can confidently know they are getting a wine that is delicious, ready to drink, and sure to impress.

Below are our current Wally’s Exclusive Central Coast Cuvées!

  1. 2014 Paul Lato Les Bons Amis Chardonnay: $55.00 (Limited Quantities Available)
  2. 2016 Margerum Libertine Sauvignon Blanc: $24.00 (Limited Quantities Available)
  3. 2015 The Hilt Cuvee Fleur Pinot Noir: $45.00 (Pre-Offer)
  4. 2015 The Hilt Cuvee Fleur Chardonnay: $45.00 (Pre-Offer)
  5. 2015 Paul Lato Les Bons Amis Pinot Noir: $75.00 (Pre-Offer)

2015 Domaine William Fevre Chablis

Posted on Posted in Wine

By JP Blanchard, Wally’s Burgundy Buyer

Our 2015 Domaine William Fevre Chablis have arrived!

Chablis enjoyed an incredibly successful vintage in 2015. The summer was pleasantly mild and the harvest was early, which led to higher ripeness and slightly lower acidity.  I recently had the rare opportunity to have dinner with the famed winemaker of William Fevre, Didier Seguier. I tasted through his amazing 2015 vintage of Premiere Cru and Grand Cru Chablis. One of the wines of the night was the 2015 Fevre Chablis Montmains 1er Cru. It has brilliant purity, mouthwatering minerality, and is by far the best value Chardonnay of the vintage. With warm weather upon us, Chablis is the ideal summer white, and Domaine William Fevre produces the best in the business. The 2015 Domaine William Fevre Chablis are impossible to dislike and will give great pleasure in the short to medium term.

Check out my favorite 2015 Chablis that are available for purchase on wallywine.com

2015 Fevre Chablis Champs Royaux 750mL ($22.00)

2015 Fevre Chablis Montmains 1er Cru ($50.00)

2015 Fevre Chablis Montee Tonnerre 1er Cru ($60.00)

2015 Fevre Chablis Vaulorent 1er Cru ($72.00)

2015 Fevre Chablis Le Clos Grand Cru 750 ML ($100.00)

The Architectural Magnificence of Tannins

Posted on Posted in Wine

Tannins are one of the most intellectually engaging facets of wine, and also one of the most misunderstood. So what exactly is tannin? Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol that can be found in walnuts, almonds, dark chocolate, espresso, tea leaves, clove, quince, pomegranate, and of course, grapes. When considering the structural components of a wine, tannin—like acidity— is one of the most important. Tannins strongly influence the pairing ability, aging potential, and mouthfeel of a wine. But, tannins are often confused with the dryness level of a wine, because tannins dry out your mouth. When attempting to communicate what they like, many guests will tell you some variation of, “I like a wine that’s not too dry.” Generally when you hear this, you can assume they are not referring to a wine with some residual sugar—instead, they mean a wine with more restrained tannins. Some grape varieties that are naturally low in tannin include Pinot Noir, Gamay, Barbera, and Grenache. Varietals with naturally high amounts of tannin include Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, and Mourvedre. To make things even more obfuscated, the perception of tannin on the palate can vary quite a bit depending on the other structural elements of the wine, and what you or may not be eating at the time. Grape tannins are present in the skins, the seeds, and the stems of the vitis vinfera plant, and oak barrels also contribute tannin to a finished wine. Since white wines often have very little contact with their skins during the winemaking process, tannins are really only relevant when discussing red wines, orange wines, and longer skin-contact roses.

 

The Architecture of Happiness: Tannins and Structural Integrity

Structure can be a difficult thing to describe; the French will sometimes refer to a wine’s ‘skeleton,’ or ‘backbone,’ and when I think of structure, I think of the texture and architecture of a wine. The amount (and quality) of tannins are the most critical determining factor of this architecture, and from a sensory standpoint, they contribute a taste and a feeling that is distinct. Tannins dry out the tissues of your mouth and taste astringent, or bitter. When the tannins in the grapes have reached physiological maturity, the finished wine’s tannins may not jump out at you right away, but the wine will possess a commanding structure. Likewise, if the tannins did not reach physiological maturity before the time of harvest, the wine will ultimately taste unpleasantly astringent and harsh. In an ideal world, all wine grapes would receive enough sun and a long enough hang-time for the acidity to drop, the sugar levels to rise, and the tannins to reach full ripeness. However, this doesn’t always happen, as we all know from tasting wines that are thin, herbaceous and astringent (think cool-vintage Bordeaux when there was too much rain) or overly-ripe, fruity wines that feel cloying on the palate (mass-produced blends from Paso Robles get the point across). To be a more discerning taster, think not just about the level of tannin in the next wine that you taste, but also the ripeness and quality of the tannin. With a clearly delineated architecture, a wine seems more impressive on the palate and also possesses a formidable beauty. Need tangible proof? Try a bottle of Corison—it’s the Angelina Jolie of Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Built to Last: the Relationship Between Tannins and Aging Potential

It’s no coincidence that most collectors gravitate towards Bordeaux, Super Tuscans, Barolos, and Napa Cabernets. These are all wines that have higher tannins, and thus a better chance at aging more gracefully. Tannin, like acidity and sugar, is a natural preservative. As wine ages, the tannins become mellower and precipitate out in the form of sediment. This is one of the reasons why you’re likely to get more cellaring time out of a Barbaresco than you are a Burgundy. A shack with a thatched roof may provide shelter in the short term, but it’s solid stone castles that stand the test of time—the same is true with wine.

 

Marrying Well: How to Pair Tannic Wines with Food

Some wines are the libation equivalent of Clint Eastwood, and some are more akin to Don Draper. The chemical reason behind why some wines possess so much grip is because tannin molecules bind to the proteins in your saliva. So it’s not technically the tannins that dry your mouth, it’s the fact that your saliva can no longer adequately lubricate your palate, causing the tissues in your mouth to rub together and feel dry. Tannins are easily influenced by food, which is why eating a steak with a glass of Cabernet can help to ‘resolve’ the tannins. Tannins help to ‘cleanse’ the palate of fattiness, and also provide a ‘tenderizing’ effect for foods with lots of muscle fiber. Just be careful pairing tannic wines with salty or spicy foods—salt and heat are a magnifier that make wines taste even more tannic.

 

 

By Amanda Woodward, Wally’s Sommelier

Common ‘Wine Terms’—and What They Really Mean

Posted on Posted in Wine

Sometimes talking about wine can seem like dancing about architecture: impossible. Many people don’t quite know what they want or are looking for in a wine, and worse still, they may not use the right language to convey their meaning.

Corked wine – Wines become corked when they get infected by a bacteria called TCA (Tri-Chloro Anisole). It imparts a musty, cardboard-like flavor. Some people describe it as ‘wet dog’ or ‘moldy basement.’ TCA can affect a wine to varying degrees—sometimes a corked wine will display ‘earthy’ aromas that are not entirely unpleasant to the drinker, but the lack of fruit aromas and flavors is a good indicator that the wine has Cork Taint. Even though a corked wine has a defective aroma and flavor, it will not harm the drinker. Any wine regardless of its quality or price can be corky. There are several faults that can ruin a wine, and TCA is only one of them.

Fruity wine – This can be perceived as dry-floral or sweet-floral. Dry wine refers to a wine that has no residual sugar. But again, a fragrant or ripe white can be perceived as being sweet (even though the wine is fermented
dry). Someone might refer to a soft and fruity wine like Pinot Noir as sweet, and the same person might consider a tannic Cabernet Sauvignon as dry. Some guests refer to ‘dry wine’ as being tannic (or a wine that dries their mouth).

Tannic wine – This is a common phrase used in most restaurants. Tannin is the harsh (and sometimes bitter) element in red wine, derived from grape skins, pips, stems and from aging in oak barrels. It acts as a preservative and is essential for a wine’s long-term aging. Tannins vary depending on the individual grape varietal. Pinot Noir, a thin-skinned grape, will always have lower tannings than Cabernet Sauvignon, a thick-skinned grape. Even if a wine has a lot of tannins, it can be round and soft (like most California Cabernet Sauvignon).

 

By Amanda Woodward, Sommelier at Wally’s Beverly Hills 

The All-Stars Were Shining…

Posted on Posted in Tasting & Events, Wine

By Gary Fishman, Wally’s Domestic Wine Buyer
 
The buzz keeps buzzing about the success of Wally’s latest staging of its incomparable Napa/Sonoma All-Stars Tasting.  The event, held from 2-5pm on April 23rd in two spacious ballrooms of The Olympic Collection, drew an appreciative audience of nearly 700 serious wine aficionados who swirled and sipped their way through an array of more than 200 sensational wines. Iconic names such as Opus One, Dominus Estate, Darioush, Paul Hobbs, Shafer and Pahlmeyer led the way, providing the leading edge to a vinous embarrassment of wine tasting riches. Live music and wonderful food provided by Cowgirl Creamery and Wally’s Chef David Féau (Short Rib Sliders!) and others complemented the wines being poured. And we even snuck in the Southern California debut of Napa Valley’s latest new brewery, Barrels & Sons, with its thirst-quenchingly crisp Pilsner. Amid all the great wines, this was one of the most popular tables at the entire event.

My five new favorites from the event are listed below. My hope is that you will try one or all of them, and let me know how I’m doing!

(Note:  Wally’s special events continue with the Sunday, June 4 staging of our incomparable Grande Marque Champagne fund-raiser. This year marks the Silver Anniversary, so it is shaping up to be an extra-special affair. Click Here to learn more and purchase tickets, and I hope you will sign up soon.)

 

2016 Aril Sauvignon Blanc Kick Ranch $32

2013 Buoncristiani O.P.C. Red $40

2013 Ehlers Cabernet Sauvignon Estate $55

2014 Senses Pinot Noir Hillcrest Vineyard $65

2013 Iron Horse Ocean Reserve Sparkling $40

A Landmark Vintage Heralds A New Era In Bordeaux

Posted on Posted in Wine
By Geoff Pattison, Wally’s Bordeaux Buyer

To shop our 2016 Bordeaux Futures click here!

There were a lot of new descriptors on people’s lips in Bordeaux this spring. Precise. Energetic. Transparent. Miraculous. Revolutionary.
But if there is one word that I think sums up the vintage it is: Unprecedented.

THE WINES
Overall the 2016s are intensely aromatic wines of great precision, crackling energy, and understated power marked by excellent ripeness perfectly balanced with fresh acidity and abundant, ripe, silky tannins.

Most exciting is the fact that there is a level of clarity and transparency of terroir in the 2016s that we have never seen before. Over the past several years we have seen a move by many of the chateau toward a more classically balanced style of Bordeaux with less oak influence, less extraction, and lower alcohol. This is the first truly great vintage where we are getting to see this new school of Bordeaux on display and the results are truly outstanding.

We asked many vignerons for comparisons and not one could come up with one single vintage with which 2016 can be compared. In terms of general quality 2016 there is broad agreement that 2016 is on par with top vintages such as 2005, 2009 and 2010. But the combination of classical styling, beautiful ripeness and exuberant energetic freshness are truly unique. This is a modern benchmark vintage heralding a new style of Bordeaux.

THE CRITICS
The press is out on 2016 Bordeaux and the top critics’ scores are staggering. James Molesworth of Wine Spectator, Antonio Galloni of Vinous and Neal Martin of The Wine Advocate have all given the vintage glowing reviews and between the three of them, there are FIFTEEN potentially perfect wines in 2016. Below are the top scoring wines from their reports. Note these are just the wines with a floor of 95 points or more and include nearly fifty producers. We have not seen such consistently high scores for a Bordeaux vintage since 2009 and 2010

“2016 is unequivocally a great vintage in Bordeaux… Over twenty years of tasting Bordeaux from barrel at en primeur,
this was my most pleasurable tasting experience alongside the 2009.”
-Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

THE MARKET
While the chateaux have still yet to release their pricing, U.S. consumers are in a very strong position this year. The Euro is currently at the lowest point against the Dollar of any futures campaign in history. At the same time, the Euro has grown roughly 15% stronger against the Pound Sterling post-Brexit. As the UK is the other major en Primeur market, this exerts considerable pressure on the chateaux to keep prices close in line with last year. In short, if pricing remains close to last year, there will be a plethora of great values out there for U.S. consumers on futures in this historic vintage.

To shop our 2016 Bordeaux Futures click here!

Dispatches from Bordeaux: 2015 Vintage – Part I

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized, Wine

by Geoff Pattison, Wally’s Bordeaux Buyer

IMG_1295

There’s something distinctly different about the feeling in Bordeaux during the good vintages.  There’s a sense of anticipation as you step off the plane.  Coming into the city everything feels a bit more vibrant. There’s a spring in the step of the people you meet.  Even when it rains, people are smiling.  Having read the early weather reports I already had a sense that the wines would be special.  There were whispers from negociants and vignerons in the months after harvest.  These insiders are usually in the business of having to “sell” a vintage so when they stop spouting superlatives and say “just wait til you taste the wines,” you know they’ve got the goods.

It’s Monday morning and once again Wally’s President Christian Navarro and I are here to taste another new vintage.  It’s a special year for both of us as this is my tenth year tasting en primeur and for Christian his 25th.  And what a year it looks to be.  The early reports have been extremely promising.  Beginning in April, a warm, even spring allowed perfect flowering across the region.  As the summer arrived, June and July were extremely hot and dry which accelerated ripening and stressed the vines.  By August, many vignerons were starting to worry that they would face drought conditions, but then, at just the right time, the rain came and provided just what the vines needed to be refreshed.  At this point things were looking very good and all that was needed was a dry harvest to make the vintage.  In Margaux, Pessac-Leognan and the right bank appellations of Saint Emilion and Pomerol, they got exactly that.  A long, even September and October that allowed a relaxed harvest under ideal conditions.  In the Northern Medoc, the rain came at just the wrong time, mid to late September.  Pauillac and Saint Julien were hit with it in spots and the well drained terroirs fared much better than others.  Saint Estephe got the worst of it, double the rainfall of Pauillac, leading to inevitable dilution at harvest and making it the lone rough spot in this otherwise excellent vintage.

Our schedule this year begins in Margaux which from the early reports appears to be one of the most gifted appellations in 2015.  In a twist of fate, the September rains which ensnared the northern Medoc completely missed the southern appellations.  It seems this year has the makings of a modern day 1983, where similar weather patterns produced benchmark Margauxs that in most instances outpace the vaunted 1982s.

IMG_1230

We begin the morning at Chateau Rauzan Segla, which has to be one of the most beautiful properties in all of Bordeaux.  This year marks the first vintage under Rauzan’s new technical director Nicolas Audebert, who was formerly the winemaker at Cheval des Andes.  As we arrive we’re welcomed into the barrel room to taste several components directly from barrel.  While I’ve done this in many other regions around the world, it’s somewhat unorthodox in Bordeaux where we’re usually presented with a pre-drawn assemblage in a lab or tasting room.  It’s a small tell as to the new direction of the new regime here which is looking to shake things up a bit.

IMG_1231

Barrel tasting notes from Rauzan Segla:

New Oak Barrel #1 – Cooper: Demptos
-A pretty nose with fresh violets, primary red fruit and a good dose of polished vanillary oak.  There’s good concentrated fruit here with power.  Linear and focused.

New Oak Barrel #2 – Cooper: Sylvain
-This barrel is deeper and richer on the nose, bursting with blackcurrants.  There’s more freshness compared to the Demptos barrel and more structure too.  Excellent balance.

New Oak Barrel #3 – Cooper: San Martin
-Toasty, earthy aromas dominate the nose here.  This one is the most touched by oak, but again the balance is beautiful and there’s a great deal of power.

Neutral Barrel #1
-This is the most expressive barrel of the four.  Explosive red and dark berry fruit mixed with a kaleidoscopic array of spices.  Let’s call it spice rack.  Silky with really nice persistence on the finish, freshness melded with power.

IMG_1234IMG_1235

And now on to the full assemblage sample:

2015 Chateau Rauzan Segla
-The nose is tight and focused with blue/purple fruit (blueberries and blackcurrants).  Powerful and structured on the palate.  Linear and medium to full bodied.  Great freshness on the end.  This is a firm and serious Rauzan Segla that is more masculine than usual.  Very reminiscent of the excellent 2005.

Leaving Rauzan Segla we head to Chateau Margaux, the legendary First Growth.  This is a bittersweet vintage at the property as longtime Director Paul Pontallier just recently passed away in March at the age of 59 after a battle with cancer.  Before he passed, Paul was able to see the birth of the 2015 which looks to be very special indeed.

IMG_1236IMG_1256IMG_1240IMG_1252

2015 Chateau Margaux
-A gorgeous perfume of red fruit and milk chocolate, fine polished leather and blackberry leaf.  The texture is pure cashmere on the effortless entry.  This is absolutely seamless with beautiful, generous volume and expert balance.  Ripe and soft with very fine tannins.  Deep flavors, the spicy Cabernet character comes through more on the palate.  This is so integrated that you want to drink it already.  Extraordinarily elegant, an understated freshness carries through on the long finish.  Beautiful and pure.

I’ve been lucky enough to have tried all of the greatest modern vintages of Margaux and I think this may just be their best ever.  Talk about starting the trip off with a bang.  This is going to be very hard to beat, we’re only on our second stop and this is clearly a top candidate for wine of the vintage.

Presenting the wine is Paul’s son Thibault Pontallier.  Thibault remarks that his father described the infant 2015 as a mix of the ripeness of 2009 and the power of 2010 with the elegance of 2005.  In this vintage it seems you really can have it all.

IMG_1247IMG_1264IMG_1250IMG_1259IMG_1255

After leaving Margaux we head to some other top properties in Margaux and Pessac-Leognan.  Highlights of the afternoon’s tastings:

IMG_1274IMG_1280

2015 Chateau Palmer
-Lots of blackberry leaf and white mineral, this is somewhat closed on the nose today.  But the palate displays a towering frame.  This is extremely muscular and will be long lived.  There’s a strong vein of minerality underpinning the fruit here.  An intellectual Palmer that really shows more Cabernet character than usual.  I’d imagine that this will be compared to the 2010 for years as they’re rather similar in character, a true vin de garde with a 40-50 year lifespan easily.

2015 Chateau Giscours
-70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot.  Deep, dark blackcurrant fruit on the nose, almost crème de cassis.  Beautifully ripe and very pure with excellent volume.  All of this gorgeous fruit is wrapped up in a perfectly proportioned frame with soft gossamer tannins…very precise, like a tailored suit.  Wow.  What a stunning Giscours.  This is without a doubt the finest wine I’ve ever tasted from this property.  This should be one of the top values of the vintage.

IMG_1297IMG_1307

2015 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc
-Massive but with good precision, this shows notes of lemon, coconut and white mineral.  Fairly exotic without going in too tropical a direction.  There’s a lot of fruit on the palate but it’s nicely balanced.  This is soft, ripe and agreeable, and while it lacks the power of a great vintage, this is very well made and should drink deliciously on release.

2015 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge
-This has a big, broad, polished dark fruit nose that’s just ravishing.  Extremely ripe on the attack, but it’s packed with tannin and acid too.  A very forward, modern style this year but the quality of the terroir comes through clearly.  Somewhat atypical for the vintage, this is almost as big and fruit forward as their 100 point 2009.  To quote Spinal Tap, “this one goes to eleven.”

Wally’s Bordeaux Blog – Vintage 2014 Dispatches from Bordeaux – Recap and Top Picks

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized, Wine

It’s been a few months since my last blog entry and, as the campaign wraps up, I thought I’d put together a review of the top wines of the vintage and best buys now that we know all of the pricing and can take a full view of the 2014 vintage. These are my insider recommendations based on my tastings in Bordeaux during En Primeur with an eye on the wines that provide the greatest value.

Let’s take a look at a few lists, beginning with the best of the best:

The Finest Wines of the 2014 Vintage

1) 2014 Chateau Cheval Blanc ($459.99, 96-99 WS)
2) 2014 Chateau Haut Brion ($319.99, 95-98 WS)
3) 2014 Chateau Mouton Rothschild ($319.99, 95-98 WS)
4) 2014 Vieux Chateau Certan ($137.99, 95-97 WA)
5) 2014 Chateau Montrose ($114.99, 95-97 WA)

Based purely on quality I believe these are the wines that reach the highest heights in 2014. Cheval Blanc really stands alone at the top, it is a stunning wine with a level of class and luxurious sophistication that even the firsts don’t quite reach. It’s effortlessly pure and balanced, with an incredibly silky texture and extraordinary complexity. Wine of the Vintage, full stop.

While Haut Brion and Mouton are no surprises here, the obvious standouts are VCC and Montrose which represent incredible values for top 5 level wines. Montrose in particular is a stunning wine at a shockingly good price. In my opinion, which is shared by most of the critics this year, the 2014 Montrose is better than honorable mentions Lafite, Margaux, La Mission Haut Brion, Ducru Beaucaillou, the list goes on… Because of the incredible value on offer here, it’s my number one pick for this vintage. If you buy only one wine, Montrose should be it.

For the value hunters…

Top 2014 Bordeaux Quality-to-Price Ratio

2014 Chateau Barde Haut $26.99 91-94 AG
2014 Chateau Faugeres $29.99 92-95 AG
2014 Chateau Lafleur Gazin $32.99 92-95 AG
2014 Chateau Larcis Ducasse $49.99 93-96 AG
2014 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste $53.99 93-96 WS
2014 Chateau Pavie Macquin $55.99 93-96 WS
2014 Chateau Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse $74.99 94-97 AG

These are the wines that really overachieve in the $25-75 sweet spot. Barde Haut, Faugeres and Lafleur Gazin are all stunningly good. At $25-35, these are wines that will easily drink comparably with wines in the $50 range when they arrive. For those with the foresight to buy them now, these are great candidates for house wines and should be bought by the case.

Grand Puy Lacoste is a star in the making. Long a connoisseur’s favorite, GPL exudes a purity and clarity of Paulliac terroir that is rare at its pricepoint. For those looking for the wine most likely to make the leap (ala Lynch Bages and Pontet Canet), this is the estate. It also doesn’t hurt that it is a personal favorite of new Wine Advocate critic Neal Martin.

I cannot say enough about the amazing work done by Nicolas Thienpont and Stephane Derenoncourt at the trio of Saint Emilion properties they manage: Larcis Ducasse, Pavie Macquin and Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse. It’s beginning to sound like a broken record at this point, but the fact is no one else in Bordeaux comes close to making such consistently fantastic wines at very fair prices year in, year out. These wines are always incredibly exotic and expressive in their youth in an attractive modern style. What is baffling is the fact that they do so without any sense of overripeness or overt oak influence as so many modern styled wines do. They always clearly express their terroirs, show good balance and age extremely well. At $50-75 they deliver the quality of wines double their price and get my highest recommendation as the best bang for the buck wines in 2014 Bordeaux.

Now a look at some familiar names with not too familiar pricing…

Best-Selling Favorites at Their Lowest Prices in Years

2014 Chateau Calon Segur $57.99 93-96 AG
2014 Chateau Haut Bailly $59.99 93-96 AG
2014 Chateau Leoville Barton $60.99 92-95 WS
2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte $62.99 93-96 WS
2014 Chateau Lynch Bages $83.99 93-96 WS
2014 Chateau Pichon Lalande $88.99 93-96 AG
2014 Chateau Pichon Baron $89.99 95-96 WCI
2014 Chateau Pontet Canet $89.99 93-96 AG
2014 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou $107.99 94-97 AG
2014 Chateau Cos d’Estournel $114.99 95-96 WCI
2014 Chateau Leoville Las Cases $129.99 94-97 WS
2014 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion $194.99 95-97 WA
2014 Chateau Palmer $214.99 93-96 WS
2014 Chateau Margaux $319.99 94-97 WS
2014 Chateau Lafite Rothschild $414.99 94-97 WS

For those who have followed the prices of these wines from the heights of 2009 and 2010 (vintages where these wines are easily double or triple these prices), you can see just how striking the value of this vintage is. The scores are high, not far off the quality of those blockbuster vintages. And the prices are the lowest of any vintage currently available on the market. For so long it has been impossible to find Lynch Bages below $100, Leoville Las Cases below $200. And First Growths below $350. Yet here they are, and with incredible quality to boot.

Take Smith Haut Lafitte, a perennial favorite that usually lands around the $75-100 range. A pedigreed, single estate Cabernet blend with the highest level of winemaking. The wine is excellent this year and it’s available at $63. Try to get that sort of value from Napa Valley, it’s impossible. More and more, Bordeaux is producing excellent values that outpace the rest of the world.

For those with an eye on investment, I’ve grouped my targets into three categories providing the greatest opportunity for appreciation:

Limited Quantities on First Tranche
Lynch Bages
Margaux
Mouton Rothschild
Pichon Lalande

Undervalued/Room to Appreciate
Grand Puy Lacoste
Smith Haut Lafitte
Calon Segur
Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse

Great Wines and Underpriced Compared to Other Vintages on the Market
Ducru Beaucaillou
La Mission Haut Brion
Leoville Las Cases

My top three investment targets are Lynch Bages, Margaux and Ducru Beaucaillou. Lynch and Margaux are major, in-demand labels that are fairly priced and in more limited supply than their peers. Both wines will go up as stocks are exhausted, these two are can’t miss buys. Ducru Beaucaillou is a spectacular wine this year and likely a candidate for an upgraded score from bottle. At $107.99 it’s just criminally underpriced compared to other good vintages of Ducru. I could easily see it selling for double the current price within 5 years.

Looking at the lower end of the spectrum. Grand Puy Lacoste, Smith Haut Lafitte and Calon Segur are interesting investment plays in volume. Their combination of name-recognition, low prices and high upside make them clear candidates to double in value in a 5-7 year window.

Buying well-known Bordeaux labels from a great vintage at bargain prices is always a strong investment and the opportunity is there this year. If you have the ability to put these away now, they will repay you in spades when they are ready to drink.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me personally if you have any questions about Futures or are seeking advice.

Geoff Pattison
Wally’s Wine & Spirits
Director of Imports
(310) 475-0606 Ext. 131
geoff@wallywine.com

Read up on previous dispatches from Bordeaux:
Dispatches from Bordeaux – Part 5

Wally’s Bordeaux Blog – Vintage 2014 Dispatches from Bordeaux – Part 5

Posted on Posted in Wine

Thursday, April 16th 2015

Today is the last day of the trip and our morning is reserved for a comprehensive tasting at one of Bordeaux’s largest negociant firms. While we always try to make it to as many properties as we can, it’s just not possible to visit them all in person, so this sort of “cattle call” tasting is a necessity to get a full picture of the vintage. Prior to the tasting we’re able to request barrel samples from a list of hundreds of chateaux throughout the region. The day before our tasting the samples arrive fresh in 375ml half bottles, ready for our consideration. I usually try to schedule this at the end of the trip so we are able to form a general opinion of the vintage “on the ground” and then fill in the gaps, as it were.

Over the course of 2 ½ hours the parade of half bottles both confirms and fleshes out our early impressions of the vintage. Some of the top highlights include:

2014 Chateau Gazin
-Charming nose of earth and blueberries, firm and structured on the palate, medium bodied. A nicely balanced expression that should age well.

2014 Chateau Beychevelle
-51% Merlot this year, the nose is pure red fruit with hints of gravel and iron. Nice fruit on the attack, good ripeness and density. Long finish, this is an excellent Beychevelle, clearly their best since the 2010.

2014 Chateau Faugeres
-A very ripe, polished nose of chocolate covered cherries. Very modern on the palate with ripe dark fruit and espresso. Still there is a great sense of weight and density for the pricepoint. Once again this will be a very attractive QPR.

2014 Chateau Le Gay
-A pretty nose of cedar and perfumed berry fruit. Lithe and elegant on the palate. Medium bodied and very nicely balanced. A lighter expression of Le Gay but everything is in good proportion, the volume is just dialed back a bit. This will likely drink well relatively early.

2014 Chateau Larcis Ducasse
-As per usual, very flamboyant on the nose, kirsch, crème de cassis, strawberries. Sweet and ripe on the attack, medium bodied, doesn’t have the density of its big brothers but there’s no denying this is a hugely attractive wine and very well made. It will be interesting to see where the price lands, this could be one of the best QPRs of the vintage.

2014 Chateau Pavie Macquin
-Seductive nose of Mocha, earth and plums that is textbook Pavie Macq. Again ripe, round and sweet on the palate with excellent richness. A very good vintage for them if perhaps lacking the structure of the best vintages.

2014 Chateau Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse
-Somewhat similar nose to the Pavie Macquin, mocha, earth, but more toward the cassis end of the spectrum. More complex and exotic with spice elements. Big and powerful on the palate with mocha, blueberry and animale flavors. This is a top notch terroir that has been firing on all cylinders under the watch of Nicolas Thienpont. Still one of the best values in Bordeaux, this could hold its own blind with Pavie, Angelus, Troplong, etc… and can still be had for a fraction of the price.

2014 Chateau Haut Bailly
-Nice ripe red fruit nose with herbal and mineral notes. Taut on the entry with mineral laced cherry and tobacco flavors. This is medium bodied but well-structured with a nice sense of tension. A precise Haut Bailly that should unfurl nicely in 5-10 years.

2014 Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion
-50% Cabernet Franc. Deep, spicy, herbal berries and dark chocolate. Hints of violets. Lush and silky on the palate, ends with a drying persistent finish. Not a huge vintage but very elegant. This is one of the most exciting new projects in Bordeaux. Rhone inspired winemaking, stem inclusion, high percentage of Cabernet Franc in Pessac Leognan. What a strange and wonderful wine.

2014 Chateau Doisy Daene
-Very floral with white flowers and stone fruits. Rich, seductive and powerful, a decadent Doisy Daene. This is such a great value every year.

2014 Chateau Doisy Vedrines
-Honey, ginger and apricot jam on the nose. This is rich and sweet but has a nice line of acid running through it. Great quality for the price.

2014 Chateau Coutet
-Complex on the nose, mandarin orange, pineapple, honeysuckle, gingerbread. Strikingly sweet and intense on the palate, this is a monster Barsac. While one might wish for a bit more tension and finesse, the level of concentration and power on display here is impressive and frankly this is better that Rieussec and Suduiraut in this vintage. What a showing from this perennial value!

1

Leaving the negociant’s offices we hop in the car and head to Saint Emilion. First stop is the imposing new compound at the newly anointed “Premier Grand Cru Classe A” Chateau Pavie. Gerard Perse has shepherded this estate’s rise from relative obscurity to become one of the jewels of the appellation. As of 2012 it joins Ausone, Cheval Blanc and Angelus as the only “A” designated wines in Saint Emilion. There are two obvious standouts from their stable of wines:

2014 Chateau Monbousquet
-Funky nose with truffles, turned earth and coffee grounds. The palate turns more red fruit driven than usual here with a lovely underpinning of acidity running through. This is polished but well balanced. Shows the high level of winemaking of the Perse stable and should be a top value.

2014 Chateau Pavie
-A classic Pavie nose, ripe, plush and sexy but fresh. Nice balance on the velvety palate, powerful with no holes. Rock solid midpalate. The overall sense is still medium bodied, this is a dialed back Pavie that shows a bit more sinew and tension than usual. Quite good.

Leaving Pavie we head to Chateau Troplong Mondot where we will taste the first vintage since the passing of the incomparable Christine Valette. There is only one wine to taste:

2014 Chateau Troplong Mondot
-Rich, ripe, powerful nose full of espresso and macerated black cherry. Deep, rich, powerful, suave and round. 85% new oak this year. Very good volume, a beautiful Troplong.

In addition to being one of the great terroirs of Saint Emilion, Troplong Mondot is also home to a charming on-site boutique resort called Les Belles Perdrix which happens to have one of the best restaurants in the Right Bank. We settle in for a delicious 3 course prix-fixe lunch. The cooking is market driven, creative and at a very high level. If you find yourself in Saint Emilion make sure you make a reservation here, it is a must. Our lunch is paired with the excellent 2006 Chateau Troplong Mondot

Leaving lunch it’s a full afternoon of appointments in Pomerol and Saint Emilion. Highlights of the afternoon:

3

2014 Chateau Ausone
-60% Cabernet Franc. Framboise, lovely red fruit, ripe tannins and very long. This feels so effortless on the palate but you really sense the power on the end. Sneaky good structure. Excellent acid balance, a very elegant Ausone.

2014 La Fleur de Bouard
-A ripe, deep jammy nose. This is big and round on the palate but fresh with a nice underpinning of acid and good volume. Well done.

2014 Chateau Angelus
-Plush, round floral infused dark chocolate on the nose. Very concentrated chocolate and berry compote on the palate. Excellent freshness and very tannic as this usually is at this stage.

2014 Chateau Cheval Blanc
-55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc. A markedly complex, deep, luxurious herbal nose with considerable fruit and charm. Lovely silky texture, medium bodied with zen-like balance. Elegant, long and aromatic, there’s something Burgundian about the sense of inner perfume here. A tour de force, this is likely one of the top wines of the vintage.

cht figeac

2014 Chateau Figeac
-Dark chocolate, berry fruit, somewhat herbal. The Cabernet Sauvignon is ripe and lends nice muscle. Good freshness. A masculine, sinewy Figeac reminiscent of the 1995 or the 1988.

l eglish clinet
2014 Chateau L’Eglise Clinet
-Dazzling, knockout aromas of boysenberry, kirsch, wild flowers and cherry heering. Just stunning. Rich, ripe, sexy berry fruit on the palate. All of this exoticism is buttressed by a huge structure with good volume and muscle. This is a fabulous, pure L’Eglise Clinet that will likely be rather affordable. Highly recommended.

Dinner tonight is at a local negociant’s home where we enjoy a laid back meal among friends. Our good friend Thomas Duroux of Chateau Palmer (who will be in LA for our Palmer Vertical Dinner this fall) has come to join us and we start off the evening with the 2011 Vin Blanc de Chateau Palmer, a rare bird indeed. Not commercially released and limited to just 100 cases per year, this is an odd blend of Muscadelle, Loset and Sauvignon Gris. Very fresh and full of white orchard fruit on the nose. The palate is rounded and airy with nice acidity. As dinner unfolds we open spectacular bottles of 2000 Chateau Cheval Blanc and 1998 L’Evangile. Wonderful conversation on Bordeaux, Hollywood and Jazz end the trip on a high note.

Now off to bed. And tomorrow on to Paris for a bit of fun before the flight home. Looking back on the trip this is a truly excellent vintage and given the outlook on prices and the currency exchange rate, this should be a very exciting campaign indeed.

-Written by Geoff Pattison, Director of Imports

Read up on previous dispatches from Bordeaux:
Dispatches from Bordeaux – Part 4