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Fine wine news roundup: 12-18 June


A landslide of top Bordeaux releases, Coravin unveils its sparkling wine preservation system, and the world’s most searched-for wines are revealed.


More Bordeaux 2020 releases roll out

It’s been a big week for the Bordeaux 2020 campaign, which saw the release of the entire portfolio of Domaines Baron de Rothschild, among others.

  • Ausone 2020, released at €500 per bottle ex-negociant – up 19% on 2019’s release price
  • Chateau Brane-Cantenac 2020, released at €48 per bottle ex-negociant – up 21% on 2019
  • Calon-Segur 2020, released at €78 per bottle ex-negociant – up 25.8% on 2019
  • Carruades de Lafite 2020, released at €170 per bottle ex-negociant – up 17.2% on 2019
  • Chateau Clinet 2020, released at €66 per bottle ex-negociant – up 26.9% on the 2019 release price
  • Chateau Duhart-Milon Rothschild 2020, released at €55 per bottle ex-negociant – up 11% on the 2019 price
  • Evangile 2020, released at €180 per bottle ex-negociant – up a full 33.3% on 2019
  • Giscours 2020, released at €40.80 per bottle ex-negociant – up 20% on 2019’s release
  • Haut Batailley 2020, released at £470 per case of 12 – up 9.3% on 2019’s release price
  • Lafite Rothschild 2020, released at €475 per bottle ex-negociant – up 19.9% on the 2019
  • Lynch Bages 2020, released at €90 per bottle ex-negociant – up a full 36% on 2019’s release
  • Pape Clement Blanc 2020, released at €88.80 per bottle ex-negociant – equal to 2019
  • Chateau Pichon Baron 2020, released at €110.40 per bottle ex-negociant – up 16.5% on last year
  • Chateau Pichon Lalande 2020, released at €132 per bottle ex-negociant – up 26% on 2019’s price
  • Chateau Pontet Canet 2020, released at €74.40 per bottle ex-negociant – up 28% on 2019’s release


Wine Searcher reveals the world’s most wanted wines

Wine-centric search platform Wine Searcher has unveiled its annual list of the world’s 10 most searched-for wines, and while it largely features the usual predictable names, there is one surprise afoot.

France retains its iron grip on the top 10, accounting for eight entries (seven from Bordeaux), while Italy’s Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia and California’s Opus One round it out with eighth and ninth place respectively. Pontet-Canet and Haut Brion also make their first entry to the list.

But as Wine Searcher notes, there is one notable absence: Burgundy. As the site’s Don Kavanagh says: “Critics and sommeliers might champion the Côte d'Or as the wellspring of all wine excellence, but consumers seem more interested in Bordeaux.”

This list in full, with average prices per label:

  1. Chateau Mouton Rothschild - $737
  2. Chateau Lafite Rothschild - $1,017
  3. Dom Perignon Brut - $222
  4. Petrus - $3,761
  5. Chateau Margaux - $785
  6. Chateau Latour - $877
  7. Chateau Haut Brion price - $668
  8. Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia - $316
  9. Opus One - $417
  10. Chateau Pontet-Canet - $150


Major shakeup of Cava DO rules on the horizon

New rules for Cava that highlight regional provenance and include premium tiers are set to come into force on 1 January 2022, marking the biggest shakeup of Cava regulations since the Cava DO was created more than 30 years ago.

The move – now approved by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – was first proposed in December 2019 with the view to giving consumers a guarantee of quality and provenance, and to differentiate Cava from its competitors.

The new regulations will introduce tiers based on a wine’s age. ‘Cava de Guarda’ will be given to those that have been aged for more than nine months, while wines aged for more than 18 months will be known as ‘Cava de Guarda Superior’. 

This long-aged category will include Cavas Reserva (which will be aged for a minimum of 18 months, up from 15 months), Gran Reserva (with a minimum 30 months of aging) and Cavas de Paraje Calificado, which come from a special plot and have been aged for a minimum of 36 months.

The rules will also create several new geographical zones: Catalonia, the Ebro Valley, Viñedos de Almendralejo, and Levante.


New Zealand vintage ‘exceptional’ but much reduced

Winemakers in New Zealand have reported an “exceptional” 2021 vintage, but the harvest was significantly smaller than hoped for.

According to New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW), some 370,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested for the vintage, down 19% on last year’s crop.

However, there was some variability throughout the country. While middle regions such as Marlborough and Nelson were impacted the most, Central Otago actually increased its crop, reporting a 21% increase on last year.

The vintage itself, however, has been described as “something special” by NZW CEO Philip Gregan, leading to concerns as to “whether there is enough to go around”.

According to Gregan, the shortfall is equivalent to roughly seven million nine-litre cases. “There is going to be some supply and demand tension because of this,” he added.


Coravin launches first sparkling wine preservation system

Wine technology company Coravin is well known for its wine preservation system that enables drinkers to sample a glass or two from a bottle without actually opening it. Now, it’s developed a similar system for sparkling wines.

Eight years in the making, ‘Coravin Sparkling’ uses capsules of CO2 to stop bubbles escaping and to prevent oxidation. The locking design of the stopper maintains up to 55psi of pressure, preserving the natural pressure that is found in bottles of sparkling wines before they are opened.

Stoppered bottles are then charged with a measured amount of CO2 to preserve whatever fizz is left inside. This is in contrast to the Coravin still wine preservation system, which uses argon gas. Each recyclable CO2 capsule can preserve seven bottles of sparkling wine.

Master Sommelier Yohann Jousselin, who consulted on the project, said: “This is the hottest category of wines and people have finally discovered that sparkling wine, especially Champagne, is not just a wine for celebrations. They are wines for pairing with your meal. I can now have a glass of Blanc de Blancs with my appetiser and move on to fuller- bodied styles with the main course. And most importantly, I can do that and know the sparkling wine will still be fresh for another day!”

Available to buy from the Coravin website later this summer, the system, which includes two Sparkling Stoppers, will cost $399.

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