News Round Up

Fine wine news roundup: 7-13 November


Christie’s Hong Kong reveals autumn auction line-up

Auction house Christie’s has announced that two live fine wine sales will take place in Hong Kong on 5th December, wrapping up its autumn season.

The first sale, ‘A Wonderful Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Collection’, offers a wide range of DRC purchased by a private collector. The consignment consists of 96 lots and 360 bottles, of which there are 241 bottles of Montrachet from 17 vintages stretching from 1987 through to 2014, with a majority in original wooden cases.

Other highlights from this sale will include Grand Echezeaux and Echezeaux in 2002, 2005 and 2009; Richebourg and Romanee-St-Vivant in cases from 2006 and 2010; vintages of La Tache across 1997 and 2007-2010; and the Romanee-Conti vineyard itself, represented by the 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintages.

The sale will be followed by ‘Finest & Rarest Wines and Spirits Including A Magnificent Collection of Karuizawa’, featuring an array of prestigious Bordeaux, Burgundy and Penfolds Grange, as well as collectable whiskies and sake.

Highlights include Chateau Margaux 1983 and 2005, Mouton 1986, Lafite 2000 and 2005 available in cases; Chateau Lafleur 1982 in double magnum; Henri Jayer, Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux from the 1990s; Armand Rousseau wines from the 2010s including Chambertin, Chambertin Clos de Beze, Ruchottes Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes and Gevrey Chambertin Clos St. Jacques; and a very rare collection of Penfolds Grange including the inaugural 1951 vintage which was never commercially released.


Burgundy’s historically-early vintage dubbed ‘unforgettable’

Burgundy’s 2020 harvest could end up being the earliest on record, thanks to high temperatures and the challenges of the global pandemic, but winemakers are optimistic that the vintage will go down in history for all the right reasons.

According to the Bourgogne Interprofession (BIVB), the overarching tendency among the region’s white wines is a “beautiful aromatic complexity” and intense fruit but also “very good acidity” in spite of the high summer temperatures. The reds, meanwhile, have very deep colour and concentration but, like the whites, “they have kept their freshness” and have a distinctly black fruit profile.

Meanwhile, speaking to thedrinksbusiness, Ludivine Griveau, director and winemaker at the Hospices de Beaune, said: “The vinification process went perfectly for both white and red wines, and the balances that have emerged in our wines are extraordinary, and, let’s admit it, quite unexpected. The sunny side of the vintage is there, but the wines reveal an impressive aromatic freshness. Acidities are very present and the densities are already felt. The whites have substance, without too high an alcohol content. The tannins of the reds are supple but powerful.

“The ingredients of a great vintage, which, for many reasons, is unforgettable, are all present.”


Don Melchor hails 2018 vintage as ‘one of the greatest’

Chilean winery Vina Don Melchor is gearing up to release its 2018 vintage this week, which it has dubbed “one of the greatest” it’s made so far.

Speaking to the drinks business, chief winemaker Enrique Tirado said that he and his team knew right from the start that 2018 was “a special vintage” due to the “exceptional conditions” during the growing season.

Tirado explained that the 2018 growing season had been “by the book”, with just the right amount of rain when needed, the right temperatures, an excellent flowering and fruit set, followed by “dry conditions that are needed for small, concentrated berries”.

The winemaker said he went through “fifteen versions before we had the final blend,” which ultimately consists of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, aged for 15 months in 72% new French oak.

“It’s a great wine,” Tirado concluded. “We’re very happy with the 2018.”


UK appetite for Bordeaux dry whites surpasses USA’s for first time

The UK has overtaken the US as the biggest export market for Bordeaux dry whites for the first time, according to the CIVB (Bordeaux Wine Council).

Exports of Bordeaux white wines to the UK rose from 25,930hl in September 2019 to 28,917hl in September this year, while exports to the US dropped to 26,949hl from 30,317hl in the same 12 months, according to French Customs data shared with Harpers.

Speaking to the publication, CIVB marketing director Julie Rambaud said the development was the result of the CIVB’s focus on promoting the region’s whites to British drinkers.

“Dry whites have been a focus of our marketing plan for at least the past four years so it's good to see it finally coming through and that it’s picking up pace,” she said.

With the US now in second place, Belgium, Germany and Japan make up the rest of the top five export markets respectively.


Barcelona’s historic bodegas granted protected status

The city council of Barcelona has given 11 of its historic wine bars protected status to prevent them disappearing from the cultural landscape. The sites join a 220-srong list of protected establishments throughout the city, which already includes eight other bodegas with heritage status.

The 11 newly-protected bodegas are: Bodega Vendrell, Celler Miquel in the Eixample district; Bodega Sopena, Bodega Lluis and Bodega J. Cala in the Sant Martí district; Bodega Marín, Bodega Quimet and Bodega Manolo in the Gracia district, as well as Bar del Toro (Ciutat Vella), Bodega Salvat (Sants-Montjuic) and Bodega Massana (Horta-Guinardo).

While the heritage status works to protect the building and its fixtures and fittings and not the business itself, the chosen sites will be able to apply for grants, tax credits and business support.

Speaking to The Observer, David Montero, co-owner of Bodega Quimet which opened in 1954, said: “I think it’s great that the city council is giving us this recognition because we’re part of the fabric of the barrio. If not, it will end up as just another Starbucks.

“We’ve never tried to be fashionable or to attract tourists. We’ve never wanted to lose the essence of being a bodega in and for the barrio.”

CW Homepage an investment like no other

Join our wine newsletter

Wine investment insights delivered straight into your inbox