WineNews 2905 v2

Fine wine news roundup: 25-29 May


Pontet-Canet kicks off En Primeur

Pauillac fifth growth has fired the starting gun on this year’s Bordeaux En Primeur campaign with the release of its 2019 vintage.

Released at £61 a bottle ex-Bordeaux, Chateau Pontet Canet 2019 is priced 31% lower than 2018’s offering, marking the estate’s lowest En Primeur release price since 2008.

Despite its relatively low price, however, the wine has been well-received by critics, with Jane Anson scoring a barrel sample 96 points. In her notes, she said that the wine has a “clear Pauillac character in terms of its tannic structure, overlaid with the Pontet signature of recent vintages that translates into spirals of peony and iris alongside brambled hedgerow”.

Pontet-Canet is well known for offering its wine early in the campaign, but this year’s release will mark something of a relief for those involved in En Primeur, given the disruption it has faced due to the coronavirus crisis. We can expect more chateaux to follow suit in the coming weeks.


Latour 2012 marks chateau’s first new vintage in eight years

Bordeaux First Growth Chateau Latour has released its 2012 grand vin – the first new vintage to go on sale following the estate’s departure from the En Primeur system.

As the youngestLatour grand vin on the market, the 2012 – which was rated 97 points by Jane Anson – is also one of the more affordable. Launched at £350 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, the release is on-par pricewise with the 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Also released this week is the 2014 vintage of Latour’s second wine, Forts de Latour, at £140 per bottle ex-Bordeaux.

Speaking at a tasting earlier this year, Latour’s president and CEO Frederic Engerer told Decanter that the two releases mark a pivotal moment for the estate. “After eight years of frustrations from our negociants, with little wines to sell and of course no En Primeur, we’re finally coming back with a full or complete introduction,” he said.


Wine values hold steady throughout pandemic

The fine wine market is experiencing considerably less volatility during the coronavirus pandemic than the global stock market, according to new figures from the Wine Market Journal (WMJ).

From the fourth quarter of 2019 until 20th May this year, the WMJ’s Top500 Index – modelled after the S&P 500 – is up just under 2%. The Dow, meanwhile, was down 13.88% for the same period, while the S&P 500 Index was down 8.02%.

Italian wines in particular have performed well, with the WMJ’s Italian Index up 5.76%.

According to David Parker, owner of WMJ, investors are clearly still in the market for fine wine. Speaking to Barron’s, he said: “They recognize wine appreciates and holds its value just as well or better in a good year, and doesn’t depreciate anywhere near as much in a bad year.”


Piemonte heralded ‘last great wine region in the world’

As once-fervent enthusiasm for the likes of iconic Bordeaux and Burgundy slowly plateaus, collectors are turning their attention to other wine-producing regions in Europe. Italy has consistently piqued interest in recent times, and now a new report has hailed the country’s Piemonte area as the ‘last great wine region in the world’.

In the report, wine critic Matthew Jukes explores 121 estates, and reveals scores and notes on some 1,400 wines, including reviews of the ‘terrific’ soon-to-be-released 2016 vintage.

Speaking to Harpers, Jukes said: “The region is finally starting to get its act together and make consistently stunning wines from a growing band of elite producers, wines that are unlike anything else on the planet, not least because of the extraordinary topography, unique history, incredible food culture and peerless quality of the Nebbiolo grape.”

He added that Piemonte is “one of the greatest value regions to get to know”, and while prices have gradually risen over the past years many wines represent an “absolute bargain” for collectors.

According to Jukes: “I call Piemonte ‘the last great wine region in the world’ and while this is a lofty statement I genuinely mean it. We have already recognised the other greats and yet Piemonte’s wines are often absent from collectors’ cellars and wine lovers’ dining room tables.”


Pink Prosecco gets the green light

Authorities in Italy have given winemakers the go-ahead to produce rosé Prosecco. The DOC legislation has been in the pipeline for some time, and has now been officially approved by Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. It’s expected to become available as soon as January 2021.

In order to label Prosecco DOC as rosé, producers will have to follow specific rules. Glera and Pinot Noir will be the only permitted grape varieties with 10-15% Pinot Noir allowed. Maximum yields are 18 tonnes per hectare for Glera and 13.5 tonnes per hectare for Pinot Noir, and the wine may only be produced in two styles, Brut Nature and Extra Dry. It must also be made using the Charmat method, with a minimum of 60 days’ secondary fermentation in a pressurised tank.

“We’re thankful to all those who’ve contributed to gaining such a key result,’ said Stefano Zanette, president of the Prosecco DOC Consortium. “Considering the current circumstances, this is particularly important.”

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