New grape varieties

Fine wine news roundup: 29 June – 5 July


Liber Pater unveils the world’s most expensive wine

Boutique Bordeaux producer Liber Pater is set to release its next vintage at £26,200 per bottle, making it the most expensive wine in the world.

Only 550 bottles of the 2015 vintage have been produced, and just 240 will be released in batches of 6-18 per export market.

The wine was created from ungrafted varieties traditionally grown in Bordeaux, such as Castets, Tarney-Coulant and Pardotte. Its vines were planted at the traditional higher planting density of 20,000 vines per hectare, compared to the usual 8,000-11,000 commonly planted nowadays. Speaking to the drinks business, Liber Pater’s founder Loic Pasquet says the wine “captures the taste of true pre-Phylloxera Bordeaux”.

Of the eye-watering price tag – which far surpasses Liber Pater’s already-pricey existing wines that sell for around £3,300 a bottle – Pasquet says that “the market decides the price”, and that the 2015 vintage is a wine “elevated to the level of art”.


Masseto to launch second wine

Super Tuscan wine producer Masseto is launching a second wine this autumn. Called ‘Massetino’, the first vintage – from 2017 – will initially only be available in Italy and the US from October.

The wine came about due to smaller quantities of Masseto being produced following a hot and dry vintage. CEO of Masseto, Giovanni Geddes, said:  “It seems to be a natural development for the Masseto Estate to produce a ‘second vin’ and the 2017 vintage proved to be the right time to do it.

“It is an exciting moment for the Masseto Estate and the new winery provides us with the right environment to pursue this new project.”


Chateau Lafite reveals name of its Chinese wine

Chateau Lafite has announced the name and release date of its inaugural vintage made on its wine estate in China. Called ‘Long Dai’, the 2017 vintage will be available from September, although its price is yet to be confirmed.

Chateau Lafite’s Chinese vineyard, named Domaine de Penglai after the nearby city of the same name, began life in 2008.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Marselan and Cabernet Franc, the wine is made from vines planted in 2011 on slopes in the Qiu Shan Valley, in the north-eastern province of Shandong. It’s spent 18 months in French oak barrels, and just 2,500 cases have been produced.

Long Dai will initially only be available to customers in China, but Lafite’s CEO, Jean-Guillaume Prats, says that distribution to export markets will be addressed in early 2020.


Bordeaux winemakers will permit new grape varieties to combat climate change

A landmark vote has permitted the introduction of seven new grape varieties in Bordeaux in a bid to fight climate change.

According to a statement from Bordeaux’s wine union, the seven new varieties include Marselan, Touriga Nacional, Castets and Arinarnoa as reds, and Alvarinho, Petit Manseng and Liliorila as whites.

The grape varieties have been chosen for their resistance to specific diseases and ability to cope with warmer weather. The grapes will be allowed to constitute up to 10% of a final blend, but only take up 5% of a producer’s vineyard area.

Final approval must still be given by France’s national appellation authority, INAO, but if passed, plantings could begin in the 2020/21 season.


Half a million euros worth of fine wine stolen from Paris restaurant

Some €400,000 to €600,000 worth of fine wine has been stolen from a famous Paris restaurant in a daring heist.

The robbery, which took place at the Michelin-starred Maison Rostang, saw thieves make off with 150 bottles. Exactly what was stolen has not been revealed, but the restaurant’s cellars are known to contain labels from some of the greatest French producers, including Petrus and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.

According to local news reports, the thieves gained access to the cellar – which is currently being renovated – through a narrow opening just 50cm across.

This is by no means the first fine wine heist Paris has seen. Most notably, in 2017, a gang broke into a private cellar via the Paris catacombs, stealing wines worth €250,000.

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