Fine wine news roundup: 29 August – 4 September
Ornellaia’s latest Vendemmia bottles auctioned by Sotheby’s
Large format bottles from Ornellaia’s 12th ‘Vendemmia d’Artista’ series, featuring the work of Tomas Saraceno, are being sold online by Sotheby’s this month.
Twelve imperials and one Salmanazar of the 2017 vintage are available to bid on until 9th September, with proceeds supporting the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s ‘Mind’s Eye’ initiative for the blind.
For the last 12 years Ornellaia has invited artists to design limited edition labels for its vintages. Argentinian Saraceno was asked to interpret the harvest of the 2017 vintage through the theme ‘solare’. The labels on each of the imperials are thermos-chromic, and thus change colour with the heat of one’s hand.
The Salmanazar, which includes a small sculpture of a glass sphere floating above the bottle, is being offered with an exclusive visit to the estate – it has a pre-sale estimate of £30,000 to £60,000.
Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of Sotheby’s Wine, commented: “For the second consecutive year, the special auction celebrating the 2017 ‘Solare’ will be offered online. The sublime marriage of art and wine in these unique large format bottles is a winning combination that will prove enticing to collectors around the world.”
Chateau Palmer announces start of ex-cellar release programme
Margaux estate Chateau Palmer has launched a new ex-cellar release programme, dubbed ‘N-10’, beginning with the 2010 vintage. According to the estate, the last Thursday of every September will see the release of a 10-year-old vintage of a Grand Cru from its cellars.
The estate did not confirm exactly how much stock would be released, but indicated that these tranches would mark the ‘final’ release of each vintage. Each will be entrusted to a selection of negociants from the Place de Bordeaux.
The inaugural release, taking place on 24th September, will feature the property’s 2010 vintage – widely considered one of the greatest years Bordeaux has seen in the last decade. According to chateau director Thomas Duroux, the 2010 “fully justifies the hopes placed in it: black fruits, aromatic herbs and precious spices; imposing tannins, in an incredibly well structured construction; perfect balance and harmony. A crucial first step on the long road to its full disclosure…’’.
In a statement, the estate explained why it considered 10 years to be the right point to approach its Grand Vin. “For Chateau Palmer, 10 years marks an age of reason, the arrival at a first level of maturity. In the shadows of the cellar, from the bottom of these bottles which have never left the chateau, the wine reveals its identity, its character, the spectrum of its aromatic nuances. After 10 years of evolution inside the bottle, now in light of its tasting, it can finally reveal itself. Or wait patiently for another peak.”
Vinedo Chadwick 2018 hailed as ‘best ever’
The 2018 vintages of Vinedo Chadwick and Sena – released this week via La Place de Bordeaux – have been described as “the best ever” by Magui Chadwick. In an interview with the drinks business, the family ambassador for the iconic Chilean label said that 2018’s climatic conditions were “perfect” for both wines.
Vinedo Chadwick is made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot sourced from the Puente Alto DO in the Maipo Valley, while Sena – which began life in 1995 as a joint project between Robert Mondavi and Eduardo Chadwick – hails from the Aconcagua Valley. The 42-hectare Sena vineyard is used to make a red blend, which for the 2018 comprises 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Malbec, 15% Carmenere, 7% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.
Production volumes for Vinedo Chadwick are similar as for 2017, while slightly less of Sena was made in 2018 in comparison to previous years.
“Production was smaller because, as it was such a good year, we had several different blending options and decided to go with this one, which was a bit smaller, but it was the best. We wanted to make it unique,” Chadwick said.
New Zealand winegrowers celebrate ‘exceptional’ harvest
Despite the ongoing global pandemic, New Zealand’s 2020 has been dubbed ‘exceptional’ in quality and quantity, according to the New Zealand Winegrowers annual report.
Production volumes rose 10.6% from 297.4 million litres in 2019 to 329 million litres in the 2020 harvest. Average yields, meanwhile, were at 11.4 tonnes per hectare, the best performance since 2016.
John Clarke, chair of New Zealand Winegrowers, said: “Our total 2020 harvest reflects the near perfect growing conditions experienced in most of the country, and a 2% increase in planted area to 39,935ha.
“Our sustained export success, even during a global pandemic, reinforces our international reputation for premium, diverse and sustainable wines. This year’s vintage will help the industry to meet the high demand for New Zealand wine.”
Meanwhile, the country’s wine exports rose 6% in the year to June 2020, hitting NZ$1.92bn (£970m) for the first time.
French winemakers see earliest harvest since 1556
A string of heatwaves and extreme weather conditions have forced winemakers in France to start the earliest grape harvest in nearly 500 years.
This year’s start date in the middle of August equalled that of the 1556 vintage – joint earliest since records began in 1371. It follows a trend in recent years of increasingly early harvests, which experts attribute to the changing climate.
Vineyards in Burgundy began picking on 16th August, with those in Bordeaux following just two days later.
Despite the hot year, growers in France are optimistic for the 2020 harvest. Speaking to Decanter, Jacques Lurton, president of Vignobles Andre Lurton, said he was pleased with the balance of the grapes being brought in so far. “We don’t have an acidity problem this year,” he said, reporting that pH levels were relatively low.
Meanwhile, Chateau Smith Haut Lafite told France 3 News that the estate’s white grapes showed a “nice balance and liveliness” so far.