After a lovely trip to Bordeaux this month, we wanted to share some insights after tasting over 300 wines. Our trip involved guided tours by negociants and importers, as well as some self-directed time to UGC tastings. 2015 is a very good to possibly great vintage. There are lots of comparisons swirling already to 2005, 2009, and possibly 2010. It's more important to focus on the fact that 2011-2014 were vintages most lovers of Bordeaux just assume forget. Sure, there were some well made wines, but the rising tide lifts all boats. And, in 2015, the repeated refrain from most of the folks we talked to was this: Hot July, cooling begin in August with warming toward the end of August. Some scattered rains which brought relief to the vines, but dried out nicely. Warm days and cool nights proceeded into September with most of harvesting finished by the first week in October. A remarkable vintage because there were no remarkable weather threats.
The key findings when describing the wines of 2015 en primeur, and indeed, the descriptors most often repeated in our notes were: ripe, soft, integrated, ready, fresh, charming, fruity, precocious, elegant, refined, supple tannins, YUM, outstanding, and delicious.
Many of the critics and experts are especially excited about Pomerol, St. Emilion, Pessac-Leognan, and spots throughout the left bank, especially in Pauillac, St. Julien and St. Estephe. It's clear that the overall impression is very good. Wineries that may be borderline and satellite communities of greater Bordeaux will be markedly improved and savvy shoppers will want to look out for buying opportunities in the $20-35 price range for wines that over-deliver for near term pleasure and potential near term aging.
For us, some of the standout wines of the vintage include:
2015 Ch. Angelus St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe A 99pts
2015 Ch. Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 99 pts
2015 Ch. L'Evangile Pomerol 98-99 pts
2015 Ch. Pavie St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe A 98-99 pts
2015 Ch. Mouton Rothschild 98 pts
2015 Ch. Margaux 98 pts
2015 Ch. Cheval Blanc St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe A 97 pts
2015 Ch. d'Yquem Sauternes 97 pts
2015 Ch. Haut Brion 97 pts
2015 Ch. Cos d'Estournel St. Estephe 96-98 pts
2015 Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac 96 pts
2015 Ch. Montrose St. Estephe 96 pts
2015 Ch. Calon Segur St. Estephe
2015 Ch. Latour Pauillac 96 pts
2015 Ch. Monbousquet St. Emilion 96 pts
2015 Ch. Canon St. Emilion Grand Cru 95-96 pts
2015 Ch. La Mission Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan 95-96
2015 Ch. Ducru-Beaucaillou St. Julien 95 pts
2015 Ch. Tropolong-Mondot St. Emilion 1er Grand Cru 95 pts
2015 Ch. Fleur-Cardinale St. Emilion 95 pts
2015 Ch. Pape-Clement Blanc Pessac-Leognan 95 pts
2015 Ch. Duhart-Milon Pauillac 95 pts
2015 Ch. Doisy-Daene Barsac 95 pts
2015 Ch. Monbousquet Blanc 95 pts
2015 Ch. Margaux Pavillon Blanc 94 pts
2015 Ch. Palmer Margaux 94 pts
2015 Ch. Fombrauge St. Emilion Grand Cru 94 pts
2015 Ch. Clerc-Milon Pauillac 94 pts
2015 Ch. Malescot St. Exupery 94 pts
BHW maintains a private client list and offers up fine, rare and impossible to find wines to our faithful followers. If the results of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 from 2013, combined with a return to growth in building and real estate values point to a bullish economy, let me offer another indication. Last month, we sold the most expensive single bottle of wine we've sold in our short history. The wine was a six liter bottle of Lafite Rothschild from 2000. Lafite has been the runaway favorite for newly initiated drinkers, particularly from BRIC countries and investors over the last decade. Lafite sets its own course and the rest of bordeaux orbits its trajectory. Lafite suffered a severe downturn since 2010 combined with the change over in administration in China's government and the stated claims to install austerity measures, elsewhere known as being practical. All of Bordeaux has been dealt a sobering hand by mother nature with successive vintages in 2011, 2012, and 2013 generally being relegated to forgotten vintages. Somehow, this just makes karmic sense given the succession of "vintages of the century" in 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2010. I'm a student of history and I've always considered the Roaring Twenties (1920's that is) to be a halcyon period, about which I'll occasionally daydream. This may be the result of having a infectious and dramatic nine grade English teacher who made the Great Gatsby come alive. Perhaps and hopefully, the US and the world economy will enter a new era we'll come to call the twenty-first century roaring teens. I can tell you that the fine wine market is very fine indeed, and ticking onward and upward.
6L = 8 750ml bottles
750 ml = 25.3 ounces
25.3 ounces = 5 glasses of wine
1 glass of wine = 5 oz
203 oz in 1 6 Liter bottle
1 oz of Evian water = $.13
1 oz. of premium gasoline = $.04
1 oz. of gold = $1240
1 oz. high quality bud in CO = $300
1 oz of Lafite 2000 = $98.52
1 6L bottle Lafite 2000 sold for $20,000
This is it.
This is what matters.
The experience of a product.
How it makes someone feel.
Will it make life better?
Does it deserve to exist?
If you are busy making everything,
How can you perfect anything?
We spend a lot of time
On a few great things.
Until every idea we touch
Enhances each life it touches.
- seen in an ad for Apple.
We love Apple and have been an all Apple office for over 10 years. What struck me is not only the elegant if elliptical wording in this ad, but how appropriate it is to our wine business. Reread the above substituting "Wine" and consider the best wineries striving for perfection as they produce their respective cuvees. This is why Big Hammer Wines focuses on only the best. Herein, you'll find the results of our hard work and commitment to sourcing and selling the best wines at the best prices. Thanks for joining us.
The Signs a Wine Isn't What Its Label Says It Is
As the market for fine wine grows, so does the opportunity for making money from passing off a cheap blend as pricey aged Bordeaux.
Wine counterfeiters "are getting really sophisticated," says Charles Curtis, a New York-based wine consultant who, through his company Wine Alpha, offers a service that checks for fakes in the cellars of wealthy collectors throughout the world. "People are reusing old bottles, reapplying labels and corks-it's complex."
Few wine collectors have seen as many old bottles as Mr. Curtis, a former head of wine for Christie's auction house in Asia and the Americas. He now advises private clients on how to start or sell a collection as well as verifying the wines they own.
The problem of fakes is particularly acute in Asia, where the market for fine wine has boomed thanks to the rise of a new wealthy class amid strong economic growth in the region in recent years. Hong Kong now rivals New York and London as the world's most active center for wine auctions.
"They're acquiring faster than they're drinking or selling in Asia, whereas they're acquiring less in the West," he said, adding that because of the shift of demand eastward, the fakes often end up there, too. China, where many like to show off the expensive label rather than savor the drink inside, has become a major destination for fakes.
During his days at Christie's, Mr. Curtis developed his own checklist to verify a wine: "Capsule, cork, label, glass and finally, the wine."
He checks to see if the capsule, the protective foil sleeve affixed atop the bottle, matches the label. It should show signs of age and the foil design should match the château's style at the time of bottling. A sloppy fake will often have a new foil capsule on a purported old bottle.
Next, he'll remove the capsule to examine the cork. He'll shine a small, powerful flashlight at the neck of the bottle and examine the cork through the glass with a jeweler's loupe, a small magnifying glass. A cork with a hole in the middle is a sign it has been reused from another bottle. Mr. Curtis also will look for indent marks on the side of the cork to see if it was previously removed with two-prong openers. "Sometimes they'll sand down the sides of the cork, or re-apply ink on it," he said.
Then he checks the label. Fakes might include spelling errors or design mistakes that are inconsistent with the original. Mr. Curtis will often cross-reference a bottle with photos of past examples since labels, especially old ones, often vary from year to year. Still, there are times he gets fooled. He recently encountered a 3-liter bottle from a 1993 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze, a Burgundy wine, that stumped him. Unsure, he sent a photo of the label to the French winery, which confirmed it was real. It had made a special label that year for the large bottles.
As for the glass, or bottle, it should reveal age, if it purports to be old. Since wine is typically stored on its side, there should be sediment on one side of the bottle. "If it's an older bottle of wine that looks new, it's probably not 50 years old," he says.
Finally, Mr. Curtis examines the wine itself. With his light and the loupe, he looks at the color. "Older wines are turning orange on the edge of the wine and in the middle, it'll be a plumy dark color. A new wine will be just dark all around."
Mr. Curtis says he can now sample a wine without removing the cork, using a new gadget called a Coravin, which sticks a thin, hollow needle through the cork so the wine can be poured. The most obvious fakes will pass off a Chilean Cabernet or Australian Shiraz as an aged wine from a renown Bordeaux producer.
The difficult-to-spot fakes involve similarly aged vintages of wines from the same producer "like a 1964 Bordeaux that is being labeled as a 1961 Bordeaux-1961 was a great year, but 1964 is about the same age. If you're not used to tasting the 1961, how are you going to know?"
For novices, Mr. Curtis says one sign a wine isn't the real thing is if the deal is too good to be true. "If it's half the price at normal auction, it's probably not real."
Second, he recommends asking the seller where the wines were last bought and stored. Auction houses should have a confident answer; if they don't, he recommends not bidding.
Finally, a careful inspection of the label will often reveal the most blatant fakes-spelling mistakes or design irregularities are the tipoffs. If you still aren't sure about a wine, seek an expert. Mr. Curtis says auction houses have their own or can suggest an independent consultant. He adds collectors can contact the Appraisers Association of America for a certified wine appraiser. "If you're spending the amount of a small car on a bottle of wine, you should ask someone who knows," he says.
Wine linked to lower disease-related mortality risk in men: study
In a study of more than 32,000 men in France, those who got more than half their alcohol consumption from wine had a lower risk of death from heart disease and several different cancers.
Source: NY Daily News
July 22, 2013
A wide sweeping study has found a link between moderate wine consumption and a lower risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer among middle-aged men, lending more credence to the French paradox.
After following up with 35,292 men over about 28 years, researchers from the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and Bordeaux Segalen University in France found that when more than 50 percent of their alcohol consumption came from wine, subjects showed a lower risk of death from heart disease as well as lung, lip, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, bladder and rectal cancers.
In numbers, moderate wine consumption was associated with a 40 percent reduced risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease, and a 20 percent reduced risk of death from cancer.
At the beginning of the study, subjects ranged in age from 40 to 65 years and hailed from Eastern France. In the end, a total of 4,035 deaths from cancer were recorded. Numbers for heart disease-related deaths were unavailable.
The results of the study were presented at WineHealth in Sydney, Australia, which wrapped up over the weekend.
When it comes to the famous French paradox, however -- that long-standing belief that the health benefits of red wine negate the effects of the famously rich, high-fat diet and the risk of coronary heart disease -- the scientific community is divided.
A study printed the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health also suggested that drinking up to half a glass of wine a day can boost life expectancy in males by five years after studying the driking habits of randomly selected men over a 40-year period.
But another study out of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, for instance, found that resveratrol, the magic ingredient in red wine thought to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of heart disease, had little effect in already healthy women. Though small, the study of 29 postmenopausal women found little health improvement in those who were given 75 mg of resveratrol daily -- a large amount equal to drinking 8 liters of red wine.