A memorable vertical of Clos des Ducs

A memorable vertical of Clos des Ducs

Wednesday 22nd May 2019
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

When an invitation to a 29 wine vertical of Marquis d’Angerville’s Monopole Clos des Ducs landed on my e-doorstep, I did not think twice.  Invites like this don’t come round very often, in fact it may be the only chance I ever get to taste this wine so extensively, I thought to myself.  

Guillaume d’Angerville had hosted such a tasting on only two previous occasions, one at the estate and one in the US. As the small group of importers and journalists sat there in d’Angerville’s cellars, a collective and very palpable sense of excitement was building. By the end of both an enjoyable and educational tasting, there was a sense we had all partaken in something very special. A feeling exuded by Guillaume as much as anyone else, for whom tasting pre 2003 vintages must have brought back vivid recollections of his father. Great wine should not only be a highly pleasurable sensory experience but an evocative and emotional one that creates memories, and as such is all the better for being shared. The Clos des Ducs tasting proved this as much as any I have been to. 

Bordeaux 2018 - The Wine Advocate scores are in

Bordeaux 2018 - The Wine Advocate scores are in

Wednesday 24th April 2019
by Tom Jenkins

Many will remember waiting enthusiastically for the Wine Advocate to drop through the letterbox, or for a poor resolution scan to be emailed from the States, via Bordeaux. The age of the internet has made distribution more equitable and efficient, but maybe some of the romance and thrill has ebbed away. 

Anyway, enough nostalgia, the scores are in and it’s fair to say that Lisa Perrotti-Brown is a big fan. Her report echoes our thoughts on this magical vintage – extreme peaks and a bit of mediocrity. It’s a fascinating read. For those who do not subscribe, we have quoted some of the most salient bits below. We have also listed the 12 potential 100 point wines.

‘In this vintage of extremes, a producer undaunted by flirting with disaster and with a bit of luck on his/her side could well have sailed over the finish line to glory with all the flair and panache of Alain Prost. Or they could have cartwheeled down the track, combusting into a ball of flames. 2018 offers us the thrill of victory for a number of wineries, the agony of defeat for a few and a whole lot of also-rans…

A Spotlight on Burgundy

A Spotlight on Burgundy

Wednesday 17th April 2019
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

Since our inception in St James’s in 1749, Justerini & Brooks has always looked to push boundaries and explore new territories in the world of fine wine. Before it found such popularity over the last decade or so, Burgundy had long been at the heart of our illustrious portfolio.  

In 1992 Hew Blair pioneered the introduction of Burgundy En Primeur tastings by becoming the first British merchant to showcase barrel samples from family-owned Burgundy domaines to private customers, fundamentally altering the way the UK bought its Burgundy.  Hew would go on to become our Chairman in 2008, a position he still holds to this day, and served as President of the Royal Warrant Holders Association in 2011. During his 45 years of service to the company Hew has watched the wine world blossom, seeing Burgundy go from the point of near commercial irrelevance to its current position as one of the most coveted wine-producing regions in the world. We now buy from over fifty producers and are immensely proud to be one of the largest domaine-bottled Burgundy importers in the UK.

Bordeaux 2018 - A Roller Coaster Vintage

Bordeaux 2018 - A Roller Coaster Vintage

Monday 15th April 2019
by Tom Jenkins

There were no magic micro-climates in 2018. This simple analysis of the vintage is the same from St Estephe to Castillon. This is one of the great turn-around stories, from despair to elation, but it was anything but straightforward. Nicolas Audebert from Rauzan Segla and Canon coined it the ‘Grand Huit’, or a rollercoaster. Even when summer arrived, this brought its own challenges. Water stress is necessary to make great red wines, however, those without clay subsoils were at risk of hydric stress and the dangers of blocked maturity. 

After a natural crop thinning by virtue of mildew, the vines were not carrying an abundance of fruit. Most vignerons didn’t do much in the way of green harvests and many did minimal canopy thinning. What was on the vine was very healthy with thick skins and wonderful potential. 

South Africa: Brave New World (Part 1)

South Africa: Brave New World (Part 1)

Wednesday 10th April 2019
by Mark Dearing

Fresh from a tour of the Cape winelands I feel animated as never before about the wines of South Africa. Not only is this the most exciting wine producing country in the “New World” in my view, it is a country with a rich cultural history and heritage unlike any other.

Despite a winemaking legacy that originated in Constantia in the late 1600s, what we consider now as the beginning of the modern era began in 1994 at the end of apartheid and the country’s re-emergence at an international level. Well-established wine estates such as Kanonkop, Meerlust, Vergelegen, Rustenberg, Boschendal, Hamilton Russell, Klein Constantia, Rust en Vrede and others were reinvigorated and set the tone for the new, outward looking wine industry, building more established, consistent brands that became reasonably successful. Unfortunately, that did little to stem the tide of the newly tradeable, poor-quality bulk wine from virus-ridden vineyards that was still to mark South Africa’s card for at least the next decade. The political and economic freedoms in the new South Africa would not herald the rebirth of a truly great wine industry for a few years yet. For in the post-apartheid decade, it’s fair to say that priorities, naturally, laid more in building improved legal and political infrastructures, curbing entrenched racial and economic inequality, and refining the country’s reputation on the world stage; issues that endure to this day and that no other serious wine producing country needs to face up to in quite the same way.

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