Bordeaux 2019: Southwold-on-Thames

Bordeaux 2019: Southwold-on-Thames

Thursday 26th January 2023
by Tom Jenkins

Hey Nineteen


Unlike the Donald Fagen song, I found myself on very much the same wavelength as these 19s. This was the best Southwold tasting I’ve been involved with, even trumping the outstanding 2009s and 2016s.

If we cast our minds back to a time before Covid, lockdowns and zoom tastings, Bordeaux enjoyed a perfect growing season with ample sunshine, hot days and rains that always arrived in the nick of time. Few vintages could have been so easy. Even the harvest was a breeze. As Omri Ram from Lafleur explained later, they thought they had a big, “solaire” vintage on their hands, but as vinifications evolved they realised 2019 was something special. These wines have a real core and middle, a sense of line and precision, energy and latent power. There’s charm in abundance but look below the surface and you’ll find something very serious, even profound.

Vintage Report: Burgundy 2021

Vintage Report: Burgundy 2021

Monday 12th December 2022
by Julian Campbell

Triumph over adversity


A vintage full of jewel-like wines that have emerged from a growing season that was never plain sailing. After a devastating early spring frost, growers had to work harder than ever, all the while bringing in some of their smallest crops on record.

It is hard to know where to start when writing up a region as complex and varied as Burgundy, but if you’ll allow us an opening generalisation, it is this; we love this vintage. Indeed, if we strip away recent solaire vintages and position the wines of 2021 in the wider pantheon of Burgundy years, it is hard to see how this wouldn't be considered a very good, at times great vintage. The only real downside is that there’s so little to go around.

2018 Red Burgundy Retrospective

2018 Red Burgundy Retrospective

Thursday 8th December 2022
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

Red Burgundy retrospective


A September check-in on the 2018 red Burgundies proved a fascinating, and at times, thrilling five days of tasting. I had not tasted the vintage so extensively since the Autumn of 2019 and so I was delighted to find as many good wines as I did then, from barrel; if anything I came away even more enthused than my initial impressions allowed me. Many of the wines have found a calmness and balance I had not broadly predicted at the time: alcohols were a little less dominant and bold tannins, though still very much a feature of the vintage, were better matched to the fruit.  There is no doubting this is a big, powerful vintage, of course, but they seem to have settled into themselves and feel a bit less daunting. Whilst it is clearly one of the less consistent red vintages of the last few years, lack of freshness or predominance of brett being the two major pitfalls, there were so many wines I loved; many wines I could seem myself enjoying earlier in their life than I had imagined. Be selective but don’t miss the 2018s, embrace their exuberance and boldness, you won’t regret it.  

2018 White Burgundy Retrospective

2018 White Burgundy Retrospective

Wednesday 7th December 2022
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

The burgfest team convened earlier in the summer to assess the 2018 White Burgundy vintage in bottle.


Burgfest is a crack team of 10 Burgundy specialists, a mixture of wine merchant buyers and journalists, gathered in the peaceful setting of the wonderful Hameau de Barboron just outside of Savigny Les Beaune.

The tasting gives the lucky participants a unique perspective on a vintage; the ability to taste 1ers and Grands Crus from the top producers, both established and up and coming, from right across the Cote d’Or and Chablis, is a privilege not lost on the tasters – tasting 4 Montrachets or a flight of 8 Chevaliers Montrachets side by side is certainly not a responsibility taken lightly. The wines are tasted in flights grouped by village and then by single vineyard (if enough samples to form a flight will allow) or failing that are grouped by style / location of vineyard – eg high slope Chassagnes.   However, thereafter the identities of the wines and producers are not known. Tastings are in the mornings only, to avoid palate fatigue, to allow group discussion and also to give tasters time to formulate as accurate and reasoned a view, wine by wine, as possible.  

Vintage Report: Rhône 2021 En Primeur

Vintage Report: Rhône 2021 En Primeur

Wednesday 23rd November 2022
by Mark Dearing

We have always adored the Rhône Valley in all its luminous, lavish, multi-faceted splendour. It is, though, an uncomfortable truth that the Rhône has fallen out of favour to the sorts of “precise”, “vivid”, “mineral-driven” wines that are easy to appreciate but hard to access.

By contrast, the immense Rhône Valley sits as a model of celebration and simplicity. There is freedom in a largely benevolent climate; a wide array of grape varieties, microclimates and soils; and the desire to articulate things as they are. Prices remain largely very fair for wines that – in the south especially – have remarkably wide drinking windows. Embroidered with silken fruits, berries and flowers, the wines are a joy to drink in the first few years, and will often hold for several decades. One does not come to Châteauneuf-du-Pape to die on the altar of acidity. We who love the tremor of the south are happy to luxuriate in the amplitude and pantheon of the Mediterranean, and feel compelled to invite others to bathe in its glow. To have it any other way would be to lose the essence of the wine world’s most famous and well-known appellation: the very first of its kind. 

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