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Read here about exciting new additions to our range and latest vintage assessments around the world.

Charles Heidsieck Champagne Incentive - Autumn 2015


During the next 3 months we will be giving away some very attractive free gifts when you buy from our delicious range of Charles Heidsieck Champagnes.

Spend >CHF900 – receive 6 free Charles Heidsieck Champagne flutes
If you spend CHF900 or more, you will receive one box of 6 free Charles Heidsieck “Crayère” champagne flutes.




Spend >CHF1800 – receive a free Riedel Champagne decanter:
If you spend CHF1800 or more, you will receive a unique Charles Heidsieck -engraved Riedel Champagne carafe/decanter.




Top spender - receive a de luxe Charles Heidsieck travelling trunk!:
Our highest spending customer by value on Charles Heidseick Champagnes during the incentive period will receive a de luxe Charles Heidsieck Trunk “1860”, based on a minimum qualifying spend (to qualify for this prize) of CHF6,000.

For Charles Heidsieck (aka Champagne Charlie), the year 1860 was the pinnacle of his success. Eight years after his first trip to America, he arrived in New York to a hero’s welcome. Discreet and elegant, his new wine-tasting trunk enabled him to inject sparkle into every social gathering. This reissue in precious wood contains the very quintessence of the House: three magnums of Brut Réserve NV and a Jeroboam (double magnum) of 1989. Refined and generous, with a dozen blown-glass champagne flutes and serving kit (napkins and wine stoppers), the 1860 trunk is the perfect facilitator of a successful occasion!
Please note:-
• Our Charles Heidsieck Champagne incentive will run from Wednesday 23rd September to Wednesday 23rd December inclusive.
• To qualify for the above prizes, you must spend the required amounts solely on Charles Heidsieck Champagnes.

To browse our range of Charles Heidsieck Champagnes, please click here

• The above prizes are mutually exclusive, i.e. If you spend >CHF1800 you will receive a free Riedel decanter instead of, not in addition to, the 6 Champagne flutes.
• The winner of the 1860 Charles Heidsieck trunk will be informed by31st December 2015 latest.

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My Top 30 Bordeaux 2014 «en primeur» recommendations:



All my recommendations above have to pass 2 tests;
• Are they really good quality, worthy of buying en primeur?
• Are they fairly priced?
If a wine fails either of these criteria, I am not offering it. Quite simply, I want to help you decide, not confuse you!

If you would like to buy any of these wines above, please contact me soon:
paul@realwines.ch

(Please be aware that these wines will not be deliverable until May 2017.)

5 things you must know – Bordeaux 2014s

• 2014 is a very good to excellent vintage in my opinion, specifically from the Northern Medoc (Pauillac, St Estephe and St Julien) and in the top wines of Pomerol and St Emilion. The dry whites from Pessac Leognan and Sauternes are also excellent. Quite simply, 2014 is my favourite vintage since 2000 apart from the “greats” – 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010. For my full vintage report please see the attached.
• This is a very good “classic” vintage; the wines have excellent balance and are not forced in any way. The good reds have fine, firm tannic structure which will allow them to age easily for 20 years or more, perfectly balanced by a freshness of acidity and purity of fruit. This appealing fruit character means that that they will be approachable fairly early, from 5 years of age onwards (except for the First Growths which will need longer).
• The dry whites and Sauternes are genuinely worth considering this year. The long cool summer has given them a wonderful fresh core of acidity to balance their richness and complexity of fruit. I was never a fan of Bordeaux’s dry whites until fairly recently. Quality and style seem to have improved considerably in the last few years and these 2014s are delicious!
• Pricing: as usual there are few clear-cut bargains. However most of the wines below have been priced at levels close to that producer’s 2012s, and noticeably cheaper than their equivalent quality vintages currently on the market such as 2008 and 2006 (which are not as good!)
• Should you buy? Remember:-
• Currency: The CHF is currently extremely strong against the euro. How much further can the euro fall? My gut feel is that this is a very good time to be buying Bordeaux futures from a pure currency point of view.
• Our prices: Our en primeur prices are very competitive. They include MWST and the cost of importing and delivering these wines to you in Switzerland. These prices will go up after this en primeur campaign is finished in July. I don’t believe you will see better prices in the future than these.
• Availability: Some of these wines will sell quickly in the next few weeks. If you want to be sure of receiving an allocation of your favourite wine, now is the time to commit!

You can read my full review of the 2014 vintage below.


Chateau Leoville Las Cases in St Julien – one of the great successes of the 2014 vintage



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A great write up on Charles Heidsieck champagnes in the UK
Daily Telegraph newspaper, November 2014:

www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/drinking_and_dining/51864/how-charles-camille-heidsieck-became-the-original-champagne-charlie.html



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Bordeaux 2013 – the ultimate challenge in the vineyards

Chateau Pichon Lalande – my wine of the vintage


The chateau


Their brand new, state-of-the art cellars


Pichon Lalande and Latour vineyards as seen from the winery

Summary

Vintage overview

The 2013 vintage was one of the most challenging on record throughout Bordeaux.
Winter and Spring were extremely wet with 20% more rainfall than the annual average over the past 30 years. May and June remained cool and wet, causing a late and long-drawn-out flowering (veraison) . These wet conditions affected Merlot’s fruitset particularly badly – with a very high percentage of grapes being lost to “coulure”.
“Flowering happened in the worst conditions since 1984” summarised Jean Michel Comme of Pontet Canet, which like most other chateaux saw greatly reduced crops at this stage. At Vieux Chateau Certan in Pomerol, 50% of the crop was lost at flowering. However, according to winemaker Guillaume Thienpont, “if they had not had coulure at flowering, but instead a normal quantity of grapes, the resulting grape quality would have been much worse. The smaller number of grapes were able to ripen as well as was possible in this vintage – more grapes could not have achieved ripeness before botrytis set in at the end of September”.
A hot July and a warm August meant crucially that the fruit ripened satisfactorily; there are no green fruit flavours this vintage. September was warm, wet and humid and in late September unexpectedly heavy rain and thunderstorms meant that wineries had to pick suddenly and quickly, using large teams of pickers to harvest all the grapes before botrytis set in. This clearly benefitted the top chateaux who had the financial means to hire large teams of pickers at short notice - Chateau Margaux for example needed a team of 300 pickers do complete the harvest in record fast time – but was a disaster for many petits chateaux.
Picking took place on the whole 1-2 weeks earlier than the chateaux would ideally have liked, meaning that although the fruit was ripe, sometimes the tannins were not completely ripe. Acidity levels are higher than in recent years, and alcohol lower – back to more classic levels between 12.5-13%.
A very careful sorting of only the healthiest grapes was crucial this year, so as not to include unripe or rot-affected grapes in the final wine, and those wineries which combined this with using a “light hand” in the winery - gentle extraction of tannins during fermentation and careful use of new oak during maturation - produced the best wines in this vintage.

Style
Medoc

The wines of the Médoc are generally light bodied with fresh acidity. On the positive side they have a delicious, almost Burgundian, purity of juicy red fruit flavours, with real clarity and precision. However they often lack mid palate density and weight, making them seem rather light and dilute . At the same time this is Bordeaux, not Burgundy , and so the underlying tannins are firm; sometimes too firm and in the worst cases bitter. Alcohols are fairly low at 12.5-13% - typical of “classic” cooler vintages in Bordeaux.

2013 is a Cabernet Sauvignon year in the Médoc.

Many chateaux used their highest proportions ever of Cabernet Sauvignon in their final blends this vintage; Ducru Beaucaillou 90%, Margaux 94%, Latour 95%, Lafite 98% and Pichon Lalande 100% Cabernet Sauvignon!
Why? Because the best terroirs in the Médoc are generally planted with Cabernet, and these tend to ripen 1-2 weeks earlier than the rest, which in 2013 was very important given the rapid onset of botrytis at the end of September.
Merlot from lesser sites was generally disappointing, with tannins and acidity too high, and fruit too light. Merlot also suffered more from disease, both at flowering and before harvest due to its earlier ripening and thinner skins which are more susceptible to botrytis.


Pauillac produced the best quality wines of the Medoc

Generally the more northerly appellations of the Médoc performed the best in 2013 -Pauillac and St Estèphe specifically. In St Estephe the clay sub soils absorbed the rain and humidity at the end of September better than soils further south, meaning that chateaux could wait a little longer before picking. And Pauillac quite simply has the highest proportion of great Cabernet Sauvignon producing terroirs in the Médoc.
St Julien was often disappointing , the tannins too firm and the wines too light on the mid palate. Notable exceptions were Ducru Beaucaillou and Clos de Marquis. Margaux was wetter in September than the appellations further north and produced very variable quality – the main exceptions being Chateaux Margaux and Rauzan Segla, both of which produced very fine wines . Thibault Pontallier of Chateau Margaux summed up the style of his wines very neatly thus: “What you lose in density, you gain in freshness, charm, fruit purity and tension”.
The reds of Pessac Leognan seemed to have more weight, structure and density of fruit, although their fruit character was often dark and a little cold and austere in comparison with the riper red fruit flavours of the Northern Medoc.

Right bank
Pomerol & St Emilion

This was also a hugely difficult vintage on the right bank of Bordeaux . Pomerol clearly performed better than St Emilion as a whole, producing some lovely wines with freshness, balance, delicious red fruit flavours and gentle, creamy opulence. Slightly higher temperatures and more wind up on the Pomerol plateau enabled the clay soils to remain fairly dry, so the Merlot vines didn’t suffer as much here as they did further down in St Emilion. In fact at Vieux Chateau Certan this was very much a Merlot year; they used their highest proportion ever (92%) of Merlot in their final blend.
St Emilion on the other hand produced a generally-disappointing array of wines; the fruit seeming often rather stewed and overripe, and the tannins painfully firm and drying on the finish.

A very good vintage for dry white wines

For the white wines of Graves and Pessac Léognan, 2013 was another very good year, slightly below 2011 and 2012 in quality. Sauvignon Blanc grapes ripen earlier than Semillon, so could be harvested clean and healthy before botrytis took hold. By the time the Semillon grapes were ripe, most had suffered from botrytis and so were used mainly in the sweet wines. There are therefore smaller proportions than usual of Semillon in the dry whites and more Sauvignon Blanc, giving wines of freshness and crisp acidity, pleasant ripe fruit flavours and an extra weight on the mid palate from their maturation in oak barrels. They are not as complex and rich as 2012, rather fresher, more aromatic and vibrant.

An excellent year for sweet wines

It is usually the case in Bordeaux that vintages which are poor for red wines produce excellent sweet wines – 2011, 2007 and 1997 are the most obvious recent examples – and 2013 is no exception. This was a very good to excellent vintage in Sauternes; the warm, damp, humid conditions in September being perfect for the development of “noble rot” in the later-ripening Semillon grapes. Importantly, there is a freshness of acidity, purity of fruit and intensity which provide the perfect foil to the complex range of botrytis flavours. This vintage is a little better than 2011 and similar to 2007 in quality, although does not quite hit the peaks of 2001.

Very small volumes

Because of the poor fruitset, the early onset of botrytis in late September and the drastic sorting by the better chateaux of only the healthiest grapes at harvest, volumes and yields in 2013 were significantly lower than in any vintage since 1991 – the “frost vintage”. Volumes fell 20-50% vs 2012, which was itself a low volume vintage, and yields such as 15hl/ha in Pontet Canet, 13hl/ha in Pichon Lalande and only 9hl/ha in Gruaud Larose were common – and well down on the usual average of around 35hl/ha.

When to drink?

These are wines which should be enjoyed young, any time between 5-10 years old. Some wines from the top chateaux should continue to drink well for up to 20 years, but this is not a vintage for long keeping. The wines simply don’t have enough fruit concentration, weight or density to balance their firm tannins and acidity.

2013 vs recent vintages

It is very difficult to compare 2013 with any other recent vintage. Various vintage comparisons were quoted by winemakers – 2008, 2007, 1988, 1984, 1969 – but always accompanied by the proviso that a similar quality level would not have been possible 20 years ago, given the adverse growing conditions this year.
For me, the most obvious recent comparison must be 2007, although the fruit tastes riper and sweeter in 2013, with more lively acidity and lightness on the mid palate and no hints of greenness.


Should you buy Bordeaux 2013 en primeur?

In summary, this is an average quality, “classic” red Bordeaux vintage which will provide some pleasant drinking experiences in the short to medium term. It is not a vintage which should be purchased for investment purposes as it does not have long term development potential beyond 20 years.
A handful of really lovely red wines were produced - given the constraints of the vintage - and these are likely to be popular en primeur, particularly with their small production volumes. It is also a very good year for dry and sweet white wines. So if you want to be sure of securing stock of any of these wines, or if 2013 was a special year for you which you would like to commemorate by buying large format bottles, then I would advise you to buy them en primeur.
Otherwise, the determining factor should, as ever, be price. En primeur release prices did not fall enough in 2011 or 2012 after the vastly expensive 2009 and 2010 vintages. These wines have not sold well as a result and there is still a lot of stock of both vintages lying in Bordeaux. The prices for 2013 therefore need to fall significantly from their 2012 release prices in order to provide enough reason for you to buy this vintage en primeur.
If they don’t, I would suggest you spend your money instead on the 2012 or 2008 vintages, both of which are still widely available on the market and are likely to offer some really interesting wines with a few more years’ bottle age.

Top tips – the wines which performed best this vintage


First Class - >CHF100/bt

• D’Yquem, Sauternes 19.5
• Haut Brion Blanc, Pessac Léognan 18+
• Ch. Margaux, Margaux 18+
• Trotanoy, Pomerol 18+
• Vieux Château Certan, Pomerol 18+
• Le Dôme, St Emilion 18
• La Mission Haut Brion Blanc, Pessac Léognan 17.5+
• Evangile, Pomerol 17.5
• La Fleur Petrus, Pomerol 17.5
• Pavillon Blanc de Ch.Margaux 17.5

Business class - CHF50-100/bt

• Pichon Lalande, Pauillac 18.5+
• De Fargues, Sauternes 18.5
• Suduiraut, Sauternes 18+
• La Tour Blanche, Sauternes 18+
• Ducru Beaucaillou, St Julien 18
• La Conseillante, Pomerol 17.5+
• Pontet Canet, Pauillac 17.5+
• Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pessac Léognan 17.5+
• De Chevalier Blanc, Pessac Léognan 17.5
• Grand Puy Lacoste, Pauillac 17.5
• Rauzan Segla, Margaux 17.5


Economy - <CHF50/bt

• Reserve de la Comtesse, Pauillac 17.5+
• Sigalas Rabaud, Sauternes 17.5+
• Haut Batailley, Pauillac 17.5
• Clos du Marquis, St Julien 17.5
• Lespault Martillac, Pessac Léognan 17.5
• Beauregard, Pomerol 17+
• Langoa Barton, St Julien 17+
• La Croix St Georges, Pomerol 17+
• Corbin, St Emilion 17+
• Lacoste Borie, Pauillac 17+



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Red Burgundy from the Côte de Nuits 2012 – a vintage not to be missed!

I visited 12 of the best known producers in Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits in November last year in a week when the region experienced its first heavy snowfalls of the winter, sub zero temperatures and a chill wind which made the growers’ cellars seem positively warming. Tasting red wines in these cool temperatures can be difficult, as the fruit is usually less expressive and acidity more noticeable. However despite these adverse external conditions, it soon became clear that 2012 will be an extremely good vintage!
Weather-wise, the first half of 2012 could hardly have been worse for the growers. An unusually cold, wet and dreary April, May and June slowed down the development of the vines and dragged the flowering out over several weeks in June, during which time oidium and mildew were a constant problem and had a major negative impact on yields. Then, from mid July onwards, the sun came out, the weather turned warm and dry, and these perfect conditions persisted well into September. The heat cooled off a little as harvest approached towards the back end of September - especially at night - which might help to explain the wonderfully fresh acidity evident in the 2012 reds.
As a result of this inclement weather in the first half of the growing season, volumes across Burgundy in 2012 are well down on a “normal” vintage - most growers used 2009 as this benchmark. In the Côte de Nuits, these shortfalls range between 20-40% vs 2009, whilst in the Côte de Beaune, production volumes were sometimes more than 50% down. Looking ahead, 2013 was an even more difficult and challenging growing season, with volumes even further reduced versus the norm. Securing allocations of both vintages will therefore be extremely difficult - and prices will without doubt go up significantly.
The (very positive) upside of this is that in 2012 these low yielding vines produced grapes which were considerably more concentrated than usual, with delicious purity of red fruit flavours and a crunchy fresh acidity which should assure the wines a fairly long life potential. There was in addition very often a richness, density and opulence of fruit, and a lush, creaminess of texture which differentiate this vintage from any recent ones. Some of the reds, even from top Grand cru sites, were extremely approachable already, but they have a firm and silky tannic structure which should enable long keeping. 2012 is very much a vintage where the characters of the individual terroirs shine through in the wines; not in the cool, very mineral and acidic style of 2008, rather in the more fruit-balanced style of 2010.
In summary, these are wines which will provide enormous drinking pleasure over both the short and long term, and 2012 is a red Burgundy vintage which any serious Pinot Noir lover should have in his cellar. Be prepared however for small allocations and high prices – there is sadly no way of avoiding this in this vintage.

You can taste a wide range of Burgundy 2012s for yourself at Real Wine’s joint tasting with Gerstl Weinselektionen on Tuesday 3rd June in the Schweizerhof Hotel in Bern.

Click here for more details...


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Bordeaux 2009 vintage – retasted 7th November 2013



PDF File (click to read)


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Bordeaux 2012 – a vintage with more ups and downs than the Gotthard pass

In the last week of April I visited Bordeaux to taste their latest vintage of wines which have recently been released onto the market as “en primeurs” (not yet in bottle).


Outside Chateau Margaux ready for the first tasting of the week

Here are my impressions, as published in Der Schweiz an Sonntag on 28th April.

This really is a vintage where you need to take advice from a wine merchant you trust. If you would like to buy any Bordeaux 2012 «en primeur» please contact me. I’d be delighted to advise and assist you in your purchase!

Vintage overview
2012 was not an easy vintage in Bordeaux, and nor is it an easy one to assess! It was, according to Paul Pontallier, Technical Director of Chateau Margaux, “a classical vintage – back to normal for Bordeaux. Everything was NOT perfect, unlike in 2009 and 2010!”
Quality is really very variable, particularly in the Médoc, where Cabernet Sauvignon had trouble ripening fully before the late September/October rains set in. “We ideally needed just one more week of good weather during the ripening process this vintage in order to get top quality, fully ripe Cabernet” surmised Christian Seely of Chateau Pichon Baron. Terroir was key, with the best, slightly warmer terroirs gaining that extra degree of ripeness which was so necessary this year.


Beautiful Ducru Beaucaillou

The growing season can be split into 3 parts:
Part 1 – Spring – wet and cool which lead to coulure (mildew) during a late and uneven flowering.
Part 2 – Summer (Mid July to late September) – very dry and quite warm, with a few very hot days
Part 3 – Harvest (late September and October) – fairly consistent rain, which meant that if growers picked too late, botrytis developed. Cabernet was often harvested just a little earlier than growers would ideally have liked; so full fruit ripeness sometimes had to be sacrificed to retain healthy grapes.

Style
The Cabernet-dominated blends of the Médoc tend to be fresh, precise, pure and elegant, with alcohols back to more classic levels between 13 and 13.5%. The wines have very fine but deceptively firm tannins, perfectly integrated oak vanillins on the finish, but often lack some weight and body in the mid palate. The fruit flavours are sometimes rather dark and cool; rarely green, but lack that extra ripeness and “exuberance” of cassis fruit which would make them so much more pleasurable. The best Classified Growths could afford to make very severe selections of only the ripest and healthiest grapes for their “grand vin”, and as a result have produced extremely high quality wines given the difficulties of this vintage. Lesser chateaux without these financial means could not afford to cut their yields so dramatically, thus quality at the lower end of the Medoc is extremely variable.


Horses at biodynamic Chateau Pontet Canet

The earlier-ripening Merlot-dominated blends of the Right Bank could be picked before the October rains, and so are sweeter in fruit, riper, denser and more aromatic, with higher alcohols around 14%. The vintage was a particular success in Pomerol, although Guillaume Thienpont of Vieux Chateau Certan observed that “with the growing climate of 2012, 15 years ago they could never have produced such good quality wine. Severe selection was the key this vintage”. St Emilion showed a much higher variation in quality levels, but did produce some delightfully fresh and fruity wines. According to the extremely modest Pauline Vauthier of Chateau Ausone, whose entire range of wines, from great value Fonbel to “only-for-millionaires” Ausone was one of the vintage’s great successes, “2012 (in St Emilion) produced wines of fruit and pleasure, without too much tannins or structure” .


Tasting at Leoville Barton – another tough afternoon’s work

This was a lovely year for dry white wines which were picked at the end of August/early September in perfect conditions and at perfect ripeness levels. I can not remember tasting such exciting white Bordeaux, particularly those with a dominance of waxy, full bodied Semillon to provide structure and excellent ageing potential.
It is difficult to generalise about Sauternes in 2012. On many occasions unfortunately the October rains prevented “noble” rot from developing, so some chateaux decided not to produce a “grand vin” (Yquem, Suduiraut, Rieussec). There were however some notable exceptions - Chateaux Climens and La Tour Blanche specifically - which somehow managed to produce top class, perfectly balanced and pure botrytised wines. According to Beronice Lurton, owner of Chateau Climens, it was her recent conversion to biodynamic viticulture which saved her grapes this year and gave them the strength to resist the dreaded grey rot; fascinating, and surely no coincidence, that two of the vintage’s greatest successes - Climens and Pontet Canet - are two of the very few Bordeaux chateaux who work biodynamically.


Tasting with the winemaker at one of my favourite Chateaux – Calon Segur

Production volumes
2012, like 2011, saw the lowest crops of “first” wines in the last 25 years due to fairly radical green harvesting after flowering and severe selection at harvest time. Yields were around 30% below average.

When to drink?
You should generally be able to start drinking the better Classified Growths of the Médoc in around 5-6 years, but they will have a long drinking life of up to 40 years. Lesser Médoc chateaux and most Right Bank wines will be approachable earlier than this, although without the same longevity. Louis Mitjaville, the outspoken owner of Chateau Tertre Rôteboeuf concluded that 2012 reds “will be charming in youth, but have the ability to age a long time”.


Inside Cheval Blanc’s winery: the latest in fermentation tank design

2012 vs recent vintages
According to Christian Seely of Chateau Pichon Baron, “2012 can be characterised by its precision, freshness, purity of fruit and approachable tannins. It is most like 1988 in style, although with the benefits of the much stricter vineyard practices used today”. Yves Delsol, Technical Director at Chateau Montrose, was even more positive:- “2012 was much better than 2008 or 2011, more accessible and a little riper, with similar amounts of tannins to 2010 but more supple”.
Assessing the vintage dispassionately, it has more warmth and density than the wet 2002 vintage and the cool, sometimes thin and green 2004s. It is not as acidic and herbaceous as 2007, and is more charming than 2011, although also more variable. It is indeed a “classic”, “traditional” Bordeaux vintage of overall moderate to good quality, similar in standard to 2008 and possibly in the long run 2001. But it is a vintage where you need to choose your chateau wisely – some are very good, but many will disappoint!


Pauline Vauthier, winemaker at Chateau Ausone, one of the vintages great successes

Should you buy Bordeaux 2012 en primeur?
The Bordeaux investment market has been in the doldrums for the past 18-24 months, with prices for its top wines having fallen by around 30% over this period. Prices for most 2009, 2010 and 2011 wines bought en primeur have barely increased, because Bordeaux chateau owners priced their wines so high on release that little room was left for customers to make profits in the short to medium term. And there are still significant quantities of 2010 and 2011 wines available now in Bordeaux. So, unless prices for 2012 fall dramatically this year, there is very little reason to buy this vintage en primeur from a pure investment perspective.
The only real reasons to buy en primeur this year therefore are 1) if you want to be absolutely sure of securing an allocation of your favourite wine, or 2) if you like to buy Bordeaux in unusual formats, ie half bottles or magnums. There are some very good wines, but I suspect that most will be easily available in bottle in two years’ time at around the same price as they will be released in the coming weeks.

Top tips – the wines which performed best this vintage

• First Class - >CHF100/bt
Ausone (19)
La Mission Haut Brion Blanc (19)
La Mission Haut Brion Rouge (18.5)
Margaux (18.5)
Cheval Blanc (18+)
Mouton (18+)
Léoville Las Cases (18+)
Vieux Chateau Certan (18+)
Climens (18+)

• Business class - CHF50-100/bt
Pontet Canet (18.5)
Calon Segur (18)
Clerc Milon (18)
Montrose (17.5)
Grand Puy Lacoste (17.5)
De Chevalier Rouge (17.5)
Canon (17.5)
La Conseillante (17.5)
De Chevalier Blanc (17.5)
« S » de Suduiraut, Sauternes dry white (17.5)

• Economy - <CHF50/bt
Langoa Barton (17+)
Capbern Gasqueton (17+)
De Fonbel (17+)
Marjosse Blanc (17+)
Phélan Ségur (17)
Pedesclaux (17)
Haut Batailley (17)
Clos du Marquis (17)
Saint Pierre (17)
Du Tertre (17)
La Pointe(17)

If you would like to buy any Bordeaux 2012 « en primeur » please contact me. I’d be delighted to advise and assist you in your purchase.


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When the year ends in 3...

It is always interesting at the start of a new year to look back at older vintages ending in the same number, both out of pure historical curiosity, but also to help those celebrating important “landmark” birthdays during the course of this year.

The most recent vintage ending in 3 – 2003 – was, as most of us will remember, the “heatwave” vintage throughout Europe, with a wonderfully long, hot and dry Summer. Excellent, fruit-concentrated and firmly-structured reds were produced in the Northern Medoc of Bordeaux – St Estèphe and Pauillac specifically - where the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon predominates. All the First Growths were superb (and are correspondingly expensive today!), but better value can be found from the best producers of St Estèphe – Cos, Montrose, Calon Segur and Phélan Ségur - whose wines were packed with juicy cassis fruit flavours and should be starting to drink well now. This was also a great vintage in the Northerly Loire Valley where the Cabernet Franc grape produced some of its finest ever reds in Saumur-Champigny, Bourgueil and Chinon.

Step back 20 years to 1993; a far better vintage in Burgundy, both for red and white wines, than in Bordeaux, which was extremely wet. The key ripening months of August and early September stayed dry in Burgundy, where the best Premiers and Grands Crus of Gevrey Chambertin and Vosne Romanée specifically produced attractive, sweet-fruited but firmly tannic Pinot Noirs which are delicious now. The best Chardonnays of Chassagne- and Puligny-Montrachet and Corton Charlemagne are still gloriously full, fresh and complex and should provide much drinking pleasure this year.

1983 was a variable year for red Bordeaux, where all but the top examples are now starting to show their age. For those with money to spare, the best wines of the vintage were Chateaux Margaux - whose 1983 is more legendary even than their 1982 - Cheval Blanc, and, slightly more affordable, Figeac and Vieux Chateau Certan. This was a superb year for the sweet white wines of Bordeaux, where ideal growing conditions produced perfect levels of botrytis; if you can get your hands on a bottle of Climens or Yquem from this vintage they will never disappoint! 1983 was also an excellent vintage for the Syrahs of the Northern Rhone Valley, where the best Cotes Roties and Hermitages have immense ageing potential.

For those celebrating 40th birthdays this year, 1973 was an almost universally difficult vintage. California was just starting to produce some top quality Cabernets – Heitz and Robert Mondavi were excellent examples – otherwise only Germany’s finest sweet Rieslings – of Beerenauslese sweetness level and above – should still be drinking beautifully.

1963 was a great year for the sweet Tokajis of Hungary, but is best-known for the supreme quality of its Vintage Ports; Taylor, Fonseca, Graham and most famously of all Quinta Do Noval “Nacional” produced some of their best ever (and most expensive!) examples.

Go back 60 years to 1953, and the top Bordeaux reds such as Lafite, Margaux and Haut Brion are now real collector’s items; this was a great year in Bordeaux, producing wines in the best “traditional” style - elegant, attractive and perfectly balanced. If you can’t find or afford the top examples, it would also be worth trying out any of the better Classified Growths from this vintage – Cos, Grand Puy Lacoste, Gruaud Larose, La Mission or Figeac should still be wonderful.

1943 was the best of a bad bunch of “war-time” Bordeaux vintages (except for the monumental 1945 vintage), producing reds which were rich and fruity but did not generally have the staying power to survive 70 years. Mouton, La Mission, Latour or Margaux - if you can find a well-stored bottle –would be the most likely candidates to provide that magical drinking moment today, and the most vivid reflection of that troubled and desperate year.

If you might be interested in acquiring any of the wines mentioned above, then please contact Paul on paul@realwines.ch We have ways and means of tracking these old vintages down for you!

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A very special offer of wines from JJ Prüm, the greatest producer in Germany’s Mosel Valley

JJ Prüm Vineyard

Before the First World War, Germany’s best Rieslings from the Mosel Valley used to be the most expensive wines in the world, more sought after than First Growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Burgundy! Why? Because these wines have a unique elegance, balance and finesse and can improve in bottle over many decades. They are truly “fine wines”.

For various reasons, not least the 2 World Wars last century, but also changing consumer tastes, these wines have lost their former glamour, prestige and value.
However quality in the top vineyards of the Mosel has never been better, and there has been an unparalleled run of great vintages from the start of this millennium.

JJ Prüm is one of the oldest and probably the single greatest producer in the Mosel. His wines are relatively low in alcohol, generally between 7% and 9%, and utterly perfect for drinking on their own on a warm late Summer/early Autumn evening. It is very, very rare that I am able to offer you wines with such high scores from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate journal at such low prices, so I strongly recommend you make the most of this one off opportunity to try one of the world’s classic wine styles.


In 75cl bottles:

CHF/bt

Parker
pts

Riesling Spätlese from the Graacher Himmelreich vineyard 2008 23.00 92

Medium dry; remarkably delicate, apple and pineapple fruit flavours supported by saline acidity. “The most intimate and delicate of Prüm’s 2008 Spätlesen”(RP)

Riesling Auslese from the Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard 2008 30.00 95

Medium sweet; honeysuckle, apple and quince explode from the glass, and on the palate there is a salty, stony, mineral acidity which gives amazing length and complexity.

In half bottles:

Riesling Auslese (Gold Kapsel) Wehlener Sonnuhr vineyard 2007 40.00 96

“Sweetly perfumed gardenia, decadent lily, bitter-sweet iris ... all cavort in a matrix of apple and quince preserves, vanilla and lemon cream, honey and white raisin. And for all of its richness, sweetness is the last thing on your mind while this wine is on the table. I imagine you could simply inhale its entire, vast sensual contents, so ethereal is every aspect of it.” (RP)

Riesling Beerenauslese Bernkasteler Badstube 2006 65.00 95-97

Made from 100% botrytised grapes, this is intensely sweet, hugely complex and concentrated, with a perfect foil of acidity to give the wine freshness and seemingly effortless balance. Exquisite dessert wine.

To order these wines click here


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Newly arrived! A perfect malt whisky for less than CHF50!

Whisky always tastes better in the colder months of the year, and none more so that our favourite “every-evening” tipple - Syndicate 58/6 Scotch Whisky, which is now in stock at CHF45/bt.
We are delighted to have been allowed access to this very exclusive “members only” whisky as it is not usually offered for sale outside a small circle of “Real Whisky” connaisseurs in Scotland. The Syndicate was started by 6 aficionados – all directors of a famous whisky bonded warehouse called William Muir in Edinburgh - back in 1958, hence the name.
The precise blend is secretively preserved, but it is a blend of 18 single malt whiskies aged for an absolute minimum of 12 years in a sherry-style solera system, whereby older barrels are constantly topped up with younger barrels. This means that there are still small amounts of the original 1958 blend in today’s version!
All in all this is the perfect whisky, with just the right amounts of everything - alcohol, fire, peatiness – to make you forcibly stop yourself from having a second glass, and a third....It is a beautiful mix of the heather, honey and spice flavours of the Highlands with just enough peat and fire from the Islands to give the blend real passion and personality. It finishes with deliciously sweet, mildly oaky notes due to 2 years’ ageing in 4 year old Oloroso sherry casks.

Order now...


Bordeaux 2008s – the last “affordable vintage”

You will read much – fully justified – press comment about the glorious Bordeaux 2009 vintage over these coming weeks now that the wines are in bottle. However,you should not forget the 2008 vintage, which was a very good, classic, fresh and pleasantly fruity vintage, for medium term keeping (8-10 years in general for the better wines). It is also, importantly, a large amount cheaper than 2009 and 2010 vintages, and offers excellent value.
Jancis Robinson MW retasted all the main 2008 wines in early February this year, and concluded that “if you were looking to buy a case of big-name red bordeaux, but could not afford a first growth (nor a 2009 nor – heaven forfend – a 2010), the following 2008s are all worthy of consideration” She then highlighted her 30 or so top scoring wines, of which 2 wines were awarded her highest score of 18.5/20, 9 received 18/20(including the First Growths below) and 12 received 17.5/20.
We highlight below the wines we have in stock now from her top scorers.


Jancis points (out of 20)
Her 2 top scoring wines

Chateau Palmer 2008 18.5 (in stock now at CHF195/bt inc MWST)
La Fleur du Gay 2008 18.5
First Growths
Lafite 2008 18
Latour 2008 18
Mouton 2008 18
Haut Brion 2008 18
Margaux 2008 17

Other top-scoring wines which we also have in stock now:

Calon Segur 2008 17.5 (in stock now at CHF60/bt inc MWST)
Lynch Bages 2008 17.5 (in stock now at CHF120/bt inc MWST)
Pontet Canet 2008 17.5 (in stock now at CHF99/bt inc MWST)
Tertre Roteboeuf 2008 18 (in stock now at CHF190/bt inc MWST)





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Last Autumn we added several exciting new wine discoveries to our range, as follows:

From France

Domaine d’Orfeuilles – a family producer in the Loire Valley making a deliciously dry, crisp young Vouvray and an aged, delicate, sweet Vouvray from 1990; both perfect examples of the quality peaks the noble Chenin Blanc grape can attain in its spiritual home in this northerly region of France. More…

Domaine Sylvain Pataille – a biodynamic fanatic based in Marsannay north of Gevrey Chambertin in Burgundy, and making the best value red and white Burgundy we have tasted this year. More…

Domaine Gallety – a superb family-run estate in the Ardeche in the Southern Rhone Valley making wonderfully characterful and complex reds from 50 year old + Syrah and Grenache vines. More…

Domaine Francois Villard – the new star of the Northern Rhone, making not only the truest, purest and most peppery Cote Rôtie and St Joseph Syrahs we have tasted, but a heavenly range of Viognier-based whites from his steep-sloping vines in Condrieu. More…

Chateau Carignan – an estate dating back almost 600 years to the end of the 100 years War between England and France producing quite simply the best Bordeaux reds we have tasted for CHF25. Proof that in the glorious 2005 and 2009 vintages you really don’t need to break the bank to drink fine Claret. More…

From California

World’s End – a genuinely top quality range of Napa Valley reds which unusually for this region are fairly priced! French winemaking finesse combined with Californian fruit ripeness proves a perfect recipe. More…

From New Zealand

Villa Maria – the most awarded winery in the country over the past 15 years, and the most pioneering; all wines in their diverse range are benchmark examples of New Zealand’s clean, pure fruit-driven wine styles and you’ll specifically love their Pinot Grigio. More…

From Switzerland

Weingut Florin – Rapidly rising star of the Stein-am-Rhein wine region in north east Switzerland. These steep-sloping, south-facing vineyards bare an uncanny resemblance to the finest vineyard sites of the Mosel in Germany - there is great potential here. More…

And from England…

Ridgeview – undoubtedly one of England’s top 3 quality producers, and the best-priced; if you can spot the difference between their “Bloomsbury” sparkling wine and good non vintage Champagne then you have a sommelier’s palate! More…

Real Wines,   Im Junker 8,   8143 Stallikon,   Tel. +41 43 466 08 90     Fax. +41 43 466 08 89