Best Sellers 2014 – The Reds

We expanded our range in 2014 with tremendous success. Let’s take a look at the Best Sellers of 2014, starting with the Reds that you enjoyed the most . . .

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Superb representatives of their AOCs

2014 saw the introduction of a range of brand new discoveries to suit every pocket, here are our Top Three best sellers.

Number 1. An overnight hit from our Signature Selection, Pauillac 2011

In 2014 we released our range of Signature Wines and Pauillac 2011 was our top seller. Our Signature Wines are specially selected Clarets which we feel to be superb representatives of their AOCs. Each is a beautiful example from its region expressing the very best characteristics that are typical of each area. The range was so popular in 2014 that we had to order in more stock at short notice, not once but twice, due to the demand!

Pauillac small

Pauillac 2011

Declassified Bordeaux – Extraordinary quality for a fraction of the price

Pomerol AOC – Les Vignes de Phoebus £16.99*

Saint Estephe AOC – Les Vignes d’Hebe £15.99*

Saint Julien AOC – Les Vignes d’Icare £20.49*

Pauillac AOC – Pauillac £20.49*

These four wines belong to the secretive declassified Bordeaux category. Declassified Bordeaux is produced by the top Grand Cru Classe but they are a little known entity as wine merchants are not allowed to tell you who has produced them. They are tremendous value for money as they can not fetch the prices that the brand labels of the chateaux command. As they are made by some of the best chateaux you are getting one heck of a bang for your buck.

Jonathan Ray on declassified Bordeaux: ‘Magnificent clarets at affordable prices’

Bordeaux Superieur

Bordeaux Superieur

Number 2. Customer and Critic Favourite, our best selling Chateau Vrai Caillou Bordeaux Superieur 2010

Our Bordeaux Superieurs really took off in 2014 with Vrai Caillou getting rave reviews and rocketing off the shelves. Bordeaux Superieur is the next step up from your usual Claret and has its own AOC which is regulated by stricter rules. The end result is that Bordeaux Superieurs tend to be richer, more complex and more concentrated than regular Claret. They also have better ageing potential.

Chateau Vrai Caillou

Chateau Vrai Caillou

Peter Grogan – author of Grogan’s Companion to Drink; the A-Z of Alcohol: ‘If anyone can point me towards better value claret than Ch. Vrai Caillou from Bordeaux-Undiscovered I’d be grateful’!

If you’d like to try Vrai Caillou for yourself we have two vintages:

Chateau Vrai Caillou Bordeaux Superieur 2010 £9.99* – limited stock available

Chateau Vrai Caillou Bordeaux Superieur 2012 £9.99*

You might also like our runner up: Chateau Roc de Levraut Bordeaux Superieur. It too has attracted attention with great reviews from Jancis Robinson MW and Natalie McClean. Predictably our Roc de Levraut 2010 quickly sold out however we do have fresh supplies of the Chateau Roc de Levraut Bordeaux Superieur 2011 £9.49*

Petits Chateaux

Petits Chateaux

Number 3. Our customer’s favourite Petits Chateaux find, Chateau de Basset 2008button_sold_out

We added a range of carefully chosen Entry Level Clarets at £6.99 from Petits Chateaux in 2014 to show what wonderful wines Bordeaux is capable of producing. Our forte is in finding these hidden gems and we are proud to have pioneered introducing them to the UK. These Clarets are fabulous value for money and superb quality. Needless to say we have not only sold out of Chateau de Basset but five more Clarets in our Entry Level range as well.

Chateau Chadeuil

Chateau Chadeuil

Sadly, as their production is tiny you have to move quickly if you want to bag a bottle. Don’t worry if you have missed out as we do have some supplies remaining of:

Chateau Chadeuil 2010 £6.99*

Chateau les Graves de Barrau 2011 £6.99*

Exclusive to Bordeaux-Undiscovered, with great reviews, both these Petits Chateaux are excellent examples and extremely popular with customers.

Next week I will be looking at our bestselling Whites and Roses in 2014. You might be surprised at the results!

*Prices correct at time of publication.

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Wines For The Year Of The Ram

With businesses gearing up for the Chinese New Year let’s take a look at what the world of wine has to offer for the Year of the Ram.

Chinese symbol for the Year of the Ram

Chinese symbol for the Year of the Ram

February 19th heralds in the Year of the Ram with hopes for a calm and creative year ahead; the Ram being symbolic of peace and harmony. Businesses are taking advantage of marketing goods for the Chinese New Year and celebrations are planned in London and Manchester.

Johnny Walker have released a special edition bottle of its Blue Label blend sporting a design inspired by the famous Chinese painting called the ‘Three Rams’ to mark the occasion. Wines, too, can be labelled to maximise on people favouring the presiding animal for each year – Okanagan Crush Pad owners in Vancouver have produced Haywire Lunar Year red and white with labels depicting the Chinese character for ‘sheep’.

2015 - The Year of the Ram

2015 – The Year of the Ram

I have not seen any wine labelling specifically designed for the Year of the Ram in France but there are several existing wines that fit the bill.

The Black Sheep of Bordeaux

Jean Luc Thunevin’s Bad Boy (Mauvais Garcon) brand is already popular in Asia and has an interesting story behind it. Thunevin famously pioneered Garagiste wines at his Chateau Valandraud in Saint Emilion, Bordeaux. His painstaking perfectionism soon took off and he added to the range with Virginnie de Valandraud (named for his daughter in 1997). He also created the ‘forbidden’ wines L’Interdit de V…D and L’Interdit de B…NT…N, pushing the boundaries of Bordeaux’s rules and regulations.

Thunevin's Bad Boy Label

Thunevin’s Bad Boy Label

As you can imagine this modern concept of wine making ruffled quite a few feathers amongst the more traditional chateaux owners, especially when wine critic Robert Parker scored Thunevin’s Valandraud higher than the world’s most sought after wine, Chateau Petrus, in 1995.

Thunevin was affectionately christened the ‘Bad Boy of Saint Emilion’ and a ‘Black Sheep’ by critic Robert Parker.

Thunevin always makes me smile as he is not only a brilliant winemaker (his Chateau Valandraud was dramatically promoted to Premier Cru, First Growth, status in 2012) but he has a sense of humour and a good marketing head on his shoulders. His tongue in cheek response to the establishment was the creation of Bad Boy in 2003. New additions to his range are Baby Bad Boy and the sparkling Cremant de Bordeaux, Bad Girl.

Thunevin's Baby Bad Boy Label

Thunevin’s Baby Bad Boy Label

Garagiste Key Facts:

1. Garagistes are more often known nowadays as micro-cuvees or micro-chateau as their production is tiny.

2. The principle behind the wines is that ‘technique can surmount terroir’.

3. These winemakers typically have no grand chateau and often make their wines in small buildings, hence the term ‘Vins de Garage’.

Thunevin's Bad Girl Label for Cremant de Bordeaux

Thunevin’s Bad Girl Label for Cremant de Bordeaux

4. The wines enjoy a loyal cult following and can command high prices, being prized by collectors and enthusiasts who enjoy this style of wine.

sheep 3

Bordeaux’s Shepherd Baron – Philippe de Rothschild

Bordeaux’s Shepherd Baron

With the Ram as its emblem Premier Cru (First Growth) Chateau Mouton Rothschild is the top pick for Chinese wine lovers celebrating the Year of the Ram (see Lucky Chateau Mouton Rothschild Vintages For The Chinese Year of the Ram). We are used to seeing Mouton’s more affordable Mouton Cadet here in the UK but the chateau has long produced cheaper wines under the Baron Philippe de Rothschild brand. We don’t often see them over here as they are limited production and available online direct from La Baronnie.

La Beliere - named for Aries, after the Baron's birth sign

La Beliere – named for Aries, after the Baron’s birth sign

Le Berger Baron (The Shepherd Baron) – Produced since the mid 1960s this range includes white, red and rose wines.

La Bélière (Aries – after the Baron’s birth sign) – Red, white and rose wines produced since the 1990s.

Agneau (The Lamb) – Bordeaux reds (Pauillac, Saint Emilion and Medoc), white (Graves) and rose.

Agneau - The Lamb

Agneau – The Lamb

La Bergerie Baron Philippe de Rothschild (The Baron’s Sheepfold). No longer produced but some vintages and labels exist from the mid 1960s – mid 70s.

Red or White Wine for the Year of the Ram?

Colours in Chinese culture have meanings and certain colours are considered to be lucky. Lucky colours for the Year of the Ram are purple, red and green so I think we can safely say that red wine would be the best choice!

I’d be interested to know your suggestions for suitable wines for the Chinese New Year so if you know of any ‘Rams’ out there please get in touch!

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Lucky Chateau Mouton Rothschild Vintages For The Chinese Year of the Ram

Clever marketing by Chateau Mouton Rothschild should prove profitable for the chateau’s 2012 vintage this year (as well as some interesting back labels) . . . and it’s all thanks to Mouton’s emblem: The Ram.

2015 - The Year of the Ram

2015 – The Year of the Ram

Chinese New Year falls on Thursday February 19th this year and Chateau Mouton Rothschild in particular is expected to appeal to Asian wine connoisseurs as the ideal New Year gift. The reasons behind this are down to some forward thinking on Mouton’s part involving its latest label design and to the chateau’s emblem of the Ram. 2015 is the Year of the Ram (sometimes known as the Year of the Sheep or Goat) and New Year gifts involving the Ram coupled with certain lucky numbers are considered to be auspicious.

Make no mistake, this is big business.

Mouton's bottle design 2000 vintage is based on the Augsburg Ram in the chateau's Museum of Wine in Art

Mouton’s bottle design 2000 vintage is based on the Augsburg Ram in the chateau’s Museum of Wine in Art

Sotheby’s Auction House is holding Chateau Mouton Rothchild’s first ever ex-chateaux sale in Asia to celebrate the new lunar Year of the Ram on 30th January in Hong Kong. The vintages on offer will span over a century from 1870 to 2012 and are estimated at £2.5 million. The lots will be themed around Mouton and its owners (the Rothschilds) history with one lot containing labels illustrated with the ram; another lot containing vintages ending in ‘8’ (a Chinese lucky number), a lot containing those vintages whose labels have been designed by Chinese artists and a fourth lot containing the 2012 vintage with labels signed by the artist.

Mouton's lucky 2000 vintage

Mouton’s lucky 2000 vintage

Lucky Years for Mouton

2000 – Mouton’s vintage for 2000 was an exception. The bottles were not labelled but were gold-enamelled with Mouton’s emblem, the Ram, in celebration of the millennium. The number zero is lucky in China as it represents completion, like the circle that is used to denote it, it is infinite. The vintage 2000 received 96+ points from wine critic Robert Parker and thanks to its high points and beautiful bottle depicting the golden ram this vintage should be one of the most sought after within China this year.

Mouton's lucky 2008 vintage

Mouton’s lucky 2008 vintage

2008 – The number ‘8’ is regarded as the luckiest number in Chinese culture. Chinese artist Xu Lei’s design for the label is full of symbolism. It features a ram standing on a rock under a grapevine between two halves of the moon (the moon being an integral part of Chinese culture . . . the very calendar which the Chinese people have used for centuries is a lunar one!) The vintage received 94 points from wine critic Parker.

2009 – The number ‘9’ is traditionally associated with the Emperor of China; the Emperor’s robe was embroidered with 9 dragons and there were 9,999 rooms within the Forbidden City. The Chinese word for 9 is a homophone of the word for ‘long lasting’ and represents everlasting love – it was a custom between lovers to send 99, or 999 roses and today 9 is often used in weddings. Oddly enough, the 2009 vintage received 99 points from wine critic Parker. Is this a case of double your luck? The label was created by Anish Kapoor, who also designed our Orbit Tower, which stands above London’s Olympic Park.

2010 – The numbers for this year are made up of a pair of lucky zeros. 2010 was the Year of the Tiger which fell on 14th February, St Valentine’s Day. The 2010 label was designed by American artist Jeff Koons (a brilliant artist-provocateur often compared to Andy Warhol) and is rather saucy. The 2010 Mouton is definitely a tiger – it’s a proud, fierce wine. The vintage received 97+ points from wine critic Parker.

Mouton's lucky 2012 vintage

Mouton’s lucky 2012 vintage

2012 - There is a Chinese saying: ‘good things come in pairs’ and the 2012 vintage appeals to the Chinese thanks to its ‘2s’. The number two in Chinese culture suggests harmony. The 2012 is the latest vintage to be bottled (more recent vintages are still in barrel). The label has been designed by Spanish artist Miquel Barcelo and depicts two rams, face to face, representing ‘the balance and harmony of a great wine, already present in nature, still set a challenge to be met by the work of human hands’. As 2015 is the Year of the Ram this vintage should be very popular in China. The 2012 vintage received 95 points from wine critic Parker.

The Ram and The Baron

Mouton’s adoption of the Ram as its emblem stems from the ‘Mouton’ part of its name; Mouton means ‘sheep’ in French (centuries ago flocks used to graze on the pasture around the estate).

Mouton's emblem at the chateau

Mouton’s emblem at the chateau

The Ram was also the zodiac sign of Baron Philippe de Rothschild (1902 – 1988) who was born under the sign of Aries – which incidentally is my birth sign! .

The Baron is responsible for Mouton’s rise to stardom revolutionising winemaking in Bordeaux by pioneering the bottling of wines at his chateau (rather than selling in barrel), successfully campaigning to promote Mouton to Premier Cru (First Growth) status and for introducing Mouton’s amazing labels.

Mouton's 1996 label was created by Chinese artist Gu Gang

Mouton’s 1996 label was created by Chinese artist Gu Gang

The Labels

Every year since 1945, a great artist has created a special work for the Mouton Rothschild label. The names which have adorned the Mouton labels read like a Who’s Who of eminent 20th century artists: Chagall, Dali, Picasso, Warhol, Bacon, to name but a few. Each label is said to represent the personality of the particular vintage it was designed for and over the years Mouton has used its labels to appeal to various markets. Mouton’s emblem of the Ram mirrors the chateau’s creativity in branding – the Ram is considered to be the most artistic sign in the Chinese zodiac; and one of the most thoughtful.

Given the Chinese interest in symbolism and belief in luck, Mouton’s labels are an excellent selling point within the Asian market.

Mouton’s 2008 label was designed by Chinese Xu Lei, and as you might have guessed Mouton’s prices went up 20% over night on the back of the announcement in 2010. This is not the first time the chateau has used a bottle design that might attract the Chinese market. The 1996 label was designed by Gu Gan (an artist famous for a unique brand of calligraphic painting). However Asia hadn’t entered the market as a major buyer at that point in time so the “Chinese effect” didn’t push up prices.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild's chai

Chateau Mouton Rothschild’s chai

Insider Tip

Will we see Mouton’s prices escalate for the Year of the Ram? The Chinese bubble may have burst but Asian interest in buying has certainly stepped up this year already . . .

According to Wine-Searcher Mouton is France’s most sought after wine and earlier this month Liv-Ex reported that 13% of all trade was for Mouton Rothschild: ‘significant, perhaps, as we approach the Year of the Ram’.

Both Mouton’s 2009 and 2010 vintages are available from Bordeaux-Undiscovered’s fine wine merchant branch, Interest In Wine. The wines have first class provenance; being stored in bond, direct from chateau.

Further Reading:

Guy de Rougemont and Chateau Mouton Rothschild’s 2011 Label

Erotic Label Designed by Jeff Koons for Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2010?

Anish Kapoor and Mouton Rothschild’s 2009 Label

Xu Lei and Mouton Rothschild’s 2008 Label

Wine and Art – Mouton Rothschild and Bernar Venet

Wine and Art: Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Lucien Freud, Comic Relief and Damien Hirst

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Insider Tips – Bordeaux’s 2007 Vintage Comes of Age

Decanter’s January issue has a piece on Bordeaux’s ugly duckling vintages; amongst them is the 2007. Ugly ducklings turn into swans and I have some top tips to help you cherry pick the beauties that were overlooked.

The 2007 vintage gains its wings

The 2007 vintage gains its wings

It pays to be patient with vintages. When scores are released on Bordeaux’s Grand Cru Classes they are only babies, freshly hatched as it were. Barely 6 months old, and still in the barrel, these fledgling wines are criticised and examined for their future potential. Some vintages are strong and full of prowess, others are a little more hesitant and need time to develop before they leave the nest. 2007 is one of these. Now, 7 years down the line the 2007 vintage is starting to flex its wings.

‘The ugly duckling, 2007, is becoming a swan.’

The 2007 vintage has gained deepening balance, polished tannins, harmony and structure

The 2007 vintage has gained deepening balance, polished tannins, harmony and structure

I’ve always been an advocate of the 2007 vintage as regular readers will know from my writing (see further reading below). I believe that the reason why the 2007 vintage was over shadowed is due to the fact that people confused wine investment with drinking. The 2007 vintage generally had a high pH level and as a consequence lacks the longevity that you see in the extraordinary vintages of 2009 and 2010 that followed it. This makes 2007 a very good year for drinking but not for laying down for investment. And good drinking it is, too! I’ve often told customers who know me well that if they are ever in a restaurant and spot a Bordeaux 2007 on the wine list that they should go for it. Their feedback has confirmed my advice.

pape clement label small size

Chateau Pape Clement 2007 Grand Cru Graves from Pessac Leognan. ‘One of the stars of the 2007 vintage’. Beautifully opulent

Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 2007 Grand Cru Graves.  From the same stable as Premier Cru Haut Brion in Pessac Leognan.  'The wine of the vintage'.  Stunning

Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 2007 Grand Cru Graves. From the same stable as Premier Cru Haut Brion in Pessac Leognan. ‘The wine of the vintage’. Stunning

Vintages in Bordeaux are tasted and assessed at En Primeur during April when the great and the good descend en masse to sample the wines in barrel, a good 18 months or so before it is bottled. The wine at this point in time is made from grapes harvested the previous September or October and is only 6 months old. Judgement is passed, the all important critics scores are allocated and prices set.

You might ask why the wines are tasted, appraised and purchased at such a young age and it would be a very good question. It makes more sense to taste the wine when it has developed rather than in its infant state. The answer is that En Primeur is a tradition from the bad old days when chateaux needed to make money fast to survive. Selling the wine young meant that the chateaux would have the funds in place ready for the next harvest and following vintage. This has evolved over the years and nowadays En Primeur has matured into the buying and selling of ‘wine futures’ (purchasing a wine in its early stages at its lowest price either as an investment or as a means of securing limited stock).

Chapelle d'Ausone 2007 Second Wine of Chateau Ausone, Premier Cru Classe A, Saint Emilion.  Supple and delicious; notably less expensive than its stellar parent, Ausone

Chapelle d’Ausone 2007 Second Wine of Chateau Ausone, Premier Cru Classe A, Saint Emilion. Supple and delicious; notably less expensive than its stellar parent, Ausone

Chateau Bellevue Mondotte 2007 – Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  A micro-cuvee with tiny production and cult following, from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A

Chateau Bellevue Mondotte 2007  Grand Cru Saint Emilion. A micro-cuvee with tiny production and cult following, from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A

Before wines at tasted at En Primeur Harvest Reports on the growing season are issued and interpreted by the wine industry. They are an early predictor of what you can expect the style and quality of the vintage to be. Harvest Reports tend to fall into those that bear glad tidings and those that are the harbingers of doom. We tend to get very excited in the wine industry if the harvest looks exceptional (there have been no less than 3 vintages heralded as the ‘vintage of the century’ in the last decade: 2005, 2009 and 2010). As for the harbingers of doom, well to be honest unless there is an extreme weather event resulting in disaster it’s pretty much impossible for the top chateaux to make a bad wine these days.

A good year for drinking

2007 has something for everyone and every pocket

‘Wine making technology is cutting edge if you can afford it and poor harvests can be saved in the blending room’.

With the 2007 harvest temperatures were unseasonally low; there was a lack of sun and rain fell at the wrong time of year. However there is an old saying in Bordeaux: ‘Wait until the last grapes are in before making a judgement.’ Wise words. Sure enough the weather came good. Right at the end of the season the sun shone and grapes matured nicely under ripening blue skies. The style of the wine in 2007 was very different to the blockbusters of 2005, 2009 and 2010. The 2007 wines have lower alcohol content compared to their heady peers and when I tasted them at En Primeur 7 years ago I enjoyed their refreshing approachability. At the time I wrote that 2007 should appeal to younger drinkers who are used to drinking New World wines. In their infancy these wines were uncomplicated and were easy drinking – perfect for those who hadn’t tried a Grand Cru Classe Claret before as the 2007 is a good year for appreciating what Bordeaux can offer.

Mathilde de La Fleur Morange 2007 – Second Wine of Chateau La Fleur Morange, Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  Hedonistic and lusicious; notably less expensive than its ascendent parent.

Mathilde de La Fleur Morange 2007  Second Wine of Chateau La Fleur Morange, Grand Cru Saint Emilion. Hedonistic and lusicious; notably less expensive than its ascendent parent.

Chateau La Fleur Morange 2007  Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  A micro-cuvee with tiny production and a loyal cult following; made from 100 year old vines.  'The star of the Right Bank.'  ' Gorgeously full bodied 2007

Chateau La Fleur Morange 2007 Grand Cru Saint Emilion. A micro-cuvee with tiny production and a loyal cult following; made from 100 year old vines. ‘The star of the Right Bank.’ ‘ Gorgeously full bodied 2007

‘The 2007s hark back to the classical Bordeaux of 20 years ago which were very popular in the UK.’

Skip forward to the future and these wines have had time to put flesh on their bones. Light and subtle they may have been but the years in bottle have allowed them deepening balance, polished tannins, harmony and structure. The ugly duckling has turned into a swan.

Insider Tip

The 2007 vintage is not only very reasonably priced thanks to being eclipsed by its peers (you can pick up some real bargains here) but it is also a vintage that you can drink NOW. The greatest Bordeaux vintages are slow burners and are cellared for years, taking decades to reach their peak, with some wines having an anticipated maturity of 20 – 50 years. 2007 gives you the opportunity to taste these wines without the wait.

A vintage you can drink NOW

A vintage you can drink NOW

This vintage also has something for everyone and every pocket. The Bordeaux Superieurs and Petit Chateaux also produced some good wines, although you will have to work hard to spot these as they mature more quickly than the Grand Cru Classe and most have been drunk already. 2007 was a wonderful year for Bordeaux’s white wines. My top dry white Grand Crus are Chateau Pape Clement Blanc 2007, an incredible wine, followed by Chateau Laville Haut Brion 2007. The 2007 sweet whites are very good indeed and the top Premier Crus are superb: Chateau d’Yquem, Chateau Climens and Chateau Rieussec. The Bordeaux Superieurs and Petit Chateaux also produced some good wines, although you will have to work hard to spot these as they mature more quickly than the Grand Cru Classe and most have been drunk already.

Chateau Pavie Decesse 2007 – Grand Cru Saint Emilion from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A .  'The blockbuster of the 2007 vintage'

Chateau Pavie Decesse 2007  Grand Cru Saint Emilion from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A . ‘The blockbuster of the 2007 vintage’

.Chateau L'Eglise Clinet 2007  Grand Cru Pomerol.  Unquestionably 'the best Pomerol' in the 2007 vintage.  Astonishling flavours, sleek and smouldering

.Chateau L’Eglise Clinet 2007  Grand Cru Pomerol. Unquestionably ‘the best Pomerol’ in the 2007 vintage. Astonishling flavours, sleek and smouldering

These 2007s are available from Bordeaux-Undiscovered’s fine wine merchant branch, Interest In Wine. The wines have first class provenance; being stored in bond, direct from chateau.

Further Reading:

If you are interested in learning more about the 2007 vintage and its wines checkout my blogs listed below:

The Bordeaux 2007 Harvest – Good or Bad? Make Your Choice

Bordeaux Wine – 2007 Tasting – The Star of the Right Bank

Bordeaux 2007 Tasting – The Red Wines

Bordeaux 2007 Tasting – Wonderful Whites and Cautionary Word to the Chateaux

Chateau La Tour du Pin 2007 – Rare Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  From the same stable as Chateau Cheval Blanc Premier Cru Classe A.  Only a few vintages made.  Tremendous value

Chateau La Tour du Pin 2007  Rare Grand Cru Saint Emilion. From the same stable as Chateau Cheval Blanc Premier Cru Classe A. Only a few vintages made. Tremendous value

Chateau Troplong Mondot 2007 -  Premier Cru Classe B, Saint Emilion.  'A brilliant 2007' from a high flyer.  Superb purity and elegance

Chateau Troplong Mondot 2007  Premier Cru Classe B, Saint Emilion. ‘A brilliant 2007′ from a high flyer. Superb purity and elegance

En Primeur 2007 Prices and Scores

Summary of My Week of Bordeaux 2007 Tastings

Bordeaux – Every Cloud Gas A Silver Lining


Posted in Bordeaux Harvest Reports, Drink Like An Expert, En Primeur & Tasting Notes, Insider Tips | Leave a comment

What Wine to Drink on Burns Night – Why We Should Toast The Bard With Claret

Burns Night falls on Sunday 25th this week and as Scotland’s national bard enjoyed a good Claret I explain Scotland’s love affair with Bordeaux . . . and suggest some good reds for the occasion.

Robert Burns (1759 - 1796)

Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)

What to drink on Burns Night?

Traditionally whisky is drunk with haggis on Burns Night but I prefer my whisky after the meal. To my mind we should toast the bard with Claret.

Burns would have often raised a glass of Claret as a toast.

Clarets to pair with Haggis:

It’s wise to choose a Claret that won’t overpower your haggis. You’ll need a wine that is well balanced with good structure. Overly tannic, oaky wines or fruit forward wines with high acidity will not do your haggis justice. A wine that is too tannic or oaky will make your mouth feel dry and can make the haggis taste bitter; a wine that is too fruity or acidic will either mask the flavour of the haggis or give it a metallic aftertaste. A medium bodied, mellow red Bordeaux (Claret) has smooth tanins, layered flavours of dark berry fruits with subtle hints of spice; making it a great match for haggis.

Chateau Chadeuil: Medium bodied Claret. This is a wine that has been produced with good food in mind. It really blossoms with lamb, game and peppery dishes so would be ideal with haggis. £6.99*

Chateau Pessan: Fuller bodied Claret from Graves with superb balance and structure. Pessan compliments fatty lamb dishes and enhances the flavours. £15.99 – currently on offer at £13.99*

Chateau Rauzan Segla: This is a gorgeous Grand Cru Classe Margaux (2nd Growth). A top notch Claret, multi layered and multi dimensional, it is stunning with traditional, richly flavoured fayre. £34.99*

* Prices current at the time of writing.

stone 2

Extract from ‘The Whistle’

Burns – Knee Deep in Claret

Famous the world over as the author of ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ you might think Robert Burns’ favourite tipple was a wee dram of whisky but we know he enjoyed Claret from his poems and songs.

Burns himself was never a man to do things by halves as you can tell from his song ‘Gae Bring Tae Me A Pint O’Wine’.

His poem ‘The Whistle’ was written about a drinking contest, witnessed by Burns, between 3 landed gentlemen to see who could drink the most Claret and still be able to blow a black ebony whistle (which was kept as the prize). It’s said the winner drank 8 bottles!

Quai des Chartrons, Bordeaux

Quai des Chartrons, Bordeaux

The Auld Alliance – Scotland’s love affair with Bordeaux

The Scots love of Claret is tied into the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France (which goes right back to 1295). One of the benefits of the Alliance for the Scots was that Scottish merchants had the privilege of selecting the pick of France’s finest wines: those from Bordeaux. This privilege was eagerly protected for hundreds of years, much to the annoyance of the English.

Claret was the lifeblood of the Auld Alliance.

Based in Bordeaux since the early 18th century, the Johnston family is one of the great names in Bordeaux wine history

Based in Bordeaux since the early 18th century, the Johnston family is one of the great names in Bordeaux wine history

The Wine Quay of Leith was the hub of the wine trade and from there Claret made its way across Scotland. It’s said that in the 13th century there was not a tavern in Edinburgh that did not sell Claret, nor a noble household that did not stock it. Thanks to wars between England and France the Scots sometimes turned to other means of acquiring their favourite drink. In 1594 Scots masquerading as Frenchmen on the high seas captured King Henry VIIIs entire wine fleet for that year. The wine from the 16 vessels was sold in Scotland (but not at Edinburgh as the English Ambassador had just arrived there), instead the loot was transported to Aberdeen.

The Scottish Chateaux of Bordeaux

Bordeaux became home to a lively colony of Scots trading in wines who settled there, establishing their own vineyards, buying chateaux and establishing themselves as wine merchants in the epicentre of Bordeaux’s wine trade, the Quai des Chartrons. Today, Nathaniel Johnston & Fils (est 1734) is the only surviving Scottish wine merchant on the Quai. They are very proud of their Scottish ancestry and one of the three brothers currently running the business is named Ivanhoe. Esme Johnston owns Chateau de Sours and Jean-Marie Johnston continues the family tradition as a wine merchant at Chateau Malecot in Pauillac.

The Scots became important players in the world of Grand Cru Classe; owning some prestigious chateaux.

In the mid 1800s the Johnstons were part owners of Premier Cru (1st Growth) Chateau Latour and also acquired Chateaux Ducru Beaucaillou (2nd Growth Saint Julien), Phelan Segur (Cru Bourgeois Saint Estephe), Dauzac (5th Growth Margaux) and Lascombes (2nd Growth Margaux).

However the Johnstons were not the only Scots to purchase chateaux in Bordeaux:

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte (Pessac Leognan) takes the ‘Smith’ part of its name from a navigator and wine merchant named George Smith who purchased the estate in 1720. He must have been quite an adventurer as the story has it that he eloped from Scotland having fallen in love with a local peasant girl in Scotland named Elisabeth Lewis

Chateau Brown (Pessac Leognan) takes its name from John Lewis Brown, who moved to Bordeaux from Scotland in the late 18th century, He also owned Chateaux Cantenac Brown (3rd Growth Margaux) and Boyd Cantenac (3rd Growth Margaux).

Chateau Brown

Chateau Brown

Chateau Certan de May (Pomerol) takes its name from the Scottish Demay family who settled in France during the Middle Ages. They were masters of the fief of Certan which also included Chateau Certan Giraud (now Hosanna) and Vieux Chateau Certan.

So, as you can see, Bordeaux owes part of its heritage to Scotland. Let’s drink to that!

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Why You Should be Drinking Muscadet

Could Muscadet, the delicate, dry wine from the mouth of the Loire be on the verge of a boom? It’s undergoing a renaissance and we are being told by renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson MW that we should all be drinking it. I agree, and here are my top tips why you should try it for yourself . . .

Muscadet - clean, bright and appetizing

Muscadet – clean, bright and appetizing

Firstly, Muscadet is a bargain.

The quality of the wine has been pushed ever higher by winemakers struggling to regain a market for this style of wine. The end result is that you getting an awful lot more for your money, even at the expensive end of the range.

‘Muscadet is turning out some seriously good wine at a rock bottom price’.

This could change, especially as Muscadet is predicted to become trendy again. So drink it whilst you can.

Muscadet used to be a very popular drink – in 1989 we drank just under 20 million bottles of it in the UK. However in 1991 Muscadet saw a dramatic collapse in sales thanks to an artic blast that destroyed the grapes. The price shot up, the wines were not as good and consumers looked elsewhere for their dry whites. Winemakers went bust, vineyards were grubbed up and Muscadet fell out of fashion. To recover, Muscadet has had to re-invent itself. It’s taken a couple of decades and now they are back with a bang.

Secondly, it’s worth it.

‘The Muscadets coming out of France now are probably the best produced yet.’

Made by visionaries who refused to throw in the towel; these wines are fresh, vibrant and exciting. It’s about time we clicked on to these wines in the UK . . . Muscadet replaced Champagne at government functions in France in 2012. Enough said.

Wine Style
Modern Muscadets fall into two distinct styles:

Muscadet replaced Champagne at Government functions in 2012

Muscadet replaced Champagne at Government functions in 2012

Style 1: Classic – clean, delicate, bright and appetizing. This is the style of wine that the older generation fell in love with, but with a modern twist. Some of these Muscadets are almost effervescent and give a nice tingle on the tongue. A classic wine to drink with oysters; it rivals Chablis when it comes to food pairing with shellfish. Thirst quenching, light bodied, pure and racy; this style of wine is my favourite. It makes Pinot Grigio hang its head in shame.

Style 2:  Sur Lie – aged, usually in oak barrels, on the lees to give fuller flavour and more complexity. The wine remains on its lees for at least the winter and is bottled straight from the vat where it was fermented, not before the 1st March each year. Traditionally sur lie wines came from the ‘honeymoon barrel’, a barrel set aside for family weddings. This has now been developed into an increasinly popular style of Muscadet.

A third style is in development which involves ageing the wine for even longer on the lees; named Cru Communeaux this classification covers wines in 3 distinct areas (Clisson, Gorges and Le Pallet) . These wines are rich and structured, being able to age in bottle for up to 20 years. This style is so new that the Cru Communeaux was only created in 2011 and it’s still evolving. Others are following the same route – you might see various names like Muscadet Troisième Niveau, Muscadet Villages and Muscadet Haute Expression, all of which are aged on the lees for 18 months to 2 years or more.

Muscadet lies at the mouth of the River Loire

Muscadet lies at the mouth of the River Loire

Key Facts

Muscadet lies at the mouth of the River Loire, where it empties into to the Atlantic Ocean. The nearest city is Nantes and the neighbouring wine regions are those of the Loire Valley and Brittany.

The AOC Muscadet contains 3 regional appellations:

Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine: the most famous and reputedly the best. Located south east of Nantes and named for the two rivers, the Petite Maine and Sevre Nantaise, which converge there.

Muscadet-Coteaux de la Loire: spread along both banks of the Loire, upstream from Nantes.

Muscadet-Côtes de Grandlieu: located south west of Nantes, on the shores of Lake Grandlieu

Melon de Bourgogne grape

Melon de Bourgogne grape

Muscadet is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape which is native to Burgundy. It’s an offspring of Pinot Noir and a cousin of Chardonnay. It was brought to the Loire from Burgundy (where it is now almost extinct) as it can withstand cooler climates and takes its name from the rounded leaves which resemble the shape of a melon.

Some say that Melon de Bourgogne ended up in Muscadet in the 14th or 15th century but most people think that it was introduced by King Louis XIV who ordered it to be planted after Muscadet’s grapes were wiped out in the devastating winter of 1709.

Origin of the name Muscadet:
Muscadet is a bit of a mystery. It’s name not related in any way to the Muscat grape. What’s more Muscadet has no ‘musky’ aromas at all . . . far from it! One theory is that the wine gained its name thanks to the Dutch. Back in the 17
th century they were the main exporters of wines from this area, using Nantes as their main sea port to ship the wine to Holland. Dutch traders and wine makers planted Melon de Bourgogne here to make brandy and used nutmeg (muscade in French) to flavour the wine. Hence the name.

River Sevre running through AOC Muscadet Sevre et Maine

River Sevre running through AOC Muscadet Sevre et Maine

Terroir: Climate and Soils:
Muscadet is dominated by maritime influences of the Atlantic Ocean, so as well as its vineyards being prone to rain, north westerly winds and frost, Muscadet’s wines are said to have a legendary hint of salt. I say legendary as it’s not an apparent flavour in any of the Muscadets I have tasted, however it’s a nice notion especially as Muscadet is THE classic wine to drink with oysters and sea food.

As far as soils are concerned Muscadet vineyards lie on a variety of different types. The vines of the Sèvre et Maine AOC lie on well drained chalky limestone and gravels, but there are also Muscadet vineyards on volcanic soils and granite bedrock. This granite shelf underlies Brittany and travels right down into Muscadet. Thanks to the chalky limestone some Muscadets are known to have a ‘minerally’ or ‘chalky’ taste in the wine.

My Recommended Muscadet:

Caves de La Nantaise Muscadet 2013 – Gold Medal Winner. 12.5% abv. Currently £6.49

Gold Medal Winning Muscadet

Gold Medal Winning Muscadet

Crafted by the Loire specialists Famille Bougrier, backed by 5 generations of winemaking and owners of several ancient domaines.

Tasting Notes:
Classic Muscadet, as fresh as a sea breeze. Bright, delicate flavours of lemon peel, green apple and pear with notes of lime blossom and anise. Beautifully subtle with flinty minerality and a hint of effervescence. Light bodied, dry, crisp and refreshing.

Food and Wine Pairing:
Although Muscadet was made for oysters and pairs beautifully with sea food and fish; it’s a gorgeous tipple in its own right. If you are planning a meal it’s worth bearing in mind that Muscadet is fantastic with fatty foods, buttery sauces and cheese. Try it with roast pork, Chinsese ribs, baked ham, shoulder of lamb or roast duck and goose. It’s crisp acidity can cut through rich, creamy dishes and is a real palate cleanser.


Posted in Explore Wine Regions, Know Your Grapes | 2 Comments

Bordeaux-Undiscovered Christmas Wine Offers 2014

Logo Christmas Holly James VersionEach week we will be adding new offers and promotions for Christmas right up to 17th December which will build up into a fantastic selection of goodies! We have new wines and superb savings across the board that will ensure a fabulous festive season for one and all.

Christmas Prize Draw BannerYou’ll find we have something for everyone and every pocket with Christmas Specials on Bubbly, Reds, Roses, Whites and Clarets, Christmas Cases, Limited Offers on stellar vintages and an unbeatable Christmas Fine Wine Selection. We will also be reducing prices on lots of your favourites whilst stocks last as a special ‘Thank You’ for all your support this year!

What’s more every customer who buys a case of wine between 22nd October and 17th December will be entered into a Prize Draw to win a case of wine worth over £200!

Take a sneaky peep at what we have planned for Christmas at Bordeaux-Undiscovered and grab the opportunity to snap up our first Christmas Offer – the Christmas Clarets Case!

Christmas Clarets Case Banner 2Christmas Clarets Case

Enjoy 12 top quality Clarets for Christmas at a great price! Perfect with food and deliciously drinkable on their own this case contains a fabulous range of reds to suit all occasions! Our Christmas Clarets Case includes some of our brightest stars; from the top flight Graves, Chateau Pessan (normally priced at £15.99), to top performing vintages from wonderful estates!buy button

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Chateau Sociando Mallet 2006 – 90 Point Wine at an Unbeatable Price

sociando mallet 2006 newsletterTake advantage of being a Bordeaux-Undiscovered customer and snap up the outstanding Chateau Sociando Mallet 2006 at an unbeatable price.  We are offering this stunning 90 point Parker wine from the Haut Medoc at only £23.99 a bottle!.  Haut Medoc was one of the star appellations in 2006 producing some of the best wines for that year and Sociando Mallet is one of our top picks.sociando 2006

As a regular newsletter reader you already know we like to look after our customers and you won’t find this wine at a better deal anywhere else.  What’s more it’s available in single bottles so you aren’t tied down to buying it by the case.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to taste one of Bordeaux’s great fine wines.

Much has been made of the supermarkets, Lidl, Aldi and Tesco gearing up for Christmas with tempting prices on Bordelaise fine wines such as Sociando Mallet, but we like to think that we can go one step further for our customers, so watch this space!  We are cherry picking superb wines from our selection and offering our customers better deals, and better wines,  than the big button

sociando mallet 200690 Point Wine:  Sociando Mallet 2006

Scored 90 points by the world authority on fine wine, Robert Parker, Sociando Mallet 2006 has “Classic aromas of black currants, graphite, powdered wet rocks, and earthy undertones compete with the intense black currant fruit present in this structured, medium to full-bodied, concentrated 2006. Always an over-achiever, Sociando Mallet is built for 20-30 years of longevity.”  In fact, Sociando Mallet’s inky purple wines have an unusual capacity for longevity and are one of the longest lived wines made in the Medoc.  The 2006 is drinking beautifully right now.

Parker’s scores are based on a 100 point scoring system and wines rated 90 – 95 are considered to be outstanding wines of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.  The 2006 Sociando Mallet is a beautifully structured Cabernet based Claret; full bodied, rich and sumptuous.  It’s both powerful and fragrant, having flavours of blueberries, blackcurrant jam, blackberries and ripe raspberries with notes of cherry blossom, truffle and oak.

sociando-mallet-small-200x300Insider’s Tip

Haut Medoc lies in the Medoc (home of Pauillac, St Julien, Margaux and St Estephe).  This AOC sits at a higher altitude on well drained gravel terraces which are best suited for the growing of Cabernet Sauvignon and lies on the Left Bank of the Gironde Estuary.  Sociando Mallet itself is located north of St Estephe in the little village of  Saint Seurin de Cadourne and dates back to the 1600s.

It was purchased in 1969 by Jean Gautreau, a negociant from Lesparre, as a forgotten and derelict property. However the terroir is the same band of gravel that runs beneath the vines of First Growth Chateau Latour and Gautreau saw the potential that others had not.

Sociando Mallet has benefited from 4 decades of investment and improvement and its wines are the insider’s choice for top quality wines, regularly outperforming those produced by its neighbours.

Bordeaux’s 2006 vintage is often over looked as 2005 was such an exceptional vintage (some even claiming it to be the ‘vintage of the century’).  However for those in the know 2006 was a very good year and is the source of some real showstoppers, such as Sociando Mallet.

For what it’s worth this wine particularly from this vintage is one of my favourites because of its length, complexity, roundness and overall character – it’s a wine that will not disappoint particularly when it is drunk with beef, game and wholesome casseroles!


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Tour de Ryder Cup – Golfers Cycle 1150 Miles to Raise Money for Prostrate Cancer UK and Melanoma UK

TDRC Team 3A quick heads up about a fantastic effort to raise money by a customer for Prostrate Cancer UK and Melanoma UK. He along with 3 avid golfers are cycling their way round the 13 Ryder Cup Golf Courses.

Andy Crowther, Darrne Tordoff, Andrew Walker and Rick Gillgrass are pedalling 1150 miles over 9 days. On route the four will collect flags from all 13 UK and Ireland Ryder Cup host venues, which they intend to present to the Ryder Cup teams when they reach Gleneagles.tdrc 2

The Tour de Ryder Cup was inspired by the death of the riders’ mutual friend Simon Ashdown, also a passionate golfer who, aged 50, lost his battle with Melanoma in December 2012.

It would be wonderful if you could show them some support and follow the teams progress here:




Donations can be made at

Many thanks and good luck lads!

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Going Back To Your Roots, Discover Organic Wine in Bordeaux – Award Winning Chateau Rioublanc

Rioublanc newsletter bannerBordeaux is going back to its roots as winemakers turn to organic methods to create better wines of higher quality. Organic winemakers believe that the use of chemicals destroys the uniqueness of the land and the individuality of the flavour that this terroir imparts to the wine. They have a good point.

Chemicals used to combat pests can be absorbed into the grape vine, passing into the fruit. As a result, residues of these chemicals find their way into the finished wine. This has worried consumers for some time and many wine lovers are turning to organic wines for health reasons and because of their desire to support eco-friendly vineyards.

Organic wines are growing in popularity with wine lovers and you will often see these wines in France displaying the green and white ‘AB’ label. This stands for ‘Agriculture Biologique’ and the vineyards have to meet certain criteria in order to qualify. The wines have to be made from organically grown grapes which means that the winemakers do not use 425942_249891325100099_175064702_nchemical weed killers, pesticides, fertilizers or fungicides on their crops.

In Bordeaux the number of organic estates have increased from 3% to 7% in the last decade, with organic wine production growing at a higher rate than non-organic in some recent years. Chateaux are focused on increasing biodiversity and promoting more sustainable wine making. Several of the famous Grand Cru Classés have adopted organic methods in the vineyards, some even going back to horse power (notably Chateaux Margaux, Pontet Canet, La Lagune and Domaine de Chevalier).

Chateau Pape Clement has gone one step further and has returned to its 19th century past with the reintroduction of oxen. They are very powerful – an ox can pull and hold more than twice its weight and Marel and Blanc will be able to pull mowing and cutting machinery.Rioublanc Red 2010 label

Many of the smaller estates, the Petits Chateaux, are also organic. One in particular, Chateau Rioublanc, produces both a lovely red and a white wine. This is a family owned winery located in Saint Ciers d’Abzac, not far from Pomerol and Saint Emilion. Philippe Carretero represents the latest generation to handle the reins at this small chateau, which is certified both ‘Agriculture Biologique,’ ‘Ecocert’ and ‘EU Organic’ . In fact, the vines at Rioublanc have not been fed chemical fertilizer for at least 20 years.

The soil is worked by hand – sometimes the tiller is helped along with a helping tow from a quad bike with light low pressure tyres if they going gets tough. Philippe says that hand tilling is precise and only an experienced worker can achieve this efficiently. Grass grows between the rows of vines and Philippe believes that competition with the grass is really beneficial as it limits the vine’s vigour, protects from erosion and limits soil compaction. As he does not use weedkillers he found an original solution – a tool created in Italy for ecological weed control which he had specially adapted to suit the vineyard. chateau rioublanc 11

Philippe’s background is not only in oenology (the study of wine making) but engineering and he knew from an early age that his destiny was to make wine at Rioublanc. The development of the chateau has always involved long term vision and Philippe says that ‘it takes time, lots of time and you are always thinking of the future. When you plant a vine, you are investing in it for 50 years. Most of what we do, we do for our children. It is a gift and it’s a duty . . . that’s life!’

rioublanc organicRioublanc takes its name from the little streams that crisscross the plateau (‘riou’ is the Occitan word for stream and ‘blanc’ refers to the white limestone soil). The estate dates back to the 19th century and was once the home of Yves Renouil, a well known oenologist and author of the ‘Dictionary of Wine’. euroleaf-logo

The Carretero family purchased the chateau in in 1963 and began a long term plan to improve the vineyard with the utmost respect for the environment and quality of the wine. Philippe Carretero represents the latest generation to handle the reins at this small estate. His principles are the same as his forebears: that with every vine you plant you are always thinking of the future and that the living vineyard is a gift that bears a duty of responsibility.

Rioublanc 1The family’s dedication has paid off and Chateau Rioublanc is an impressive wine. Their 2010 Organic Claret gained a Gold Medal in the Mundus Vini International Wine Awards and their Organic White is proving to be a best seller.

Both these lovely wines are available at Bordeaux-Undiscovered and you’ll find that we are the only stockist in the UK, so why not discover them for yourself and taste the difference?

Rioublanc red gold medal winner SMALLChateau Rioublanc Organic Claret 2010, Gold Medal Winner – £9.99

 Beautifully balanced with great structure and a fine nose of luscious black fruits. Deep flavours of blueberry, ripe blackberry and dark plum with notes of vanilla, pepper and oak. Soft, elegant tannins awith a nice lasting finish. Decant 2 hours before serving.





 rioublanc white SMALLChateau Rioublanc Organic Bordeaux Blanc 2013 – £9.99

 Delicate, elegant and very aromatic with an intense and fine nose of acacia blossom. Lovely flavours of pear, white peach and lime with subtle hints of honeysuckle and amyl notes of banana.


Posted in Discover The Chateaux | 2 Comments