Wall Street Journal wine columnist Will Lyons takes a look at the year ahead in wine and what it means for some of Europe’s best and brightest regions
NOVELIST Alexander McCall Smith tells a wonderfully funny story about a fictitious trip to Italy’s Montalcino. While there, he meets a wine producer whose land is rather unfortunately situated just outside the famous Brunello di Montalcino DOCG boundary, in the less valuable Rosso di Montalcino, amid the picturesque hills near Siena. Without going into too much detail, by the end of “My Italian Holiday” all is rectified (with the help of a bulldozer) and the happy producer now finds his vineyards safely within the zone of one of
Italy’s great wines.
As we enter 2015 and look ahead at what it will mean for the world of wine, I’m reminded of this story. If it weren’t fiction, 2009 would have been just the year to set it in—in time to catch the 2010 growing season, the results of which, by all accounts, are very good. This month, the fine wine year will kick off with the release of these 2010 Brunello di Montalcino wines.
Made from the Sangiovese grape variety, these reds have a deep structure and bracing tannins. I always find that they’re at their best served alongside the local food: dishes such as braised beef, hare and pasta.
Early reports suggest they will cause quite a stir. Quality levels are extremely high, with producers putting the 2010 on a par with the great vintages of 2006 and ’07. Expect plenty of talk and column inches written about how these wines offer great value compared with those of Bordeaux.
It will be a fascinating year for Bordeaux, too. After the blockbuster vintages of 2009 and ’10, the region has experienced three pretty flat years, with ’13 being by far the most challenging the region has faced for decades. As a result, trading in Bordeaux wine has been down four years in a row. As Justin Gibbs, director of Liv-ex fine wine exchange in London, told me, it’s the toughest market anyone working in the wine trade “can ever have seen.”
Early reports suggest, however, that the 2014, which will be unveiled in April, is good, with high yields—this is crucial as it means the châteaux will have enough wine to drop the prices. And drop the prices they will have to do, if they are to entice anyone into buying this vintage en primeur.
Interestingly, although Bordeaux has been in a bear market these past few years, prices have fallen, particularly for the 2010 and ’05, to such an extent that from a buyer’s perspective it is beginning to look quite interesting again. Mr. Gibbs points to the 2010 Château Montrose, which is trading at around £1,600 a case—cheaper than the 2009 for arguably a better vintage.
Will 2015 be the year Bordeaux becomes a compelling investment category again? The Live-ex Fine Wine 100 Index has shown some signs of recovery in the last four months of 2014.
Burgundy will continue its rise; the 2013 vintage will be previewed in London this month. I tasted some of the wines in November and my first impression was that they were texturally light, with high acidity levels, but overall were pretty good.
And let us not forget California, where Napa continues to flourish with a string of great vintages. The quality levels in 2012 and ’13 were very high and ’14 is looking good as well.
For the wine lover, 2015 is looking like a very rosy year indeed.
See full article here (wsj.com)