Thursday, March 31, 2011

And if you thought Chris de Burgh did well....

Have a look at the consignments for an upcoming Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong over the weekend.

The Ultimate Cellar

2,800 bottles of Domaine de la Romanée Conti assorted wines for doubt most of it will end up in China. It reminds me a bit of when the Irish Banks decided to sell all their Branches and lease them back - in hindsight right at the top of the property market.

Turns out they knew something we didn't....If people are offloading collections like this, then maybe the Fine Wine market is nearing its medium term peak?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Luxury Champagne (well maybe...) and the benefit of Celebrity Endorsement

A few years back we started getting emails about Armand de Brignac "Ace of Spades" Champagne. After years of dubious emails requesting to purchase large volumes of "Crystal" from anonymous exotic sounding purchasers ("Champagne Tom" etc.) with unusual Gmail or Yahoo email accounts who wanted to pay by credit card, we suddenly started seeing requests for "Ace of Spades"... and no, it wasn't a new luxury cuvée that Motorhead had decided to endorse.

Instead it seemed to be an incredibly expensive and rare luxury Champagne that had just seemed to have appeared from nowhere. Yet there was lots of hype about it.

The following article originally appeared a few days ago on The Atlantic's website, but was removed "due to legal reasons", but luckily has been mirrored elsewhere - as below. Wonderful story!

Jay-Z's Great Champagne Robbery

If you thought Robert Parker had an influence on wines, then we're all underestimating the power of music to endorse a brand. Allegedly.....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

On The Road...

I have been on the road a lot over the past few weeks – travelling the highways and byways of the West with our new Agency List for 2011. Last week I managed to spend three consecutive days in the car, clocking up over 1,000km in the process – whilst the sun blazed down.

On Thursday afternoon I decided to take a back route home and headed from Cong towards Leenane over the mountains and past the tip of Lough Mask and the wonderfully named Lough Nafooey. And I did something I haven’t done for many, many years. I stopped the car and got out. I decided I could live without hearing any more about the Moriarty Tribunal, about renegotiating Ireland's debt, about Chris de Burgh’s offloading of his wine collection, (as an aside: Chris – If you really did get £12,650 for a case of 1945 Lafite, then you were diddled by Christies. Surely a typo? I could have done better selling them on Moore Street on a Saturday morning!) and most of all – I could do without Joe Duffy.

And then I did a second thing – this time never done before. I dusted off the cracked screen on my iPhone and decided I would take some photos – just in case I was dreaming! For 15 wonderful minutes I sat there and decided life was pretty good.

Then the phone rang…...

If the country really does go down the tubes, this is where you’ll find me……..

Except next time I intend to be on a bike!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fine & Rare Bin End Sale....Are We Mad?

March is the traditional time for our annual Fine and Rare Bin End Sale with reductions of over 60% on some wines! If you want mature Classified Growth Bordeaux for €30 a bottle, mature Chateauneuf du Pape for €29, Premier Cru Burgundy for €29, or even 10 year old top-rated Riesling from Alsace at €21 a bottle then have a look at the attachment.

Fine & Rare Bin End Sale

Let's be clear - none of these wines are "duds" - the only reason it's a "Bin End" sale is we couldn't think of any other name! They range from Grand Cru Burgundy to Italian Supertuscans to Australian Icons. There are over 50 wines to choose from. Why are they in the List? Well it's a fantastic opportunity to try some outstanding mature wines at knockdown prices - our little bit of annual madness!

Quantities are limited - the offer finishes on St. Patrick's Day - and when they're gone, they're gone......

Recent Adventures in wine...

We have been working on our new Agency List for 2011 (more to follow) over the past few weeks. To help us through the long hours – and the odd dinner along the way – we have managed to enjoy a surprising success rate with some great wines.

I was a little apprehensive about the Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape 2001. To be honest, I have found some Rhone wines are almost too over the top for me – high alcohol and no definition. This was a revelation: lovely precise fruit, underlying minerality (!) and very well balanced. It’s in a great place right now and really enjoyable.

I haven’t had much opportunity to try many Californian Pinot Noirs recently, so for some mad reason I decided to order a case of Mount Eden Pinot Noir 2007 from Germany! I think it was the info about the estate - high altitude, no irrigation, mad (yet passionate) owner etc. that intrigued me. I was very pleasantly surprised – it has a bit more strawberry fruit than a typical Burgundian example (more like a NZ Pinot) but it was also restrained, individualistic and very moreish.

The Baudry Chinon Croix Boissee 2003 is absolutely one of my favourite wines right now. Two bottles in the past few weeks have both been stunning. This wine delivers everything – a core of dark, black fruits with a hint of Cabernet Franc green pepper, minerality and amazing precision wrapped around a slightly chalky finish. When you consider what this costs (about €30) it’s one of the best quality/price wines around.

I have been following Fontanabianca wines for a good few years now. We originally purchased a case of the Barbaresco Sori Burdin 1996 over 10 years ago and we’re down to the last few bottles. In my opinion they were one of the first “modernist” Piedmont producers to get the use of barriques right – just the right balance between the perfumed elegance of the Nebbiolo and the sweet tannins of oak. This bottle was delicious, albeit in a slightly rustic way – almost like an old Burgundy, it was light in colour but yet persistent in complexity of fruit flavour.

At the other end of the “modernist” spectrum was the Domenico Clerico Barolo Percristina 1996 – much to our surprise this came across as fresher and more balanced. It had a wonderful core of dark Nebbiolo fruit and great density with an effortless length and wonderful clarify of fruit. It was excellent.

Finally for Italy, we had an outstanding bottle of 1997 Cepparello – again, fresh, forward and lovely ripe, almost with a hint of sweetness, fruit yet backed up by classic Sangiovese acidity. Again, this was elegant but full of supple, rich fruits and equally impressive.

One old Burgundy to finish off – not all in the same night! The few bottles of Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru “les Amoureuses” 1987 that I have tried have been variable. I haven’t been able to find any other notes or reviews and 1987 certainly wouldn’t be a standout year. But this was a good bottle! No-one guessed it as a 24 year old wine, with most putting it around 10 years. The acidity was doing a good job at preservation, but there was plenty of elegant Pinot fruit and great length in a restrained, yet persistent way.

With the kids back to school, it was back to samples and porridge…..