Bordeaux is renowned for its reds and sweet whites, but its best dry whites should not be forgotten. While the majority of Bordeaux’s top dry whites are not the flagship wine of their respective châteaux, they still achieve overall Wine Lister scores that are amongst the strongest or very strong on Wine Lister’s scale. Furthermore, as part of some of the most prestigious châteaux in Bordeaux, they all achieve Buzz Brand status.
Leading the way is Château Haut-Brion Blanc, with a score of 902. It is by far the most expensive at £569 per bottle. This puts it 62% above the current market price of Haut-Brion’s red, presumably because just one sixteenth the number of bottles are produced each year.
In second place is Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc (891). Relabelled in 2009, this was formerly Laville Haut-Brion. It has the best Quality score of the group (908), the result of very strong ratings from each of Wine Lister’s four critics and the longest ageing potential of the group – the last six vintages bottled under the Laville Haut-Brion label will still be drinking well until at least 2020.
Next comes Y d’Yquem with a score of 887. Whilst it can’t match the quality of the botrytised Sauternes for which the château is best known – not many can – it is available at a 34% discount, making it an excellent way of enjoying an iconic producer on a different occasion.
Margaux’s Pavillon Blanc achieves the fourth-best score (878). The only straight Bordeaux AOP in the group, Pavillon Blanc comprehensively outperforms its red counterpart in the Quality category (895 vs 771). That said, Pavillon Rouge has a stronger Brand score (944 vs 831) and Economics score (953 vs 920), in spite of a slightly lower price (£122 vs £138).
Confirming the dominance of the Graves when it comes to Bordeaux’s best dry whites, the last spot is filled by Domaine de Chevalier Blanc (868), the third Pessac-Léognan wine of the group. By far the cheapest of the five (£59), it is an absolute steal given its consistent high quality and ageing capacity. It also achieves the best Brand score (909), thanks to outstanding restaurant presence – it is visible on 23% of the world’s best wine lists.
This week’s Listed section ventures out from the Old World to look at Argentina’s top five brands. Wine Lister’s Brand score measures a wine’s performance across two criteria – restaurant presence and online popularity. The five Argentine wines, from three producers, all achieve scores that are either strong or very strong on Wine Lister’s scale, indicating that South America’s strongest brands are now established on the global fine wine market.
With a Brand score of 849, Argentina’s leading icon is Cheval des Andes. A joint venture between Saint-Emilion heavyweight Cheval Blanc and Terrazas de los Andes, it leads the way when it comes to restaurant presence, featuring on 14% of the world’s top wine lists – its closest rival in that criterion, Bodega Catena Zapata Nicolás Catena Zapata appears on 9% of the same lists.
Nicolás Catena Zapata (834) turns the tables in terms of online popularity. The only Buzz Brand of the group, it receives on average 2,349 searches each month on Wine-Searcher, 27% more than Cheval des Andes (1,853). It also achieves the greatest vertical restaurant presence of the group, with 2.7 listings on average per list.
Nearly 100 points behind is third-placed Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira with a score of 739. Appearing in 7% of restaurants and receiving 999 searches each month, it achieves its best score in the Brand category, comfortably outperforming its Quality score (581) and Economics score (183).
The last two spots are filled by two more wines from Bodega Catena Zapata – Malbec Argentino in fourth place (694) and Adrianna Vineyard Malbec in fifth place (661). Both receive a similar number of searches each month (744 and 793 respectively), and are visible in 6% and 4% of restaurants respectively.
Wine Lister’s holistic, dynamic rating system tracks a wine’s performance over time. By constantly analysing a wine’s brand strength and economic performance, as well as updating its Quality score as it is retasted by our partner critics, Wine Lister’s ratings evolve over time, as demonstrated by our new score history tool.
Wine Lister’s Economics score is a perfect case in point. Reacting to the very latest market data, it analyses a wine’s performance across several criteria: three-month average bottle price; short and long-term price performance; price stability; and liquidity. A strong showing across these criteria is what defines the five wines in this week’s Listed section – Bonnes-Mares’ top wines by Economics score.
Whilst all five achieve Economics scores that put them amongst the very strongest on Wine Lister, it is Domaine Georges Roumier’s Bonnes-Mares that leads the way with an outstanding score of 970. It is the most liquid of the five, its five top-selling vintages having traded 414 bottles over the past four quarters.
In second-place is Domaine d’Auvenay’s Bonnes-Mares (967). Underlining the Queen of Burgundy’s continuing surge in demand, it has a remarkable three-year CAGR of 35.6% (nearly double that of Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier’s Bonnes-Mares, its closest rival in that criterion). Its price is the highest of the group by a considerable distance, at £1,902.
Domaine Comte Georges de Vögué fills the third spot with its Bonnes-Mares’ Economics score of 942. One of the group’s two Buzz Brands, it is the second most-traded of the five (327 bottles), and has strong short-term price performance, its price having increased 11.2% over the past six months.
The Bonnes-Mares from Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier and Maison Joseph Drouhin fill the last two spots. Whilst they display similarly modest levels of liquidity (having traded 63 and 68 bottles over the past four quarters respectively), Mugnier leads Drouhin thanks to its considerably higher price (£436 vs £281) and superior long-term price performance (three-year CAGR of 18.2% vs 13.9%).
And thanks to Wine Lister’s approach, these scores will continue to change over time, meaning that they are always relevant and reflect the wine’s evolving position in the market.
Having ushered in Autumn with some of Northern Italy’s foremost brands, our Listed section continues its whirlwind tour of the world’s great wine regions in the Rhône. Home to some of France’s most illustrious producers, the Rhône tends to garner the most attention for its reds. However, its whites are well worth a mention too, and don’t require quite the same budget. Here we look at the region’s five most expensive dry whites.
Interestingly, all five wines are from the Northern Rhône, with Hermitage home to four of them. M. Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc L’Ermite tops the table. The first of two wines from Michel Chapoutier, at £233 per bottle it is by far the most expensive of the five. It also outperforms the others in the Quality category – with an outstanding average score of 961.
Château Grillet is the only wine of the five not produced in Hermitage. This 100% Viognier from the eponymous monopole (one of only a handful of single-estate appellations in France – can you name the others?) commands an average price of £134. It enjoys by far the best Economics score of the group (824), thanks to exceptional short-term price performance – its price having risen 22% over the past six months.
Snapping at its heels is similarly priced Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc. It achieves an average Quality score of 954, just six points behind that of its red counterpart. It is also the only Buzz Brand in the group, and enjoys the best Brand score (918).
Around the £120 mark, E. Guigal Ermitage Ex Voto Blanc and M. Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc De l’Orée fill the fourth and fifth spots. Underlining the outstanding quality of the group, they both achieve scores of over 900 in the category, ranking them amongst the very strongest on Wine Lister.
If we compare the quality to price ratio of these five whites and the Rhône’s five most expensive red wines, the whites look good value. Whilst the reds achieve a slightly better average Quality score (957 vs 919), you pay a significant premium for them – their average price is over 4.5 times higher than that of the whites (£671 vs £147).
With the days quickly shortening and misty mornings become the norm, we bid farewell to rosé for the year and welcome back old favourites. Autumn is the perfect season for Piedmontese reds, which are not only so redolent of mist-covered hills, but also pair perfectly with the region’s food at this time of year. With that in mind, this week’s Listed section features Piedmont’s top five wines by Brand score.
Whilst Barolo might be the region’s most famous appellation, it is Gaja Barbaresco that tops the table with an outstanding Brand score of 976. It performs extremely well across both of Wine Lister’s Brand criteria – restaurant presence and online popularity – coming first and second respectively. It is visible in 33% of the most prestigious establishments worldwide, and attracts more than 8,400 searches on Wine-Searcher each month.
Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino Riserva comes next (968). The first of three Wine Lister Buzz Brands in the group, it is by far the most expensive. Receiving on average 9,358 searches each month on Wine-Searcher, it is also the most popular wine in the group. Interestingly, despite experiencing the lowest restaurant presence (23%), it enjoys the greatest depth in terms of number of vintages and formats listed (4.4) – testament to its extraordinary ageing potential of over 24 years.
Bartolo Mascarello Barolo (of “no barrique, no Berlusconi” fame) fills the third spot. This staunchly traditional producer enjoys its best scores in the Brand category, with its excellent search frequency of over 7,000 searches each month helping it to a score of 960.
The last two spots are filled by another wine each from Giacomo Conterno and Gaja – Barolo Francia (formerly Casina Francia) and Sperss (now labelled as Barolo again from the 2013 vintage after 17 years declassified to Langhe Nebbiolo) [Friday fun fact – Gaja now labels wines under the Europe-wide DOP classification rather than the strictly Italian DOC status]. Both wines have strong restaurant presence, at 30% and 31% respectively. Either would be a perfect accompaniment to Alba’s famous white truffles, which will be starting to appear in some of those restaurants now.
Wine Lister’s Brand category measures a wine’s performance across two criteria: popularity and distribution. In conjunction with its Quality and Economic performance, this allows a holistic assessment of a fine wine. It also enables a comparison of the performance of entire fine wine regions. Below we look at the average scores over both Brand criteria of the top 50 wines in Bordeaux, Burgundy, California, Italy, and the USA.
Bordeaux dominates, with powerhouses Yquem and Mouton demonstrating the success of its classification system and the centuries-old global repute of its top crus. Its best wines are by far the most popular with consumers – searched for nearly four times more frequently on average than second-placed Italy. They are also the best distributed in the world’s most prestigious restaurants, present in 31% on average, and with 5 references per list.
Whilst Champagne comes second in terms of breadth of presence in restaurants, its top wines don’t achieve much depth in terms of vintages or formats listed – presumably because many of them are non-vintage.
Burgundy competes well in terms of restaurant presence, with the likes of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru enjoying a strong showing in top restaurants. Meanwhile the region is fourth most popular in terms of searches each month on Wine-Searcher.
Italy is unique in that Sassicaia is both its most popular wine and also its best distributed. However, whilst its top wines are the second most popular overall, they also experience the second lowest level of distribution.
Finally, the USA’s best wines achieve a strong level of vertical restaurant presence, but come last in terms of both horizontal presence and popularity, suggesting the New World still has a way to go in terms of brand strength.
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First published in French in En Magnum.
In an attempt to squeeze every last drop out of summer, this week’s Listed section features Wine Lister’s top 5 rosés by Quality score. Whilst the Côte d’Azur might seem a long way away, these five Provençal wines serve as a reminder of warmer climes and long sunny days.
Wine Lister’s Quality score measures a wine’s performance across two criteria – critics’ scores and ageing potential. Whilst these wines perform relatively well with the critics, they are not built with longevity in mind, and have an average predicted drinking window of just three years – compared to 17 and 16 years respectively for the top five whites and reds for Quality.
Domaines Ott Château de Selle Rosé Coeur de Grain tops the table with a very strong Quality score of 764. Currently priced at around £21 per bottle (depending on the retailer), it is the second-cheapest of the five, and represents excellent value for money.
Garrus, the first of three wines from Château d’Esclans, comes next with a Quality score of 743. At £74 it is by far the most expensive of the group – over twice as expensive as is its close relative Les Clans, with a Quality score of 696. Both these wines divide the critics, performing well with Antonio Galloni and Jancis Robinson, but less favoured by Bettane+Desseauve.
In fact, the French duo are considerably less enamoured with these five rosés than Jancis Robinson in general. Perhaps still rosé has a way to go before it is considered a serious vinous offering in France.
Château Simone Palette Rosé fills the fourth spot with a score of 657, followed by a third wine from Château d’ Esclans – Whispering Angel. Whilst it has a modest Quality score of 506, and is by far the least expensive of the group, it has by far the best Brand score (805). Proof that formidable branding can propel a wine beyond where its intrinsic quality level might suggest (though we certainly wouldn’t turn our noses up at a chilled glass of Whispering Angel on a sunny day like today).