Tag: Quality

Listed: top 5 sweet Alsace whites by Wine Lister score

As we edge ever closer to Christmas, it feels appropriate to take a look at sweet wines. Here we consider Alsace’s top 5 sweet whites by overall Wine Lister score. Produced in a thin sliver of land in the far East of France, Alsace’s top sweet whites are separated by just nine points (less than one hundredth of Wine Lister’s 1,000-point scale!). The five wines display very similar profiles, all outperforming in the Quality category, achieiving middling Brand scores, and trailing economically.

Four break the 900-point boundary in terms of Quality scores, putting them amongst the very top quality wines on Wine Lister. Hugel et Fils Riesling Vendange Tardive (VT) falls just short with 881 points, still a very strong Quality score (thanks to 17/20 from both Jancis Robinson and Bettane+Desseauve, and 92.5/100 from Vinous). The same producer’s Gewürtzraminer VT scores even higher for quality (910) thanks to a 95/100 from Jeannie Cho Lee:

Hugel Gewurz

Moving categories, scores drop sharply from an average Quality score of 915 to 550 for Brand – still above the average for all wines on Wine Lister:

Hugel Gewurz brand

Economics scores trail even further behind, averaging 338, hindered by low liquidity. For example, Hugel’s Gewürtzraminer VT failed to trade a single bottle at auction over the past four quarters (as measured by Wine Market Journal). The chart below shows Economics score in the context of all the wines on Wine Lister – its is well below the average, with a score below 400 putting in the “weak” score band:

Hugel Gewurz Econ

Other wines making the top five are Zind-Humbrecht Jebsal Pinot Gris VT (675) and Trimbach Gewürztraminer VT, which achieves the best restaurant presence of the group. However, featuring on just 6% of the world’s best restaurant lists, this suggests that Alsace’s sweet whites are not every sommelier’s must-list bracket, even when produced by the region’s most famous producer. Incidentally, Trimbach’s Clos Sainte Hune appears in 34% of wine lists (compared to 69% for Sauternes’ Château d’Yquem).

The last wine making it into this week’s Listed section is Marcel Deiss Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru. The only non-single varietal wine of the group, it is a blend of 13 different varietals planted in the same plot, and is by far Bettane+Desseauve’s preferred wine of the group – the French duo award it an average score of 19/20. It is also the most popular wine of the group. However, its modest average search frequency (380 per month on Wine-Searcher) confirms that Alsace’s sweet whites currently fly well under the radar.

So, when you’re stocking up your cellar for Christmas, give Alsace’s sweet whites a go. They might not be the most prestigious, but the quality is there and prices are pleasing.

Jeannie Cho Lee MW becomes Wine Lister’s fourth partner critic

We are thrilled to announce the addition of Jeannie Cho Lee MW as Wine Lister’s fourth partner critic, representing the Asian market.

Wine Lister gathers data from multiple sources to assess thousands of wines on a truly holistic basis. Scores are made up of three main categories: Quality, Brand, and Economics. Critic ratings form a vital part of the Quality category, providing reliable scores and drinking window information.

Jeannie Cho Lee is an independent wine critic, a university professor, and an award-winning author who in 2008 was the first Asian to become a Master of Wine. Based in Hong Kong, she writes about wine on her website, www.jeanniecholee.com, and has also published several books, including Asian Palate.

Adding to our unique collaborations with three of the most reputable wine critics in the world’s major fine wine markets – Jancis Robinson (UK), Antonio Galloni (Vinous) (USA), and Bettane+Desseauve (France) – we are delighted to welcome Jeannie Cho Lee to represent the key Asian fine wine market. This careful addition will help us in our goal of providing ever more reliable and accurate ratings and analysis, while crucially maintaining the high standards of this elite pool of critics. Jeannie Cho Lee’s scores have been added to those of our existing partner critics, and fed into Wine Lister’s bespoke algorithm to produce a Quality score out of 1,000 points. Wine Lister takes each critic’s minimum and maximum wine ratings and spreads these back out over the entire scale. As each wine critic scores differently (not just on a different scale), we also account for the frequency of ratings and normalise scores for fair comparison. Each critic is weighted equally.

Website wine page image

You may notice that some scores have changed for wines that have not been rated by Jeannie. In order to meet our goal of having the most comprehensive and up-to-date information, and the most rigorous rating algorithm, we have increased the sample set of scores upon which we carry out the normalisation between critics. This now includes the 18 months’ worth of new critic scores since our launch.

Value for money? Look to Bordeaux

One of Wine Lister’s four Indicators, Value Picks identify the wines and vintages which have the best quality to price ratio, with a proprietary weighting giving more importance to quality, thus giving the finest wines a look-in.

With the latest price data in, 28 new wines have recently qualified as Value Picks. While Value Picks are calculated using a three-month average bottle score for accuracy (in order to take into account any price fluctuations), we have shown the current price per bottle below for ease of comparison. Please note that the price shown is excluding duty and VAT, and often reflects prices available only when purchasing a full case:

Value Picks_2017

Bordeaux dominates the new Value Picks, filling 11 of the 28 spots. Margaux’s Prieuré-Lichine seems a particularly keenly-priced brand at the moment, with both its 2015 and 2016 vintages now Value Picks. With Wine Lister Quality scores of 891 and 912 respectively – very strong and amongst the strongest on Wine Lister’s 1000 point scale – and both priced under £30, they represent excellent value buys. Within Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan is home to the highest number of new Value Picks. Of those, two are white, with Château Carbonnieux Blanc 2014 and Château Olivier 2015 achieving very similar Quality scores (809 and 806 respectively), and each priced at just £20.

The other wine to feature twice in the latest update is Domaine de Cristia Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with its 2010 and 2007 vintages. The former, which achieves a Quality score of 763, is available at just £18 per bottle. With plenty of life left in it, it looks like a great buy.

Three Piedmontese wines recently qualified as Value Picks – M. Marengo Barolo Brunate 2010, Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia 2010, and La Spinetta (Rivetti) Barbera d’Alba Gallina 2007. All three achieve powerful Wine Lister Quality scores of over 900 points. You might buy Giacomo Conterno’s wines to impress – the Barolo Cascina Francia is a Wine Lister Buzz Brand, but also averages £157 per bottle. If you’re looking for something more appropriate for a weeknight, the 2010 vintage of the same producer’s Barbera d’Alba, priced at just £30, would be an excellent Value Pick – a perfect example of how Wine Lister’s indicators can help you find the right wine for any situation.

The best wines money can buy?

This week’s Listed section focuses on the five Burgundy Grands Crus with the highest Quality scores. As previous analysis has shown, Burgundy’s greatest wines display better quality than those of any other major fine wine region. These five – all rare wines from some of the world’s most famous domaines – enjoy uniformly outstanding Quality scores. Unsurprisingly, they are also some of the most expensive wines in the world.

Top 5 Burgundy GCs

Leading the way is Domaine d’Auvenay Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, the only white. The first of three wines in the top five overseen by Lalou Bize-Leroy, only 500 bottles of this rare wine leave the estate each year. Its wine level Quality score of 991 is the third-highest in Wine Lister’s database, behind two sweet Rieslings, while its average price per bottle of £2,523 is actually one of the more affordable in this list.

Moving up to the Côte de Nuits, next come Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti Grand Cru and Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru, each with a Quality score of 990. Once again, low yields command high prices, with the former costing on average £11,267 per bottle. Proving that the reputations of two of the world’s most prominent fine wine producers are built upon firm foundations, these wines achieve the highest Quality scores of any red wine on Wine Lister.

The “Queen of Burgundy” continues her dominance with fourth-placed Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru, which achieves a Quality score of 985 points. With Henri Jayer Echezeaux Grand Cru just two points behind, these Burgundy brands comprise four of the six top red wines for Quality Score on Wine Lister.

The best wines for quality, year after year

A wine’s reputation for quality cannot be determined by one vintage alone – the very best must be consistent, year-in, year-out. Today, we’ve analysed our data to determine which wines have the most consistent Quality scores (one of the three categories, alongside Brand and Economics that feed into Wine Lister’s holistic wine ratings).

Assessing all the wines in our database for which there are Quality scores for more than 30 vintages, we analysed the standard deviation of these scores from vintage to vintage. The top 10 wines below are the most consistent when it comes to quality:

Quality consistency_Top 10 wines

Unsurprisingly, these are all big names that have been able to invest in the newest technologies to see them through the more challenging years. Their reliability is testament to their status as great wines. Seven of the world’s top 10 most consistently qualitative wines are French, although of the five Bordeaux left bank first growths, only Margaux, Latour and Haut-Brion make the cut, joined by Petrus and Cheval Blanc from the right bank.  Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is the only producer to boast two wines in the table: La Tâche and Romanée-Conti, also the two most expensive.

Perhaps unexpectedly, the most consistent wine is also the most affordable. At an average price per bottle of £124, Californian Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello sees limited fluctuation in Quality scores between the years, with the vast majority of vintages scoring between 960 and 990. It is followed by Spain’s Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Unico – whose Quality scores on Wine Lister stretch right back to its 1920 vintage, proving almost a century of consistent winemaking.

Bordeaux 2016: arriving at a release price

In today’s blog we continue to explore some of the findings from our new in-depth study on Bordeaux, available for subscribers here. Having looked at the wines in which the trade has most confidence, we now turn our attention to Bordeaux 2016, and a key question: how might a château arrive at an appropriate en primeur release price?

Using average figures for 79 of the top Bordeaux crus, we explore two approaches. First, simplistically, we look at release prices of previous vintages, and apply the trade’s suggested decrease of 4% (see here for more) to the average 2015 release price. This is represented by the dotted line.

However, Wine Lister Founding Members were canvassed before having tasted the 2016 vintage, now considered to be excellent, and so the average suggested decrease of 4% on 2015 prices seems unrealistically low. Some châteaux have already released maintaining their 2015 price, which has been well received by the trade, while others have applied increases in euro terms, which in turn are amplified by the current exchange rate when converted into UK offer prices.

For each wine, it is also necessary to take into account the reception by the market of last year’s price, as well as this year’s relative quality.

Bordeaux 2016 arriving at release price

The second, more sophisticated approach, involves comparing the average Quality scores from the last eight vintages to the current market price for those vintages.

The closest quality rating to 2016 is 2015, but as this vintage is not yet delivered, the most appropriate vintage for comparison is 2010. As such, we have applied the quality to price ratio from 2010, in order to arrive at a derived future market price for the 2016 vintage on average, according to its current quality assessment.

The average price per bottle could be expected to reach €161 in the marketplace in due course.

Margins taken by the négociant and then importers tend to amount to around 25-30%, although this varies from wine to wine.

That would take us to around €117 per bottle at release. Then we apply a 10%-20% “discount” to the consumer for buying en primeur, before they receive the physical product. This suggests an average ex-château release price of €93 to €105 (see chart).

In general, this would mean that 2016s should be priced below current market prices for 2015, and well below 2010 market prices.

For further detail, or to enquire about price analysis on specific châteaux, please email team@wine-lister.com.

Bordeaux 2016 top wines by Quality score

Now that all our partner critics’ scores have been published, we have been able to feed them into Wine Lister’s bespoke algorithm to arrive at Quality scores for the Bordeaux 2016 vintage. The top 15 wines are shown below.

Wine Lister’s Quality score combines the ratings from our partner critics, three of the most respected critics in the world – Jancis Robinson, Antonio Galloni, and Bettane+Desseauve. A small weighting is also added for a wine’s ageing potential.

2016 Top Quality Scores 2

Ironically, the top wine of the vintage is Latour, not available to buy en primeur since the château withdrew from the system in 2012. The Pauillac first growth surged 34 positions up the table from last year, to 992 points for its 2016 Quality score.

Lafleur is just behind on 990, closely followed by Haut-Brion, Petrus and Vieux Château Certan. In fact, all the usual contenders make an appearance in the top 15, including the five first growths, their right bank equivalents such as Le Pin, Cheval Blanc, and Ausone, and Sauternes’ own first growth, Château d’Yquem.

Less obvious showings that are likely to represent better value include Calon Ségur, which improved a mammoth 51 places on last year, as well as Figeac and Pontet-Canet, in joint 15th position.

The top 40 2016 Quality scores will be listed in our upcoming Bordeaux market study, due for release later this week, and available to subscribers here. Alternatively, see the full ranking on the website.