“Pigs may fly, William, but I doubt it!”, and as we end the month of May 2020, this our 10th or is it our 11th week of self incarceration? here, but does anyone actually care anymore. Can we care? with so much misabuse of sensitive certainties that as human beings we are rightfully allowed to use our common sense and sense of freedom, but the powers to be and the confidence tricksters have been at it again for too long now, and they are not giving up on this occasion either, it would seem. Our local man today has announced another 10-15 weeks of self imprisonment. But to cheer us all up I have four little self-abused, trying to get off the ground, piggies here to share with you.
The first one, and almost serendipitously, was the release yesterday of 2012 Grand Vin de Ch.Latour, Pauillac and still, I believe, you’ll find it in the rather posh Bordelais village of Pauillac in Bordeaux (do check your Google map on that one as it might have been shifted by the powers to be) unless you can tell me otherwise. At the beginning of this month I had a dream, and it was all about drinking a delicious bottle of Ch.Latour (please check-in on previous blog if you are at all interested that is) and just today, almost a week after my lovely dream, Latour have for the first time in eight years (…so what where you up to back in 2012?) released their latest wine onto the market, and I am told that it has nothing to do with `En Primeur` as they don`t do that sort of thing anymore. The greatest vineyard in the world is offering of what they describe as the next vintage that is ready for drinking and also, of course, for our pleasure! let us not forget that bit. The owners of Ch.Latour will not sell their wines to you anymore, that are raw (whilst still bubbling away in the En Primeur barrel), or that need to be stashed away in your cellar for many years to come until the time is right, that is, to draw the cork. What lovely people they are, and great service from the Latour Corp. to not only store our wine `free of charge` until we want to buy some that is until you actually see the price of 2012 vintage. The first offering went out at breakfast time yesterday from the usual suspects, and prices at GBP £2,100 per case of six bottles (75cls) where across the board or GBP £4,200 per case of 12 bottles. The price is of course `Under Bond`, so if you want to actually drink a bottle please remember to add on politely Her Majesty`s Customs & Sexcise + Duty/VAT and all that jazz. Don`t forget you`ll probably also want to tip the delivery man, a twenty quid note should do the trick. So listen, I have done the maths for you and each bottle can be sitting on your carving-sideboard next to the roast beef and horseraddish sauce for around GBP £425-£435 per bottle, and that`s if you get into the action prontissimo! I asked one of my trusted negociants if I can buy a bottle from them to try it first. He said NON! so I started to look around for a tasting note that would make some sort of sense to me, and I found this one written by an American Master of Wine, sorry I cannot pronounce his or her name, and it`s freshly noted, in other words the wine was tasted sometime during March of 2020, not in the year 2013 or 2014+ like the other oldy-boldy-moldy notes that I came across. So tasted just under two months ago:
The 2012 Latour is a blend of 90.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.6% Merlot and 0.2% Petit Verdot. Medium to deep garnet colored, the nose slowly, measuredly emerges with notions of preserved Morello cherries, baked blackcurrants and blackberry compote, giving way to nuances of pencil shavings, unsmoked cigars, five spice and sandalwood plus ever so subtle hints of cardamom and eucalyptus. Medium-bodied, the palate delivers mouth-coating black and red fruit preserves with a firm, grainy-textured frame and fantastic freshness, finishing with a veritable firework display of lingering spices and minerals. This is a more restrained, relatively elegant vintage of Latour that may not have that “iron fist in a velvet glove” power of the greatest vintages but nonetheless struts its superior terroir and behind-the-scenes savoir faire with impressive panache. It is drinking nicely now with suitably rounded-off, approachable tannins, and the tertiary characters are just beginning to bring some more cerebral elements into the compote of temptingly primary black fruits. But, if you’re looking to drink it in full, flamboyant swing, give it another 5-10 years in bottle and drink it over the next 20-25 years.
Blow me down with a vinous feather, it really does sound pretty good, but the optimum drinking window? really in twenty years time, when I will either be hooked up to a breathing machine, or may already have gone walkies over the biggie, who said there would be Petrus up there, Threshold. No individual bottles available for now, so I got onto the old blower to see if I can take six bottles (1 case) for my next June’20 wine (import) shipment. The answer, again, was a firm NON! The wine will infact not be ready to be transported ex Ch.Latour warehouse, if they have one that is, until the end of July`20. Oh okay, but isn`t that when the Frogs like to go on holiday for the whole dam month. Yes, we`ll be back at the beginning of September, is their reply. So let`s think about it for a moment. September means that the lorries start trucking, in a direction & hopefully yours, mid-month? and if we are lucky that is and that the plague finally gives up on us all. By the time those pallets are unloaded from the lorries at the bonded warehouse (i.e. LCB VT), we can imagine maybe this is now the second week of October when they are landing, RH&D, the physical wine into your account. Now, If you want to clear a case to Duty Paid status and draw a cork quietly at home, then think about the end of October and possibly delivery to your house, the first week of November, this year of course! A wee reminder, it`s best to leave these wines to rest in bottle for a week or so, a minimum period if you have the patience, as they tend to get all “shook-up-like” in transit and do benefit from a little medititive cellar time, I promise you that. Will we still be interested in drinking this wine in November. Well I suppose there is Christmas lunch to consider if you are rolling in it.
Now what happened to that `ex cellars`(Ch.Latour) super dooper offer/price from de boyz at LVMH, and let us not forget Les Amis des Negociants? Well, today even though the offers all say that they have sold out of their first tranche, sorry I don`t believe a word of it. The price for six bottles of this 2012 vintage still stands at GBP £2,100 for the case. I question myself and say, well why not wait until just before Christmas this year, and buy some at the same price as today, and when the wine is readily available. Where`s the actual offer here, the `deal` as they still like to call it in England. Is this a six month deal-investment? or a six year + investment. Well I guess it depends on whether you want to drink the wine or not, or just sit on those wooden cases and paying the storage charges, waiting for a rare positive blip in the fine wine market, whatever that means anymore, and does any of this make sense at all. I think someone out there is smoking a seriously big cigar.
Staying on the Claret theme, on the same day but later on, and to give you a mad example of how Bordeaux is shooting itself in the foot again whilst hoisting the vinous Bordelais flag, the almost neighbour to Ch.Latour, Family Tesseron`s Ch.Pontet-Canet, Pauillac where the first of all the Chateaux to come out of the non-existant, but now very much alive 2020 En Primeur stalls with a 30% drop on their 2018 offer price @ GBP £366 per case (6) for 2019 vintage. The last time I read any of the dreadful commercial wine press, they told me clearly that there would be no EP campaign this year due to the C19 plague, and other local factors. So, to jolt one`s memory if we still have one left intact that is. In 2018, last year, we were all paying GBP £520 for six bottles, for the Pontet-Canet. Does this now mean that we are loyal Pontet-Canet buyers now being given a nice 30% discount on their latest vintage, the 2019 blended wine, or are they seriously taking the Micky? and showing me the full finger. Your guess is of course as good as mine. And back in 2011 we were paying GBP £740 per case (6) for their 2010 Pontet-Canet. Nothing unusual here, or there, except 10 years later in 2020 I am still paying/selling and sitting on 2010 stock at the same market price of ten/nine years ago. Not really much of a financial investment of course, but one we could say is reserved for the luncheon table investment, only. Even Pontet-Canet`s 2000 and 2005 vintages, both stunning drinkers today by the way, have carried more or less the same value for the last 19 & 14 years. So come on you guys stop pulling the olde En Primeur plonker this year, plague or no plague. There`s so much good wine out there and good drinking availability, from all around the world, so why not, you my dear faithful reader put your precious vinous funds into those wines, physical stock that is. Wines being offered now and being offered for delivery today! or tomorrow that is. LCB VT still just needs, amazingly, only 24 hours to process the wine orders and deliver. Super service!
The next, and penultimate little naughty piggie here to escape the higgy piggy flying pen was from DHL Argentina`s monthly May newsletter. Each month for as long as I can remember now, and due to local economics, hyperinflation etc. There has been a monthly minimum of a 5% fuel surcharge. I can remember one month last year where the number 13.5% was the headline, quite a jump eh! Well, now that we are being told by OPEC, during this coronomics, that a barrel of oil costs less than a small packet of salted potato chips, arn`t DHL Argentina supposed to stop adding on this ridiculous % fee. They are never, of course going to give us a decrease, obviously that`s for sure, but please stop this shipping exploitation, it`s more cynical than the inflation we are all having to put up with down here, pre coronomics. Today, inflation is officially running at 42.2%, and at home my personal inflation runs at 88%! roughly.
Finally and for the last flying coronablogbuster pig, and bizarrely enough still firmly sitting, air brakes applied on the world`s tarmac is LATAM. My favourate airline for the last twenty + years, and maybe one of the largest fleets in Latin America. A seven minute video was emailed to me from a Roberto Alvo, CEO of LATAM on the same day as Chateau Latour released their 2012 wine non-offer. The CEO told us that he has put LATAM into Chapter 11 (I am no accountant or lawyer, for that matter, but even I know that means they have filed for bankruptcy in a US court), and Roberto went on to assure us that everything will be okay. Umm seriously? Well, not only do I use LATAM for most of my international wine shipments, my personal travel and have a bunch of millas that I want to use one day to go on holiday. I seriously do not understand how a company can go bust in the morning and then on the same day, late afternoon that is, offer flights to Europe for around U$300. (I do not know if that price is for both the coming and the going, probably not). Crisis? what crisis or is all of this some cynical, disingenuous new financial world we are working in. Amex keep reminding me that they are offering me a three month financial vacation. When I asked what that meant they told me that I do not have to pay my monthly card balance. When I asked them if they would charge interest during these 3 months, the reply was, of course we are yes! Where is the holiday there, and before I leave you and look for a purpose to live somewhere in my kitchen, Ch.Palmer, Margaux has also just released their price for the big 2019 wine and also one of my all time favourites their second wine Alter Ego de Palmer 2019 @ GBP £540 per case of (12)! Dear reader, if you want to drink some excellent Claret, we still have in bond the exquisite 2015 Alter Ego @ GBP £600 per case and you can have it delivered to your front door the day after tomorrow. This is no flying pig! it`s 19kilos of 12 bottles (75cl) delicious Margaux in a sealed (at the chateau) wooden case, stamped 2015 Alter Ego de Ch.Palmer, Margaux. If we clear a case for you from the bond, the delivered bottle price would be GBP £65 a bottle!
The only thing you will really see flying around the villages of Pauillac and Margaux these days are of course Doves. Did you know that that the tower at Latour was a Dovecote… I did not until recently.
2015 Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux: This is the second wine of Chateau Palmer and always very smooth and supple thanks to a high proportion of Merlot in the blend. In 2015 it represents 50% of Palmer’s total production and the assemblage will be 52% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. Maturation in 30% new oak. Deep ruby colour. This has a bright cherry fruit and violet nose with hints of rose. Very fragrant. The palate is silky smooth with very refined tannins coating a core of black cherry fruit. Sweet white chocolate, hints of vanilla and fresh flowers linger on the finish. This is fine, pure and refined. A superb Alter Ego. 96/100pts
2019 Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux: Cinnamon spice on the nose, with a patisserie edge to the fruits that gives a rich, creamy impression. As ever with the Palmer stable of wines, you can pick out the individual flavours clearly, with careful and precise delineation of cassis, bilberry, slate and tobacco notes, but overall this is an outstanding Alter Ego that puts the emphasis on pleasure. Tannins are extremely precise but feathery and pliable. An extremely low 37ppm of SO2 at this stage, in keeping with biodynamic principles and a desire to let the fruit speak. 94/100pts
Per manedo vincimus! as Matron used to tell us at the door of my Prep-school sanatorium. If you can swallow the horse pill you are in. If you cannot swallow it, then go back to your studies.