Wednesday, 1 October 2014

We are very happy to announce that BWI and BWI Hong Kong are now Grand Vin Wine Merchants UK and Grand Vin Wine Merchants HK. Our continued dedication to your pursuit of the world's finest wine remains the same. Our operations and customer service will continue on as usual under our new name. Thank you for your understanding in this transition, and if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to serving you.

Yours sincerely, 

Robert Lench
Managing Director
Grand Vin Wine Merchants UK

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

En Primeur 2013 | BWI Report

We are pleased to advise you the Bordeaux 2013 En Primeur Campaign has now begun. We are a company that specializes in Bordeaux futures and intend to handle this campaign a little differently than previous ones. We have vast experience on our team with one of the members reaching back to the 1984 vintage, coincidentally another less than stellar year.

Due to the poor nature of the vintage we will only be making a few offers during this campaign in order that you are not inundated you with needless communications. We will list all of the wines on our web site and of course if you do not find the wine you desire on our list please contact us and we will be sure to source it for you.

There are two bright spots in 2013 - the Sauternes and Dry Whites are very good with some outstanding examples.

It was abundantly clear to us all that given Bordeaux experienced a similar weather pattern to the UK and the attendant difficulties this heaped upon the hapless wine maker; the wines would not in any way rival previous vintages.

The two key factors were the very late flowering and the short “summer ripening period” with an early onset of a damp autumn that impacted upon the harvest. Many properties lost much of their crop to rot a result of warm weather interspersed with rain and the resultant humid conditions as the weather switched from one to another.

This is very relevant to Bordeaux – it significantly assisted the sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac who have had a good year.  The dry whites have also enjoyed a good vintage for 2013. There will be some very pleasant drinking here. For the white wines, the following stood out: Pape Clement; Domaine de Chevalier; Smith Haut Lafitte; De Fieuzal and the power houses of La Mission Haut Brion Blanc and Pavillon Blanc.

For Sauternes and Barsacd’Yquem; Suduiraut; Guiraud and Climens stood out for the team.

We found a number of pleasant red wines that will provide good drinking although much lighter in weight and complexity. The key with wines from the 2013 vintage will be their price upon release.

We are all aware of the significant price escalation in recent years that does not seem to have been adjusted to reflect the quality of individual vintages. This year, the 2013 vintage offers an opportunity for a correction should the chateaux choose to take it – it remains to be seen. It has been a very small crop compared to the norm, resulting from the poor weather and growing conditions – coupled with this has been the added expense of making a wine in this vintage due to the adverse weather. This has been much higher than usual due to the amount of work required in the vineyard.

We have selected a number of wines that we believe are worthy of consideration depending upon their release price. You will find the wines by clicking on the link

In general terms, the Right Bank Pomerols’ provided the most consistency and approachable wines with good efforts from a number of producers. This is due to the lack of cabernet sauvignon grape being used as this is one of the late ripening grapes and suffered from the cold wet autumn. We found good wines for this vintage here in Vieux Chateau Certan; L’Evangile; Lafleur and L’Eglise Clinet.

St Emilion was much more variable among the chateaux with good efforts from Le Dome; Figeac; Clos Fourtet and Pavie Macquin.

This was a tough year for St Estephe with the hard to ripen Cabernet grapes causing the major issues for wine makers. From this commune, only Montrose and Lilian Ladouys were in our picks.

Moving down into Pauillac saw similar challenges. There were more wines here where the winemakers had left nature to do its work in the vat rooms allowing the wines to express light, bright fruit. This will provide some pleasant drinking Bordeaux wines from this vintage. Notable are: Lafite; Pichon Baron; Latour; Grand Puy Lacoste and Pontet Canet.

St Julien demonstrated a similar pattern to elsewhere, with those who had demonstrated the lighter touch achieving potentially good drinking wines. Interesting wines from this commune include: Leoville Barton; Langoa Barton and Leoville Las Cases and the wines from the Borie stable consisting of Ducru Beaucaillou, La Croix De Beaucaillou and Lalande-Borie.

Less uniformity and success was shown in Margaux where the range and wide variety of quality rivalled St Emilion. Diligent wine makers and those again allowing nature to work for them in the vats have made wines worthy of consideration. Among those are: Chateau Margaux; Du Terte; Rauzan Segla and Brane Cantenac.

Finally to Pessac Leognan where a similar story unfolds. As we have previously stated the Dry whites are very good this year across the board; however, the reds were somewhat more challenging to taste. Naturally Haut Brion stood out as the wine of the commune with a good effort from Domaine de Chevalier.

Friday, 15 November 2013

A Century of PX

Toro Albala Don PX Montill-Morilles, with Antonio Sagata


Last Wednesday morning was perhaps the most hedonistic of my life, thanks to a tasting of some of the sweetest wines in the world, spanning a hundred years.  A recent 100 point score, in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, for one of these wines just put the whole region of Montilla-Morilles in the spotlight so I was eager to find out more for myself.

Coming to Andalucia in the 16th Century, the Pedro Ximenez grape (PX) has long been grown in Montilla-Morilles. Toro Albala was established in 1844 and like the other wineries in the region it sold its PX in bulk to Jerez, for use in sweetening their Sherries.   In 1950, Toro Albala decided instead to raise the quality and start to bottle the wines themselves.  This proved successful and the business soon outgrew its original premises.  Production was moved to the local disused electrical power station and their Fino became known locally as ‘Electrico’ or ‘High Voltage’! 

Unlike most sherry production, Toro Albala’s PX wines are not blended in a Solera but are single vintage.  It takes some 5 kilos of raisined grapes to produce every litre of PX.  This results in up to a phenomenal 650 grams per litre of residual sugar.  The latest vintages are cold filtered in steel tanks for one month at -20 C before being left for a further two years, during which time they deposit sugar crystals.  Some vintages receive the addition of between 5 and 20% Amontillado in order to increase acidity and reduce the overall sweetness and maintain balance.  This balance is fundamental to the ageing capability of Don PX.  Wines are not released in consecutive order but instead are offered as and when the winery believes they are drinking best.

Recommended food pairings include chocolate, Fois Gras and blue cheese but personally I’d enjoy them on their own as an aperitif.  Antonio advised that due to the oxidative nature of the production, these wines can easily be kept for six months after opening. 

Prior to tasting these, my preconceptions of Montilla, were of a region playing second fiddle to Jerez and I have to admit to wondering whether I would find the PX all very similar across the range of vintages.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Sure, they’re all sweet but that’s where the similarity ends.  The bouquets and palates are so unbelievably complex that no two years are the same.  Even the colours vary significantly, with older not necessarily signifying darker.

The Tasting:

2010 Don PX Dulce de Pasas
Amber coloured. Freshly peeled orange zest, pink grapefruit, fig and Greek honey aromas. Thickly viscous. Utterly unctuous. Caramelised bananas, vanilla ice cream. Pure and fresh, with a delicacy that belies its richness.

1983 Don PX Gran Reserva
The colour of molasses. Complex aromatics of bitter chocolate, intense dried fruit character of figs, prunes and cranberries. Although very sweet, the wine is defined by its vibrant, rapier like acidity. Fresh and vigorous. Madeira cake with glace cherries.

1976 Don PX Double Label
Very dark brown with a reddish tinge at the rim. A very different aromatic profile. This has a distinct smokiness and notes of dark soy sauce, cracked black pepper and game. As it evolves in the glass, quince and intense cassis aromas come through. This is more delicate and feminine, with rosewater, ripe red cherries and raspberries. Fresh and invigorating. This has a long, tapering finish. Amazingly harmonious and energetic for its age.

1962 Don PX Double Label
Dark brown with orange / yellow rim.  Complex aromas of cigar box and spice. Licorice too. Supple and soft. This has had all the edges knocked off. Ripe and full, loaded with fruitcake flavours. Perfectly balanced with extraordinary depth and concentration, again lifted by precise acidity. So so long.

1949 Don PX Double Label
Significantly more faded brown. Tobacco, vanilla pod, beeswax and tropical notes. This is a bouquet to linger over like a fine aged Cognac. Ripe Gallia melon, sweet potato and roasted butternut squash. Elegant and feminine. Mind blowing complexity and length. The finish is like a dark, caramelised toffee fudge. Awesome.

1946 Don PX Double Label
Darker colour this time. Mahogany. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and rose perfume. This is exceptionally heady. Hard to tear myself away from the nose, it is almost addictive. Pure and sensual. Mocha and cinnamon. The way this caresses the palate is unbelievable. I can still taste this well over a minute later.

1939 Don PX Double Label
A slightly lighter mahogany. Espresso coffee and black chocolate, followed by highly aromatic beeswax. Thickly textured but balanced and refined, just avoids becoming cloying. Coffee liqueur and clotted cream. One of the most intensely concentrated wines I've ever experienced. Very long miso paste finish.

1911 Don PX Double Label
Dark red brown, like a 40y.o. Tawny. Oxtail and soy initially then more tropical fruits and finally antique furniture. Passion fruit and wild strawberry. This is the most intense wine here. Bitter black cherry and dried apricot. An almost medicinal quality. Would that my cough linctus tasted this good, though!

By Simon Quinn - BWI