Wednesday Wines – Episode 126 – Beyond Bordeaux with CVBG

Episode 126 – Beyond Bordeaux

CVBG Annual Tasting featuring Global Superstar Estates

14th September 2022

Each year, CVBG, one of the foremost Négociants in Bordeaux, hosts a tasting of the most important ‘non-Bordeaux’ wines sold on La Place de Bordeaux. It is a tasting that gives one a snapshot of wines that, by all accounts, super-collectors seek out. If you look hard enough, most of these wines garner ‘high nineties’ and sometimes even perfect 100-point scores from over-excited commentators. I tend to take a more sanguine look at the wines, keeping my feet on the ground and writing notes about the flavour and balance of each wine as opposed to the glamorous aura of the winery or the price tag of the bottle.  This means that I give out much more measured scores and am not afraid to be truthful about those wines that disappoint. These notes are my own, but I am always happy to share with you my favourite wines.

This is an occasion when I am thrilled to be more of a recommender than a critic. This year there were 62 wines in the line-up, and while only a few failed to get past a 17/20 score in my notes (this equates to 89/100 or a Silver Medal in wine judging parlance), it was pleasing that my median score was a healthy 18/20 (or 93/100, but this is still a Silver Medal, albeit a high-level Silver). Now my Members are not interested in Silver Medals wines when they are spending the sort of money that these wines command, so here are 22 Gold Medal quality wines for you to savour.

Italy

2019 Solaia, Antinori, Toscana, Italy

This is a spectacular Solaia, powerful, complete and ravishingly sexy. The addition of 10% Cabernet Franc lifts the perfume and adds discreet spice that transforms the wine into a glistening thoroughbred. 19+/20

2015 Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva, Fieramonte, Allegrini, Veneto, Italy

This is as close to perfection as I have tasted in Amarone, and given that I have followed this estate for three decades, it is a pleasure to inform you that this is the finest wine I have tasted from Allegrini.  Sensational in every respect, this is a Titan and a beautiful one at that.  19.5+/20

France

2020 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Hommage à Jacques Perrin, Château de Beaucastel, Southern Rhône, France

This is a massive wine, and it is so tense and focused it is not an easy wine to taste at this age, but it is clear that this is a monumental effort and a wine that will appeal to Perrin aficionados because this is a first-class vintage for Hommage.  19++/20

Argentina

2019 Finca Canal Uco, Paraje Altamira, Valle de Uco, Zuccardi, Mendoza, Argentina

A new wine for me and a new one for CVBG, too, this is a sensational debut for this perfumed, silky, ethereal ‘Mountain Malbec’. It is sensual, almost Pinot-shaped, and yet there is prodigious minerality and tension on this finish, too. A triumph and also a surprise.  18.5+/20

2019 Nicolas Catena Zapata, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Perhaps it is no surprise that this wine would make the grade because it has been a superstar for many years. Not usually a style that leaps out at me, this 2019 has an exotic perfume that brings excitement and enviable grace to the deep core of fruit found on the palate, and it is this counterpoint of elegance and structure that caught my eye. It needs a decade to settle, but this is a great wine.  18.5+/20

2019 Catena Zapata, Adrianna Vineyard, Mundus Bacillus Terrae, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

By contrast to ‘Nicolas’, this is a shockingly pure and remarkably elegant Malbec that seems to trumpet its 1500m altitude with incredible freshness of perfume, fruit and flavour. Silky, layered, purple and not black-fruited, this is a succulent and exotic red wine with a forward stance and is imbued with boundless style and flair that is sure to enchant even the fussiest of palates.  18.5/20

Chile

2020 Viñedo Chadwick, Maipo Valley, Chile

The Chilean wines in the collection always seem out of kilter and somewhat green, and when these components are set against heavy oaking I cannot find balance. Still, Chadwick is glorious in 2020 with a medium-weight palate and an incredible sense of terroir. This is a classy creation and one that doesn’t get too caught up in trying to be too massive.  18.5+/20

USA

2019 Beaux Frères, The Belles Soeurs Pinot Noir, Oregon, USA

This is the first time Beaux Frères has been released on La Place, and this is the perfect wine to announce its arrival on this famous stage.  Refined and silky, yet with a refreshing amount of grip, the red fruit might seem a little tender and demure, but there is enough tension here to bring gravitas and drama, and it will stay on this path for a decade or more.  18.5/20

2020 L’Aventure, Estate Cuvée, Paso Robles, California, USA

I liked all three of the 2020 Aventure wines on tasting, so if you see Côte à Côte (18.5/20) or Optimus (18.5/20), you will be in excellent hands. But, the Estate Cuvée took the lead with staggeringly beautiful fruit, all set against cool, clean tannins that make this wine sing. I adore the Syrah/Cab blend (please see my recent The Great Australian Red competition results), and this wine takes this style and elevates it up to the top of the world! It is also drinking beautifully, which is absurd for a 2-year-old wine.  19/20

2020 Vérité, Le Désir, Sonoma County, California, USA

My pick of the trio of Vérité wines is this Cabernet Franc-driven beauty, and it manages to gain fascinating balance despite the levels of oak and power. It could not be confused with a top-flight Right Bank wine, but it can undoubtedly sit alongside them and hold its own.  18.5+/20

2019 Peter Michael, Les Pavots, Knights Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA

I have followed these wines for an eternity, and they are always glossy and well put together, but Les Pavots is a level above recent finds, and the coolness and plushness ratio makes the mouth water. Perfect fruit integrity is balanced by superb tension, which makes for exciting drinking.  18.5/20

2019 Quintessa, Rutherford, Napa Valley, California, USA

I always want Quintessa to taste both Californian and French simultaneously. I have no idea why this is apart from the fact that I have been buying this wine since the late nineties when it first came over to the UK, and it was always the most elegant of the Napa brigade. The 2019 is a perfect example of this model, with oodles of class shot through silky, top-flight Napa Cabernet fruit.  19/20

2019 Favia, Coombsville, Napa Valley, California, USA

Stepping back from a more obvious, warmer, plusher stance, this cooler site results in an edgier, fresher wine with spice and herb notes. It is a welcome break from the exuberant Cali-reds, and while the oak is proud and central in this wine’s construction, the fruit manages to cloak this core with wistful, sonorous flavours.  18.5/20

2019 Joseph Phelps, Insignia, Napa Valley, California, USA

I wrote ‘Bentley Turbo’ in my notes. I mean that this is a potent wine, but it lacks nothing in its design or elegance. Big and beautiful – so if you are up for a fuller framed, richly oaky wine, this is about as delicious as it gets.  19+/20

2018 Pym-Rae, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA

The perfume and the refinement of this wine beg the question and a quick search gives us the answer. With a 600m elevation and biodynamic practices at large in the vineyard, this is a vital, elemental and complex wine with a curiously enchanting air.  18.5/20

2017 Promontory, Napa Valley, California, USA

A closed wine with a massive presence in the glass and vigorous swirling reveals layers and layers of exoticism and excitement. Broad shoulders, uncommon grandeur and fabulous length make this a knife and fork wine right now, but time will undoubtedly reveal a thrilling creation.  19+/20

New Zealand

2020 Craggy Range, Aroha, Te Muna, Martinborough, North Island, New Zealand

See my MoneyWeek review from 2nd September here.

Australia

2019 Wynns Coonawarra Estate, John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia

After a run of glorious and exuberant Californian wines, returning to a genuine, cool climate beauty was a pleasure. Impeccably refined, minutes long and monastically peaceful and calm on the palate, this is a brilliant wine and one with a 30 life ahead of it. If it looks this good already, imagine what will happen in a decade or two. 19+/20

2019 Penfolds, Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia

See my matthewjukes.com review on the Penfolds Collection release earlier this year here.

2018 Jim Barry, The Armagh Shiraz, Clare Valley, South Australia

Silky smooth and extraordinarily perfumed with broad brush strokes of cinnamon and woodsmoke over a deep core of fruit, this is an unusually exuberant mulberry-soaked Shiraz with a huge finish, and it takes you to Clare, and this historic vineyard, in just one sip. This is a GPS wine like no other in this line-up, showing just how unique The Armagh is.  19+/20

2020 Cloudburst, Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia

This fascinating wine is right up there at the top of the Aussie Chardy tree, and it is superbly complex and marvellously upholstered with generous oak and crazy levels of honeysuckle and orange blossom. It was the finest dry white wine of the day, showing just how grand Chardonnay is from this part of the world.  18.5/20

South Africa

2019 Klein Constantia, Vin de Constance, Constantia, South Africa

See my MoneyWeek review from 26th August here.

Notes on my scores – I have attached my scores out of 20 for every wine. If a score has no ‘+’, this indicates a wine in balance and can be drunk relatively young thanks to its precocity and charm while having the ability to mellow, too. One ‘+’ indicates a wine that will benefit from medium-term ageing (following the style of the wine), while two ‘++’ suggests a wine that should manage to make the very long haul, softening and evolving as it goes.

FIN