November fine wine releases

Wines from the 2018 vintage in Southern Rhone are now being released En Primeur after facing a series of challenges during the growing season.

Beaucastel’s 2018 Chateauneuf de Pape was released at £540 per 12x75cl – an increase of 12.5% on last year’s release (£480 per 12x75cl).

A spread of mildew early in the summer provided a difficult test, resulting in yields of only 12 hectolitres per hectare for Beaucastel. This is less than half of their average yield of 26 hectolitres. The mildew affected all varieties but Grenache was most susceptible. The 2018 blends will have an increase of Mourvedre, which proved more resistant to the mould.

Joe Czerwinski (Wine Advocate) applauded Beaucastel in its success of navigating the mould, scoring the wine a barrel range of 95-97 points. When tasting the final blend, he said that it was “another in a string of top vintages” and described the wine as “almost candied in its fruity intensity of raspberries and cherries.”

The wine also received 94-96 points from Jeb Dunnuck, who described it as “a brilliant wine that has medium to full body, a layered, deep, concentrated mid-palate, ripe tannins, and a gorgeous finish,” despite the difficulties experienced through its growth.

At this price point, the 2018 is comparable to the 2012 and offered at a premium to the similarly scored vintage of 2017. Buyers looking to trade up might wish to consider the 2016 vintage. It is currently trading at £600 (12x75cl) after polling sixth in the Wine Spectator “Wines of the Year 2019” announcement.

Alternatively, the 2014 is trading at £396 (12x75cl) while still boasting an in-bottle score of 93 points from Jeb Dunnuck. He described the 2014 as “a beautiful wine in the vintage”. The wine should be ready to “drink anytime over the coming decade”, according to the critic.

The Spanish “First Growth” Vega Sicilia has released a flight of wines including the highly anticipated 2010 Unico.

Vega Sicilia, Unico 2010 is being offered by the international trade at a recommended release price of £672 for a case of 3 bottles (75cl), equivalent to £2,688 per 12x75cl. The 2010 release price represents a 7% increase on last year’s 2009 release (£2520 per 12x75cl).

The wine has spent ten years in a range of distinct ageing formats, French and American oak, old and new barrels, with an additional four to five years in bottle before release.

Critic James Suckling reviewed the wine earlier this year, awarding it 99 points. He described it as “still very tight and closed with so much depth and beauty. So drinkable already but better in 2022.”

The 2010 received the highest score over the last decade of releases. However, it is suggested to retail at a price akin to the market price of 2000 (93 points) and 2003 (94 points).

Peter Dean claimed the 2010 is “certainly the best Unico I have tasted.” With the score certainly representing his thoughts, it looks to be a small premium to pay for near perfection.

Vega Sicilia’s ‘second wine’ Valbuena No 5 2015 is also being offered at a recommended release price of £267 for a case of 3 bottles (75cl). According to James Suckling, who awarded it 97 points, the wine is “dense and layered with so much wonderful, complex and succulent character. It just makes you want to drink it”.

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