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Ep 12: TNWG Wine Times: Burgundy and En Primeur

🔎 What is En Primeur?


I did a video last year on LinkedIn outlining En Primeur in Bordeaux. Whilst it is synonymous with hat region, it is also very relevant in other major wine regions such as Burgundy, the Rhone and Italy.


En Primeur essentially is buying the wine before it has been bottled. There is a 'release price' associated with that and it 'typically' - note not always is slightly cheaper than later on down the line. Many fine wine producers are only available in small quantities so it also ensures you are able to guarantee receiving some wine. Also, if you are looking at it from an investment point of view rather than consumerable, then you can also look to lock it up 'in bond' without having to pay the VAT or duty (if in the UK under current UK law guidelines).


🔎 Why are you mentioning this now?


👉 It is Burgundy En Primeur Season in January!


🤔 So what does this mean? It means that it's time to get tasting the 2022 harvest. Also, given its one of the oldest traditional major wine regions in the world, typically means as the consumer we come to expect one way pricing on bottles = HIGHER!


👉 However, there is good news in both camps for the 2022 harvest. Firstly, the quality of the harvest is receiving high praise from the head wine buyers across the board. Typically a vintage, especially from Burgundy is clearly white or red vintage orientated, eg 2014 which was definitely a white wine vintage.


🍇 This 2022 though, ticks both boxes with the quality of the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Aligote all bringing smiles to faces. Not just this BUT even better news for the consumer, in most instances prices have remained the same as 2021 if not cheaper.


😲 A secret though, or a top tip if you will from me, given that admittedly the price tag of Burgundy will put off many for their weekly allowance on wines. Take a look at villages such as Monthelie, St-Romain, Auxey-Duresses and Saint Aubin. Saint Aubin is a particular favourite of mine. These are all village locations which are a little less discovered and typically have slightly higher elevated vineyard locations but thanks to climate change are showing elegance as well as freshness.



What makes the Region of Burgundy so special?


🤓 Firstly, Burgundy as a region, has the most amount of AOCs (appellation d'origine controllee) than any other region (essentially AOCs = designated legalised wine regions where there are set French rules and guidelines in how they make their wine and from where). The first AOC established way back in 1936 (Morey-Saint-Denis).


🤓 This brings me to the second point, the history of the place! Burgundy the region, stretches close to 250km between Chablis to the North and the Macconais to the South, where it borders the Rhone Valley. The soil, a key component, is a cross between limestone, marl and clay. 


🤓 The two main stays of Burgundy are of course PINOT NOIR and CHARDONNAY, 38% and 45% of the vineyard surface respectively. It is the bringing together of the soil and climate conditions (mostly continental climate), agronomic practices, centuries of wine making history and terroir which turn Burgundy in to a very appealing region. 



💰💰 Why then is it so expensive?


🍇 A few reasons but mostly because the top tiered producers, who have the best locations and ranked wines, are in short supply and demand exceeds what the vineyard is willing to sell. A simple demand vs supply shortfall. 


🍇 There is then the complexity of the nature of the vineyard, the history, the accolades and awards won in the past, the standard of the winemaker, the sponsorship and marketing (do not underestimate this part) too. Burgundy is also very much a 'family' led owned area, where by even dating back to 1804 Napoleonic inheritance laws lead to more fragmented ownership of land and vineyards. 


🍇 Also do not forget, Pinot Noir is a pretty tricky customer when trying to grow grapes, it is a varietal that needs a lot of care and attention to perform and even then can be susceptible to outside controls like weather conditions too.


Ok enough education for one week, let's move on to something more like drinking and sampling....



🍷UNUSUAL WINE OF THE WEEK - Bobal 🍷


Bobal is a red grape varietal found in Spain, a native varietal which is best expressed in the heartland of Utiel-Requena, for those who have a map to hand or want to look it up - it is found just outside of Valencia. The name 'bovale' - meaning in the shape of a bulls head from Latin origination. Bobal grape clusters are tightly packed in to a very distinctive shape - similar to a bovine head. Hence, the term 'Bobal' 🤯


Bobal typically flourishes on hillsides upto around 900 metres in altitude - the Utiel-Requena region makes up over 70% of Bobal's plantings, with some 55% of the vines aged 40 years or over! It is actually Spain's second most planted red grape varietal, so in truth isn't that rare, but yet not many have heard of it....




AltoLandon, Bobal 


👃👄 This particular Bobal, has a good deal of fruit character, think of raspberries freshly picked or a touch on the tart side, with blueberries and cherry notes to it. One could argue, that it is the Spain's answer to Beaujolais, with it's initial bright and vibrant appearance. However, there is a lovely silky mouthfeel about this wine and perfectly ripe tannins and thanks to the increased acidity in the wine (because of the vines at altitude), it enables these wines to age too. 


👃👄 It is from AltoLandon and is reasonably priced within the £10-£15 bracket and is available at a number of independent wine stores in the UK. it is from Manchuela from some of the highest vineyards in Spain! At 14% ABV it packs a punch and is organic as well as vegan friendly too. 


🍽️ Food wise, this is a perfect pairing for the likes of those winter warmers - I am automatically thinking Chicken tagines, Cottage pies, lentil dishes and pie and mash springs to mind too!


🍷 As ever with my wine reports, find yourself a BOBAL and report back with your own tasting note or comments to me too!


🗞️ LATEST DRINKS INDUSTRY ARTICLES 🗞️


TOP ARTICLE THIS WEEK


This week I have picked out a favourite wine seller, because this year they are celebrating their 150th year. For those who have not seen The Wine Society (The International Exhibition Co-operative Wine Society Limited) before, they are in my opinion, THE BEST supplier of wine in the UK for variety and standard of produce at great price points for all. (No, I am not employed by them or creating an ad here). However, there are lots of elements to their year long celebrations, most notably their tour of the UK to showcase some of their wines and their 'Generation Series' which is well worth a look. If you haven't seen The Wine Society previously, drop me a note for more information or head to their website for further information.


OTHER ARTICLES OF NOTE





📈 MARKETS IN BRIEF 📉

On the week (as at 10:15 18/01) changes:


EQUITIES: ⬇️ FTSE 100 down 2.9%; ⬇️ DAX down 1.43%; ⬇️ S&P down 1.1%; ⬆️Nikkei 225 up 1.01%; ⬇️ Dow Jones down 1.1%;


COMMODITIES: Brent Oil flat ; ⬇️ Crude Oil down 0.01% ; ⬇️ Gold down 1.2%; ⬇️ Silver down 2.18; ⬇️ Copper down 1.39%


BONDS (in yield terms): ⬆️ UK 2yrs higher 0.128%; ⬆️ UK 10yrs higher 0.158%; ⬆️ German 10yrs higher 0.095%, ⬇️ US 2yrs lower 0.041%; ⬆️ US 10yrs higher 0.092%;


The markets have had plenty of data to digest in the first couple of full weeks of trading for the year. In the UK, CPI printed higher than most expected (although in line with our expectations) but the thought process behind everyone getting excited over renewed inflation, is in my view incorrect. My medium term outlook for the UK is that we still see likely interest rate cuts in May / June this year and you need to look into the detail behind the headline to understand this CPI print is not consistent to produce consistently higher inflation.


In the US, it is more conflicted. Data has in general, been better than expected but there is arguments across the street on when the US will look to cut rates. Some are in the camp of going soon and big then pausing, where as others are sitting on the sidelines expecting cuts to come later in the year. Personally, I verge towards the latter with the FED happy to not cut aggressively but to see some cutting of rates prior to the US elections (it is a political game after all!).


In Europe, Lagarde has been speaking at Davos this week and noticeably mentioned that the Eurozone would likely be cutting rates by summer and that inflation still wasn't at target levels.


So one clear message from the G3 above is interest rates are going to be heading lower - again this then points to the idea, which I have raised in the past, that as you as the consumer, will then see lower savings rates (including ISAs) but also at some point, the passthrough of lower mortgage rates too (although there will be a backlogged effect - i.e. slow processing of it).


Equities were down on the week, aside from Japan, which actually was the backend of the 8 day rally and now has come in line with global equity moves more generally. 


With the new year beginning at a pace, maybe then it is time once more to consider alternative assets. Wait for my month -end asset allocation monthly, to see how I am devising a plan of action to take into account lower interest rates and lulls in alternative assets like fine wine, where there has been a reprice and now entry levels look more appealing! Don't forget Liv-ex since inception 20 years ago, has been up 314.6% as the main index, whilst last year saw a fall by -13.6%. The Simple Moving Average 50 months (SMA50) is still rising on the index which is the blue line on the chart here, showing likely positive momentum overall for fine wine this year:


As at 15/01/24: 




📢📢 ANNOUNCEMENTS 📢📢


😲 First BIG announcement of the New Year. For those based in Sheffield or surrounding areas, I will be hosting a Wine Tasting Event at The Picture House Social on Abbeydale Road in March - tickets will go on sale shortly. Make sure you write the date in your diary though, as places will be on a first come first served basis - Saturday March 2nd 2pm till 4pm !!


😲 Second BIG announcement, if you haven't seen it advertised as yet, then make sure you DOWNLOAD, LISTEN, SHARE and tell all about the series from 'The Northern Wine Guy Podcast Show' - interviewing wine experts, communicators and professionals in a fun, entertaining and educational environment. See the series 'What Bottle Is On Your Table, Tonight?' .


This week's episode includes TV's Andy Clarke as the guest!


😲 Thirdly, yes there is another announcement, 'The Andy and Olly Show' podcast is also back. If you have Instagram follow me @thenorthernwineguy to see the LIVE broadcasts as we perform untapped and untamed, speaking to head winemakers and vineyard owners across the globe in Series 3. We have already had Waterford in South Africa last week and this week - TONIGHT (Thurs 18th Jan) at 5pm UK time it is the turn of Hundred Hills estate in the UK. If you can't see the show live, then again download it here


Both podcasts are available to download on Spotify, Amazon and Apple - so feel free to download from there too and thanks to our sponsor of both shows - Vin-X Fine Wine Investment for their continued support.


That is all from me this week, have a good weekend!


Cheers 🍷🍷

Andy

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