Most read wine news of 2019
Number 10 is a story that’s continued to evolve over the year; President Trump and the issue of tariffs on wine. Trump stated in an interview that ‘France charges us a lot for the wine, and yet we charge them very little’. Although a direct connection to the aerospace industry dispute was not made at this point, the issue of tariffs has remained a hot topic – and levies have become a reality with the US also raising the prospect of 100% tariffs on all EU wine.
Decanter.com spoke exclusively to the winemaker at Liber Pater, in Graves, about why the 2015 vintage was released at €30,000-a-bottle, making it the most expensive bottle in the world. Only 550 bottles were produced and it was priced to ‘show the real and old taste of Bordeaux’, according to the estate.
Decanter.com attended the tense final of the World’s Best Sommelier competition in Antwerp, and spoke to the winner Marc Almert. Challenges completed in the final included serving Klein Constantia, Vin de Constance with ice cubes; decanting a bottle of Vega Sicilia; blind tasting 10 spirits and suggesting wine pairings with a food menu within one minute of viewing it.
At the Manchester branch of the popular steak restaurant, a customer ordered a bottle of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2001, on the wine list for £260, but the waiter accidentally brought them a bottle of Château Le Pin 2001, which is £4,500 on the menu – and one of Jane Anson’s top fine wines of 2019.
When the mistake was later realised, the restaurant said ‘hope you enjoyed your evening’ to the customer via its Twitter account. To the staff member, it said, ‘chin up! One-off mistakes happen’. The person in question has since been promoted to general manager.
French president Emmanuel Macron visited Chinese president Xi Jinping in Shanghai and brought along a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1978. Another bottle of this wine was auctioned for £18,400 at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong in January 2019. The pair also tasted wines at the International Import Expo in Shanghai, chosen and served to them by Decanter Asia Wine Award judge Jean-Marie Pratt.
Diplomacy and wine continued to be a popular theme for news stories this year. When President Trump visited the United Kingdom, his visit included a state banquet at Buckingham Palace. Wines served included the Queen’s own English sparkling, Windsor Great Park Vineyard 2014, plus Château Lafite Rothschild 1990 and Louis Jadot’s Domaine Duc de Magenta, 1er Cru Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle Monopole, Chassagne-Montrachet 2014. Trump is famously teetotal, and so it is not thought he tasted the wines himself.
The launch of a new Provence rosé from Miraval caught readers’ interest, largely due to the celebrity owners of the estate, Brad Pritt and Angelina Jolie. They remain the owners, despite speculation about a sale following the Hollywood couple’s divorce proceedings. The wine is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Rolle and lesser known grape variety Tibouren.
Producers voted to allow seven extra grape varieties to be permitted in Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur wines, in an effort to mitigate against climate change. These include Touriga Nacional plus Alvarinho and Petit Manseng. Decanter’s Jane Anson said the move was potentially a big cultural change, and that ‘It will be fascinating to track it.’
In November, a private company based in France worked with NASA to send a case of 12 Bordeaux wines to space, to study how radiation affects the ageing process. The wines will be kept in the International Space Station at 18 degrees Celsius for one year before being returned to earth and compared to a control sample that has been kept at the same temperature. The identity of the wines was not revealed.
In the year that saw the finale of the hugely successful television series Game of Thrones, fans were also able to buy a range of single malt Scotch whiskies themed around the series, via a partnership between drinks giant Diageo and HBO. UK retailers sold out of initial stocks within hours of the launch, in January. A final, 15 year-aged ‘Six Kingdoms’ whisky was recently launched in ‘extremely limited quantities’ to mark the end of the show.