Château Haut-Batailley has issued an apparent statement of intent under new ownership by releasing its 2017 wine at a significantly higher price than its previous en primeur release, the 2015 vintage.

Château Haut-Batailley released its 2017 wine in this year’s Bordeaux en primeur campaign at 42 euros per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by 46% on the equivalent 2015 vintage release, which first emerged at 28.8 euros per bottle.

The 2015 was itself released at a 33% higher price than the 2014, but the 2017 hike will be seen as a re-positioning of the estate following its acquisition last year by the Cazes family, of Château Lynch-Bages.

Haut-Batailley’s 2016 vintage was not released en primeur, due to the timing of the acquisition.

Jane Anson rated Haut-Batailley 2017 at 92 points and described it as ‘rich and deep’ and showing ‘real promise’.

She also noted that ‘we can expect big changes [at the estate] over the next few years with an extensive replanting programme planned’.

See Jane’s full note on Haut-Batailley 2017

Haut-Batailley joins several estates to release early in the annual primeur campaign, including Château Palmer, Valandraud and Coutet. Palmer cut its price by 20% versus 2016.

Farr Vintners was today (25...

Ratings and in-depth tasting notes on top Bordeaux 2017 performers in key appellations have today (24 April) been made exclusively available to Decanter Premium members.

See below to find out which wines scored at least 95 points following Jane's tasting of hundreds of en primeur wines.

You have gathered by now that Bordeaux 2017 is not the easiest of vintages to describe. It’s a year where technical details count, and where there is a deserved sense of satisfaction in winemakers when they have done a good job, as well as guilty relief in many who were not affected by frost. As potential drinkers and buyers of these wines, we can feel bad for them, but our main concern is the results in the glass.

Overall, I would say 2017 is a bronze to silver year, in the Decanter World Wine Awards ratings, with some clear pockets of gold.

There are some wonderful wines, but it is not a vintage to buy blind. The range of my scores go from 80 (I don’t really bother going below unless there is a clear fault, because I think that is low enough to get the picture without being needlessly unkind) to several at 98 and just two potential 100 pointers, both white...

Paz Levinson is Acting Regional Chair for Argentina & South America at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards.

Paz Levinson

Paz Levinson works between Argentina and France as Sommelier, Consultant and Educator. In 2015 she has won the A.S.I. & APAS Best Sommelier of Americas. She came 4th at the A.S.I. Best Sommelier in the World competition held in Mendoza in 2016.

She has worked at the three Michelin star restaurant of the Hotel Le Bristol with Marco Pelletier and now she is head Sommelier at Virtus in Paris. Levinson commenced her wine career in her native Argentina, where she worked as head sommelier for a number of top-end restaurants, including Restó.

  • Paz’s recommendations of wines to drink with rabbit

She taught at the Centro Argentino de Vinos y Espirituosas (CAVE) for five years and achieved her professional sommelier diploma from CAVE in 2006. At the same time, she completed a BA in literature, and she became the first Argentinean to pass the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced sommelier certificate.

Levinson was named Best Sommelier of Argentina 2014 and 2010 by the Argentinean Association of Sommeliers. She has written for a number of magazines and sites including GuildSomm.

Levinson was first a DWWA judge in 2014.

Follow Paz on Twitter @pazlevinson

See Jane Anson's Margaux 2017 en primeur scores and tasting notes, exclusive to Decanter Premium members.

More appellations to follow.

Partly because of the notorious frost, 2017 is a vintage where the technical details really do count, said Jane Anson.

See the top scoring Margaux 2017 wines below
See all Margaux 2017 scores and tasting notes here. See Jane’s top scorers across the Bordeaux 2017 vintage here

The following wines have scored 91 points and above. For all Margaux 2017 wines, click on the above link.



An anonymous Australian investor has bought Château Vieux Paquillon in Montagne-St-Emilion to take advantage of Australia's current 'love affair' with Bordeaux.

Vieux Paquillon has become the latest of several wine estates to change hands on Bordeaux’s Right Bank in the past 15 months.

Estate agency Vineyards-Bordeaux said that the Montagne-St-Emilion château was bought by an Australian buyer keen to purchase quality assets with ‘investment potential’, following an ‘extensive search process across several Bordeaux appellations, including St-Emilion’.

It did not identify the buyer, who was reported to have paid close the asking price of 2.12 million euros for Vieux Paquillon, which has around 12.6 hectares of vineyard. The precise fee was not confirmed.

Vieux Paquillon had previously been owned by Andre Benoist since 2004. Benoist also owns Château La Bergère in AOC Montagne-St-Emilion.

A spokesman for the buyer said, ‘Australia is having a love affair with Bordeaux and its wines at the moment.

‘However, although we will pursue domestic Australian markets, our plan is to maintain many of the existing distribution channels that the Benoist family have established.

‘We believe that the St-Emilion satellite appellations provide a very interesting investment opportunity and we are also excited to be able to work with Camille Benoist to develop wine distribution in the future.’

Camille Benoist, who owns the La Bergère negociant business, has signed a purchase agreement with Vieux Paquillon’s new...

The new president of Heitz Cellars, the renowned Napa Valley estate bought by billionaire businessman Gaylon Lawrence Jr, has outlined some of his early priorities at the estate.

The sale of Heitz Cellars, announced last week, marks Gaylon Lawrence Jr’s first foray into wine, although his family has 75 years of experience in the agriculture industry.

Kathleen Heitz Myers, former CEO and President of Heitz, said the family unanimously decided it was time to move on.

‘We sold to the Lawrences because we believe in family businesses and you could see the passion and vision that they had for Heitz Cellars moving forward,’ she said.

Founded in 1961, Heitz is perhaps most well-known for its Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; Heitz began buying the vineyard’s grapes in 1965 and agreed to put the name on bottle labels from 1966. Ownership of Martha’s Vineyard itself was not part of the Lawrence deal, according to reports.

Robert Boyd, the wine industry veteran who has been appointed by Lawrence to usher in the new era of Heitz, said that the fact this was a family-to-family transaction means there won’t be any immediate or major changes to the Heitz brand.

‘It’s an iconic brand,’ said Boyd, now Heitz president. ‘I think everyone knows and values the wine style and production that’s taken place since day one. There’s nothing that...

Château Palmer has leapt from the blocks in the Bordeaux en primeur campaign by releasing its 2017 wine at a lower price than the past two vintages, to cautious early optimism from the market.

  • Palmer 2017 released with 20% price drop on 2016
  • Coutet and Valandraud also released as primeur campaign gets underway

Palmer 2017 was released today (23 April) at 192 euros ex-Bordeaux. That represents a 20% drop on the equivalent 2016 release price of 240 euros ex-Bordeaux.

It is also down on the 2015 release price of 210 euros ex-Bordeaux, yet still higher than the 2014 release price of 160 euros ex-Bordeaux, according to figures previously reported by Decanter in past en primeur campaigns.

Palmer, certified biodynamic and a third growth that is dubbed a ‘super second’ of Bordeaux’s 1855 classification, saw its 2017 first wine rated 95 points by Jane Anson, who tasted the wine alongside hundreds of others for Decanter’s Bordeaux primeur coverage.

See Jane Anson’s full tasting note for Château Palmer 2017

Coming soon: Hundreds of Bordeaux 2017 tasting notes, exclusively for Decanter Premium members

Palmer’s willingness to cut prices was generally welcomed in Bordeaux on Monday, understands.

During Bordeaux en primeur tasting week, Olivier Bernard, head of the UGC union for classified châteaux, told a press...

Try one of these English wines this summer, rated by our tastings team...

From St. George’s Day and the arrival of a new royal baby, to the upcoming Royal wedding, there are plenty of reasons to drink English wines for a celebration.

The below wines include Windsor Great Park Vineyard – the Queen’s wine – and Camel Valley, which was recently awarded a royal warrant.

In September 2017, it was reported that English wines make up over half of the UK Government’s cellar purchases.

Originally published in 2016 and updated in April 2018 with new wines. More wines will be added to this page following the Wines of Great Britain trade and press tasting on 26 April.



Andrew Jefford compares 2015 with 2016.

The question of what constitutes a good or great vintage in a period of global warming is an intriguing one.

Ample warmth and ripeness has always been considered the basic desideratum for a good or great vintage – and the higher a vineyard’s latitude, the truer this was.

Then 2003 thumped down on our doormats: a summer of such ferocity that Chardonnay grapes on leaf-thinned vines in Champagne turned to Bakelite before August was out, while Pomerol and Margaux wines on clayless gravels collapsed like starving camels.  That vintage forced a reassessment of the desirability of raw heat.  You could, after all, have too much of a good thing.

Producers in lower-latitude regions have always viewed a hot summer more circumspectly, and never more so than today, as criticism of higher alcohol levels has forced entire regions onto the defensive.  Some began to think the unthinkable: that a cooler vintage in such regions might in fact be ‘better’ than a warm one.

Although intellectually tempting, the evidence doesn’t bear this out, at least for well-adapted grape varieties growing in long-established sites.  Long, atypically cool seasons or stop-go seasons can certainly endow wines with some attractive qualities (freshness, liveliness, moderate alcohol levels), but this often comes with a lack of the inner wealth, drive and core required for optimum bottle maturation (one hallmark...

St George's Day in England marked a further flurry of Port 2016 vintage declarations, with Sandeman plus the Fladgate Partnership's Croft, Fonseca and Taylor's all joining the club.

Fladgate said that all three of its houses had declared the 2016 vintage on 23 April, according to custom.

They were joined by Sandeman, where excitement around the 2016 vintage in the cellar began early.

‘As soon as the grapes arrived at our Quinta do Seixo winery, we knew this was the best we had seen since the last declaration in 2011,’ says Luis Sottomayor, the winemaker responsible for Sandeman and Offley Ports.

The new declarations add to those previously made by Symington Family Estates across all of its houses, including Cockburn’s, Dow’s, Graham’s and Warre’s, plus a declaration by Quinta do Noval.

‘The keynotes of 2016 are purity and refinement,’ said Fladgate’s MD, Adrian Bridge.

But, he warned that below-average yields could tighten supplies.

‘The amount of 2016 Vintage Port offered will be relatively restricted and allocations will be tight,’ he added.

Fladgate said that that 2016 Croft, Fonseca and Taylor’s would be available in most markets by autumn this year.

‘2016 is likely to be only the fourth fully declared vintage since 2000,’ Richard Mayson, Port expert, author and regional chair for Port and Madeira at the Decanter World Wine Awards,

Peter Forrestal considers what makes this region of Western Australia so highly regarded, and recommends great wines for the cellar and for drinking, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc and even a Tempranillo.

Margaret River celebrated 50 years of winemaking in style in 2017; the region has never made better wines.

It’s arguably Australia’s premier Cabernet region, its Chardonnays are among the country’s finest, and many of these are world-class wines.

Peter Forrestal is a freelance wine writer, author and wine judge based in Perth, Western Australia. This article first appeared in Decanter magazine’s December 2017 issue. 

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From quality Pinot Grigio to Spanish Txakoli, pick a wine rated by our experts and get it chilling...

When the sun is shining, there are few things more refreshing than a cool glass of white wine, whatever your favourite style.

  • Scroll down for our wine recommendations

If you love Pinot Grigio or Gris, we’ve got some quality recommendations for under £30.

For other crisp, dry, fruit-driven whites, try our top Chablis alternatives, our Galician whites panel tasting or our Australian Riesling panel tasting – a great ‘all-rounder’ style for barbecues, according to our guide.

If you enjoy whites with a slightly more weight and oak, check out some of our top rated New Zealand Chardonnays.

Impress your friends with the white wine style to try for 2018 – Txakoli.

If enjoying your wine on a picnic, make sure you remember the essentials: a corkscrew, ice packs or ice and glasses.

Take your pick of the wines below, all tasted and rated by Decanter‘s experts. Then all you have to do is get the bottle in the fridge…

Top white wines for summer:


London luxury department store Harrods has opened its fine wine and spirits rooms, which include interactive features such as an 'aroma table' and were reportedly a 'multi-million pound' investment for the retailer.

The new Harrods wine rooms were designed by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, taking inspiration from 1920s decor, and include a marble patterned floor.

‘The new rooms will break down barriers and change perceptions on the world of wines and spirits by focusing more on the flavour profile of the product, rather than the specific categories and brands,’ said Alex Dower, director of food and restaurants at Harrods.

The previous Harrods wine room had been in the basement of the department store, but was moved for a restaurant to be built.

In the new fine wines room, wines are categorised by terroir, to help customers explore wines from regions they previously hadn’t considered, according to a statement from Harrods.

There is also an ‘aroma table’ with scents to guide customers through the flavour profiles of different grapes.

See also: Tasting notes decoded

Both the Champagne and sparkling wines room, and the spirits room are also arranged by flavour profile.

Cognac producer Louis XIII has opened its first boutique outside of Beijing within the spirits room, Harrods said.

There is also an ‘education’ room, with live streaming to vineyards and winemakers.

Shoppers can also commission...

Extreme weather across many wine regions in 2017 may be more than a blip, according to fresh data from one of Europe's leading science agencies that says wildfires, droughts and flooding are becoming more common globally due to man-made climate change.

Weather has become more volatile and more extreme in the past 36 years, said the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) in a recent report.

Flooding ‘events’ have quadrupled globally since 1980, while droughts, forest fires and extreme heatwaves have more than doubled in that time, said the council, which is made up of 27 national science academies in Europe, including the UK’s Royal Aacademy.

Its report, published in March 2018 and which profiles a continuing trend from a previous study published in 2013, adds to evidence that climate change is creating more volatile weather, as well as higher temperatures.

While the potential risks to life are clearly the most pressing concern, the EASAC report also has resonance in a wine world that endured a heady mix of extreme weather events in 2017.

As Decanter columnist Andrew Jefford put it recently, ‘2017 must be regarded as one of the most disaster-strewn years the wine world has endured since the onset of phylloxera.’

Dr Greg Jones, a specialist on climate change and its potential effects on vineyards, told,’For wine regions, there is evidence that varies from region to region but ultimately...

Make the most of the summer sunshine with one of these top rosés, tasted by our experts.

Summer is the season for chilled rosé, to be enjoyed during the heat of the day, or on into the balmy nights. From clear pink quartz to glassy topaz, rosé is as beautiful as it is palatable.

  • Scroll down for top rosé wines

These rosés were have been selected by those tasted by Decanter experts, and come from a variety of regions – from Rioja to the Loire, Provence to Portugal.

Rosé wine sales have developed from the bottom up, gaining momentum due to its uncomplicated style and pretty colour. The growth in premium rosé is changing this category, as more complex wines appear.

The best wines tend to show a complex range of fruit characters (strawberry, redcurrant, cherry, peach, rhubarb, pomegranate and floral notes), fresh crunchy, zesty or leafy acidity, and hints of orange peel, garrigue, herbs or a savoury note. Fruit intensity rather than neutrality is also important.

Colour has little correlation with quality, contrary to some popular opinion, and instead more closely colour reflects variety and origin.

At a previous Decanter tasting, some rosés were almost water-white in colour, with little fruit character, suggesting that more effort had gone into appearance than taste.

  • Advice: Should you put ice cubes in wine?

Price gives a vague indication of...

Jane Anson considers the mechanics of putting together a tasting note, and what factors she believes are worth considering.

I’ve been thinking a lot about wine notes recently. Bear in mind that this is the period when I am writing up Bordeaux en primeur wine notes, across Left and Right Banks, plus Sauternes – this year for Decanter Premium – and you can start to see why I might be eating, sleeping and dreaming tasting notes.

As I often find, whether researching for a book or writing up vertical tasting reports, one of the tough things is deciding how much technical information to include.

A tasting note about a finished, bottled wine needs to give an accurate reflection of what someone will find when they pull the cork.

En primeur notes are a different kind of challenge, because here it is not so much about what the wine tastes like today, but what it will become.

That means trying to pick apart the different elements of a young wine that is not even bottled yet, to see if it has the necessary quantity, quality and balance to develop over time, and for how long.

You want to suggest when a wine might be ready to drink, and why.

How to write your own tasting notes – A guide by Andrew Jefford

In both cases, I tend to think...

Château Petrus has confirmed that it will file a counter-appeal against a court ruling allowing a Côtes de Bordeaux wine to carry the name Petrus on its label.

The comments by Château Petrus came days after news that CGM Vins had successfully argued for a court to overturn a previous judgement preventing sales of its wine, Petrus Lambertini No 2.

Meanwhile, a wine and intellectual property lawyer, Jean-Baptiste Thial de Bordenave, described the latest court ruling as ‘legalising parasitism’ and warned that it could bode ill for the Bordeaux region.

Château Petrus said that the case against CGM was about the risk of consumers being misled.

‘A procedure was launched in 2011 against CGM because a seller on the internet was trying to sell one of the bottles marketed by this company, pretending it was our second wine,’ Petrus said in an emailed statement. The Pomerol-based Château added that a separate civil case about the use of its name was also underway.

CGM Vins director Stéphane Coureau said in an email that its official trademark, ‘Coureau & Coureau Petrus Lambertini Major Burdegalensis 1208′, has been legally registered since its creation and that he was currently marketing the 2015 vintage.

He did not provide current volume or value figures, but CGM’s website says that it made 20,000 bottles of...

What are tasters referring to when they assess tannins? And why are they important?

What are tannins? – ask Decanter

Tannins are a group of compounds found naturally in grape skins. They can also be found in black tea and traces in some berries.

They contribute importantly to the structure and ageing potential of red wines.

‘They may be flavourless and odourless, but tannins are one of the key constituents in red wine,’ said Matt Walls, regional chair for the Rhône at the DWWA.

‘In grapes, these compounds are found primarily in the skins, seeds and stems, so they tend to be more prevalent in reds.’

See also: Tasting notes decoded
Structure and texture

‘Tannins are responsible for providing red wine with most of its texture and physical impact in the mouth – more specifically, they produce feelings of astringency and bitterness, which can be pleasing in small amounts,’ said Walls.

‘Over time, tannins can change in the way they feel, often becoming softer and less astringent – this is one of the key reasons wines we age certain types of wines before drinking them.’

When tasting wine, you will often feel the presence of tannins on the gums of your teeth.

See also: What is the tannin scale? – ask Decanter
Tasting en primeur

Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent Jane Anson notes that when tasting wines en primeur, you are looking for ‘the amount of...

See fresh tasting notes and ratings on the flagship red wine of this Languedoc 'grand cru' from 2010 to 2016, plus a barrel sample of the 2017 vintage, written by Andrew Jefford and available exclusively to Premium members.

Tasting notes below by Andrew Jefford. Introduction by Chris Mercer.

Mas de Daumas Gassac has achieved acclaim around the world for its red wine, an intricate blend of grape varieties from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Pinot Noir.

It is produced on relatively high ground in the hinterland of Languedoc-Roussillon, on sloping vineyards between Aniane and St-Guilhem Le Désert, the medieval village that lies in the steep gorge of the Hérault river and is recognised as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Founded by the late Aimé Guibert in 1971, with his wife Véronique, Daumas Gassac has spent decades in the vanguard of a movement towards quality in a French region traditionally more associated with cheap table wines.

Scroll down to see Andrew Jefford’s new tasting notes for Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge


  • See also: A vertical of Mas de Daumas Gassac white wines 


The post Mas de Daumas Gassac red wines: Recent vintages tasted appeared first on Decanter.