The Winning Wines of the 2015 En Primeur Campaign


Now that all the excitement and anticipation of the 2015 En Primeur campaign has diminished, merchants, collectors and even consumers have had the chance to more clearly reflect on what is truly a vintage of mixed reviews. While many hoped that this would be the year to correct previous market detriments—particularly in the form of unreasonable price points—the rollout of 2015 offerings did little to genuinely change the market landscape.

But all was not lost. Optimism hung on the fact that 2015 was, at the end of the day, considered more than merely competitive. For what offerings lacked in uniformity, they made up for in purity, freshness and finesse. The general consensus was that although the 2015s could not match the magic and exuberance of outstanding vintages such as 2005, 2009 and 2010, they often came close, and definitely surpassed the somewhat lackluster wines of 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014. Sales numbers backed these reviews, with figures exceeding previous years—most notably 2014 and 2013—despite the fact that 2015’s en primeur overall quality fell short of expectations and prices remained high.


Even with this burst of welcomed exchange, sales are still much lower than what has historically been the norm. The current maladies of the en primeur market can, to a great extent, be traced to the pricing strategy of the Bordelais. The chateaux, located in what is undeniably the world’s most influential and revered winemaking region, remain reluctant to price their wines according to what the market has recently dictated. As such, they have created an impasse with merchants and consumers, even in formerly robust Asian markets, which further weakened this already compromised environment. Bordelais hesitancy to lower their inflated price points may also continue to encourage savvy consumers to opt for older vintages whose prices have dropped and scores have risen. Such scenarios are becoming more and more attractive, and ultimately seen as better investments in the long run.


While we can’t change the minds of the Bordelais overnight, we can talk about the wines, many of which were exceptional and unexpected. A great number of 2015s received phenomenal press among critics, but three made a particular impression. Taking the crown as the “wine of the vintage,” the 2015 Château Margaux is possibly one of the most impressive appellations. Having the distinction of being the only Margaux other than the 1990, to acquire a potential 100 point score (this from Robert Parker’s heir apparent, Neal Martin), 2015 also marks the last vintage produced under the château’s highly-respected first growth Managing Director, Paul Pontallier, who sadly passed in early 2016. Called “more than perfection” by critic James Suckling and enjoying considerable market interest, all indicators point to a top-tier performance by this vintage.

Margaux 2015 faced its fiercest competition from Château Haut Brion. Neck-in-neck with Margaux as the “wine of the vintage,” and hailing from the château awarded the most 100 point Parker scores than any other, Haut Brion 2015 didn’t disappoint. Poised for a potential 100 point score as well, this vintage is considered powerful and complex, with an appeal that piques the interest of serious oenophiles.


Finally, it would be remiss not to mention the 2015 Château Cheval Blanc. With a light yet rich vibrancy and its perfect blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, Cheval Blanc has maintained an almost mythical reputation over the years. Continuing to enchant and fascinate audiences worldwide, critic Neal Martin claimed that 2015 “flirts with perfection.” According to the château’s Director Pierre Lurton, the 2015 vintage was the lucky recipient of a near-perfect harvest, thus ushering in the decision not to produce its usual second wine, Le Petit Cheval. Priced higher than many of its competitors, this wine’s popularity may nonetheless make one of the least available in the shortest amount of time.

The En Primeur season always sparks excitement and intrigue, and the 2015 campaign lived up to the vitality of its predecessors. Yes, its offerings were uneven, but the good ones were close to stellar, competing with recent historic vintages including 2009 and 2010. Mother Nature, in tandem with the skills of seasoned, talented winemakers, has gifted the wine world with some of the best of the vine in years.


This post was originally published on this site.


10 Best Wine Travel Destinations 2015


Wine’s transporting experience is one of the reasons we continually come back for more. Taste a great Rioja, and you’re instantly taken to the sun-drenched, rolling hills of northern Spain. Pop the cork of a Tasmanian sparkler, and boom—you’re standing in the crystalline water of Cole’s Bay. Tasting wine is a trip unto itself.

Yet there’s something to be said for the connection made when we travel to the place in which great wine is made, and the insight that experience can offer us regarding what’s in the glass.

Each year, our editors traipse the globe in search of the world’s most exciting wine destinations. From the iconic Old World to surprising newcomers, the following list should shape your travel plans for the year to come.

Finger Lakes

Within the world of fine wines, the Finger Lakes wine region in upstate New York is a soon-to-be revealed secret. Nestled amidst bucolic farmland and the spindly glacial lakes for which the region is named, it’s home to some of the best cool-climate wines in America. Known particularly for world-class Riesling, it’s also home to an increasingly diverse array of wines, from Grüner Veltliner to Teroldego. Over 100 wineries surround the three main lakes, Cayuga, Seneca and Keuka. But with spectacular sights and a blossoming local food culture, the region is unlikely to stay hidden for long. —Anna Lee C. Iijima


Located in northwest Italy and bordering Switzerland and France, Piedmont is Italy’s second-largest region, and the most mountainous. The majestic, snow-capped Alps make a stunning backdrop to the rolling, vine-covered hills. And these aren’t just any vineyards. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2014, vineyards in the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato areas are amongst the most celebrated in Italy. They’re home to famed reds made from Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, as well as Moscato d’Asti, a lightly frothy dessert wine. Piedmont, which means “foot of the mountain,” is also a culinary paradise, famed for its rare white truffles. Throw in outstanding lodgings, and you have a wine lover’s dream destination. —Kerin O’Keefe

Hawkes Bay

This bucolic region excels at classic Bordeaux varieties, while Syrah is angling to become the area’s flagship wine. Beyond the bottle, however, the landscape, food and people are, as the country’s marketing slogan campaign says, 100% pure New Zealand. In this grape-growing paradise, rumpled hills sprinkled with sheep are intersected by rivers and hug a spectacular curved bay along the Pacific coast of the North Island, while sheltering ranges tuck vineyards in from the west. Warm, dry summers and long autumns—mixed with a maritime climate—keep grapes healthy and happy. Because Kiwis have a strong affinity for the outdoors, athletically inclined wine lovers can pursue both health and happiness, cycling a network of well-organized biking trails between winery visits and farm-to-table repasts. —Lauren Mowery

Rhône Valley

France’s second-largest wine-growing area is vastly diverse. Breathtakingly beautiful villages and well-tended vineyards line the region’s 13 wine trails, highlighting the different landscapes of the Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages. Starting at the Camargue, the routes head up through Provence toward Lyon, providing insight into culture and winegrowing along the way. The Rhône Valley covers roughly 150 miles and 5,500 estates, and it’s traditionally demarcated between the narrow north and sprawling south. You’ll need to make some tough choices, depending on the length of your trip. —Louise Hurren


Expect the unexpected in Orlando. Shrugging off its just-for-kids image, it sports brag-inducing eats and world-class wine experiences, particularly in new neighborhoods like the Mills 50 District and Winter Park. Ricky Ly, author of The Food Lovers’ Guide to Orlando, points to nominations of several local chefs for James Beard Foundation awards to illustrate the city’s culinary chops. “From hidden speakeasies like The Pharmacy, to the Basque-style restaurant, Txokos Basque Kitchen, serving cola-and-wine-braised kalimotxos pork belly, there is something to be found for every wine and food lover just outside the theme park gates.” —Alexis Korman


Occupying the northwestern corner of Spain, Galicia is a unique part of the country, a region settled by Visigoths and Celts, where the residents still speak a language known as Gallego. Galicia’s four provinces comprise Spain’s emerald oasis, where copious amounts of rainfall during winter and spring swell the region’s rivers and turn the countryside green. A major part of the verdant landscape includes vineyards, with the wine regions of Rías Baixas, Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras and Monterrei all offering excellent touring and tasting opportunities. Add Galicia’s world-class seafood, and the region qualifies as a top destination for adventurous wine-and-food lovers. —Michael Schachner


The license plates read “Beautiful British Columbia.” Ubiquitous ads call it “Super, Natural.” But taglines don’t do justice to the splendor and variety of Canada’s southwestern province. One shining jewel within the region is the Okanagan Valley, located about 240 miles east of Vancouver. Located between the Coastal and Monashee mountain ranges, the valley is anchored by a series of narrow, crystalline lakes. Long a center for agriculture, it’s also a four-season outdoor playground. Water sports, golf, winter sports, hiking, biking—you name it, the Okanagan has it going full blast. But it’s the 131 wineries, more than 8,000 acres of vineyard and broad range of wines that make this one of the greatest wine touring experiences in the world. —Paul Gregutt

Loire Valley

As if designed for riverside picnics, the Loire River flows by vineyards from the mountains of central France to the Atlantic Ocean. The best and most diverse vines are rooted in the Loire’s heart, in the Anjou and Touraine regions, which are but a 90-minute train ride from Paris. It was here, in the 16th century, that French classic cuisine first found its great expression. This is France’s best wine discovery region for big castles, medieval cities and small family wineries. Tasting Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc here will forever change your perceptions of these grapes. —Roger Voss


Mendocino County has 107 wineries and more than 17,000 acres of vineyards, but it draws visitors for other pleasures like giant redwoods, Dungeness crab, wild chanterelle mushrooms, an exhilarating rocky coast and, yes, marijuana cultivation. Mendocino is laid-back, to say the least. A two-plus hour drive north of San Francisco through Sonoma County, traffic is practically nonexistent except for logging trucks. Tasting rooms and restaurants are rarely crowded, but lodging options are scarce except on the coast near the New England-esque town of Mendocino. Ukiah, in the warmer, drier inland valley along Highway 101, is the biggest city, with a whopping population of 16,000. Since 95 percent of the land in Mendocino County is rolling or mountainous, it offers plenty of bends in the road to explore. —Jim Gordon


​The wedge-shaped Adriatic peninsula known as Istria has a rich and dramatic history. It was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, then ruled by Italy, later incorporated into Yugoslavia and is today governed by Croatia. Ninety percent of Istria is in Croatia, with the remainder in neighboring Slovenia and Italy. Remnants of a distant Roman past, Venetian Empire architecture, picturesque hilltop villages, panoramic sea views, year-round festivals, inspired cuisine and fantastic wines are all reasons to put Istria on your bucket list of wine regions to visit. —Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen

—The Editors of Wine Enthusiast