2015: Fine wine of the year…

Although Mouton Rothschild topped db‘s fine wine league table, 2015 was in fact the year of Haut-Brion and Pessac-Léognan.

Haut BrionMouton may have come top of the drinks business’ ‘Power 100’ list and Margaux may have opened the swanky new winery and had the headline grabbing New York auction – but Haut-Brion was the real victor of 2015.

Far back in the mists of 2013, Haut-Brion’s high scores and, for a first growth, low prices were picked out as making it a candidate for greater recognition.

This September that potential finally looked as though it were being realised.

Haut-Brion alone among the first growths was awarded 100-points by Robert Parker in his 10-year retrospective of the 2005 vintage and the 2012 Haut-Brion was the highest awarded wine of that vintage when Parker dished out his in-bottle scores.

Although Mouton and Haut-Brion have both benefited from Lafite’s fall, Haut-Brion has technically climbed the furthest – 7.7% – from June 2014 to August of this year.

It still has the lowest average case price of the first growths between 2003 and 2012 (£3,421 per case) and using Liv-ex’s ‘points over price’ ratio, of the 10 first growths “appearing to offer best value” five are from Haut-Brion, four from Margaux and just one from Mouton. Of its 2003-2012 vintages, only the 2011 had declined over the June ’14 to August ’15 period.

If there’s one first growth one can expect greater strides from in 2016 it’s Haut-Brion (and maybe Margaux).

It would be remiss to ignore what has been happening across Pessac-Léognan throughout this year however.

Cracking it may have been for Haut-Brion but so too it has proved for La Mission Haut-Brion and Haut-Bailly.

La Mission’s 2005 vintage was also the recipient of 100-points from Parker this June making the it and Haut-Brion the only ‘perfect’ wines from the Left Bank while its 2012 was in the 97-point ‘pack’ just behind the 98-point first growth.

It also managed a significant elevation in the Power 100 from 25th place in 2014 to seventh this year – no mean feat.

Haut-Bailly meanwhile shot from 138th on last year’s power list to 32nd this year, an astonishing achievement, while it also rose from a fifth to a putative “second” growth in Liv-ex most recent re-classification.

The fifth growth received its first ever 100-point score from Robert Parker earlier this year for its 2009 vintage and since then the estate has gone from strength to strength. It is the best-performing estate from either side of the Gironde this year.

Rather more under the radar has been another Pessac estate, Smith Haut Lafitte, which shimmied up the power list from 33rd to 24th position, driven no doubt by its value appeal with the average case trading for £715.

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