Ever wanted to buy Bordeaux, but not sure where to start?

The 2017 vintage is about to be sold En Primeur, which is a great way to start your collection. We have put together an introduction to En Primeur which can be found here. This introduction and our knowledge will not only ensure you the best Bordeaux in your cellar, you can purchase with complete confidence from Glengarry.

Glengarry have sold fine wines via the En Primeur system since 1983; our first offering was in fact the super 1982 vintage, an auspicious starting point.  Selling En Primeur certainly went hand-in-hand with the importation of wine into New Zealand, but it was not until the early 1980s that wine could legitimately enter New Zealand from elsewhere. Glengarry was the first to get involved with selecting fine wines from around the world and bringing that world to the palates of New Zealanders.

With our longstanding relationships and our experience honed over 30-odd years, we are old hands at this, and once again we made the commitment to ensure you the best service and advice, I will be in Bordeaux to taste the 2017 vintage next week . Follow me on Twitter (@lizziewine) or our Facebook and this blog.

We have a dedicated En Primeur website – www.enprimeur.co.nz. Register there to get regular updates, offers and information. Once registered you can also prepare a wish list of wines you are interested in.

Alvaro Palacios | New arrivals at Glengarry Wines

Just before Christmas, Glengarry Wines landed a container of wines from Spain, which included a selection of wines from Alvaro Palacios.

Alvaro Palacios, Decanter’s Man of the Year 2015 and the recipient of the 2016 Winemakers’ Winemaker Award by the Institute of Masters of Wine and The Drinks Business; an award bestowed upon someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of winemaking. The winner is chosen by a panel of winemaking peers, including all winemaking Masters of Wine as well as past winners of the prestigious award. Previous winners include Peter Sisseck of Dominio de Pingus (2011), Peter Gago of Penfolds (2012), Paul Draper of Ridge (2013), the late Anne-Claude Leflaive of Domaine Leflaive (2014) and Egon Müller from Egon Müller Scharzhof (2015).

Palacios, one of nine children (his parents were the owners of Palacios Remondo in Rioja), studied oenology in Bordeaux, while working at Chateau Pétrus under Jean-Pierre Moueix. He could have returned to work for the family business in Rioja, but he chose instead to apply his winemaking knowledge to revive the largely abandoned, ancient vineyards of Priorat. He bought his first vineyard, Finca Dofí, in 1990 and in 1993 he identified a Garnacha vineyard on well-drained schist (planted between 1900 and 1940). Palacios named it L’Ermita and it’s now regarded as the “crown jewel” of the Priorat property. In 1998, Palacios expanded to Bierzo, founding Descendientes de J. Palacios (named after Palacios’ father) with his nephew.

Amongst the selection are two new wines from Alvaro: a new Rioja and Priorat, both made in tiny quantities; we are delighted to have these rare gems here. As Glengarry Wines have all wines on sale this month, these are included, though I must say, I wish they were not, as it seems incredulous to be selling these wines in a sale.


The small plots of old Mencia vines clinging to their slopes produce an intense floral nose that casts a lush veil over the savoury characters lying beneath. Earthy notes and vibrant acidity give way to round, luscious fruit. A seductive, early-drinking style.

Now $25.99


Now predominatly Garnacha, a direction that Alvaro is looking to take for his Priorat wines. 35% Garnacha, 25% Cariñena, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, 10% Merlot, aged in French oak barrels and bottled unfiltered. Dense plum and berry aromas are embellished by notes of spice and pepper. The ripe fruit flavours, oak and tannins are beautifully integrated and enhanced by a silky, savoury texture. Delicious, long flavoured, very approachable. This is the entry level wine for Alvaro’s range in Priorat, a great place to start.

Now $25.99


The newest wine in Alvaro’s Priorat range, Aubaguetes will sit in the range nestled between Dofi and L’Ermita. The grapes for this come off a very old north facing, steep (as they tend to be in Priorat) vineyard with a shady exposition. The vineyard has exceptionally old vines and is located within the municipality of Bellmunt. The predominant grape is Garnacha, with a little Samso in the blend. The total production for this is tiny, hundreds of bottles, not thousands. We are very lucky to have a small quantity of these in New Zealand.

94/100 “Alvaro Palacios Les Aubaguetes 2015 is a deep purple colour. Seductively floral, blackcurrant aromas. The palate opens with a blast of fruit juice, and then the Samso comes through with clear, blueberry intensity . Very approachable now.” – Sarah Jane Evans, MW

Now $329.99


A total of 2,000 bottles of this wine were produced; this is the newest Rioja wine from Alvaro Palacio. Alvaro is very committed to restoring areas of Rioja Baja to how they were, recovering old plots of Garnarcha and showing the exceptional wines that this area in Rioja can produce. The vineyard Quinón de Valmira, is located on Monte Yerga overlooking the Ebro Valley, in the Alfaro area near the winery. In the 11th century, a group of monks reached this area, sitting 615 metres above sea level and founded a Cistercian settlement. This wine is made from 100% Garnarcha.

“First fruits of Alvaro Palacios’ labours to restore Rioja Baja’s traditional Garnachas to glory. Bush vines, grown at 615m, at the limit of ripening. Shallow red clay soil over calcium carbonate. Alvaro Palacios Quiñon de Valmira 2015 is a pale garnet colour with gloriously floral aromas. Equally seductive palate superbly ripe with a lift of orange peel and grain of dark chocolate. Very refined; Pinot-like.  A great beginning; a vineyard to watch.” – Sarah Jane Evans, MW

Now $425.00


The pinnicle of Alvaro’s range in Priorat, L’Ermita was first produced in 1993 and is one of the most exceptional Garnacha’s in the world. Aged in new French barriques for around 20 months, the concentration of the fruit ensures you don’t feel the oak in this wine.

“Alvaro Palacios said at the London en primeur tasting: ‘L’Ermita is the caprichosa, the spoiled baby. L’Ermita’s soil is cold, and it’s harvested late: on 5 November in 2013 and 28 October in 2015. We harvest late because of the temperature of the soil, which has 2 diagonal areas of granite running through it. And we have 200 different vineyard plots. Like La Faraona [Bierzo] and Valmira [Rioja], it is grown at the limit – which means it is a spellbinding wine, a fresh wine out of one of the warmest places.’ Alvaro Palacios L’Ermita 2015 has a dense dark purple core with pinkish edge in colour. Generous brambly aromas. The palate arrives silky and smooth with bright acidity and dancing freshness. Strikingly cool and elegant, with a very fine texture. Superb finish, full of promise for a terrific future ahead of it.” – Sarah Jane Evans, MW

Now $950.0

Prices valid for the month of January 2018. While stocks last.

The History of En Primeur

The process of selling En Primeur is not as long-established as you might think. A little history: The role of the négociant in Bordeaux is intertwined with the region in many ways; initially establishing themselves in the region, they were first and foremost businessmen, though not from Bordeaux itself. The early négociants were of German, English and Dutch origin. Regarded by the châteaux as outsiders, it became necessary to employ a middle-man, giving rise to the role of the courtier, i.e. one who acted as intermediary between the buyer and the seller. At this time négociants bought wine in cask, immediately after the grapes had been vinified; the négociant would then blend and bottle the wine. It was not until the 1920s that Philippe de Rothschild led the charge to change this system, with his the first château to bottle the wine within the estate. He quickly convinced all the first growths to follow suit. The négociants continued to purchase the wine immediately upon vinification, but instead left it with the château to look after and bottle. Initially only involving the five first growths, in 1967 all of the classified growths were required to estate bottle, with all French wines following shortly after. The négociants carried all the costs of these stocks and aged them until they were ready for sale. It was not until the financially hard times of 1974 that, to relieve some financial pressure, they began to sell the wines to retailers globally while still in barrel at the châteaux, marking the birth of the En Primeur system we know today.

We have recently published our complete guide to En Primeur 2016, you can download a copy here

A surprise in Listrac

Chateau Fourcas Hosten has certainly gone through a fair amount of change over the last 11 years. Located in the centre of Listrac, its history dates to 1810 when Mr Hosten inherited the vineyards and created Chateau Fourcas Hosten.


Ownership changed in 2006 when Renaud and Laurent Mommeja purchased the estate. Their background with Hermes, brings not only experience, the financial means but a huge amount of passion for excellence, which they have instilled in Fourcas Hosten.

Three major projects were undertaken since 2008, old plots in the vineyard have been restored; the winery, barrel cellar and storage facilities have all been full renovated; the House has been renovated and is spectacular. So, what’s the wine like?

Fourcas Hosten is something that we used to import and that I’d not tasted for years, it always represented great value. With the technology and expertise this Chateau now have and the already renowned terroir in the Listrac area, the wines have stepped up to new levels and impressed me a lot. This is not a Chateau in the super star appellations of the Medoc, it is through a winery that punches well above its weight and over delivers.

The 2016 is as you’d expect for the vintage superb. We also tasted back to the 2011. What impressed me with the tasting put on for us, was that we were not greeted with 2009 and 2010 wines, rather with 11 and 13 – the later a particularly challenging vintage. This chateau should be applauded for the confidence in showing these lesser vintages and for the wines they produced. Sure, the 2011 and 2013 were not as good as the 14 or 16 that we tasted, but they were very well made.

The 2012 showed how good this vintage is for early drinking. These are Merlot dominant wines, around 55%, the balance Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. There’s also a very smart white, 75% Sauvignon Blanc, with Sauvignon Gris and Semillon. The Blanc is made in tiny quantities, 4,000 bottles of the 2016 was produced, battonage and time in old oak give this impressive complexity.

A super enjoyable visit to FourcasHosten, the wines brilliant and lunch in the restored Chateau a treat.


Bordeaux En Primeur 2016

This year’s En Primeur campaign is just around the corner, Vintage 2016. This year fortunately looks to be following in the path of the 2015 vintage; whilst it is still early days, indications are that sensibility may just prevail. Now, if you’ve been an En Primeur customer for a while, you might be reading this and thinking ‘Yeah, right, we’ve heard that before.’ What is apparent and being confirmed day by day as the International media and trade taste in Bordeaux, the vintage is very good indeed. In fact, it appears that this vintage is one to make a song and dance about and to ensure you have in your cellar.

So what’s the talk of sensibility and comparison to the 2015 vintage? Similar to last year, whilst the vintage is looking to be exceptional, we are not seeing these statements in lights with grand claims that this is a vintage of a lifetime or such things. There is far more sensibility around how the vintage is being presented, as the reality is that the market is just not the same as when the 2009 and 2010 vintages were sold in vast quantities globally. The rise of the new markets and interest in Bordeaux through this period drove prices to new levels. Since then it has been a case of the market finding its balance once again.

Which of course leads to the next fascinating piece in this puzzle and where we need to see further sensible approaches. The prices for these wines are yet to be determined and time will tell as the Chateaux owners release their wines on the market. What we do know now is that these will need to be realistic and in line with the current market. Early conversation indicates this is where the vintage is heading.

 Putting all that aside, the 2016 by all reports is looking excellent. Of course, we are not going to take the reports for granted and will be presenting to you our views from tasting the wines. This year I will be tasting a little later in Bordeaux, tasting the week after Easter. I’m heading to Bordeaux with a full schedule of tastings over the week. I’ll be keeping you up to date with how the wines look on Twitter (#lizziewine). You’ll also be able to follow things via the Glengarry Facebook page and on our blog site – www.aboutwine.co.nz

 Our 2016 Vintage Report and recommendations will be online post my tastings and we’ll be back in touch as the wines start to be released.

If this is all new to you, do check out our En Primeur FAQ page or feel free to contact the team, who are all very happy to assist you with general En Primeur enquiries, preparing your wish list or anything else fine wine-related.

Big week of Bordeaux releases

A week into the campaign I am delighted to confirm that the 2014 vintage represents great buying opportunities for Bordeaux enthusiasts.

It has been a big week of releases with many offers each day. We now take a small break with just one offer today and a public holiday (one of many in May) in France tomorrow. With a small intermission it does give time to reflect upon the events of the first week.

I finished tasting the wines early in April in Bordeaux confident of the quality of the 2014 vintage. While these wines are not the ‘eternal’ cellaring propositions of the 2009 and 2010 vintages the quality is extremely good, pretty even across the board and will be exceptional short to medium cellaring propositions.

What remained to be seen was their value for money. With a good range of wines released right across the spectrum it is now possible to review pricing and it is now clear producers have been very restrained in their pricing to the point that this vintage will now be regarded as both very good and particularly affordable. Genuine bargains abound! Appropriately, given the state of the world  economy and the fact 2014 is not a blockbuster vintage, right up to the First Growth level  the wines are significantly lower in price than their  counterparts from the 2009 and 2010 vintages.

Admittedly some Châteaux owners have put their prices up from the 2013 vintage, but it pays to review the offering back a little further than just comparing to last year. Remember, 2013 was one of the most challenging vintages in a long time in Bordeaux. That’s not to say there were not good wines last year, there were, but only from those who selected severely and dramatically culled the on the picking table. We did offer 2013 En Primeur, I tasted this vintage En Primeur as well. Our 2013 offer was the smallest in breadth ever with only those good wines offered.

To summarise, the 2014 wines are very good, offering claret lovers some great bargains and it is not a vintage where either bank shines dramatically over the other, although the left was a little stronger. They will have high quality short to medium term cellaring potential offering great  enjoyment at very very reasonable prices. Worldwide, after only a few weeks into the campaign, the market has recognised this so don’t put off your decision making. And brace yourselves, next week will see a flurry of releases!


En Primeur Bordeaux 2014 – Day 3

After two excellent days on the left bank, day three saw me head to the right bank. My first stop Château Pétrus, always a pleasure; the team there are so delighted we come all that distance to taste. Pétrus is 100% Merlot and has been since 2010 when they pulled out the Cabernet vines. The Cabernet were planted in clay, proving too cool to ripen Cabernet – also in the way of the construction at the winery. Flowering was difficult at Pétrus, with 20% loss in yield – though more than in 2013 when they lost 50% due to flowering. Pétrus 2014 is all about generosity, charm and persistence, a great wine.

After Pétrus I caught up with Javier from Aalto (yes, Spanish) in St Émilion, more on that later, back to the Bordeaux for the moment. The UGC tasting of St Émilion was an excellent overview of the area and showed the consistency of the left bank in 2014 did not apply to the right bank. There were some excellent wines, including Château La Dominique, Château Clos Fourtet and Château Pavie Macquin. Next stop the offices of JP Moueix, where I tasted a large range of their owned properties and those they follow. As is the case with the Moueix properties, there were many great wines here: Château Certan de May is brilliant, amazing length and concentration; Château Trotanoy is, as you would expect, very smart, firm, structured with incredible power on the finish; Château Lafleur is Cabernet Franc dominant and simply stunning, slightly restrained on the nose, the acidity and precision with the firm bold structure is perfectly in balance. The visit at JP Moueix concluded with a very encouraging discussion re price – more on that later. One more visit for the day, Château Clinet; 2014 Clinet is 90% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Cabernet Franc, a gorgeous wine, perfumed, fragrant with excellent concentration, energy and freshness.

En Primeur Bordeaux 2014 – Day 2 – Part 4

Next up on the day’s schedule was the Union des Grands Crus tasting for Margaux. Having loved the Palmer and Château Margaux, I was really looking forward to seeing a broad range from the area. Overall some very fine wines and strong performances from the well priced set. Château Prieuré Lichine stood out; 65% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot; a gorgeous fragrant wine with an excellent, generous finish. Château Giscours also made its presence known in the crowd, a powerful structured wine, brooding and very smart. Château Ferriére has produced a lovely 2014 wine; 61% Cabernet, with 24 days on skins and 40% new oak; whilst not a blockbuster, this is a classic wine with strength of character, one to go back and look at when prices are released.

From there I headed down the Medoc to Château La Lagune where the Sauternes and Barsac UGC. 2014 is definitely a vintage for sweet wines, the best are concentrated and with a bright acidity. After a cool, long growing season in 2014, the heat came quickly at the end and following some rain. This proved excellent conditions for botrytis. The challenge was to have the right number of staff to pick before the imminent rain appeared again. I really enjoyed tasting through this many sweet wines, so many are excellent, the standouts include: Château de Malle – 65% Semillon, the vines are an average age of 40 years and there were 2 picks. Château Doisy Vedrines was vibrant and fresh, Château de Myrat was lively with a light enjoyable finish, Château Sigalas Rabaud has an incredible length and Lafaurie Peyraguey was all about finesse. Three standouts, Suduiraut, Rieussec and Coutet – all incredible. Château Coutet is 75% Semillon, 23% Sauvignon and 2% Muscadelle; 7 picks were required in total with many half days. 80% of the team that pick at Coutet are the same each year, easing the logistical challenge.

At this point the day was almost over, the last visit – Château Gruaud Larose and its new tower. The new addition is metal and stands above a new guest area. The climb to the top was bone chilling, the evening temperature a little cool – the view, well worth the cold. Sarget 2014 is 61% Cabernet, 7% Cabernet Franc, 29% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot; I tasted the 2014 at the end of a 10 year vertical of Sarget, the standout vintages the 2010 for its youth, the 2004 and 2008 for their maturity, both lovely right now. Sarget has always punched above its weight and it was great to compare the years. Château Gruaud Larose is Cabernet dominant, as with many of the 2014, the classic nature of the vintage lets the terroir shine through, this is classic St Julien. Our tasting was followed by some generous Gruaud hospitality, a glass of Philipponnat Vintage 2004 to start, then onto older Gruaud Larose en magnum. The food was classic French, served in canapé sized portions.

En Primeur Bordeaux 2014 – Day 2 – Part 3

After lunch at Château Pontet Canet, whilst an afternoon nap would have been nice, there was plenty more wine to try and it was on to Margaux. Our first stop was Château Margaux; Pavilion Rouge is 77% Cabernet, making up a tiny 24% of the total production at Margaux, selection for this wine is tighter than ever. Château Margaux itself is 90% Cabernet this year; there is 2% of Petit Verdot in the blend, the 2014 vintage excellent for Petit Verdot. Margaux Blanc is always a treat to taste; an incredible opulent rich white Bordeaux, the 2014 with excellent acidity.

Our next stop was Château Palmer, their 2014 is the first vintage where the property is totally bio dynamic. The conversion started in 2008; for the 2014 part of the vineyard is certified, all vineyards will be certified by 2017. Alter Ego is 52% Merlot, a very plush wine with firm, well formed tannins. Palmer 2014 is excellent, very perfumed and fragrant; Palmer has a distinctive signature in years where the weather is not too hot and it can show its terroir, 2014 is just that.

En Primeur Bordeaux 2014 – Day 2 – Part 2

After our Latour visit, we had a very short trip to Latour’s neighbour Château Pichon Lalande. Two wines here and both excellent: Réserve de la Comtesse was very floral and forward, Pichon Lalande another candidate for a top wine of the vintage. Before lunch I headed to the Union des Grands Crus tasting for St-Estèphe and Pauillac at Château Lynch-Moussas. Some lovely wines at this tasting, one that stood out was Château Ormes de Pez, always a favourite at Glengarry. This year it’s 47% Cabernet, 44% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot; very classic in style, this should represent excellent value.

Next up was Château Pontet-Canet and lunch generously provided by Alfred Tesseron. It was of course lovely to catch up with Alfred again and his 2014 wine was excellent, very Pontet in style. Black fruits, taut in structure, mineral, elegant with fine tannin, a wonderful balanced wine. Lunch at Pontet is the best place in the Medoc during primeur week to eat – oh and the cheese. Affiner Betty’s from Toulouse make the journey to Bordeaux, with only a small selection of their cheeses. They have 6 caves of cheese stored and ageing, with hundreds of different types of cheese. After lunch, whilst an afternoon nap would have been nice, there was plenty more wine to try and it was onto Margaux…