Too varietal? Try it in the sky.

By Panos Kakaviatos for

8 February 2017

Yesterday, I landed in Frankfurt after flying on business with Lufthansa from Washington Dulles Airport, and the welcome lounge was terrific: well worth the price of paying business.

Lufthansa offers competitive business pricing – sometimes nearly half the price of, say, Air France. And when you cross the Atlantic from a late afternoon in the U.S. to arrive at an early morning in Europe, the welcome lounge’s spacious, independent shower rooms are just the ticket. Not to mention plenty of breakfast and brunch items (as it is open until noon), a quiet area with reclining seats, and work stations with no less than three types of outlets (UK, US and European).

As usual, I enjoyed excellent service on board the 747-800 from Dulles International to Frankfurt. The stewards and stewardesses were kind and courteous. And when I mentioned that I write about wine and that I know Lufthansa wine buying consultant Markus Del Monego, they proposed two selections from the first-class wine list.

I once flew first class several years ago – a fluke upgrade, see video below – and recall seeing the Château Belgrave 2004 on the list. Today, the same wine is proposed, but it is the 2008 vintage. Personally, I would think that for an expensive first class ticket, the Bordeaux could be higher up on the totem poll. Not Latour, mind you, but why not Lynch Bages or Montrose? I digress. Read More

Leave a Comment

On wine tasting and objectivity

Too oaky? Too green? Does it depend on the taster?

By Panos Kakavatos for 

4 February 2017

At a tasting lunch in New York City recently organized by the Wine Media Guild and specifically by my dear friend in wine tasting Mark Golodetz, we went through various bottles of Grand Puy Lacoste, Branaire Ducru and Smith Haut Lafitte – the three guests for the luncheon.

I was caught admiring the 2005 Grand Puy Lacoste, somehow putting in the back of my mind a certain oak influence on the wine that was more prominent than the fruit. At this stage.

While discussing the attributes of how wonderful the Branaire Ducru was of the same vintage, a point on which both Mark and I agreed, Mark begged to differ about the GPL, as the … oak was far too prominent. Indeed, he was correct. But should one conclude that the wine is not as good? Perhaps at this stage, or perhaps for one’s personal tastes.

That was open to interpretation, to some extent.  Read More

Leave a Comment

Price-worthy Bordeaux 2014: Live-Ex weighs in

Special Report: Bordeaux 2014 – where is the value?

Submitted by Liv-Ex in London

3 February 2017

As Bordeaux 2014 is released in bottle, Liv-ex takes a closer look at it in terms of price, quality and value compared to other vintages. 2014 is the first recent vintage that has not been reviewed by Robert Parker. It is being released in bottle following strong price gains by the Bordeaux market, albeit aided by a weaker Sterling. Liv-ex has applied its “fair value” methodology to help identify where wines might offer value relative to other vintages.

 Key findings Read More

Leave a Comment

Fit for a wine groundhog 2017

Top Bordeaux back to 1970, with Marla Maples

By Panos Kakaviatos for 

3 February 2017

Bravo to Kevin Shin for making this happen. The DCWino is in top form. And I got to meet some new wine-loving friends in the area as well as seeing old friends. Once again, we found ourselves at Ripple. The service is great, corkage minimal, and the food superb, by chef Ryan Ratino, who made some of the best courses I have ever had at the restaurant for this Groundhog Day dinner. Here a link to a justifiably glowing review from the Washington Post:

A most happy Groundhog Day for #winelovers. With master chef Ryan Ratino standing in the back.

We were nine participants: Greg Ossi, Paul Marquardt, Robb Johnson, Alan Strauss, Randy McFarlane, Reginald Brown, David Zimmerman, Kevin Shin and myself. Read More

Leave a Comment

Underrated Bordeaux 2014

Worth seeking out from bottle: both white and red

29 January 2017

By Panos Kakaviatos for

When I tasted 2014 and 2015 Château Montrose side-by-side in October last year at the estate, I learned that less than 40% of the harvest was used to make the first wine in 2015, while over 50% was used to make the 2014.

Rains came at the wrong time in parts of the northern Médoc in the more heralded vintage, putting vintners to the test. Montrose certainly lived up to that test, with an excellent 2015. But the 2014 seems to be just as good, if not better. At the estate tasting, the 2014 came across as more seamless and elegant, as well as substantial. I had a similar experience with Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, which I had also compared side-by-side.

They were not empty for long: loads of glasses for the UGCB tasting in New York City in January 2017

In much the same way, I noticed how 2014 northern Medoc cru bourgeois wines did very well as compared to 2015, which seems to have favored the southern Médoc (no rains causing any problems in Margaux, for example).

Savvy consumers should take note that you are getting good deals from the northern Médoc in 2014, as prices – for the most part – went up in 2015. Read More