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Inflation and Stagflation?




A few editions back, our newsletter had the heading “Everyone can be an Economist”. Your truly is not to give you another write-up on the “dismal science” so soon. We are referring to the wine rating phenomenon more recently.


Most of us will be very excited to see a wine getting 100 points or just slightly below. That will typically create a strong urge to buy and we would proudly announce the rating when we serve it to our friends. High ratings suggest an excellent wine, leading to the desire to buy even by paying a premium. The biggest beneficiary, financially and in terms of reputation, would be the wine producers.


We all know how some 40+ years ago, Robert Parker Jr. devised the 100-point rating system which has since become the industry standard. Agree with his assessments or not, one has to give him credit for being very consistent. In the last 10 years and especially since (not because of) Mr. Parker’s complete retirement in 2019, there has been quite an emergence of wine critics. It is always uncomfortable to hear stories about how wine critics are too close to the producers. There are also rumours about producers closing their doors to certain critics who do not write favourably about some of their wines. Adding in the temptation for any critics new into the industry trying to attract attention from both the producers and the consumers, you begin to understand the disincentive to be too critical. It is under such shadow now so many wines are rated so highly, a situation of what can be called “rating inflation”.


True…with the adoption of technology, the process of making wine is now well engineered and that has raised quality in general. But that only means now you rarely find wines under 80 points. Anything in the range of 95-100 points still has to be exceptional.


As we point out, consumers want to buy good stuff and many rely on critic ratings as guideline, even as their bible. But consumers are not stupid. You can only fool them once or twice. If critics are getting too liberal, and the producers as a result pricing their wines too aggressively, creditability can be destroyed fast. Rating inflation can lead to what we would call “stagflation” of the wine market i.e. high ratings and high prices but nobody wants to buy.


So what is the advice to our readers?


- Take ratings as a reference but not as a doctrine.

- Listen to your friends who know wine.

- Find a few reliable wine merchants who treasure long-term relationships and will give you honest opinions rather than just selling you things.


Now back to what’s new in our offerings:   


2018 Pape Clement Blanc (WA 95 at HK$960/bottle) – By our favourite estate for Bordeaux dry white, this wine races out of the gate with flamboyant scents of pineapple cake, lemon meringue pie and honey-drizzles peaches, plus suggestions of orange blossoms and yuzu peel. The medium to full-bodied palate has a decadent touch of oiliness to the texture and loads of spicy sparks, giving a finish that is long, fresh, layered and zestful.


2021 Domaine Guillemot-Michel Vire-Clesse Quintaine (JS99 at HK$260/bottle) – Every now and then you come across a good wine and better still because it is not expensive. This Burgundy white falls exactly into that category. It offers aromas of clear honey, white flowers, bee wax and sweet spices. The palate is of medium to full-bodied, vibrant but satiny out of a fine-boned structure, concluding with a bright and gently exotic finish.


2018 Querciabella Batar (JS95 at HK$650/bottle) – We are re-stocking this well sought after Italian white which is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco by a reputable producer. Gracious and perfumed, it offers lovely orchard fruits, chamomile and floral notes that lift effortlessly from the glass. A wine of great precision and nuance, it is simply exquisite.


2001 d'Arenberg the Dead Arm Shiraz (WA98 at HK$500/bottle) – From South Australia and one of the greatest examples of this cuvee now not easy to find, its dense black/purple colour is accompanied by celestial aromas of blackberries, melted licorice, graphite, cassis, incense and toasty oak. Fabulously concentrated, with great purity, an unctuous, viscous texture and an amazing 60-second plus finish.


2009 Branon (RP98 at HK$900/bottle) – This magnificent Bordeaux red reveals notes of blackberries, scorched earth and truffles. There is power, a stunningly intense, voluptuous, layered mouthfeel and abundant levels of fruit, glycerin and tannin. A true cult wine but sadly only 500 cases were produced. So get a few bottles while you still can.


2017 Ch. Canon (WA96+ at HK$650/bottle) – This red from St-Emilion bursts from the glass with expressive notions of baked black cherries, kirsch, plum preserves and black raspberries plus hints of roses, tea and black olives. Medium-bodied, the palate is wonderfully elegant and refined, with a soft, finely grained texture and seamless freshness, finishing long and mineral laced.


2012 Domaine de la Vougeraie Charmes-Chambertin les Mazoyeres Grand Cru (VN95 at HK$1,700/bottle) – This Burgundy red, from 100-year old vines, is incredibly intense. With blue and black fruits at its core, savoury herbs and graphite would emerge. Broad shouldered and well structured, it is enjoyable now and will also reward those who are patient, with more to look forward to in the future.


2015 Nin-Ortiz Planetes de Nin (WA95 at HK$300/bottle) – This amazing Spanish red is a blend of Garnacha (Spanish for Grenache) and Cariñena. It has great details, poise and elegance, with a palate that is fresh, mineral, perfumed, floral and balanced. Only some 9,000 bottles were filled.


2018 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino (WS95 at HK$420/bottle) – Last but certainly not least, this one from Tuscany of Italy is Wine Spectator’s 2023 no. 1 Wine of the Year!!! Rose, Cherry and Strawberry aromas and flavours are the main theme of this red, along with wild herbs, mineral and cut hay accents. Racy and full of energy, with a long and saturated finish. Not to be missed…


Thank you for reading. Please feel free to go to our website www.vinopolis.com.hk to browse the full wine list. Purchases can be made through the website or by sending us an e-mail or simply WhatsApp 9195-7383.  


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