May is a fun month in France. The weather has already started to turn and there are four federal holidays, which thanks to the way the calendar fell this year meant four long weekends. And of course, being me, I tried to take advantage of all of them. There was the Saint Emilion Portes Ouvertes, a trip to London for the London Wine Fair and a girl’s weekend in San Sebastian. And of course being me – I couldn’t let the last one go without some kind of wine related adventure.
Perched only 12 miles from the French border, the charming seaside town of San Sebastian, called Donostia in the Basque language,lies in the heart of Spanish Basque country and is one of Spain’s foremost tourist destinations. Given the city culture is rich with history and amazing food (the city boasts more Michelin stars per capita than any other in the world), it is no big surprise. The city also boasts a stunning beach and warm weather perfect for enjoying it. In addition to the abundance of gourmet restaurants, the Old Town city center is home to over 300 pinxtos and tapas bars. And of course spending time in the sun and eating all that great food makes you thirsty: enter Txakoli (pronounced CHOCK-oh-lee). Continue reading
Recently my parents came to France for a weeklong visit. After a rather chaotic departure (on both sides of the Atlantic) we spent a rather interesting weekend in Paris before heading south to Bordeaux. And of course no visit to Bordeaux would be complete without a little wine tasting.
As I’ve discussed previously every spring the fine wine world turns its eye to Bordeaux for the en primeur campaign and the release of the previous year’s vintage as futures. Once a cornerstone of the Bordeaux business model, the past couples of years have been incredibly tumultuous and controversial and as the 2014 campaign is drawing to a close many people are beginning to wonder about the future of futures. In fact many people are beginning to wonder about the future of the Bordeaux wine industry as a whole.
The modern en primeur system took shape in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s in result to a slump in the market. Estates needed ready cash to fund their operations and began to sell their wines as futures. Over time it also became a way for critics and merchants to evaluate the quality of the new vintage. The estates would then use this feedback to set the overall pricing for the release, with the expectation that the futures prices would be a discount on the market price once the wine was released in bottle. The entire system is predicated on speculation and investment in the fine wine industry. And more importantly the system only works when everyone in the chain (chateau, wine merchant and consumer) is able to make money. Continue reading