My fellow blogger David has already set the scene with his list of wines that impressed and those that didn’t. However, rather than produce a second list I want to concentrate more on events both past and then take a look at forthcoming events next week.
There will be many producers in much of France and some in Germany, especially the Mosel, who will be relieved and delighted to see the end of 2013.
Certainly in the Loire this was the second difficult vintage in a row. Destructive hail in Vouvray on 17th June, a very late flowering and a considerable threat of mildew in July and then followed later by widespread rot during the harvest. Fortunately the rotten grapes didn’t appear to give the freshly pressed juice rotten flavours. It will certainly be very interesting to taste the nascent 2013s early in 2014.
Elsewhere the image of fine wine has been dealt a considerable blow by the trial of Rudy Kurniawan. Even if he acted alone, then Acker Merrall Condit, who accepted his fakes, appear to failed to carry out any significant due diligence before putting his wines up for sale. Ironically AMC are now the world’s largest fine wine auction house – hopefully their due diligence will have been tightened up.
The good news in 2013 was Heracles, the new name for 1855, going into administration. The change of name from 1855 to Heracles failed to save 1855, which by now had acquired a thoroughly deserved toxic reputation. It will be even better news if in 2014 Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon are hauled before the French courts, then incarcerated in today’s equivalent of La Bastille and to remain there until the very last case of Bordeaux en primeur ordered by clients of 1855 has been delivered. Somehow I can’t see this happening!
France is not alone with its fine wine scams. There are still far too many fly-by night wine investment scam companies continue to make brief appearances and then disappear with people’s life savings. Then there are the white knight companies who follow on promising to help out but are there only to thin people’s wallets further. Sometimes these white knights offer further wine investments but increasingly they offer to swop under-performing assets for the latest hot ‘investment’ – biofuels, carbon credits, diamonds or now graphene, which is supposed to ‘change the world’.
Boiler room boys will pressurise people who have already been stung to sell their cases of Château Lafite, which may well in time recover their value for a bargain deal on grapheme. Doubtless by the time the pigeon wants to sell the company will have long disappeared and they will discover that their graphene investment is worthless.
Although 2013 did see three people imprisoned for their roles in the Nouveau World Wine/Finbow scams, fraud remains a pretty risk-free career as it takes so much time and money to mount a fraud investigation and to carry that through to a trial that will usually last at least six weeks.
Here is an excellent resolution for 2014: never accept cold calls.
Happy New Year – Mes meilleurs voeux pour 2014. JIM