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Cheval Blanc among Bordeaux 2015 standouts for The Wine Advocate

[LONDON] Bordeaux winemakers from Saint Emilion and Pomerol had a "near-perfect growing season" for the 2015 vintage now available physically, and Pessac-Leognan south of the city also enjoyed prime conditions, according to Lisa Perrotti-Brown, editor-in-chief of The Wine Advocate.

Vintners experienced optimum weather "particularly on the right bank" of the river Dordogne, while those in the northern Medoc benefited "less so" due to rain in late August and September that year, she said in a phone interview this month held jointly with The Wine Advocate founder Robert Parker.

Her three standout wines of the vintage in The Wine Advocate's recently released 2015 Bordeaux Report were Chateau Cheval Blanc in Saint Emilion, which she described as extraordinary, Petrus in Pomerol and Chateau Haut-Brion in Pessac-Leognan. She said 2015 was "clearly the best vintage Bordeaux had since 2010," while noting that 2016 was "probably a more consistent vintage than the '15." As for the 2017 vintage which will be presented to the global wine trade in tastings early next month, she said quality looks promising despite a loss in volume from frost damage.

"Apart from the frost it was a good growing season" in 2017, she said. "There could be quite a few pretty extraordinary wines." Mr Parker cited the improvement in quality of Bordeaux over the four decades that he has been visiting the region, noting how the bull market of 2009-2011 and the drop in prices over the following four years were just the latest manifestation of turbulence in the Bordeaux fine wine market.

"The one thing that has been consistent is how Bordeaux goes through the boom and bust cycle," he said. "I think with 2015 we probably have a return to more realistic prices." Cheval Blanc 2015 is quoted at a market price of 6,140 pounds (S$11,180) per 12-bottle case by the London-based Liv-ex online wine exchange, more expensive than the estate's previous four lower-quality vintages but compared with 8,400 pounds for 2010 and 6,700 pounds for 2009.

Haut-Brion 2015 is quoted at 5,014 pounds per 12-bottle case on Liv-ex's Cellar Watch website, while the rarer Petrus is quoted at 35,734 pounds a case, or close to 3,000 pounds a bottle, its most expensive vintage since 2000.

While Bordeaux producers have become much more aware of world competition in recent years as the market has opened up and winemakers have traveled more internationally, the region has retained a pre-eminent place in the market, Mr Parker said.

"Bordeaux is still the largest producer of high-quality wine in the world," he said. "It does actually improve in the bottle, and the top vintages do go up in price."