September always has a back-to-school feeling about it, left over from childhood when the end of the August Bank Holiday signalled the end of the summer break and warm weather. The wine trade too usually takes life at a slightly slower pace during August, and accordingly gears up again with gusto as the first leaves start to fall. After all, wine never sleeps. Next month brings us a host of exciting new wines and releases, first and foremost the hugely anticipated Serre Nuove 2019 from Tenuta Ornellaia on 1st September.
Hot on the heels of Ornellaia’s baby brother, the following day sees Chilean legends Sena and Vinedo Chadwick 2019 hit the market as well as 2012 Dom Perignon, the most eagerly awaited vintage since 2008.
Simultaneously, we have the “La Place Releases”, starting in earnest in the second week of September. But what exactly are they? The other name that this three-week spate of daily releases goes by is the “Icons”. The wines that started the whole thing are of course iconic, yet that doesn’t really tell us anything.
“La Place” refers to La Place de Bordeaux, the name for the collective negociants of Bordeaux, the wine-merchant’s merchants as it were. For anyone unfamiliar with what a negociant is, they are the stockholders and conduit for the Bordelais Chateaux to release their wines to a global audience year-on-year. Given their reach, logistical expertise, and breadth of customers, it was probably only a matter of time before something like these September Releases would happen.
What started with the annual release of Opus One back in 2004 has now grown over the past decade and a half to feature over 50 wines from 5 continents and become a permanent fixture on the wine trade calendar. Following Opus one, Super Tuscan Masseto decided that La Place was the place for them to release their newest vintage; swiftly followed by the likes of Solaia and Chateau de Beaucastel’s top cuvee Hommage a Jacques Perrin, while from the New World Sena and Vinedo Chadwick have also followed suit. In the past 5 years alone, hosts of New World names have flocked to join the list including Almaviva, Cheval des Andes, Joseph Phelps, Georges Latour, and Inglenook.
The main problem with something that grows so organically is the lack of a clear structure or theme. This year will see six different vintages being released, the antithesis of Bordeaux’s more renowned campaign which focuses solely on one. Moreover because of the geographic spread, one can’t just talk about one region either. However, in search of order and with the hope providing some clarity for the forthcoming mini-campaign, the releases can be mainly split into four groups:
- West Coast North American wines from Napa, Sonoma, Oregon, and Pasa Robles from the 2018 vintage.
- Super-Tuscans from Bolgheri and Chianti from both the 2018 and 2019 vintage.
- South American wines from Mendoza in Argentina, and Aconcagua, Maipo and Colchagua in Chile from both 2018 and 2019.
- New and re-releases from Bordeaux including ex-Chateau Latour and Ch Palmer reds, new vintage whites in Petit Cheval Blanc and Y d’Yquem; vintages 2005, 2011, 2019 and 2020 respectively.
The September La Place releases continue to grow, and this year we will be focussing on a wider selection of recommendations than ever, each worthy of your time and inclusion in your cellar. This will be side by side with our usual range of other important offers throughout the month and on into October, including Taittinger’s delectable Comte de Champagne 2011 and a superlative series of New World darlings: Giaconda, Cullen, Leeuwin Estate and Pierrot from Australia and Porseleinberg, Memento and Mullineux from South Africa, to name a few. So, watch this space…