Pontet-Labrie Club Update
Pontet Labrie has been a fascinating journey. From our initial discussions with Jonathan around bringing to market exclusively his last single vineyard site on the plateau of Saint Emilion; to forming a club around the wine in order to enhance the traditional allocation model around such a boutique Bordeaux (remember only 300 cases max per annum!); to the wonderful reception of its maiden vintage and the continuing momentum and growth of the club.
Tom was out in Bordeaux just after Easter (but before the masses descended for en primeur week) and naturally spent time catching up with Jonathan tasting the new vintage, for which his barrel sample note reads – attractive balance of fresh and pastille fruits, some red alongside the riper black berries and cherries. Layers of polished leather, liquorice, and spicy, cigar box and pepper notes, a touch more herbal and crisper than the it's first two vintages, with good intensity, richness and finesse. For a more difficult vintage than 2015 and 2016, this is a sterling effort, as subsequent critic's comments demonstrate below.
It was also VERY exciting to be the first to see the (strictly under embargo!) architectural plans drawn up by Lord Norman Foster for the breath-taking new winery that Jonathan is building to house his cru wines – and to which grand opening (date tbc) all Pontet Labrie club members will of course be invited.
Rescoring the 2015 vintage
It’s very unusual for a new wine to attract such good reviews from top critics as afforded to Pontet-Labrie in its maiden vintage. We’ve been eagerly tasting wine from initial barrel samples, through to bottling last June and some of you joined Jonathan and us for our celebration last December of the initial release. We’ve seen the wine transforming from its early, pretty state into a wine of great stature and future promise. Antonio Galloni reviewed Pontet-Labrie for Vinous in February:
“The 2015 Pontet-Labrie has grown into a silky, highly nuanced Saint Émilion. Within Jonathan Maltus’ lineup, Pontet-Labrie is perfumed, medium in body, and possesses a bit less overtness than the other wines in the range. Dark, pliant and inviting, with plenty of black fruit, chocolate and spice character, the 2015 will drink well right out of the gate. This is a terrific debut for Le Pontet”.
First reviews for Pontet-Labrie 2017With the frosts in April 2017 and difficult conditions through the Summer, we were trepidatious of the outcome of this vintage in our vineyard. If you care about points (we tend not to), they are down by about 2 across the whole of the right bank (see below) and Pontet-Labrie is no exception. But the initial reviews by Bordeaux' most eminent critics, Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin, and another former Wine Advocate alumni, Jeb Dunnuck, echo our view that Jonathan Maltus has made a wine that truly expresses its vintage, with greater freshness and lower alcohol than the big 2015/16s. This is the sort of typicity we’d hope for in a single vineyard wine.
...focussed and straight, with a classic, structured feel. Black cherries, cassis, crushed flowers, and building minerality all flow to a medium to full-bodied layered, pure and long red.
92-94/100 Jeb Dunnuck (May-18).
The 2017 Pontet Labrie offers a little more brightness, aromatic lift and red-toned fruit than most of Jonathan Malthus’ other wines. Hints of rose petal, lavender, mint and spice give the wine striking lift. This is another gorgeous wine from Maltus.
91-94/100 Antonio Galloni (May-18)
The 2017 Pontet-Labrie was picked on 22 September and 3 October, the same days as the Le Carré. This has a little more cohesion by comparison with perfumed, wilted iris-infused black cherry and cassis fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin, more supple than the Le Carré with impressive precision towards the finish. This is an impressive wine from Jonathan Maltus. I can see this Pontet-Labrie maturing well in bottle.
91-93/100 Neal Martin (May-18)
This is powerful wine, with exuberant fruit, fine tannins and a crisp edge of acidity. Rich notes of chocolate and spice, dark tannins and a dense texture come together with stylish acidity and a hint of minerality.
91-93/100 Roger Voss (Apr-18)
The Investment Case
Our reasons for selecting this new wine were not all about investment return, but now that all three initial vintages have been released and received initial critics’ reviews, it’s clear that Pontet-Labrie is not just a gorgeous wine, but also a sensible addition to a cellar collection. The following tables show comparison with other well-known Saint-Émilion producers:
Right Bank 2015 releases
Average Points: most recent scores from 5 top reviewers (Antonio Galloni, Neal Martin, Lisa Perotti-Brown, James Suckling, Roger Voss)
Power Index: the higher the index, the better the value (it’s an index of the price you have to pay per point scored)
Whether you’re a fan of points or not, the above table shows clearly that the minute ‘garagiste’ production of Pontet-Labrie, alongside its great reviews and pleasurable style, make it an exciting addition to any serious Right Bank Bordeaux collection. The other great established names are also seriously collectable but offer lesser immediate value at at least double the price per case.
The other factors weighing in favour of Pontet-Labrie from a collector’s perspective are:
- Jonathan’s top wines are going through a regrading process, sparked by the much-anticipated new winery, designed by Sir Norman Foster and due to open in 2020.
- Jonathan’s wines have a history of ‘up-scoring’ from initial release to bottling, and this has already been demonstrated with the 2015 vintage.
- The scarcity of Pontet-Labrie means that as it becomes more recognised, demand will increase. There are less than 150 members within our club.
Further availability of 2015 & 2016, release of single vintage 2017
We have a small number of cases of 2015 and 2016 available for members, and we shall be releasing the 2017 alongside the other Maltus wines. The prices for current members of the club are (for cases of 12 bottles delivered In Bond):
2015: £1,440 2016: £1,440 2017: £1,200
We shall offer a special 5% reduction for orders of 2 or more cases placed and paid for by 30th June 2018.
Kosher Pontet-Labrie 2017
Our first vintage of the Kosher Pontet-Labrie parcel is now safely fermented and undergoing maturation in barrel. The tasting results are as excellent as for the unsupervised version. There are a few cases available of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 so please let us know if you’d like some.
Wine deliveries for members
When we started the project back in the Summer of 2015, we expected to make initial deliveries in the Autumn of 2017. Since then, there’s been a development in the bottling and storage philosophy at the estate. Wines are being bottled much later (Pontet Labrie 2015 was bottled in June 2017) and Jonathan is trying to hold on to the wine for as long as possible thereafter, with a few bottles released before Christmas 2017 for tastings and the majority now shipped to our UK storage. We know how impatient everybody is to get hold of this great wine, but please remember that you won’t be wanting to drink it for a few years to come. The final parcel of 2015 wines, for those of you who have the complete Maltus parcel including Le Dôme, Les Astéries and Vieux Château Mazerat, will arrive in the UK over the next few weeks.
As everyone’s parcel is complete, we are contacting you to check that your delivery requirements haven’t changed. Please remember that these wines were offered ex estate, but we have included landing into the UK at our Nexus Octavian account to make things easier. You may thus wish to arrange for us to store all your vintages of the Maltus wines before onward delivery. If you would like us to set up a storage account for you, or have new requests for onward delivery, please let Bree know asap.
Bottling Instructions for 2016 vintage
Please contact us urgently (and definitely by 31st May) if you would like to change your bottling instructions from your initial order. Please note that supplementary charges may apply.
Jonathan Maltus "At Home" and chateau visits
As part of your membership we look forward to offering annual opportunities to meet and taste with Jonathan (to date tastings at The Ritz and Maison Assouline in London), and preferential access to other events with our luxury partners. We have tours to Bordeaux planned on completion of the winery BUT in the interim should you wish to visit Chateau Teyssier or meet with Jonathan when he is out in California, working on his World's End wines, please do let us know and we will gladly help facilitate your trip. We are also looking to organise some more intimate evening tastings at Jonathan's Chelsea home for members and your guests who are potential members.
Published on: May 16, 2018