The Bordeaux Index Cellar Guide: What to Collect

Bordeaux Index

22 November 2023

December 2023: Our recommendations on what to collect

Always one of our favourite topics in-house, we could easily reel off a lengthy list of producers, regions and vintages to hold with confidence but in respect of market trends and dynamics over the last 6-12 months, we feel strongly that the following are the areas to not only take note of but to start buying into now before the wider market really catches on.

Bordeaux Index Fine Wine
Storing wines at Chapoutier
Storing wines at Chapoutier

Rose & Arrow; Hollywood Producer + Louis-Michel Liger Belair+ Legendary Chilean Geologist = Pure Magic

We recently hosted the Rose & Arrow team at our London office to present their new 2021 Pinot Noir releases (they’ll be coming out to see us in Asia next year). This was a masterclass in Pinot Noir par excellence. The Rose & Arrow style always falls on the mineral and finessed rather than opulent and fruity and with the 2021 vintage the estate has reached a new level of elegance. These are the greatest wines produced at the estate so far from the newly introduced ‘Red Label’ or Village level wine all the way up to the uber rare Touchstone micro-cuvee. The level of detail achieved, and the difference between plots is remarkable with each wine giving an individual take on this great vintage. It truly vindicates the Rose & Arrow approach which uses any means possible to reach just a millimetre further towards perfection.

A brief reminder how and why Rose & Arrow became the reference point for Oregon Pinot Noir. The estate was founded by Mark Tarlov, who passed away in 2021, he was an ex-Hollywood producer and Burgundy fanatic who was influential at the start of a great number of projects including Lavinea, Lingua Franca, 00 Wines, Alit as well as projects in the Sta Rita Hills such as Domaine de la Cote.

After leaving Evening Landing, which demonstrated the exceptional quality of Willamette Chardonnay, Tarlov founded Chapter 24 in 2011 to focus on Pinot Noir. With Liger-Belair as consultant small lots were made from a huge number of different sites across the Willamette Valley.

From 2015, Tarlov hired Pedro Parra and Felipe Ramirez to join the project which in 2016 led to the start of Rose & Arrow. Pedro Parra is the soil expert par excellence. He has helped transform the work of vintners from Comando G in Gredos to Quintessa in Napa. The team began an unprecedented project which combined electro-conductivity mapping and digging through layer upon layer of ancient soils to discern the most exciting ribbons beneath. Ramirez had been making wine at the Bouchon Family estate in Chile, but also worked at Liger-Belair following his master’s degree in viticulture and oenology in Montpellier.

The Rose & Arrow wines are made from tiny isolated polygons of terroir, spanning a total of 6 acres (that’s around 2.5ha) is used to make the total range of wines. By comparison, the whole of Vosne-Romanee comprises around 600 acres under vine, of which almost 70 acres are Grand Cru. This is the Formula 1 Team of winemaking. This project is about creating the most specific terroir-wines possible; trying to answer the question of what really is behind a great wine. No other producer in Oregon takes this fanatical approach.

In our view, right now these are some of the most exciting wines to come out of the US. They do more than merely impress or delight: they amaze, intrigue, teach and astonish in equal measure. Despite their adherence to a Burgundian quality structure – albeit from villages to Grand Cru+ - these are no Cote d’Or mimics. Their intention is to express the incredible diversity of volcanic soil though the lens of Pinot Noir, via perfume, flavour profile, and texture. All wines made in exactly the same way, with no whole bunch and 15 months in just 20% new oak to best express their true character; they are, to put it simply, awesome.

Buy: Rose & Arrow Chehalem Highlands 2019 – GBP 525 per a case of 6 bottles in bond

Bordeaux Index Fine Wine Rose & Arrow
Felipe Ramirez of Rose & Arrow
Felipe Ramirez of Rose & Arrow

Chapoutier's Le Le Le: Single Vineyard Icons Hiding in Plain Sight...

The history of the great house of Chapoutier traces back to 1808. Since the late ‘80s it has been run by the enigmatic Michel Chapoutier, a tireless crusader and pioneer of biodynamic farming and creator of some of the Rhone valley’s most incredible wines. Over the last 30 years the domaine’s ‘selection parcellaires’ or single-vineyard wines, have established themselves amongst the most collectible wines on the planet.

As trailblazing as Michel Chapoutier has been, he has always been the first to acknowledge the debt he owes to those who have influenced him. Indeed, you can taste that influence in his wines be it his peers from the Rhone; Chave and Guigal, or a little further afield; Leroy in Burgundy, Nicolas Joly in the Loire and Andre Ostertag and Marcel Deiss in Alsace.

It is the hill of Hermitage, that represents the soul of the domaine. Crafting 4 reds and 3 whites from single plots scattered across the hill, the domaine’s ‘selection parcellaires’ are typically made from ancient vines and in miniscule quantities, never more than 400-700 cases of a given cuvee.

Buy: Chapoutier Ermitage Le Meal Rouge 2013 - GBP 675 per a case of 6 bottles in bond

“They are the essence of bio-dynamically farmed vineyard sites cropped incredibly low, given extended fermentations with indigenous yeasts, and rarely touched until they go into the bottle unfined and unfiltered. In most vintages, the wines are not even racked off their lees, which only adds to their natural style. These are truly remarkable wines.”
(Robert Parker)

L’Ermite- from 100+ year old vines close to the chapel on the top of the hill. The purity and concentration is off-the-scale.
Le Pavillon – from the oldest vines in Les Bessards. Think Chave on steroids!
Le Meal – ‘the Ausone of Hermitage’ according to Parker. This is one of the purest expressions of Syrah from anywhere
Les Greffieux – from the lower slopes of Hermitage, this is a highly perfumed expression of Syrah. A little more accessible than the other wines.

Buy: Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon 2003 - GBP 325 per 1 bottle in bond

"Even better, and topping out on my scale, the 2003 Ermitage le Pavillon comes all from the granite soils of the Les Bessards lieu-dit and was aged 100% in new barrels. Its inky ruby/black color is followed by off the hook aromas and flavors of plum, creme de cassis, licorice, crushed rocks and violet/incense-like qualities. This gives way to a full-bodied, dense, seamless and textured 2003 that has building tannin, awesome concentration and a blockbuster finish. Drink it anytime over the coming two decades, although, as with the Le Meal, it’s gorgeous now. Drink 2014-2034." - Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate, 100 Points

l’Ermite – often less than 200 cases produced. Texturally akin to Alsace, this is a rich, waxy singular wine
l’Oree – all crushed rocks and honeysuckle, like a beefed up Montrachet!
Le Meal – Robert Parker’s favourite dry white wine. Perhaps the richest of the trio and longest lived.

Buy: Chapoutier Ermitage Cuvee de l'Oree Blanc 2017 - GBP 700 per case of 6 bottles in bond

The wines are a real labour of love to produce, with the vineyard work often back-breaking. The resulting wines, while demanding patience, are magical, must-own bottles.

Buy: Chapoutier

Bordeaux Index Fine Wine
The Chapoutier vineyards
The Chapoutier vineyards

Read our other December 2023 Cellar Guides here:

December 2023 Recommendations: What to Drink

December 2023 Recommendations: What to Invest