The Bordeaux Index Cellar Guide: What to Drink

Bordeaux Index

22 November 2023

December 2023: Our Recommendations on what to drink

As we breeze through the end of the year, we naturally look both forwards to the festive season ahead and back at the year that’s (almost) gone. To help you digest events to come and events that have been, our latest cellar guide, we hope will provide the necessary inspiration. At Bordeaux Index, more than anything else, we are a passionate group of consumers, collectors and investors ourselves. This is what we live, breath, debate and often imbibe, every day. So allow us the chance to share with you our thoughts, passions and recommendations of what to drink, collect and perhaps invest in the weeks and months ahead.

Bordeaux Index Cape Winemakers Guild 2023
The team taking part in the Cape Winemakers Guild 2023
The team taking part in the Cape Winemakers Guild 2023

The Greatest Krug Grande Cuvee

Krug’s 164th Edition of their flagship Grande Cuvee is based on the outstanding 2008 vintage and includes reserve wines back to 1990. Reminiscent of the legendary Grande Cuvees of the ‘60s and ‘70s according Antonio Galloni, this might just be the greatest Grande Cuvee of the modern era.

Grande Cuvee is a real labour of love; a blend of 127 wines spread across 11 different vintages, ‘Edition 164’ contains reserve wines going back to 1990 and was matured slowly for more than 8 years in the Maison’s cellars before its release in 2017.

Delicious already, the maturation arc of Grande Cuvee is quite something, the best examples can age effortlessly for decades. Releases from the 1970s or the 1960s are out of this world. In a tasting a couple of years ago, William Kelley even gave a perfect 100 points to a release from the late 1940s! The 164th Edition might just be the greatest yet and will certainly be fascinating to follow. Although the price has moved on since release, it is still available at a discount to some previous (and inferior) editions and will unquestionably be one of the most highly sort after Champagnes in the years and decades to come.

Buy: NV Krug Grande Cuvee Edition 164 – GBP 1550 per case of 6 bottles in bond

"Deep, brilliant gold-hued colour. Expressive, stylishly oak-lined, brioche, apple, and honey nose with luscious vanilla and perky spicy complexity. Voluptious and intense the palate is particularly firm and feisty with beautiful vivacity and tight acid line. Elegant, detailed and packed with life" - Essi Avellan, 98 Points

Bordeaux Index Fine Wine Krug Champagne
A past Krug tasting
A past Krug tasting

"Irresistible" Chenin Blanc from Kiara Scott - "a bewitchingly wonderful winemaker”

As you may know from our involvement in the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction this year, part of the mission of the Guild is to nurture emerging talent in the South African wine industry, and one of the ways they do this is through the CWG Protégé Programme. One such protégé is Kiara Scott who heads up the winemaking team at the exciting new Brookdale Estate in Paarl.

Kiara grew up in a “ghetto” (her words) on the Cape Flats, in a township south-east of Cape Town. Somehow, she cultivated a dream of making wine and went to study at Elsenburg Agricultural College, whose alumni include the likes of Eben Sadie and Callie Louw. In the last year of her studies, she was successful in her application to become a CWG Protégé, and during the three-year programme Kiara worked with CWG members David Nieuwoudt (Cederberg Wines), Charles Hopkins (De Grendel Estate), and Carl Van de Merwe (DeMorgenzon), as well as doing harvest stints in the Rhône, Sancerre, and Russian River Valley. She promptly landed a job as Duncan Savage's Assistant Winemaker, where our buyer first met her, at the Savage cellar in Salt River in Cape Town. Duncan was consulting for the newly established Brookdale Estate, and therefore Kiara was involved with bottling their inaugural vintage (2017). It wasn't long before she was asked to join Brookdale in a full-time capacity, heading up the winemaking, and in so doing she became the youngest female head winemaker in South Africa.

We tasted Kiara’s three latest white wine releases in the office recently – Sixteen (the field blend), Bradbourne (a Rhône-inspired Grenache Blanc-Marsanne-Roussanne with a dash of Piquepoul Blanc), and that old-vine Chenin Blanc. They are all incredibly delicious, and different, but our unanimous pick of the excellent bunch is the Chenin, from the wonderful cool 2021 South African vintage we keep banging on about. It marries mid-palate richness and weight with an incisive, mouth-watering acidity. Pure, precise, elegant, and deliciously drinkable now but with cellaring potentially for a decade or more. Production is tiny – just 4,000 bottles were made. If you have been following our South African offers with interest recently, Kiara Scott is a name you need to know. She is one of what we might call the “next wave” of the Cape (given the “new wave” winemakers are not so new anymore). Her wines have nuance and unforced flair, and she has the instinctive understanding of her vines and terroir that the greatest winemakers possess. She is also a joyful, warm person, quick to laugh and so much fun to be around – and an inspiration to young women in South Africa aspiring to get into wine.

Buy: Brookdale Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2021 – GBP 135 per a case of 6 bottles in bond

"From vines planted in 1985, the 2021 Chenin Blanc Old Vine is in a very wind-exposed micro-climate that naturally hedges the vine, whole bunch pressed, a slightly dirty rack, aged for nine months in 500-liter oak and then 11 months in 2,000-liter Stockinger barrels. It has quite an intense bouquet with lemon thyme and orange pith, blossoming in the glass, very well-defined and pure. The palate is very well-balanced, with an irresistible entry and fine delineation. It is taut, focused, and slightly tangy, with hints of marmalade, quince and pithy on the finish. This is superb. 13% alcohol. Drinking Window: 2024-2035" - Neal Martin, 93 Points

Bordeaux Index Fine Wine
Kiara Scott
Kiara Scott

Read our other December 2023 Cellar Guides here:

December 2023 Recommendations: What to Invest

December 2023 Recommendations: What to Collect