With each year that passes, the number of exemplary wines from Beyond Bordeaux offered through La Place in September expands.
Undoubtedly this ever-increasing array of wine superstars have been drawn to La Place by the incredible power of the negociant’s curated networks. The almost instant success that can be generated from these vast marketing and logistical connections can launch a new release into every major marketplace across the globe. As a result of this recognition and the subsequent evolution of La Place, the September wave of releases has become quite the event for those looking to snaffle blue-chip wines, from Massetto to Opus One. We wish to briefly outline this now prominent event in the wine calendar and touch on why it has taken nearly 14 years to become fully accepted by the tradition-loving French!
The Might Of Mouton
The Mouton Rothschild estate has never been one to let French tradition and bureaucracy stifle their plans. From Baron Phillipe Rothschild campaigning and successfully elevating his beloved Mouton to First Growth status, to the daring decision to be the first in Bordeaux to bottle their own wines and create bespoke labels, Mouton has repeatedly challenged convention. In 1998 the estate once again altered history after recognising the potential power of leveraging Bordeaux’s distribution network for use by one of their overseas projects. Almaviva, a collaboration between Chilean Concho y Toro and Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, joined La Place as the first non-Bordeaux wine to a mixed reception. The New World wine was not a straightforward sell for the negociants whose Rolodexes brimmed with traditional Bordeaux buyers, despite Almaviva’s old-world pedigree. They viewed wines from beyond the region as an unrefined distraction, diluting the wealth of homegrown wines on offer. Mouton persisted. In 2004, Napa’s most illustrious name, Opus One, another of Mouton’s overseas collaborations moved their distribution to La Place.
A New Millennia And A New Style
After the turn of the century, pioneering new world winemakers had begun to shift their style’s to express place, and promote elegance as opposed to bland muscularity. Consequently, an ever-growing recognition from critics for the outright quality and value originating from these properties saw these once outsiders thrust to the fore of the fine wine stage. A mixture of luck and Mouton’s vision and persistence led to a marked change in global winemaking and critic appreciation saw distribution via La Place become a roaring success. Opus One became the poster child for New World success on La Place, a doubling of their export figures and the creation of one of the most recognisable brands in the wine world in one fell swoop.
Quid Pro Quo
Once perceived as an imposition by negociants, the emerging New World icons were quickly becoming some of the most sought after stock on the market, with those on La Place slowest to transition left ruing their lack of stock. Gradually a perfectly symbiotic relationship was beginning to be formed. Boutique wine producers from around the world were able to benefit from indirect exposure to millions of customers, while negociants were able to expand their offering and supplement their core business in poor vintages. With negociants now viewing the incorporation of the new world in their offering as a must, their role became a far more active one. Like the tech bubble of the late 90’s, negociants clamoured to bring the next rockstar to market under their name.
From Almaviva To Opus One To Masseto To…
Despite this reinvention of La Place appearing such an obvious step, it has been a hard fought process. The final linchpin moment that secured the future of the September releases was in 2008, when the “Le Pin of Italy” was first offered through La Place, Masseto. This was a wine with no connections to Bordeaux and the reverberations caused by a true Italian icon listing on La Place were significant. Soon there was an inundation of top wines flooding to the negociants from not only Italy, but California, South America and Australia. Names including the likes of Solaia, Testamatta, Vérité , Inglenook, Catena Zapata, Sēna and Cloudburst to name but a few. With such a global array of styles and vintages it is easy to see why the September release is becoming one the most interesting moments in the wine lover’s calendar.
What Is On Offer And How Can You Be Involved?
Make no mistake, the Borderlais are still proud promoters of their beloved region and wines. However this pride is perhaps now held in equal measure to their establishment as the global centre of fine wine. Their capacity to offer the most desirable and sought-after wines to the widest of international audiences is a fantastic achievement.
We will be operating our offering of the September releases in a similar fashion to our En Primeur campaign earlier this summer. We will be sending out a list of stock that will be on offer in August. Customers can then share with us their interests in time for the commencement of the releases in September. Sharing interest is not a firm order, nor is it a guarantee of securing a wine. We operate on a first-come-first-served basis, benefitting those who have shared their pre-orders earliest. Any wine offered will need to be confirmed by an account manager and of course, the price checked with the customer. Should you have questions please get in touch and a member of the team will be more than happy to share their thoughts on the upcoming releases.