Thursday, August 9, 2018

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 - Upper Label "V" for Victory© LeDomduVin 2018

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945

Inspecting a Jeroboam of Mouton Rothschild 1945 ...

As the Wine Quality Control Director for the company I work for, an essential part of my job is to inspect and do the authentication of all the bottles we buy and sell (also checking provenance and suppliers reliability and integrity, as well as being responsible for the quantity and quality of the stock and storage's environment, conditions, and security of all the company's cellars and warehouses, and also doing Market Analysis, Stock Valuation, SOP, etc, etc...).

So, while doing regular monthly inventories in our warehouses, I also take the time to inspect some bottles and put to the test my authentication skills and knowledge.

Dominique Noël a.k.a. LeDomduVin Wine Inspection © LeDomduVin 2018

Although I cannot reveal all the details that differentiate a real bottle from a counterfeit one, as it will go against the deontological codes or ethics of my profession (and might also provide counterfeiters with intrinsic and useful details to produce better fake bottles), I still would like to share with you some of my bottle authentication knowledge and briefly establish the reason why I believe, for example, that this Jeroboam of Mouton Rothschild 1945 is genuine, and not a counterfeit. 

Starting from top to Bottom. 

1. The bottle

- The glass of the bottle is clearly old and its color is too (a bit difficult to see on these pictures as they were taken inside the warehouse, which explains the soft yellow lighting and the darkness of the bottle) 

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 - The Bottle
© LeDomduVin 2018

- 1940s Mouton Rothschild bottles have broader shoulder than the base, and it is clear on the pictures (above and below) that the base is narrower than the upper side of the bottle

- The glass surface presents defaults and asperities with micro-bubbles trapped inside the glass, proof that this bottle has been handblown and not machine-made. 

- On the picture below, you can see a hand blowing default of the bottle. Do you see it? Yes, it is not an impression on the picture, the glass shape of the bottle is slightly incurved [ ) ] on the left side compared to the right side which is straight. [ | ]

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 - The bottom of the bottle
© LeDomduVin 2018

- The punt is deep and thick, time-worn and presents no markings, compared to more recent bottles which present markings (either engraved or embossed or even embedded within the glass).  

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 - The deep and thick punt of the bottle
© LeDomduVin 2018

Back in the mid-40s at the end of World War II, glass was not always easy to find, and therefore, at the time, old and used glass bottles of different colors were melted together, then handblown to make new bottles, which were slightly different in color than the usual color normally used for Bordeaux wine bottles prior (and even after) the War.     

2. The capsule

Old, corroded, wrinkled, time-worn and short (which was normal at that time compared to nowadays Bordeaux capsules, which are longer and usually covering the full length of the cork) with the correct color and correct markings.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 - Top of the Capsule
© LeDomduVin 2018

3. The cork

I did not cut the capsule for this specific bottle but it is very important when doing an authentication of a bottle to verify the cork size, color, defaults, markings, brand, font, vintage, wine absorption, etc... to make sure that it is genuine and/or verify if the bottle has been reconditioned (re-corked, refilled or topped up, etc...) and also make sure that it is not a fake one. 

That said when a bottle is as old and expensive as this one (Mouton 1945 goes for 35-40,000 Euros for a magnum (1.5L) - retail price -, so I let you imagine how much a Jeroboam (4.5L) could go for...), there is always an hesitation on taking the decision to cut the capsule to verify the cork, as it will slightly decrease the value of the bottle in case of reselling later on. 

If the capsule is slightly loose and you can uncap it from the bottle without damaging it, then it is usually better than cutting it. Yet, if the capsule is tight and you absolutely need to verify the cork, then you will have no other choice but to cut it.   

However, if you are sure to keep the bottle for your own consumption and/or have any doubt about the bottle, cutting the capsule to check the cork is definitely one of the best ways to check 

- the cork authenticity (real or not? old or new? correct or wrong markings like the vintage and/or the brand?) 

- as well as the state of the cork (wet or dry? wine absorption only at the bottom or completely soaked? still in one piece or crumbling? tartaric crystals or not? etc...)  

...and thus, in the meantime, while checking the cork, you can roughly assess the quality of the wine:

- if the cork is dry and slightly loose, for example, air may have affected the wine, which may be oxidized, gone, bad or even turned to vinegar in some case...

- if the cork is completely soaked, soft and crumbling, leakage may have occurred, and the wine may present the same problems as above... 

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 - Side of the Capsule
© LeDomduVin 2018

4. The Label(s)

"In 1945, to commemorate the Allied victory, Baron Philippe de Rothschild had the idea of embellishing the Mouton Rothschild label with art-work: in this instance, a symbolic design intended to celebrate the return of peace. He commissioned this from a young unknown artist, Philippe Jullian (1921-1977). Having displayed early promise as a designer, he was to go on to become a successful dramatist. He submitted several drafts for the label: this one is based on the famous “V for Victory” that Churchill used throughout the war to rally the forces of freedom."

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 - Upper Label "V" for Victory© LeDomduVin 2018

Mouton Rothschild 1945 label is divided into 2 distinctively different labels that are slightly apart from each other.

-  The upper one, on which the "V" represents "Victory" ("Victoire" in French), the ending of World War II, is obviously smaller in height but more particularly smaller in width by a few millimeters on both sides, as you can see on the picture below.

If you encounter a bottle of Mouton 1945 with the 2 labels attached and/or even detached but with the same width, then it is a fake bottle, a counterfeit that you should report, immediately if you can, to the Château, which will in turn investigate...

....but be ready to answer a few questions like: when and where did you buy it? from whom? a collector? at a wine auction? a retailer? a wholesaler? a distributor? Do you still have the contact details? How much did you pay for it? Do you still have the invoice? etc, etc...

All these details are important to trace the history and provenance of the bottle, in order to push the investigation further to retrieve its origin and, at some point, dig up the counterfeiter and put him/her where he/she belongs... behind bars.

It is said that 20-25% of the top 50 most expensive and top wines of the world on the market (mostly French wines from Bordeaux and more especially Burgundy) are actually fakes, extraordinary well-crafted counterfeits that usually challenge even the eyes of the best experts on the market.

It is a stereotype, but it is also said that there are more bottles in the black and grey market in China than the top Bordeaux and Burgundy wineries ever produced...

I've heard a story that a guy counterfeited 6,000 bottles of a very expensive and rare wine, and as per the same source, only about 2,000 bottles have been retrieved so far, meaning that the remaining 4,000 bottles could be anywhere in the world, even in your own personal collection.... scary.....
(not to create any paranoia on your part, but I'm sure that, from now on, you will look at your stash of expensive and rare bottles with a different eye...) 😊

I lately wrote a comment on a Facebook post about probably one of the most expensive wine dinners in history, organized by Fine Wine Experience in Hong Kong, at 108,000 HKD per person (read the article here), that it is quite funny to see all of these bottles of 1800s and early 1900s suddenly reappearing and coming back on the market from nowhere... (supposedly from unnamed private collectors who have been collecting them for decades....)... well, well.... it really makes me wonder as, frankly, I haven't seen that many as over the past 5-6 years... offered by both retailers and auction houses... while already back in the 90s and 2000s they were barely any on the markets and the few remaining ones were super hard to find.... nowadays, it seems that you can find some bottles of 1800s and early 1900s vintages everywhere and even in older vintages than the ones that were already difficult to find 20-25 years ago... surprising, no?... just saying... but it seems that there is something fishy about this... (and that is the Wine Quality Control Director talking here..)... 

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 - Upper and Lower Labels© LeDomduVin 2018

- The lower label or main Label of this particular bottle is rough and shows signs of time, yet the paper, the size, the color(s), the font and the details are correct. And for those of you who may not know, R.C. meaning "Reserve du Château" is also correct. Therefore, no problem here either. 

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 - Lower or main Label© LeDomduVin 2018

5. Conclusion

So, in conclusion, and to recap, I will say that this Jeroboam of Mouton Rothschild 1945 is a genuine bottle, and not a counterfeit, as all of its details are correct:
- The capsule (size, height, color, font, markings)
- The color and roughness of the glass, as well as the shape of the bottle (shoulder slightly broader than the bottom) and defaults of the bottle, as well as the lack of markings, are normal and expected for a 1945 vintage bottle
- The labels are detached and in 2 pieces (the upper one smaller in width) 
- The bottle writings, number, font, color, and size also match  

One day if I open the bottle I will let you know how was the cork and if in fact, it confirmed the authenticity of this bottle...

Obviously, and if you did not know prior to reading this little post, you will know now how to identify whether the bottle of Mouton 1945 you stashed away (either for investment and/or for your old days or a really special occasion) is a fake/counterfeit bottle or not...

It is easy, if all the above do not match, then it is a fake. For example, if  
- The capsule is wrong in color or markings, 
- The shape of the bottle is wrong, straight rather than broad shoulders, or too new for the vintage
- The label is in one rather than two pieces, and/or the width is the same for both labels. 
- It lacks a bottle number or states a wrong bottle number, or has been printed with the wrong color or font
- It presents glass markings which would not have been applied in 1945.
- And if you are able to see that the cork presents wrong markings or signs for the vintage. 

6. Authentication

Authentication is a hard job which is not as easy as people may think. Basically, while inspecting the bottles, you always have to think, refer to your memory and knowledge, check with previous inspection results and pictures if needed, and ask yourself some questions, more especially if you have any doubts and/or if any of the usual bottle, capsule and label characteristics for this specific producer and vintage do not seem to match with bottles previously inspected.

And answers to these questions only come with knowledge and experience and time. You could always ask the winery directly by sending them via email some pictures for their review and comments. Yet, even if it seems that the best place to find the answer is to go to the source, it is not  always the best choice and the right answer is not always guaranteed, as even the winery may not have the answer to your question(s) as they (even them) may not know or may not have records going back that far....

It is not easy I'm telling you... and if you decide to pursue a career into Wine Quality Control and Wine authentication (like me), you better start to build your own database of references with pictures and even label samples, either detached from old bottles or pictured closely enough to check the small details, as you will need it. Taking notes is also very important. (*)

In any case, even if you use your own knowledge, experience, memory, and any other references you may have to inspect and authentify a bottle, you will always have to ask yourself some questions as  for old vintage (pre-1960s) the capsule, cork, and label of a wine from same producer and vintage may slightly differ depending on

- the bottling time for example: is this bottle an original? or has it been reconditioned? re-corked? re-capsuled? relabeled?

- the negociant who bottled it at the time:  remember that until the mid 60s (1967 to be exact - when it became mandatory for the Chateaux to bottle their own wine(s) - even if some Chateaux started as early as the 1920s), most Chateau owners only tended their vineyards, crafted their wines to then put them in barrels and sell them to the negociants; but it was the negociants who, in turn, handled the rest of the process from wine aging, bottling, labelling, promotion, sales and distribution (and that from as far back as the early 17th century). Therefore, for very old vintage, it is not surprising to see a bottle with a negociant label differing from the one from the Chateau or even another negociant ... (to be continued soon) 

Et voila,

That's all folks! for today..... 

Stay tuned for more post like this one with pictures and details..... 

I wrote this little article on inspecting a Jeroboam of Mouton Rothschild 1945 in honor to celebrate, (a few days ahead), August 14th, 1945, the day when it was announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, effectively ending World War II.

A day most commonly accepted as the end of World War II when the Japanese accepted the terms and surrendered, even if the real ending was when General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Forces, signed the Japanese surrender document aboard the battleship, U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan, on September 2, 1945

Cheers! Santé! 

Dominique Noël a.k.a. LeDomduVin

(*) maybe one day, I'll write another post to explain more in details what are the requirements for the job...

©LeDomduVin 2018

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Henri de Villamont Pommard "Epenots" 1934 Collection du Docteur Barolet

Henri de Villamont Logo courtesy of

Nestled in the heart of Savigny-Lès-Beaune, a scenic village of the Côte de Beaune region (Côte-d'Or), a few kilometers north from the region's capital Beaune, Domaine de Vallemont (a.k.a. Henri de Villamont SAS) produces beautifully crafted red and white Burgundy wines from various appellations, aged in one of the most unique and most iconic cellars in the region. 

Henri de Villamont Location - courtesy of Google Map

The Manor house of Henri de Villamont is probably the most picturesque building in the village, easily recognizable by its traditional colorful Burgundian facade and style...

Henri de Villamont - Manor House - courtesy of

...but more especially by its "Tour des Guettes" (In the Middle Ages, a "Guette" tower - a.k.a. watchtower - was one of the main towers of a castle, usually the one where the Sentinel was in charge of monitoring the countryside).

Henri de Villamont - Tour des Guettes - courtesy of

The humongous cellar (by Burgundy standards), extends over 4,000 square meters with a capacity of about the same amount of oak barrels (Burgundy 228L). It dates back from 1880, when the owner at the time, Léonce Bocquet, former owner of Clos de Vougeot, decided to embark on the construction of such a colossal cellar, it took about 8 years to be completed.  (*)

Henri de Villamont - Tour des Guettes - courtesy of

"Schenk Wine", a family owned Swiss Wine group with holdings and properties all over Europe,  bought the estate back in 1964 and renamed it "Henri de Villamont" after a crusader knight who inhabited the village of Savigny-Lès-Beaune during his old days. Schenk wines apparently added to their portfolio the wines from Doctor Barolet back in 1969.  Doctor Barolet was a wine collector who bought Burgundies in cask and bottled them under his own label. As the bottle below is a 1934 vintage, I'm assuming that it has been obviously labeled after 1969, as it states both names "Collection du Docteur Barolet" and "Henri de Villamont".

Knight Crusaders and Templars - pictures found on

Henri de Villamont produces a very large and wide range of wines, from Savigny-Lès-Beaune and the various surrounding appellations in Côte de Beaune, as well as from several other appellations in Burgundy, such as (just to cite a few among many others, thus the following list is non-exhaustive):

AOC Regional
  • Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains "Les Hobereaux" 
  • Prestige Bourgogne Chardonnay
  • Prestige Bourgogne Pinot Noir
  • Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc de Blancs
  • Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé
  • Bourgogne Gamay

  • Chablis
  • Chablis Grand Cru "Vaudesir" 
  • Chablis 1er Cru "Montmains"

Côte de Beaune
  • Savigny-Lès-Beaune
  • Savigny-Lès-Beaune "Le Village" 
  • Savigny-Lès-Beaune 1er Cru "Clos des Guettes" 
  • Pommard
  • Pommard 1er Cru "Les Rugiens" 
  • Pommard 1er Cru "Clos de Verger"
  • Volnay 1er Cru "Santenots"
  • Corton Renardes Grand Cru
  • Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru
  • Meursault
  • Meursault "Les Clous" 
  • Meursault 1er Cru "Les Caillerets"
  • Meursault 1er Cru "Blagny"
  • Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru "Sous le Puits" 
  • Chassagne-Montrachet
  • Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Morgeot"
  • Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Les Embrazées"
  • Saint-Aubin 1er Cru "Les Champlots" 
  • Auxey-Duresses "Les Hautes" 
  • Auxey-Duresses " La Canée"
  • Santenay "Les Champs Claude" 
  • Volnay 1er Cru "Le Ronceret" 

Côte de Nuits
  • Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru "Les Baudes"
  • Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru "Les Chatelots"
  • Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru "Les Feusselottes"
  • Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru "Les Groseilles" 
  • Nuits-Saint-Georges
  • Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru "Aux Murgers" 
  • Fixin 1er Cru "Le Clos du Chapitre" 
  • Gevrey-Chambertin
  • Gevrey-Chambertin "Les Evocelles" 
  • Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru
  • Grand Echezeaux Grand Cru
  • Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru

Côte Chalonnaise
  • Montagny 1er Cru
  • Rully

  • Pouilly Fuissé "Grumes d'Or" 
  • Mâcon-Mancey
  • Mâcon-Villages

Basically, they make so many wines, it will be difficult to list them all.

So now that we have learned a bit more about the winery, let's go back to the bottle of wine that inspired this post.

Henri de Villamont Pommard "Epenots" 1934
Collection du Docteur Barolet - Front Label
©LeDomduVin 2018

Henri de Villamont Pommard "Epenots" 1934 Collection du Docteur Barolet Burgundy France

Estimated Retail Price: 545 Euros / 670 USD / 5,260 HKD

It is surely one of the rare few remaining bottles of its kind. To be honest, it was the first time I saw such an old bottle from Henri de Villamont. A real piece of history of a bottle (like I love them) and in front of which I always feel very humble and privileged.

It was presented to me while I was doing an inspection of other wines recently purchased. It was not part of the lots I was inspecting. Yet, the director of the auction house where I was inspecting the wines asked me: "What do you think? Do you think the wine is still good? I will have it tonight with a friend, but I would like your opinion on it."

It apparently belonged to a few owners previously then was stored in a warehouse in New York for a while before being moved to Hong Kong a few years ago.

As a Wine Quality Control Director, I'm suspicious by nature when inspecting an old and rare bottle, due to so many counterfeits and fakes on the markets and Hong Kong's proximity with China. So,  I took the bottle in my hand and closely looked at it. Checking the capsule, which was slightly corroded and showed a slightly depressed cork (meaning that the cork has slid a little into the neck), which sometimes could either be the result of the corking process and may have been released as such by the winery or a sign of bad cellar conditions due to temperature level variations (e.g. heat may cause  the cork to slide down the neck). I'm thinking about the later in that specific case. Moreover, and despite no sign on the capsule or the bottle, the low level obviously indicated that the slightly depressed cork may have caused some seepage to occur at some point in the bottle's history.

Henri de Villamont Pommard "Epenots" 1934
Collection du Docteur Barolet - Capsule
©LeDomduVin 2018

However, nothing surprising for such an old bottle, as this type of old and rare bottles sold in auctions have usually been the pride of several owners, and for some may have been around the world a few times via boats and/or planes. Temperature and humidity levels vary and oscillate a lot during transit and cellar conditions differ from one owner to the next. Furthermore, it is not rare that whoever bought the bottle from one auction house resells it via the same auction house or another auction house fairly shortly after. For example, a bottle sold by Acker Merrall & Condit might end up being sold at Christie's or Sotheby's or Zachy's a few years later (and vice versa).

All of these movements and handlings from one cellar to the next, one warehouse to the next, one truck to a boat or a plane, (etc...), made under various weather conditions, are really hazardous to preserve the quality of the wine, more especially for such an old one like this one.

Efforts have been made over the last ten to fifteen years to increase the security and quality of the wine's environment and conditions in freight forwarder's warehouses and more especially during transit with more adequate materials and technologies to preserve the wines at constant and consistent temperature (and humidity) levels. Although wine warehouses and most freight forwarder's wine containers are now well equipped with integrated temperature (and even humidity) control technologies (reefer container + T/H data recorder, etc...), temperature variations and oscillations may still occur depending on many (sometimes unavoidable or uncontrollable) factors at departure, during transit and/or at destination.

One example that comes to mind, once, one of our reefer containers full of expensive wines arrived at Guangzhou port customs (China), was put on the truck to depart from the customs zone but was stopped as some documents required more specific details as well as additional signatures in order for the container to be released from customs. The air was thick, polluted and hot that day. We thought (or were hoping should I say) that it will be a matter of 10-15 minutes maximum. Unfortunately, other trucks in front of ours were queueing too for similar reasons and thus blocking the exit gate, stuck under the sun. It took more than 45 minutes for the exit to clear and our truck to be able to leave the customs zone. During that time, the engine of the truck could not be left idling, and therefore the reefer container had no source of power and temperature started to rise inside as it was a particularly hot day. 10 minutes later the truck was at the unloading bay of our warehouse, was plugged immediately to cool it down during unloading and at door's opening, I checked the inside temperature with a Non-Contact IR Laser Temperature Infrared Digital Thermometer Sight Handheld Gun, which indicated a temperature inside of 19-21°C. We immediately unloaded the wines to receive and store them at ideal conditions in our temperature and humidity controlled warehouse.     

45 minutes is not much to be unplugged from a reefer container which can sustain and maintain the temperature inside quite low for a while on cool and regular days, but that day, it was hot for some reasons, and it only took 45 minutes for the temperature inside to rise from the level set at departure of 13°C to 19-21°C. Imagine if the truck had been stuck for like 2 or 3 hours, the temperature will have risen even more and it will have definitely been harmful to the wines, which usually start to get damaged if left cooking under the sun with temperatures around 25°C and above for too long.       

Henri de Villamont Pommard "Epenots" 1934
Collection du Docteur Barolet - Color
©LeDomduVin 2018

I continued scrutinizing the bottle, checking the cork which seemed genuine and in ok conditions despite being soaking wet. Then I checked the color which was really light. The picture above doesn't do it justice, as it looks cloudy/hazy, while actually, the wine was really clear.

Despite being really pale, the color looked ok (rather youthful somehow...) for the vintage and for a wine of such appellation. That said, the color is not so surprising as it is said that back in those days, some private collectors, merchants and negociants who bought wine in casks and bottled the wine themselves used to top up the bottles with wines from other grape varieties and other regions (like some Syrah or Grenache from the Rhone) or even add a touch of spirits or brandy, like Cognac, to make them stronger and fruitier (especially in lower quality and/or quantity vintages).

It is as true for Burgundy as it is for Bordeaux also where wines from the south of France, Spain and even Marocco were used to top up the bottles (in such vintages). Of course, it is off the record, as you won't find any official writings stating these kinds of practices occurred. But it was well-known locally at the time that some used to do it (I bet some might still do it nowadays despite the strict regulations of the AOC).       

Henri de Villamont Pommard "Epenots" 1934
Collection du Docteur Barolet - Thick Glass and Sediments
©LeDomduVin 2018

Then I looked at the sediments which were obviously visible and perfectly normal for a wine of that age...

Henri de Villamont Pommard "Epenots" 1934
Collection du Docteur Barolet - Oblique bottom of the bottle and sediments
©LeDomduVin 2018

The punt was deep and the glass was thick and showed a certain inclination, which I found very interesting, as it demonstrated the imperfections usually found on hand blown bottles compared to manufactured bottles. To the feel of my fingers on the glass, the harshness of the bottle was a testimony of the past, an ancient time when quality craftsmanship was still a skill learned by experiences and the wisdom of the elders.   

Henri de Villamont Pommard "Epenots" 1934
Collection du Docteur Barolet - Deep bottle punt and thick glass
©LeDomduVin 2018

My eyes looking into the punt, I had the impression to enter a large cave with golden walls leading to another world and age... 😉

Henri de Villamont Pommard "Epenots" 1934
Collection du Docteur Barolet - Full Bottle
©LeDomduVin 2018

Then I put the bottle down to look at its overall condition, which was ok, but not great... ponder a few seconds and replied:

"As per its aspect, color, sediments and the genuine character of the bottle, it looks like that it is not a counterfeit or a fake wine. So, it should be ok. Now, due to the slightly depressed cork, the very pale color and the low level and thus the amount of air in the bottle, and despite the fact that the color is not showing any trace of it, it is probably the case that the wine might be oxidized and had "aged prematurely" (...I thought probably totally gone, but I kept it for myself...). I have never tried a Pommard that old, so I'm not so sure. But despite the fact that wines with low pH like Pinot Noir have a greater potential to age, this wine surely passed its peak long ago and may not show well in my opinion. Now, I do not want to be too pessimistic about it, and there is maybe a chance the wine is still "potable". You'll tell me after you'll taste it tonight with your friend."   

It is only days later that I popped the question and it ended up that those who drank it had mixed opinions, some found it fantastic apparently, probably the nostalgia of it and the fact of being able to taste such an old vintage became a smoke-screen to their better judgement, as in fact, others found it rather dead. Who knows? I was not there to taste it so I cannot judge and wine tasting is so subjective... Yet, in my honest opinion, dead or alive, this is a wine that I would have loved to taste just for the interest it repsents and to assess its conditions with my own taste buds.     

That's it for today folks!

Stay tuned for more posts with more wine stories and pictures.

Santé, Cheers,

LeDomduVin a.k.a Dominique Noël

By writing this post, I realized that I have been posting a lot of pictures of wines on my Instagram (  and  Facebook Page ( I did not post them on my Blog. 
So, from now on, I will also share all my pictures of wines on my blog to share them with all of you. 

(*) Infor partly taken from  and

©LeDomduVin 2018

Friday, March 9, 2018

Bodegas Emilio Moro Ribera Del Duero

Bodegas Emilio Moro 

Ribera Del Duero

Nacho Andrès, Export Director of Bodegas Emilio Moro, and Austin Lam, Key Account Manager at EMW (East Meets West Fine Wines - distributor in Hong Kong), paid us a visit today to introduce the wines of Emilio Moro, potentially for our company restaurant "Dynasty Garden", thanks to Jameson Chim, the Sommelier of the restaurant. 

Austin Lam, Jameson Chim, Nacho Andrès and Dominique Noël
at Dynasty Garden Restaurant Kowloon Bay Hong Kong ©ledomduvin 2018

It was a very pleasant surprise as I love the wines from Bodegas Emilio Moro, which I have been buying for the last 16 years. 

In fact, I first discovered the wines of Emilio Moro during my years in New York back in 2002 while I was working as a Wine Consultant and Wine Buyer at, one of the largest and most prominent wine and spirits retail stores in Manhattan at the time (and probably still now).   

The owner and my boss, Mr. Peter Yi, with whom I have worked very closely during 5 years (2002-2007), was one of the pioneer wine retailers in the Big Apple to believe in and heavily promote Spanish wines. He was a wine lover, a smart and cunning businessman, and above all a Spanish wines aficionado.    

Back in the days, in NYC, the selection of Spanish wines was good but not great as it was not diversified enough, mainly Rioja and Ribera del Duero were represented compared to all of the smaller and lesser known regions. Yet, in a few years, due to their good ratio value-for-money, Spanish wines were in demand and the trend evolved drastically to the point that Peter decided to create an annual event dedicated to Spanish Wines and Food, the "PJWine Spanish Festival". Once again, Peter was a pioneer in that field, as no other wine stores ever did that kind of event on such a scale before. It was a very successful event featuring none less than 150-200 of some of the best Spanish wines from both classic and up-and-coming regions all over Spain, selected from the portfolio of importers / distributors we were working with, such as (just to name a few) 

Besides teaching me a great deal about Spanish wines, Peter brought me along with him each year on a trip to France and Spain (with 1 or 2 more persons of the PJWine team). In fact, I was organizing his trips for him (making the appointments with the wineries, planning the days, mapping the roads to take and driving time, booking the hotels and restaurants along the way, as well as being his personal assistant and driver during the whole trip, even driving after each and every tastings and stop at the wineries, fortunately, I was spitting... it is important especially when you have a tasting with 300 wines to taste at 9am). 

Here is a picture I took back in the mid 2000s, during our PJWine annual trip to Spain. That day we were visiting Pesquera (Ribera del Duero). Alejandro Fernández and his daughter Lucía Fernández received us at the Bodegas, we visited the cellars, the vineyards and tasted the wines (which were amazing by the way). 

Peter Yi with Alejandro Fernandez of Pesquera Ribera del Duero
back in the mid 2000s during PJWine Annual trip to Spain
©ledomduvin 2005-2006 (I took that picture 😊)

At the end, Peter, who loves baby lamb, asked Alejandro where we could find a good restaurant nearby where they serve baby lamb chops (or "Chuletas de cordero lechal" in Spanish). Alejandro said "You're going nowhere. I make the best chuletas around, stay with us and I will prepare some for you". Alejandro is a man of character and authority to whom you don't say no to, so we obliged the man 😊.  

In fact, Peter and I were ecstatic, as Alejandro asked us to join him a bit later in the afternoon, not at his home nor at the estate, but in his hut in the vineyards ("Cabaña" or "Choza" in spanish) at the top the hill overlooking the Ribera del Duero vineyards and valley.     

Fireplace of Pesquera's hut in the vineyards (or "Choza" in spanish)
at the top the hill overlooking the Ribera del Duero vineyards and valley
©ledomduvin 2005-2006

Alejandro prepared for us the best "Chuletas de cordero lechal" we ever tasted accompanied with a magnum of Pesquera 1985 or 1988 (don't remember exactly), while enjoying the view of the Ribera del Duero from the top of the hill. An unforgettable moment.

The famous "Chuletas de cordero lechal" on the embers ("La Brasa" in Spanish)
prepared by Alejandro 
Fernández of Pesquera
©ledomduvin 2005-2006

What a great souvenir..... but let's keep Pesquera aside for now (maybe in another post...) and let's go back to the original story and Bodegas Emilio Moro...  which is by the way neighboring Pesquera as you can on the map.

Google Map of Bodegas Emilio Moro courtesy of Google Map ©

So, where was I... ah, yes, the preparation of the Bordeaux then Spain trip...

Prior departure, I was even creating an entire book, each year, with all the details (presentation of the Chateaux and wineries that we will visit, wine maps, itinerary, and endless amount of pages with the names of the wines to be tasted + space for the tasting notes and comments (I still have these books at home). It was fun and eye-opening, memorable and even unforgettable sometimes. I miss these trips. (Peter Yi, if you read this post one day, thank you for these 5 years spent working at your side and more especially for the opportunity to come along in these trips). 

We were usually heading to Bordeaux in France for the "En Primeur" tasting (end of March, beginning of April) for about 6 or 7 days, with a very busy daily schedule, visiting about 8 to 10 Châteaux per day, plus Négociants tastings and lunches and dinners either at a Chateau or a restaurant with a producer or with a négociant. 2 days in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol area. 1 day in the Graves. 2 days in the Haut-Medoc. And usually, 1 or 2 more days with négociants. It was exhausting but thrilling at the same time, and really needed to have a clear idea of the quality of the vintage overall as well as per appellation and per producer. The "En Primeur" Bordeaux tasting is an enlightening experience that I highly recommend for those of you who never had the chance to do it.  

Then, once finished, usually drenched by the rain and tired of tasting Bordeaux wines (more especially that the En Primeur tasting week was notorious to be a rainy week with a crappy weather and disastrous road conditions as there are so many people going to Bordeaux during that week, that you usually end up in a long traffic jam at some point.... and most of the time under the rain...), we were heading south to Spain, hoping for a more clement weather and hopefully some sun. 

First stop was always San Sebastian, or more exactly Getaria, in the heart of Txakoli. Getaria is a beautiful little village located about 15 minutes driving from San Sebastian. It is a charming fisherman "Bourg" with three of my favorites place in the world: the Saiaz Hotel (quint with an extraordinary view on the bay of Getaria) and Kaia-Kaipe restaurant, specializing in grilled fish, especially the Turbo for two, which has one of the best wine lists for old vintage Rioja wines at bargain prices (but shh! it is a secret not to be revealed). The third one is a great restaurant, topping a cliff, with a beautiful, modern dining room overlooking the ocean, called Akelarre. The food is a fusion of Spanish and Basque cuisine with a "Nouvelle Cuisine" approach and price, yet it is definitely worth it, especially if you have a spare lunch on your agenda. There is a 4th place w were also going to, located in San Sebastian, which was probably my top favorite restaurant in San Sebastian at the time Arzak. Anyone should experience Arzak if going or staying in San Sebastian. 

These trips were a bliss not only in terms of wine but also food I must say. Beside his love for Spanish wines, Peter was also a food aficionado and loved eating great food, and I need to admit that I was very lucky to be there with him each year for 5 years. It was amazing to visit all of these wineries, meet the producers, taste all the wines, understand the vineyards by walking amongst the vines, realize the importance of the soils and subsoils as well as the environment, the vine's exposure and other influential factors, that are described in books but that one can only truly understand when seen with his or her own eyes. 

You can read as many books as you want on wines and vineyards, yet you will never get as much knowledge as when you take the time to go and walk in the vineyards listening to the "vigneron" who knows all their details by heart as it is the essence of his or her daily life, to the point that he or she nearly named each vine stock.   

So "en route" to Spain, Txakoli was only a pit stop on our path to Rioja, where like in Bordeaux our schedule was really busy, visiting 7-9 wineries a day with tasting, including lunch and/or dinner with producers and/or merchants. Although I'm French (French-American actually) and more precisely from Bordeaux and grandson of a winemaker in the Cote de Bourg, I see myself as a traitor to my own region of birth, as I love Rioja wines (and Burgundy, and Rhone, and Ribera del Duero, and so many other wine regions...). 

Generally, after a few exciting days in Rioja, visiting classic Bodegas such as Lopez de Heredia, Muga, La Rioja Alta, CVNE (Vina Real, Contino, Imperial), Roda, Vivanco Dinastia, Allende, Artadi, San Vicente, Contador, Marqués de Riscal, Marqués de Murrieta, Remírez de Ganuza, Ostatu, Baigorri, Ramón Bilbao, and a few more... we were heading southwest to Ribera del Duero, where it was also a fantastic experience each time we went there. And that's how I came to visit Bodegas Emilio Moro for the first time back in the early 2000s. 

Ribera del Duero Map courtesy of
(with indications by LeDomduVin)

Ribera del Duero is an amazing place. It is a valley planted with vines on gentle slopes with good sun exposure along the banks of the Duero river. It is like a basin, where, much like in Napa Valley, the sun is strong and hot, and the earth is scorched every summer and the resulting wines are rich, layered, full, dense, generous and ripe with a lot of texture, structure and character. 

Ribera del Duero ©ledomduvin 2005-2006

It is a place of history guarded by the Peñafiel Castle nestled on a rocky hilltop overlooking the valley and its vineyards. 

Peñafiel Castle,
Peñafiel, Valladolid Province, Spain ©ledomduvin 2005-2006

Peñafiel Castle,
Peñafiel, Valladolid Province, Spain ©ledomduvin 2005-2006

Peñafiel Castle,
Peñafiel, Valladolid Province, Spain ©ledomduvin 2005-2006

If you go to Ribera del Duero and if you like baby lamb (like Peter and I), you should go to one of my favorite restaurants in the world, called "Asados Nazareno", which is without question absolutely THE place to go for "Lechado" (roast baby lamb),  located in the small village of Roa. They serve the most delicious roasted baby lamb I ever tried in my entire life. 

The place is like a cantina for the locals, known by all the producers and all epicureans, where you eat seating at table of 6-8 people (or more), in a large open space with mosaics on the back wall, wide windows and the warmth of the open fire in the brick ovens lodged in the back wall. 

Make sure that you call them 1 or 2 days in advance to book a table as it is nowadays even busier than back then in the early 2000s, and it could be difficult to get a table sometimes. And before I forgot, when you call, you will have to let them know how many plates of "Lechado" you will eat per person, as they only prepare for what has been ordered. 

Asados Nazareno -
Lechado cooking by the open fire in a brick oven lodged in the ornate wall with mosaics
©ledomduvin 2005-2006

Let me enlighten you, they usually start to cook for the lunch at around 5am, as the baby lamb is roasted very very slowly by the open fire in the brick oven for quite a few hours, therefore it is not like in most restaurants where food can be prepared in faster ways, they have to plan from the day before exactly how much they need. There, in Asados Nazareno, time is quintessential to cook the Lechado to perfection. You don't even need a knife, the meat is so tender and juicy that it melts on your tongue and in your palate like butter. Lechado is simply served with a little green salad with tomatoes on the side seasoned with a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and trust me, it is one of the most delicious meal I had in my entire life, simple yet so flavorful and delicious... 

Asados Nazareno -
Slowly roasted Lechado simply served with a little green salad with tomatoes on the side
seasoned with a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt
©ledomduvin 2005-2006

Asados Nazareno is definitely worth doing a little "detour" by Roa for the lunch when you are visiting Ribera del Duero.    

But once again, I let myself go by deviating from my original story due to my love food and wine, and the fact that one experience is always intertwine with another one (got it? intertwine... ok, never mind) and now I lost my train of thoughts.... 

Ah yes, Bodegas Emilio Moro....

Bodegas Emilio Moro is located at the top of a bend in the Duero River in the town of Pesquera del Duero, just to the Northwest of Peñafiel (right by Tinto Pesquera as you can see on the maps above).
The Moro family has been farming the same vineyards in the Ribera del Duero since 1932, the birth year of Emilio Moro (the patriarch) as well as the year in which the Finca Resalso vineyard was planted. For two generations, the grapes were sold on the bulk market. In 1988, current proprietor José Moro Espinosa invested the family’s entire savings into winery equipment and Bodegas Emilio Moro was born. The bodega joined the D.O. Ribera del Duero in 1989 and quickly established itself as one of the region’s leading producers of top quality wines. 
(Winery introduction courtesy of Michael Skurnik website here)

Nowadays the Bodegas is run by the two brothers Jose and Javier Moro.

Javier Moro (left) and Jose Moro (right) of Bodegas Emilio Moro
(© courtesy of
Bodegas Emilio Moro has a beautiful websites full of useful information (here), so I will now go straight to what I was supposed to write about, when I started what was supposed to be a little post 😊, the wines!!! 

So, the tasting with Nacho Andrès, Export Manager of Bodegas Emilio Moro, consisted on the following wines:

Bodegas Emilio Moro Tasting Selection at Dynasty Garden restaurant
©LeDomduVin 2018-03-08

2016 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Finca Resalso" Ribera del Duero
©LeDomduVin 2018

2016 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Finca Resalso" Ribera del Duero
©LeDomduVin 2018

2016 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Finca Resalso" Ribera del Duero
Suggested Retail Price 6-8 Euros (60-90 HKD)
100% tempranillo macerated for 18 days on lees.

The 2016 Finca Resalso is a very friendly, juicy, fruity wine with blackberry and currant aromas mingled with subtle hints of oak, good acidity and solid tannins, yet fairly well integrated, making this quaffable wine very approachable and enjoyable as a daily wine to pair with all sorts of cuisine. It is a really good value for money, and I was pleasantly surprised of its accessibility despite its young age for a Ribera del Duero wine. I usually prefer to wait a few more years after bottling before drinking Ribera wines, as they usually need a bit of bottle ageing to settle down, but obviously not this one. Definitely a "cash cow" if used as a wine by the glass in restaurant. Interestingly enough, Finca Resalso is made out grapes from the eponymous vineyard first planted in 1932, yet, by contrast, the vines are only 5 to 15 years old. they must have uprooted the old vines for some reasons and replanted some until fairly recently. The youthness of the vines is nicely expressed into this playful and vibrant young wine profile and character.  
LeDomduVin (Tasted 08.03.2018)       

2015 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Emilio Moro" Ribera del Duero
©LeDomduVin 2018

The founder of the winery is proudly displayed on the label of "Emilio Moro", as it represents everything Emilio Moro is all about, character, personality and complexity.  Being produced out of grapes from 15 to 25 years old vines planted on soils representing the essence of three types of soil in the Ribera del Duero adds to the complexity and different nuances of this wine. 

2015 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Emilio Moro" Ribera del Duero
©LeDomduVin 2018

2015 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Emilio Moro" Ribera del Duero
Suggested Retail Price 14-16 Euros (135-155 HKD)
100% Tinto Fino grapes macerated with their skin for 15 days and aged in American and French oak barrels for 12 months, until bottling.

2015 is a great vintage for Ribera del Duero in general and it shows in this beautiful yet tight "Emilio Moro". Although the bottle had been opened for quite a few hours, the nose appeared a bit muted at first (to me) and took a few swirls in the glass to be more expressive and get more intensity. Fragile, subtil aromas of red and black berries with nuances of tobacco, leather, herbs, earth, spices intermingling with the toasted oak notes on the nose. Although boasting very enticing fruity, earthy, leathery and toasted flavors, the palate is still tight and youthful, yet nicely layered and complex, with a good balance overall between the acidity and the ripe fleshy tannins building a solid structure and texture with plenty of concentration to make it a great wine. Yet again, the tight grip of tannins and touch of alcohol in the back palate will demand a bit of time to round up and get better integrated. This medium to full bodied wine shows a lot of potential to evolve greatly and become one of the stellar of the appellation in this price range, yet it is still too young to drink now in my opinion and will definitely require quite a few more years of ageing in the bottle to be more harmonious and round up some of the edges. If serve now, some decanting time will definitely be needed for it to reveal itself on the bright side. Otherwise always a good value for money in my opinion. 
LeDomduVin (Tasted 08.03.2018)

2014 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Malleolus" Ribera del Duero
©LeDomduVin 2018

2014 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Malleolus" Ribera del Duero
©LeDomduVin 2018

2014 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Malleolus" Ribera del Duero
Suggested Retail Price 28.5-32 Euros (268-310 HKD)
100% Tinto Fino grapes. 18 days maceration on lees. The malolactic fermentation occurs in French oak barrels, after what it then aged for 18 months in Allier French oak barrels.

Wow, what a beautiful nose, extremely fragrant, complex and layered with tons of aromas, opulent and intense. I kept going back for it. In fact, I was enjoying the wine just by smelling it. Surely the range of 25-75 years old vines and the diversity of the soils have something to do with it. Aside from the classic scent of the Tinto Fino beautifully expressed in this wine, the nose also combines aromas of blackberry, ripe dark currant, chocolate, nuts, toasted oak, leather, balsamic, herbs, spices as well as mineral and floral hints. On the palate, the attack is fresh, generous, soft and supple, and gradually increases in intensity and power in the ample mid-palate, with layers of complex flavors leading to the refined, integrated and long lasting finish. Even minutes later, I was still chewing the ripe, mature yet very well integrated tannin (need some red meat with that). This wine boasts a combination of freshness, concentration, harmony, balance, texture, structure and length with plenty to offer for quite a few years to come. It is said that Malleolus is the quintessential expression of Emilio Moro style and terroir expression, and it definitely shows in this wine. And once again, a bargain compared to some of its peers from the same Appellation. Highly recommended. 
LeDomduVin (Tasted 08.03.2018)           

2010 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Malleolus de Valderramiro" Ribera del Duero
©LeDomduVin 2018

Elaborated from grapes harvested in the Valderramiro vineyard, which was planted in 1924, Malleolus de Valderramiro is the expression of the terroir that surrounds it. In the label we can see Emilio Moro during the pruning process in one of the oldest vineyards owned by the family.

2010 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Malleolus de Valderramiro" Ribera del Duero
©LeDomduVin 2018

2010 Bodegas Emilio Moro "Malleolus de Valderramiro" Ribera del Duero
Suggested Retail Price 83-113 Euros (810-1100 HKD)
100% Tinto Fino grapes. Malolactic fermentation in American oak barrels then aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.

There again a beautiful nose, not as fragrant or intense as the previous one, yet enticing with primary and secondary aromas/bouquet of dark ripe fruit, figues, tobacco, leather, roasted coffee, smoke, smoked earth, game, underbrush, forest floor, spice, liquorice and toasted oak notes. The palate is rich, quite intense and complex, ample and coating, yet elegant and refined at the same time with the same flavours as on the nose, yet more intensified. Long beautifully balanced, structured and textured finish with a good dose of integrated yet present tannins and persistent reminiscence of smoke, earth and mineral in the back end. Although it will still well be alive for another decade or two, the wine shows some interesting secondary aromas and flavors that give it a dash more of depth and complexity. It is the type of wine that I have no problem finishing the bottle on my own. The few sips during the tasting (and because it was the last wine) definitely called for a proper glass (glasses I meant...😊). Highly recommended. 
LeDomduVin (Tasted 08.03.2018)

Austin Lam, Jameson Chim, Nacho Andrès and Dominique Noël
at Dynasty Garden Restaurant Kowloon Bay Hong Kong 
©ledomduvin 2018

Voila, that is it for today..... Thank you again to Nacho Andrès for introducing the wines and to Austin Lam for visiting our Chinese restaurant Dynasty Garden and bringing such gems like these along with you. 

Santé, cheers, and stay tuned for post like this one soon.

Dominique Noël a.k.a LeDomduVin

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@bodegasemiliomoro @ledomduvin

©LeDomduVin 2018