June 19th 2013, by Gavin
It’s a scary time for vine growers. We need half-decent weather at the right moment or the size and quality of crop could be at risk. 2013 is the latest flowering we’ve witnessed and, what with sunshine one day and unseasonably heavy downpours the next, it’s the stuff of nightmares.
Visitors to Vinexpo, the huge trade fair that’s taking place in Bordeaux this week, can see the flowering for the first time ever during the show – if they have the chance or the inclination to get out into the vines. Normally, between 16 and 20 June, you’d have missed the floraison and the annual Fête de la Fleur, held this year at Chateau Lagrange in St-Julien on the 20th, is supposed to celebrate the end of the flowering, not the middle of it.
June 17th 2013, by Gavin
Chateau Mouton Rothschild hosted the dinner laid on by the Grands Crus Classés of 1855, held on the opening Sunday of Vinexpo, and luckily it was a fabulously sunny day. The occasion was made even smarter by the unveiling of their brand new cuverie, chai and cellars. Oh, how the other half live.
June 17th 2013, by Gavin
Every two years, Bordeaux hosts the enormous trade fair Vinexpo, which is on this week. I caught up with my old mate Oz Clarke for dinner in town, and the two of us went to the rather grander affair at Chateau Mouton Rothschild the following night to celebrate the opening of their smart new cellars.
We’ve never had a Bauduc stand at the show. I’m sure it works for large companies who have the (fiendishly expensive) space to arrange lots of meetings with their agents and importers from all over the world. For me though, the thought of looking like Billy No Mates, like so many wine producers staring into their mobile phones in their little booths, has never caught my imagination. The wine world is also full of tyre kickers, and I take my hat off to those who have the patience and good humour to cope.
June 15th 2013, by Gavin
The campaign to sell the top 150+ Bordeaux wines from 2012 en primeur, i.e. while still in barrel, is coming to an end: there are many attractive wines but there’s little price incentive to buy early. Here’s a business round-up, a vintage summary, my top 150 wines from the vintage and en primeur report for Harpers, the trade mag.
Here are the links:
Review of the 2012 En Primeur campaign
The wines are still on offer from leading wine merchants with only a handful of wines showing as sold out. By all accounts, it’s been a fairly disastrous sales campaign. Given the gloomy prospects for the 2013 vintage, however, time will tell if some of the top Chateaux were wise not to drop their pants on prices.
May 31st 2013, by Gavin
There hasn’t been a poor vintage in Bordeaux for twenty years but the cold, damp weather, as we approach the critical month of June, is a gentle reminder that anything can happen.
The harvest this Autumn will be my fifteenth (a rookie still) and the development of the vines across Bordeaux in 2013 is the most backward I’ve seen. Our vineyard manager, Daniel, will tell you the same thing, and he’s been working here since the 80s.
It’s certainly going to be another late harvest, like 2012, and we all know that ’late and great’ rarely go hand in hand when it comes to Bordeaux vintages. ’Comeback of the century’ is the best we can hope for and I, for one, would settle for that. (If you’re visiting Bordeaux at harvest time, the reds won’t be picked until October.)
At the start of June, the vines should be flowering or about to flower. May, however, has been so wet and cold (my unofficial stats show a chilling monthly average to date of 12.5°C, compared to a thirty year average in May of 16.5°C) that we’re still a little way off the floraison and, worse, the vines have a lot of catching up to do beforehand. It’s all rather worrying, although the forecast for early June looks more promising.
April 26th 2013, by Gavin
Here are my scores (out of 100) and estimated maturity dates on the top 150 red wines from the seven main appellations – Pomerol and St-Emilion on the Right Bank, Pessac-Leognan to the south of Bordeaux on the Left Bank, and Margaux, St-Julien, Pauillac and St-Estephe in the Medoc, also Left Bank.
These scores will be on Livex and in an article on the primeurs for Harpers Wine and Spirit magazine. The price is my estimate for a case of 12, in Bond (ex-VAT), as offered by specialist UK wine merchants.
April 26th 2013, by Gavin
This article was posted today on Livex, the fine wine exchange.
I’ve tasted over 500 Bordeaux wines from the 2012 vintage in April.
Key points about Bordeaux 2012
1. 2012 is a good to very good vintage, but not a great one.
2. It’s certainly a vintage for drinking, not investment. Many wines will be good to drink in the short to medium term.
3. 2012 was a late harvest which tended to favour the earlier ripening Merlot over the Cabernets, partly because drizzle, humidity and finally heavy rain set in from the second week of October onwards.
4. It’s an uneven vintage but hundreds of reds have lovely colour, supple fruit, crowd-pleasing texture and no hard edges.
5. Happily, very few wines show any green, unripe character. The fruit is ripe (thanks to ten weeks of sunshine from mid-July onwards) even if many wines lack real depth, complexity and length.
April 22nd 2013, by Gavin
The Bordeaux 2012 en primeur or ‘futures’ campaign has kicked off. Over the last month, wine merchants and press from around the world have been in Bordeaux for the annual tastings of young barrel samples, and opening prices for some of the leading wines have started to trickle out.
Here is my Bordeaux 2012 weather report, which provides an important background to the character of the vintage. The following is a slightly updated version of the one that was published a fortnight ago by Jancis Robinson and Livex. (Included here are daily tracking graphs for June, July and August which I’ve just compiled, and some photos.)
I’ll follow up with my thoughts on the wines.
I wrote three 2012 harvest reports for Jancis’s site entitled ’Scorching summer but no rush’ last August, followed by ’The Late Show’ in October and lastly ’The end in sight at last’. Given these headlines, you’d be right in thinking that it was a late harvest. What was largely missing from those articles were some weather statistics, so here they are in a graphical format.
After the two outstanding vintages of 2009 and 2010, it’s only normal that onlookers will compare 2012 with 2011. Yet the weather conditions in 2011 and 2012 could hardly have been more different, even if we like to slot two years into the same bracket of ’good but not great’.
12 WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS IN 2012
1. A late bud-burst and a wet April meant a slow start – the opposite of 2011.
2. Mildew was a real threat and had to be kept in check.
3. Mixed weather in June resulted in the flowering being drawn out.
4. Bordeaux enjoyed an excellent summer from mid-July to late September.
5. August was dry and hot but veraison (when grapes change colour) was spread out.
6. The dry whites were picked in fine September weather.
7. The weather changed towards the end of September, and October was up and down.
8. Humid, drizzly weather from 6 October ’encouraged’ many to pick.
9. Expensive grape-sorting machines earned their keep.
10. Sauternes had a challenging year, after three great vintages.
11. Yields were low but not as bad as other parts of France.
12. Quality is uneven and there should be some very good wines.
THE WEATHER CHARTS
1. Late winter, late season
March 19th 2013, by Gavin
Chris Evans, host of BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show, came to Bordeaux earlier this month with his lovely wife Natasha for an extensive wine tour. We were honoured to be asked to show them around, via a friend of a friend, and here’s what we got up to, along with some holiday snaps. (To enlarge any picture, click on it.)
“I beg you, if you like wine, take a plane, hire a car and go to Bordeaux,” Chris wrote in his weekly column for The Mail on Sunday, tapped into his Blackberry at his hotel in St-Emilion after just a couple of days here. “It’s a dream trip.”
On their ’kids-free wine tour’, we visited Chateau Clinet and Le Pin in Pomerol, Chateau Haut-Brion in Pessac, Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron in Pauillac and Cos d’Estournel in St-Estephe. We also tried a few wines from around the region over dinner here at Chateau Bauduc, at restaurant La Tupina in Bordeaux and in the two restaurants at Les Sources de Caudalie, the hotel set amongst vines to the south of the city.
“Twas fanbloodytastic” he texted when he got home, before appearing on Friday evening’s The One Show on the beeb. He looked fine. I was bloody exhausted.
Then, on Monday, the reality check. “Just been to gym. Nearly died. Holidays not worth the relapse,” he announced on Twitter. (Apparently, he’d put on half a stone.) The trouble with an excursion to this corner of France is that the wine and food can be a little too tempting.
March 19th 2013, by Gavin
Chris Evans, host of BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show, came to Bordeaux earlier this month with his lovely wife Natasha for an extensive wine tour. Here’s what we got up to, along with some holiday snaps. (To enlarge any picture, click on it.)
Tuesday: Chateau Haut-Brion
From Libourne, it was 45 minutes to Chateau Haut Brion in Pessac. It’s a bizarre setting for one of the world’s most famous wines, first mentioned in English by Pepys in seventeenth century London. A wonderful old, gravelly vineyard, with a beautiful old chateau, set in the ugly, modern outskirts of Bordeaux, with a TGV train line cutting through the middle of it.
All visitors are greeted with a video, which is really a collection of pretty photographs, set to relaxing classical music and a voiceover by the owner, Prince Robert of Luxembourg. ’I doubt they’ll put you in front of the video,’ I said, ’but they just might.’ They did. It was dangerously soporific.
After this rather touristy introduction to such a wonderful estate, our guide Laëtitia looked after us very well.
Two of the more interesting aspects of the tour at Haut-Brion is the lab, where some returned ’corked’ bottles of wine were being analyzed, and the in-house barrel maker. Unfortunately the cooper wasn’t there, but we saw a great many of his barrels.