June 25th 2010, by Gavin
“The Bordeaux circus is over until next year but it is already clear from British drinkers’ inquiries that there are as many clowns in the audience as there are on stage. Make certain you are not one of them.”
This stern warning came from Jane MacQuitty in The Times on May 5th, 2001, following the En Primeur tastings of the much-hyped 2000 vintage. Jane might have been a little wide of the mark in terms of investment advice back then, but her words ring true for many of the top end 2009s released this week.
Don’t get me wrong – there are some fantastic wines in 2009. It’s just that the market for them has gone bonkers and I believe that this time it’s different. I was a big fan of buying the 2000s and the 2005s En Primeur, despite warnings from many observers at the time that prices were too high: writing up the ’05 Primeurs for Wine and Spirit magazine, I urged readers to buy the wines, and re-stated that in December 2007 after I’d tried them all in bottle.
There have been some terrific 2009 values, and I’ll highlight those shortly. However, the prices for many of the ‘second’ tier of top 2009s from Bordeaux, released this week, simply beggar belief (see below). According to Liv-ex, prices announced in the final week are up nearly 200% over 2008 and 57% over 2005 – and much more than this above ’05 in £ terms. Even more astonishing is that many are selling out, apparently. I have been receiving emails, asking advice on ‘should I buy this, should I buy that, what should I buy?’ which I’m only too happy to answer. I usually refer to my up-to-date list of 2005s v 2009s.
June 24th 2010, by Gavin
Here are my Tweets on the prices of the main 2009s to date, with the most recent ones first. To be kept up to date, follow me on Twitter.
I’m also keeping my handy 2009 v 2005 Buyer’s Guide up to date as prices are released.
June 23rd 2010, by Gavin
Updated regularly in June: So the big guns have left it until after the World Cup kicks off before launching their 2009 sales campaign. In the meantime, I’ve been looking at prices and scores against the last vintage of the decade/century/lifetime: 2005. The table below should give you a feel for what the right price should be on 175 leading wines. All things being equal, a 2009 – still in barrel – should be cheaper than the 2005 from the same estate, yet things aren’t always that simple.
The 2009 columns, on the left, are my scores (GQ) and Robert Parker’s, using the 100 point system, Jancis Robinson’s out of 20, and then the price in £ En Primeur from UK merchants. The spaces indicate the wines that have yet to be released, although I’ll keep the list updated.
On the right hand side, I tasted all the top 2005s in bottle (except Château Ausone, sadly) for Wine & Spirit magazine for the December 2007 issue, five months before Robert Parker released his final scores, shown here also. Buyers are dipping back into the market for the 2005s against the more expensive 2009s: there’s a lot of sense in that.
May 27th 2010, by Gavin
Updated 8th June. Here are my (GQ) scores for my Top 200 Bordeaux 2009 alongside those of US guru Robert Parker (RP), using the 100 point system, plus Jancis Robinson’s scores out of 20. I tasted all the top wines, except Château Ausone and a few garage/boutique wines from St-Emilion, and Le Gay and Le Bon Pasteur from Pomerol.
BUY: as prices are released in June 2010, I have noted down the left hand side the wines I would BUY (or BUY* for best buys). Follow me on Twitter for daily Deal or No Deal tips as wines are released.
R: Recommended but the prices are as yet unknown. Many will have to be pre-ordered. Prices in £ are for the UK buyer In Bond (ex-duty and Vat).
V: Value, for affordable drinking. L is for Left Bank, R is for Right.
May 27th 2010, by Gavin
Any pro will tell you that buying top wines from Bordeaux En Primeur, or splashing out while the wine is still in barrel and two years before delivery, is a risk. So you should buy from reliable sources.
The following 20 UK merchants have a strong track record, and could be considered the Premiership as far as En Primeur is concerned, with other candidates in the frame for promotion – see below and feel free to comment. I’ve listed the 20 in rough order of Bordeaux muscle (think allocations), range, prices, services and website. Prices are always quoted In Bond, which excludes Duty at £20+ and VAT on the lot. Check for extras, such as delivery.
For ‘Deal or No Deal?’ updates on wines as prices are released, follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/GavinQuinney
May 26th 2010, by Gavin
It’s all quiet this week during Vinexpo Asia, where the Bordelais are wooing new customers. Here’s a round-up of the Best Buys of Bordeaux 2009 En Primeur so far, in order of my preference.
Of course, the top Pomerols are out of most people’s budgets but I bet the glorious La Fleur-Pétrus (right, yesterday) will set you back a lot more in five years. Meanwhile, Gazin, Providence and Certan de May were all ‘perhaps’ for me at £540, £700 and £700 respectively. Then they sold out.
May 26th 2010, by Gavin
2009 is an excellent vintage for the sweet wines of Sauternes but I don’t subscribe to the commonly held view that it’s a ‘best ever’ vintage there.
The wines are delicious but very sweet (high in residual sugar) and a bit one-dimensional, with the exception of d’Yquem (right), Climens and Rieussec. Prices for most Sauternes have been released and many have been put up, so much so that it seems daft to pay 50% more for a 2009 in barrel than an equally good 2007 in bottle from the same property. It’s noticeable that most 2009 wines are still available after a month on the market. Some producers, however, deserve credit for showing more restraint.
Some very good dry whites too, not truly outstanding – actually, not unlike 2005, a brilliant red vintage and very good for both sweet and dry white – but it’s not a vintage of the decade for dry whites. The list comprises mostly the top wines of Pessac-Léognan – not included here are the dry whites of Entre Deux Mers, Graves or Bordeaux Blancs.
May 25th 2010, by Gavin
Such is the demand for top Bordeaux from great years that the best wines from the two previous outstanding vintages, 2000 and 2005, have gone up substantially in value, despite the economic downturn. Here are my answers to 20 questions about the much-hyped 2009s.
1. Is Bordeaux 2009 ‘the vintage of a lifetime’?
I hope so, because we lost 80% of our crop in two hailstorms in May 2009. Apart from this minor detail, the weather was brilliant, all the way through to the end of the harvest in mid-October. I suppose that makes me well qualified to say, after watching the weather and tasting wines ‘En Primeur’ for ten years here, I have never witnessed such superb conditions for the harvest in Bordeaux and sampled so many outstanding young wines the following Spring. Many leading Châteaux have made their greatest ever wines, especially on the Left Bank.
That doesn’t mean to say you should buy the wines, if prices are too high. Fortunately, outside a relatively small circle of estates that could sell their 2009 production several times over regardless of price, there are many outstanding wines that are worth buying in 2009.
May 24th 2010, by Gavin
Updated 8th June. Look away now if you think wine and points don’t go. Here is a top down list of my (GQ) scores alongside those of US guru Robert Parker (RP) – both using the 100 point scale – and Jancis Robinson’s scores out of 20, plus my estimate of anticipated maturity. There are 130 90+ point wines in my book, with 90 meaning outstanding. I tasted all the top wines, except Château Ausone and a few garage/boutique wines from St-Emilion, and Le Gay and Le Bon Pasteur from Pomerol.
It’s fair to say that RP and I agree on many of the top dogs, only he’s given higher points, with a stash of potential 100s (in 2005, he awarded just two wines 100 pts). I think he’s slightly underrated the 2009s from Palmer and Pichon Baron but that’s splitting hairs.
May 18th 2010, by Gavin
As expected, the Bordeaux 2009 En Primeur campaign has got off to a sluggish start, with fine wine merchants trying to urge the Bordelais to get off their derrières and release prices. With the exception of last year’s futures campaign for the 2008s, ’twas ever thus over the last decade.
More worrying but, again, not exactly unexpected, is the direction that the prices are taking. Even some of the more modestly-priced wines are substantially more expensive than they were for the last outstanding vintage: 2005. The exchange rate plays a part of course, and buyers with sterling can expect to pay 25% more for the same wine four years on, even assuming no increase in price from the château.