This is my fourth En Primeur campaign since returning to work with the family business. When I left in 2000 En Primeur was a great way of buying good wines. It was simple buy two cases. When the wine is ready drink one and sell the other and you have enough money to buy two cases of the next vintage.
But since then we have had the credit crunch and the exceptional vintages of 2009 and 2010.
The 2009’s and 2010’s are great wines and the 2014’s are not as good as those. 2011, 2012 and 2013 are definitely inferior to 2014. However the Chateaux have been left with a problem.
The problem is that the 9’s and 10’s were sold at such great prices that the Chateaux flush with cash tried to sell the 11’s, 12’s and 13’s at considerably higher prices than vintages of their quality would sell at. The cases of wine are stacking up in the chateaux and at the Negocients, as the Negocients have to buy to keep their allocations. If the Negocients are forced to buy again this year with no sales the banks may call a fire sale to restore the balance sheets (currently 20 Negocients are in the hands of the banks, allegedly).
The Chateaux have to protect the prices of the 09’s, 10’s, 11’s, 12’s and 13’s from falling further by releasing the vintage at a higher price than last years. But this may well not lead to any sales, will they force the Negocients to buy again? If they release at a lower price, similar to the prices for 2008’s as the trade are calling for, their loyal customers will be left with a bitter taste for supporting the previous vintages at what were clearly inflated prices, and the balance sheets of the troubled Negocients may be stretched further.
Doomed if they do and doomed if they don’t?
For it to be a good idea to buy the best wines of Bordeaux En Primeur again you need to have a compelling reason. The last five vintages are now available for sale for less than they were at En Primeur release. In some cases significantly less. The last vintage that has seen gains for the customer is 2008. It is worth noting that the last five vintages are not as yet ready to drink and that prices usually rise as availability declines when the wines are drunk.
Speaking to the Chateaux owners who with the money from the 09’s and 10’s have built many new temples (sorry wineries, cellars and chateaux) and had their egos and pride inflated to such a high level that they will not consider reducing the prices, I am not confident that buying this vintage is a good idea. We may be at the bottom of the market for older vintages that are ready to drink, however for the recent vintages I fear that pride will lead to a fall and that fall is yet to come.
That said the great drinking wines of Bordeaux from the Medoc, without the inflated egos or prices still continue to offer value and I can thoroughly recommend buying these wines.
The 2014 vintage. It’s a better than classic vintage with good wines made in the Medoc (left Bank). The key here is ripe Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. The Merlot’s were fine in the majority of the right banks areas but suffered on the left bank.
The wines from the Medoc, Haut Medoc and Listrac Medoc have good fruit and ripe round tannins and will be great to drink in a decade. The stars of the vintage arise from the communes of St Julien and St Estephe. The wines in the majority from Margaux and Pauillac are good as well. In the left bank the wines are below par for the vintage with issues with the Merlot which dominate the blends.
There is one notable exception on the left bank and that is Cheval Blanc which although pricy (£3360 A CASE LAST YEAR) and recently a poor investment (- 16% in ten Years according to Liv ex) has produced a great wine, perhaps one of the best Cheval Blancs.
The dry whites are not as good as last year with a couple of exceptions and the Sauternes are good but not great.
So in conclusion having tasted the wines, spoken to the wine makers and looked at the market I have picked five wines that we will be buying for our customers to buy off us in ten years, and so I recommend buying these wines En Primeur as they will not be cheaper in the future and will give great drinking pleasure. I have included a further eleven wines that may well perform and will provide great drinking.
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Simply call, email or write to us with your selection. Once we have secured the wines for you we will invoice you. In the past some wines have been on allocation and this may be the case but we will inform you.