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Muted excitement about Bordeaux 2010 at Chaine de l'Espoir dinner

After all the jumping around in 2009 I never thought I’d be able to write these words with a straight face but all I can do is report what I hear: there’s some excitement in Bordeaux about the 2010 vintage.

Chateau Angelus Auction


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I was at a dinner and charity auction thrown by the French Ambassador for Chaine de l’Espoir, a version of Medecins sans Frontieres for children.

The splendid drawing rooms of the residence in Kensington Palace Gardens were packed with the rich: investment bankers, hedge-fund managers – and powerful: Sylvain Hefes, chair of NM Rothschild, Walid Chammah, who runs Morgan Stanley, Bordeaux proprietors, and three journalists - Jancis Robinson, Jane MacQuitty of the Times, and me.

The founder of Chaine de l’Espoir (and co-founder of MSF), Alain Deloche, an energetic and charismatic 70-year-old heart surgeon, was also there, having just flown in from Kabul.

The evening was organised by the Stephanie de Bouard (daughter of Hubert of Angelus) and her negociant husband Marc Rivoal.

The point of course was the auction at the end of dinner (jeroboams and imperiales of cru classes: a double magnum of Cos d’Estournel 2007 went for £2,500, the same of Angelus 05, £10,000, jeroboam Haut Bailly 1998, £2,800, double magnum Smith Haut-Lafitte 1985, £2,200). I didn’t see Jancis or Jane bidding, but I nearly found myself owner of a double magnum of Pichon Baron 2004 with a nose scratch.

But back to the 2010 vintage. The Bordelais are excited, the negociants nervous. The growing season, Hubert de Bouard said, was excellent: long, with cool nights. The berries are small, the grapes are very concentrated with high acids. ‘It’s incredible,’ he said.

Veronique Sanders of Haut Bailly, never one to overstate the case, agreed that they are heading for a classic, concentrated vintage.

The Sauternes is going to be good as well, she said. The last few days have been cold and misty in the morning, and hot in the afternoon. Sea frets burned off by midday: perfect for botrytis.

This concurs with everything else coming out of Bordeaux. So the owners are happy – but talk to the negociants and they shake their heads.

‘If this vintage turns out to be as good as they hope, then it will be very difficult to sell,’ one told me. ‘The chateaux won’t be persuaded to keep their prices down.’

It’s going to be a very small vintage as well – as much as 30% down on last year, Gilles Maligne of Château Fieuzal in Pessac said. So allocations will be even smaller.

As I say, all I’m doing is reporting what I’m told. But rest assured – from now until next April we’re going to hear an awful lot more about Bordeaux 2010.

The Editors' blog