Reports from Bordeaux about the quality of 2009 continue to up the ante. With some châteaux owners claiming that their wines are the greatest they have ever produced, the first trade tasting of the vintage was held in London last month,
via wines from the Cercle de Rive Droite grouping. The wines were well-received, though attendees were careful not to buy into the general air of over-excitement gathering around the vintage, set to reach its peak during en primeur week at the end of March.
The consensus of press and merchants was that the wines were better balanced than had been expected (many weighed in at 14% alcohol), with lift and perfume, silky tannins and generous fruit. Sarah Marsh MW found the wines ‘nicely balanced and elegant. They carry the high alcohol very well, and the acidity is good’. She added: ‘many are juicy, even saturated, but I didn’t find any jamminess.’
The producers themselves are enthusiastic – none would say this is anything but a great vintage – but they are more hesitant about the market. Many agreed it would be a long campaign.
Demand for the vintage looks set to reach record levels, even surpassing 2005. At the end of January, the London traders Bordeaux Index had already accumulated its longest ever en primeur waiting list; Gary Boom, its managing director, is expecting sales of £25m from the campaign, twice that of last year. ‘We’re seeing lots of first-time investors asking about this year’s en primeur,’ he says.
This year’s campaign is set to proceed very differently from 2008. With traditional investments hit hard by the recession, but signs of a more positive outlook and booming demand from the Far East, many pundits foresee substantial price hikes, especially from the first growths, which came out low and early in 2008.
Commentators expect them to come out late this time around – and as high as the market can take. ‘Bordeaux 2009 won’t be cheap,’ says Simon Staples of Berry Bros. Early estimates of the first tranche case prices of the first growths vary between £2,000 and an extravagent £4,000 a case.
Written by John Stimpfig