The head of the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur winemakers’ union has called the 2008 vintage ‘excellent’, despite early indications that the vintage is poor.

Bernard Fargues said that although 2008 produced the smallest crop in the region since the disastrous 1991 vintage, oenologists were ‘unanimous’ in calling last year’s red and white wines ‘excellent’.

The Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superieur, Cremant (sparkling) and Clairet appellations produced 2.5m hl (hectolitres) of wine in 2008 – 25% less than the five-year average.

Early indications, however, suggest the quality of the vintage will resemble that of 2007.

French newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro recently slammed the 2008 vintage, with the latter saying it ‘promised neither quality nor quantity’. Weather patterns also resembled 2007, with a damp summer prior to harvest. A blog on the Chateau Haut-Brion website called the weather in August ‘disparate’.

As they did in 2007, many producers in Bordeaux are claiming that a warm, sunny period late in the growing season saved the vintage.

Christian Moueix, of Chateau Petrus and Decanter Man of the Year, said the quality of 2008 reminded him of 1983 ‘with a beautiful late season’.

However, doubts still remain regarding the financial viability of the vintage.

Jean-Francois Moueix, who owns Petrus, told decanter.com last year that he could not ‘exclude the possibility that there will not be an en primeur campaign in 2009.’

Written by Oliver Styles