The head of Bordeaux's Union des Grands Crus has said he is 'disappointed' that three top chateaux, Haut-Bailly in Pessac Leognan, La Conseillante in Pomerol and Figeac in Saint Emilion, will only show their 2014 vintage en primeur wines at their own estates rather than at official tastings.

Chateau Figeac will hold its own en primeur tasting this year

The five First Growth chateaux have always shown their wines separately from the Union des Grands Crus (UGC) during the annual Bordeaux en primeur week, when critics and journalists descend on the region to taste the new vintage for the first time.

While there are other high profile absences from the official UGC tastings, including Pontet Canet and Leoville Las Cases, the latest withdrawels suggest chateaux are taking a more hands-on approach to en primeur week.

Marie-Sophie Gauthier, of Chateau Figeac, told Decanter.com, ‘We want our [Bordeaux 2014] wine to be tasted in our own cellars so we can be sure of having control over how it is presented. But, we want to maintain our excellent relationship with the UGC and this decision only affects the en primeur week.’

Jean-Michel Laporte, of La Conseillante, added, ‘Our reasoning is simply that we want a better control over the wines that are to be tasted [during en primeur week], because the stakes are so high.’ Laporte said La Conseillante would still take part in UGC tastings outside of en primeur week.

UGC president Olivier Bernard said the decisions were ‘disappointing’. He added, ‘The UGC is here to help tasters who come to Bordeaux from all over the world, and these estates are adding to organisational difficulties for the tasters. It is their choice of course, but it is getting dangerously close to mission impossible to cover all châteaux in one week.’

A UGC spokesperson said there were 93 classified chateaux among its 134 members, versus 90 classified chateau 10 years ago.

Bernard also revealed that, for next year’s en primeur week, the UGC will for the first time organise an en primeur tasting in central Bordeaux featuring both left and right bank chateaux. Currently, critics commute between regions and only negociants get one, centralised tasting.

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Bordeaux 2014

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux