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Collectors’ news: May 2011

Bordeaux 'embarrassed' by 2010

Fine wine commentators are bemused at Bordeaux’s atypical reticence in talking up the 2010 vintage, to be unveiled at April’s en primeur tastings.

‘Normally the Bordelais have their PR machine turned up full in the run-up to the tastings, especially when they have a great vintage,’ said one fine wine trader. ‘So their radio silence is certainly unusual.’

Some wondered whether producers are having second thoughts about the quality of 2010 following rapturous accounts at the end of last year. But several leading châteaux are quietly suggesting that the vintage could even eclipse the annus mirabilis of 2009.

At Ducru Beaucaillou, Xavier Borie is delighted with his 2010s, which ‘show wonderful balance, depth, structure and complexity. They are a first cousin of the 2009s, only more masculine and classical.’

Borie said the ‘problem’ for châteaux is whether people will believe them if they crow about yet another vintage of the century. ‘I am almost embarrassed to be so enthusiastic about 2010 right after 2009. I feel I shouldn’t be; but its quality justifies it.’

Stylistically, most are comparing 2010 with 2005: ‘It’s cooler than the more exuberant style of 2009,’ said Berry Bros & Rudd’s Simon Staples.

Nevertheless, there are concerns, including reservations about high alcohol.

But the key issue remains the perennial problem of price. ‘There was some initial hope that prices would come out slightly cheaper than 2009,’ said Mark Walford of Richards Walford. ‘But given the quality and continued strong demand from Asia for back vintages, that hope is evaporating.’

According to Tom Hudson of Farr Vintners, ‘Prices have to come down this year because there isn’t the appetite to buy these wines after last year.’ He also added that only five 2009s have gone up in value since release. ‘I simply can’t see punters paying those sorts of prices all over again,’ Hudson said.

Wine website row over ‘stolen’ tasting notes

Two of the world’s largest wine consumer websites are at loggerheads after shopping and comparison site Snooth.com was accused of copying tasting notes and data from online cellar management company, CellarTracker.com since 2007.

‘This was a colossal violation,’ said CellarTracker founder Eric Levene. ‘Snooth used millions of pieces of my data from my community to build its database, its traffic and its entire advertising and licensing business.’ Snooth MD Philip James apologised but denied stealing data.

He vowed to immediately scrub its site of all misappropriated content.

Whether this is enough to satisfy Levene remains to be seen. He has contacted all CellarTracker users asking them to inform him of any further violations. ‘Depending on what we find, I may need to take further action. I will do what is necessary to protect the interests of my community.’

The revelation is a serious embarrassment for Snooth which claims to be ‘the world’s largest wine site, with over one million monthly users’.

Since its launch in 2004, CellarTracker has amassed 137,000 members who have logged tasting notes and details on more than a million wines from 71,000 producers, making it the world’s largest wine database.

Written by John Stimpfig

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