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2001 verdict: whites shine, reds good for drinking not speculating

All the indications at the end of the En Primeur week are that the 2001 vintage is good and will sell well - if the price is right.

Merchants, owners and winemakers are all very pleased with the wines that were shown in Bordeaux this week. Some – like Paul Pontallier of Château Margaux – were bounding with enthusiasm.

‘It is a classic vintage – but modernised,’ he said. ‘It is not giving too much, nor too little, and it is at least as long as the 2000.’ He, and the select group of tasters invited to Margaux, were equally impressed with his white, Pavillon Blanc, which weighs in with a massive 14.8% dose of alcohol.

Henri de Russay at Rausan Segla in Margaux said he was ‘very happy with the finesse achieved in 2001,’ adding that it was very difficult to compare this year with another. ‘It is very different to the 2000 but far above the level of the 1999,’ he said.

Pundits in Bordeaux see this as a white year – not least because of the success of Sauternes, but also because the dry whites have also gone down very well.

‘The top Sauternes are fabulous,’ Decanter taster James Lawther said, ‘and some of the Graves whites are very good indeed.’

At Château de France and Château Rahoul in the Graves they are very pleased with their whites. ‘It is better than the 2000, with lots of acidity and ageing potential,’ the France’s Arnaud Thomassin said. At Rahoul they considered the Sauvignon the most successful variety of the vintage.

In the trade the verdict is cautious. ‘It’s not a great but good vintage,’ Tom Hudson of Farr Vintners told decanter.com. ‘It’s impossible to characterise it as a left- or a right-bank year, as there are good wines from all over.’

Hudson said the only thing that mattered now was the price, as the wines would only sell if they were seen to be good value for money.

Lawther concurred, saying investors might not be so keen to snap up the 2001 as the 2000.

‘They are charming wines for drinking, but not speculating with,’ he said.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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