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2005 may boost lesser Bordeaux

Bordeaux producers and merchants reckon the 2005 vintage is so good it will boost the whole of Bordeaux – but only if you’re cru bourgeois and above.

Merchants are hoping for ‘another 2000-style selling campaign’ as Laurent Ehrmann of the Bordeaux negociant house Barriere Freres said. ‘Technically, few people have witnessed such a great harvest in their entire careers.’

Ehrmann added that cru bourgeois should do well, as it did five years ago. ‘2000 was the last vintage where we saw important sales of cru bourgeois that sold out within four years.’

Across the Atlantic wine merchants are very optimistic for lesser known Bordeaux, which has lost sales worldwide over the last few years.

Michael Aaron of Sherry-Lehmann, one of the oldest wine stores in New York City, said the harvest was so consistently good, it should ensure good sales across the board, which ‘should help some of our forgotten friends of Bordeaux.’

‘From what I have heard from my contacts in Bordeaux, it seems that it will be almost impossible to make a mediocre wine in 2005, and in all categories. When the news spreads out of such consistency, we may see another 2000-style buying frenzy, where virtually everything is going to be sold, whether classic chateaux or less known.’

In Washington DC, wine importer Mark Wessels does not expect 2005 to be as big a futures campaign as in 2000, but ‘certainly bigger than the 2001s, 02s, 03s and 04s.’

‘I will certainly buy a good dose of 2005 cru bourgeois to re-supply my stocks after not buying the 02s, 03s and 04s. There is very little demand for these small wines, but for 2005, not just the classed growths but the other wines will sell as well.’

In the UK, sellers note that it depends on the price. ‘The only time we bought cru bourgeois en primeur was in 2000 because of the incredible demand,’ said Joss Fowler of Berry Bros & Rudd. ‘I do not think that 2005 will create as much demand at this stage, but if the price is low enough, sales of cru bourgeois should be boosted as well.’

But for some more basic Bordeaux winemakers – below the cru bourgeois level – 2005 will not make much difference.

‘The market is down, down, down, and it is going to keep that way for many years,’ said Yves-Bertrand of Chateau de Gaillat, a wine from the Graves region.

‘2005 is one of the most beautiful crops I have ever seen in 20 years. It will be a real success taste-wise, but selling it is another thing,’ he added.

‘Bordeaux cannot face international competition, with the high social costs in making wine transferred to the consumer, who has an increasing choice of very good products made around the world.’

In Washington, Wessels agrees: the likely positive effect of the vintage will not resolve the structural problems such as over-planting and quality issues that many low- to mid-range Bordeaux face in the international marketplace.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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