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Bordeaux 2007 ‘attractive’ merchants say

Two of the UK’s leading en primeur merchants believe that the 2007 Bordeaux vintage will confound expectations - but prices will still be a dilemma.

Berry Bros & Rudd sales director Simon Staples told decanter.com that although given the weather conditions the vintage should be ‘dreadful’, he found some of the wines ‘attractive’ and ‘approachable’.

‘Château Giscours, for example, was soft and sexy, rather than butch and manly. Overall, I think 2007 will be a more attractive, succulent vintage than 2006.’

And Ed Cottrell, director of fine wine at Bibendum, likened the 2007s to the 2002 and 2004 vintages – the latter recently hailed by Decanter as ‘the last affordable Bordeaux vintage’.

Cottrell said, ‘The wines are very approachable. They don’t have the depth or ageing potential of 2005, but they are quite accessible and forward. I think they’re similar to 2002 or 2004, perhaps less floral than 2004.

The ‘64 days of unbroken sunshine’ that Bordeaux enjoyed in the autumn added up to a ‘fantastic finish’ for the vintage, Cottrell said.

‘Those words aren’t papering over the cracks of a bad vintage – there are little nuggets of greatness, in Margaux, for example.’

He added that modern winemaking practices – and economic reality – meant good vintages are easier to come by.

‘Good winemakers over there will always make good wine. There isn’t as much vintage variation as there used to be. There are some big economic enterprises in Bordeaux, and these guys can’t afford to drop a vintage.’

And on the crucial issue of price, Colin Hay, professor of political economy at the University of Sheffield believes that 2007 levels will fall between those of 2004 and 2006.

In an article in the forthcoming June issue of Decanter – the Bordeaux issue – he says, ‘The château proprietors of the Médoc classed growths face a more difficult pricing dilemma this year than they have for a long time – arguably since at least 1997.’

While the first growths are likely to show a modest rise on 2006 prices, the rest of Bordeaux is going to have to be more realistic.

‘The brutal reality is that, in the absence of the kind of positive evaluations of the vintage from leading international critics that virtually no one expects, these wines will be difficult to sell without a substantial drop in release prices. That, I don’t think, will happen.

‘More likely is that, for the more ambitious châteaux, prices will be set at close to 2006 levels. For those more desperate to secure an injection of funds, 2007s will be released at somewhere between 2006 and 2004 prices.’

So the first growths should release at around £2,800-3,500. Hay then predicts, as a rough estimate, prices further down the rankings should be at the level that most 2006s are selling for now.

This will see top seconds like Leoville Barton coming in at £340-380, and third growths like Kirwan at £190-240.

Written by Stuart Peskett

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