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Bordeaux 2010: merchants celebrate difference to 2009

Wine merchants in the UK are confident they are going to be able to sell Bordeaux 2010 – simply because it is so 'wildly different' to its predecessor.

Winemakers and chateau owners across Bordeaux shrugged their shoulders when faced with the inevitable question, is it better than 2009?

And most merchants agree there are few similarities. For Simon Davies at Fine & Rare in London,2010 is the ‘non-identical twin’ of 2009, and those who bought the former will buy the latter because ‘you can’t have one without the other’.

Its difference is its ‘trump card’, Adam Brett-Smith at Corney & Barrow told Decanter.com. ‘It is so wildly different. It’s not universally great, but it is special in that it will fit into that niche in people’s cellars. They will want to have it.’

On the issue of price, merchants are confident that while the top dozen properties will be very expensive, there ‘will be wines at all levels,’ as Simon Staples at Berry Bros said. ‘It is interesting across the board.’

There are concerns, however, that the wines’ classic powerful tannins will put off buyers seduced by 2009’s approachability and soft, sweet tannins.

‘It’s the one downside of the vintage,’ Staples said.

Other merchants were more sanguine. Stephen Browett at Farr Vintners said new buyers might be put off, but Bordeaux was ‘supposed to be hard to taste’, and traditional claret buyers would love it.

Davies said, ‘Frankly, nobody drinks top Bordeaux at less than ten years. It just doesn’t happen.’

As for the ever-interesting topic of the Chinese market,merchants are confident that both private buyers and distributors will buy much wider than 2010.

Staples said, ‘The Chinese will buy more lesser growths this year. They have been buying shed loads of older vintages in Beychevelle, Cos, Montrose, Palmer, Lynch Bages and many others. The logic is there for them to buy now at En Primeur.’

In the midst of such confidence it was left to Gary Boom of Bordeaux Index to sound a warning note. ‘Great vintage, tough sell,’ he said. ‘Everyone went mad on the 2009s – this time last year I had £20m of orders on the table. This year I’ve got nothing. I can’t pick up the phone to these people and tell them there’s yet another vintage of the century.’

Boom agreed, however, that those who bought the ‘great pairings’ like 1989 and 1990 were never disappointed. ‘I will say to them, “have faith, hang in there. In the long term you will be pleased with your purchase”.’

Written by Adam Lechmere

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