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Update: Bordeaux en primeur tastings possible ‘by end of summer’

Bordeaux wine officials have said they are working on a 'one-off' plan to reorganise en primeur tastings for the 2019 vintage, but the go-ahead will depend on health advice.

The Bordeaux 2019 en primeur tastings may still take place ‘by the end of the summer’, but any new plan will depend on the latest situation and health advice regarding coronavirus.

Health remains the priority, said the Bordeaux grands crus union (UGCB) and the négociants’ trade body, Bordeaux Négoce.

However, the two organisations said today (21 April) that they hoped to issue a revised plan for this year’s en primeur tastings on 11 May, or near to that date.

They did not confirm any details, but they said they were considering a ‘one-off’ format that could include inviting critics, journalists and merchants to taste barrel samples of the 2019 vintage in small groups, in Bordeaux and in other cities around the world.

This year’s en primeur tasting week, scheduled to run between 30 March and 2 April, was postponed as France and other countries imposed lockdowns in order to slow the spread of coronavirus, or Covid-19, and relieve the pressure on health services.

The UGCB said that a new en primeur tasting programme could only take place if authorities decided that it was safe to relax rules on isolation in general.

Ronan Laborde, UGCB president, said, ‘The current priority is to continue fighting against this disease. It is nevertheless hard not to look ahead to the aftermath, which seems to be gradually taking shape.

‘The programme that we envision for the 2019 en primeur [tastings] will be professional and intimate, rather than a cause for celebration. After this difficult time, we hope we will be able to invite our friends and partners, in the coming weeks, in somewhat unusual circumstances, to taste the 2019 vintage, which inspires a great deal of curiosity and discussion.

He said the new plan would ‘fully take into consideration’ the status of confinement measures implemented by France.

Read Jane Anson’s preview of the Bordeaux 2019 vintage

Original story, published 13 March 2020

Bordeaux wine officials have postponed the upcoming en primeur tasting week for the 2019 vintage, amid growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

The decision to cancel Bordeaux en primeur tasting week comes amid wider concerns about the spread of coronavirus and new restrictions on public gatherings in France.

It was due to take place between 30 March and 2 April, but the event’s organiser, the Union des Grands Crus (UGCB), has told merchants that the event will be suspended.

In an email to Bordeaux négociants, the UGCB said that its teams were ‘working on solutions that will allow us to taste the 2019 vintage a later date’. It said that the suspension was in response to exceptional circumstances.

Thousands of journalists, merchants, retailers and wine critics from around the world attend the annual Bordeaux en primeur week, which involves tasting barrel samples of the new vintage. Around 6,000 visitors attended last year’s event, to taste the 2018 vintage.

The move to cancel the event follows a raft of postponement decisions across the wine world in recent weeks, with the Prowein trade show in Germany and the annual Burgundy tasting week, Grands Jours de Bourgogne, among those called off.

The UGCB said in a statement, ‘We would like to thank all industry professionals – négociants, buyers, journalists, and wine enthusiasts – who, once again this year, were planning to attend this event.

‘We are sure that, given the current situation, everyone will understand and agree with our decision.’

It also thanked all of those who had worked to organise the event.

Concerns about the spread of the new strain of coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, had already prompted France to announce a ban on public gatherings of more than 1,000 people earlier this week.

That number has since been cut to 100, and president Emmanuel Macron has said the country’s schools and universities will close.

Several other countries affected by Covid-19 have also announced measures to try to limit the spread of the virus, and so relieve pressure on health services.

Much of Italy has been placed in lockdown, president Trump has announced a ban on flights to the US from mainland Europe, and many sports events have been cancelled – including a suspension of the English Premier League.

Update 14:00 UK time on 13/03/20 with UGCB statement.

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