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En Primeur 2007 – What the press says

Natasha Hughes offers the latest news on En Primeur 2007 from the websites

The Wine Doctor

Chris Kissac, the Wine Doctor, kicks off his commentary on Bordeaux 2007 with a positive introduction, stating that ‘Broad and sweeping dismissals of the vintage are inaccurate and either reveal a judgement made without tasting, or a hidden agenda. This is a comeback vintage, when drinkable wines were plucked from the jaws of the distillery.’

He then, however, goes on to qualify this statement by saying that ‘Many wines are not great, in fact a large number are unremarkable early drinkers, perhaps even mediocre, but there are also some very, very good wines in the mix.’ He acknowledges that the 2007s ‘pale in comparison’ with the 2005s, but says the distinction between the 2007s and the 200s ‘is not so easily made’.

Kissac says tannins in the 2007s appear to be softer, although ‘there is greenness in some wines, and over-extraction in others, although this latter problem is less apparent on the Right Bank than I would have expected’. Further criticism of the vintage includes the fact that ‘A large number show very bare structure through to the midpalate, with no flesh to cover the tannins and acidity… many have a short finish’.

On the positive side, ‘green wines were in the minority’, he says, adding ‘The firm acidities will appeal to many…’ Many wines ‘will drink nicely in ten years or even less’.

Like many others, Kissac believes that the best reds were made on the Right Bank and that it is with the whites that ‘the pulse starts to quicken’. Dry whites are ‘elegant and balanced, but not racy or punchy’ – he prefers the 2006 wines. ‘True tachycardia,’ however, ‘only arrives with the Sauternes… which have ripeness, texture, some botrytis and fresh acidity… this vintage could be the next best thing to 2001.’

Gil Lempert-Schwartz on Mark Squires’ Bulletin Board, eRobertParker

‘Ahhh, now we’re talking’ is Lempert-Schwartz’s intro to the notes on the sweet whites. ‘I had high expectations after tasting a fantastic Yquem 07, an amazing Rieussec 07 and a superb Doisy-Vedrines 07,’ says Lempert-Schwartz. ‘Today cemented the fact that 2007 is really the greatest vintage for Sauternes/Barsac since 2001’.

2007 has ‘a touch less acidity’ than 2001, ‘but appear… more opulent and fat with serious viscosity in the glass, even at this early stage’.

Jancis Robinson on jancisronbinson.com

Jancis Robinson has published some early, tantalising comments. She says that at the Premiers Grands Crus Classés tasting in St-Emilion: ‘Château Pavie… was magnificent, my favourite of all the wines in the tasting’, thereby laying the ghost of her clash with Parker over the property’s wine in 2004.

She also says: ‘There are some truly extraordinary 2007s, as exceptional even in a very, very different way as the 2003s’.

Tom Cannavan on wine-pages.com

‘Given the very tough vintage I expected the worst,’ reports Tom Cannavan on his website’s forum. ‘Overall I have been pleasantly surprised so far.’ He says the Cabernet-dominant wines show ‘bright, ripe fruit, a very nice tannin ripeness and decent structure, though acidity is a touch low in some cases. The Merlot is soft and approachable’.

On the downside, he detects a fair degree of variability in the wines tasted so far, with a lack of concentration and a rustic character to both fruit and tannins. ‘How “recommendable” these wines are,’ he continues, ‘will depend partly on their prices… This is a relatively forward vintage with a lot of wines that are already quite delicious. This is probably not a vintage for the really long haul, but to write it off as poor would be wrong.’

Cannavan suggests that there is no need to rush out and place en primeur orders. ‘This vintage is one that will not be sending “must buy” messages around the world.’ However, he warns that with rising demand from emerging markets, such as that in China, ‘there’s no guarantee the eventual shelf prices will be low either’.

Robert Parker on the eRobertParker.com bulletin board

The biggest surprise is 2007…lots of mediocre green and vegetal wines, but the top chateaux have made very fruity…very soft, easy to drink and charming wines… the dry whites are superb… sweets promising as well… of course the prices for 2007 should be low, but I doubt they will be… just too little stock of other vintages in the Bordeaux pipeline…

James Suckling’s blog on Winespectator.com

After several days of tasting, Suckling is running dry on enthusiasm.

‘Instead of generating excitement, this year the process has felt monotonous… I don’t blame anyone. Tasting a range of 2007s can be pretty boring. It’s clear that 2007 is a good but nothing-special vintage for most of the well-known wines of Bordeaux. Sauternes and dry whites are the exceptions; they can be fabulous. But overall, I am not sure the new vintage is even on the same level as 1999.’

Suckling has given most of the reds scores ranging between 84 and 88 points, hardly a ringing endorsement. ‘It’s clear that this will not be a vintage for consumers to buy as futures,’ he says. However, he believes that if prices are capped, ‘…2007 will deliver some pretty wines for early drinking that can be enjoyed while waiting for the 2005s, ‘03s and ‘00s to mature’.

Before James Suckling set out for Bordeaux at the beginning of last week, he knew that there had already been mixed reports about the quality of the vintage. But, he said: ‘I am very much looking forward to the experience, despite early reports that a lot of wines are not up to much. There are always surprises to be found.’

Two days later, after his first day of tasting in the Médoc, Suckling is ‘…happy. Sure, 2007 is not a great vintage. It could never be exceptional… But the Bordelais managed to produce some very good, even excellent reds… The wines were pleasantly fruity, with pretty perfumes, fine tannins and clean finishes. There was nothing aggressive or herbaceous in the wines, which is surprising considering the bad weather in 2007.’

The next day’s tasting, however, brought a ‘reality check’. ‘I tasted a number of very good reds… but the rest were inconsistent in quality at best. Many were lean, diluted or short on the palate. The 2007 doesn’t look to be a serious vintage. In fact, it is most likely the worst year since 1999. I think it is wishful thinking for Bordeaux vintners to say that 2007 is like 2006 or 2004. I even heard a couple make comparisons to 2005! That’s a joke, or else they really messed up their 2005s!!’

The following day, March 28, Suckling visited the Right Bank, which: ‘…provided some good to outstanding wines today… It appears that Pomerol is the best region of all in 2007.’

He added that the only generalisations he could make about the 2007s were that: ‘The reds are weak in quality with a few exceptions, and the whites, both dry and sweet, are of very good to excellent quality.’

Mark Squire’s Bulletin Board on eRobertParker

‘As with every other vintage, there are bright spots, and in the 2007 vintage, those are all at the very top of the hierarchy,’ says Squires, who goes on to list all the detailed work that was needed to create good wines in the patchy climatic conditions of 2007, including getting rid of up to 70% of the crop.

After tasting ‘a lot of wines’, Squires believes: ‘…the median standard is redcurrant juice character with diluted and weedy mid-palates and zero finish’, albeit with some ‘very bright spots’ among the top wines.

‘Clearly Cabernet Sauvignon was much more successful than Merlot on the Left Bank, and a lot of the top wines are chock-full of this varietal’. The small handful of successes show: ‘…soft, silky tannins that make them imminently [sic] drinkable early, so this is a vintage for immediate upon-release drinking pleasure, and not for long-term storage.’

The one redeeming factor, he continued, was: ‘…the white wines, and especially the Sauternes. I think… 2007 is the greatest Yquem ever tasted young, and could perhaps develop into the greatest modern-age (post 1945) Yquem ever produced.’

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