Bordeaux producer Jean-Pierre Moueix will not be showing any wines at the En Primeur barrel tastings this year - including the celebrated Chateau Petrus.
The company said the wines – which include grand cru classe Chateau Magdeleine in St Emilion, Latour a Pomerol, La Fleur Petrus, Trotanoy and Hosanna in Pomerol – were not ready and would not be shown until June.
Moueix president Christian Moueix told decanter.com there was no implied criticism of his neighbours in Pomerol and St-Emilion who would be showing their wines at the beginning of April. In his case, he said, it was simply a case of the malolactic fermentation being slower than usual.
Historically, cash-strapped chateaux offered for tasting and sale early because they needed to get their wine sold quickly in order to pay the bills. In modern-day Bordeaux, as many privately admit, money is not a problem. ‘We’re very well-off, and can afford to delay sales,’ one owner told decanter.com recently.
But there is a growing consensus in Bordeaux that the traditional En Primeur week at the end of March is too early to taste the previous year’s crop.
Chateau Figeac’s director Eric d’Aramon said his wines were ready for showing in April this year but generally he would prefer the tastings to be postponed until June or September.
May-Eliane de Lencquesaing of Chateau Pichon-Lalande is frequently outspoken on her dislike of the system, and Alain Raynaud of Lascombes – and former head of the Union des Grands Crus – reckons the best system would be to have two tastings, one in the spring and another in September.
‘Because the sale of futures is normally done in May, then we are forced to show earlier than we would like,’ he told decanter.com.
Critics too are outspoken. Robert Parker would like to see tastings delayed until at least the autumn, but ‘that would require a radical overhaul of the whole Bordeaux system,’ he said, which he agreed would be impossible.
UK wine writer Hugh Johnson said, ‘Everybody agrees that someone has got to move to postpone En Primeur. It’s important to have a less frantic look at the wine.’
Decanter consultant editor Steven Spurrier agreed. He also added that this year, with the looming possibility of war, there would certainly be a general agreement not to offer the wines for sale until September. ‘I’m prepared to bet on that,’ he said.
Written by Adam Lechmere