A drinker's Vintage?
Price, as ever, remains the key to the success or failure of this year's en primeur campaign. Exactly our opening sentence last year, which is dull but not much has changed. Some properties have already 'come out' at the same price as last year. This is not sending the right message to the market which is dead in the water. The last vintage from which the end consumer has seen any advantage for buying early was 2008. This is not the point of the primeur system; there is little point in buying early if you can buy the wines later for the same price or less. For nearly all the properties that have released so far we are a long way from 2008 pricing, even taking inflation into account. And in general 2008 was a better year than 2013, whatever particular successes there may be.
Our recommendationsL&S recommendations are marked with this symbol
PricingAt L&S we will give our best advice, and transparency of pricing as ever. Remember if you buy from us there are no hidden charges. It is also worth bearing in mind that of the vintages of the last decade, it was 2004 and 2008, reasonably priced at the outset, which provided the biggest percentage gains of all, and represented the best value for drinkers. For terms and guidance on ordering please read here.
2013 Vintage2013 is not a horror story of a vintage as it was slated to be before the tastings began, but neither can one really claim that they have done much more than 'sauvé les meubles' (saved the furniture). Where there was enough money to spend on saving the furniture, (de-leafing, green-harvesting, sorting in a myriad different ways, often using very high-tech equipment, and in some cases concentrating the must) the wines do have an attractive freshness and liveliness. But there is no point pretending that thay have the concentration of a good vintage.
This is a vintage that is at best 'just ripe'. No harm in that, you might say, after the excesses of some of the rather atypical 14.5-15% wines of 2009 and 2010, and some will claim that this is a return to 'classicism'. But it's not really. These wines don't have the weight and authority of a medium-good vintage like 2004, although it is arguable too that some are as good as their 2004 counterparts.
The WinesThese are often nicely-balanced wines, with relatively high acidity which, as long as they have not been over-extracted, tends to exalt the fruit and extend the finish. If over-extracted the acidity merely toughens the rather brutal tannins on the finish rendering them bitter. The successes therefore have medium-body at best, often attractively floral notes, a very distinctive creamy supple red and sometimes black fruit middle, and a lifted finish with the acidity making for a fresh and mouthwatering style which one an imagine enjoying relatively young. The acidity should preserve this fruit and the purity of the aromas will be retained and develop, so that they should age evenly, if not for excessive periods. So a drinker's vintage, where storage fees will be low just because they do not need cellaring forever.
Buy now?Do you need to buy now? Probably not. Should you buy now? That depends on your circumstances. If you are the kind of buyer who has bought consistently and wants to maintain the option to buy every year with no fuss, it should not be that much of a strain on the finances to have a tickle this year. If you have always wanted an allocation of a particular elusive Cru, or don't want to lose one you have, it should not be too expensive to maintain key purchases. And it's another vintage which will provide a different pleasure, at a different price to some that have gone before. While 2013 does not really resemble either of these two vintages I am about to mention, many of our customers will know that supposedly 'off' vintages like 1999 or 2002 can provide good drinking and even very nice surprises - like the 1999 Gruaud that M. Merlaut treated us to at the Château during the primeurs week.
You can read our reports on some of the aspects of the vintage on the blog.
How to best use our website
Use the menu on the right to explore our recommendations from each sub-region. In particular look at the two lists of 'Recommended' wines which are listed in price order. (These lists will be added to as wines come onto the market.) In the lists, click each wine name to see other critics' notes and scores which will be added as they come available, as well as finding links to more detail about each property. Navigate back using your browser's 'back' button or by clicking the picture banners at the head of each page. If you are looking for particular wines, even if they are not listed, please do ask. We have tried to make a real selection, so if a wine is not included it is probably because we do not feel able to include it in a list of recommended wines on the basis of our tastings, but that does not mean we are not willing to supply it.
If you are looking for specific wines please compile a wish list, either on an email or by using the facility on our website. This commits you to nothing, but does help us to help you get what you want. If you want to order, you can do so by using the facility on the site and we will respond with a confirming email and invoice as soon as possible.
Above all talk to us, email us, or get in touch with your usual L&S contact. This year more than ever is a year to deal with a merchant with a good underlying core business who sees en primeur as an extra rather than their sole activity. You can expect sensible advice about the wines and about price and value.
Primeurs emailsTo be certain of receiving our 2013 Bordeaux primeurs offers (or if you know you do not want to receive emails on this subject), you can amend your email preferences on the website. For this you will need to apply for a website account, or log-on to your existing account. (Enter your email and click the forgot password link if you do not know it.) This commits you to nothing and we will never pass on your details to third parties. If you want to register a different email address you will have to email us..
Please note that we sell primeurs entirely by email and on the web, and we do not send out any printed lists.
Critic's Scores & Notes
We make no claim that other critics' scores and notes on this site are comprehensive. For such critics' full opinions, nothing quite beats reading their whole assessments: Robert Parker remains the most important single influence on Bordeaux - www.erobertparker.com, and English critic and blogger Neal Martin's notes will also be found on this site. The most visited UK site is probably that of Jancis Robinson OBE MW - www.JancisRobinson.com. Tim Atkin MW's scores are already on www.timatkin.com, as are some of his remarkable photographs, for anyone who wants to soak up the atmosphere. Many other publications both here and in the US publish notes and scores. Probably too many.