2009 Bordeaux Primeurs

by Charles Lea

As I prepare to go to Bordeaux to taste the 2009s over the course of next week, the air is thick with hyperbole and excitement, and these first wines to be tasted from the 2009 vintage are awaited with very high hopes indeed.

Demand from the Far East is said to be rampant, but this should be taken with a pinch of salt, especially outside the very topmost wines, which those markets are mostly after for now. Americans have reportedly been crawling all over Bordeaux ever since the first grapes were harvested, but on the other hand we have spoken to American merchants who have been burnt by 2006 and 2007, and who roundly declare that en primeur is dead.

In the UK it is clear that these wines are going to look expensive, given the fall in the exchange rate with the Euro since the 2005 vintage was offered. But it is also clear that there is a demand, and despite the fact that most 2006s are still at opening price, and that 2007s were clearly sold too expensively (as we clearly said at the time), 2009 is already looked on as being a similar deal to 2005 – universally great, and a ‘sure thing’ – even before the wines have been tasted. Those with slightly longer memories will have noticed that below the top 20 wines, even the 2005s took a moment to rise significantly in price – I’m also fond of pointing out that in terms of return on investment, 2004s were a much better buy. A bit of calm reflecton before rushing in at any price is what we’d advise!

All of this said, it is clear that there will be at the very least some lovely wines, and the best bit about a very ripe vintage is that even the wines which sometimes struggle with ripeness, which are usually at the less expensive end of the scale, should have achieved it in 2009. In fact the greatest problem in 2009 may well turn out to be excessive ripeness and alcohol levels, so watch out for that too. It is a problem which can affect low-yielding ‘qualitatively-run’ vineyards very quickly, and possibly more so than some of the higher-yielding Crus Bourgeois. This is a vintage to buy ten case lots of the likes of Fiefs de Lagrange and Chateau Les Ormes de Pez (this is pre-tasting guess) for dinner parties in ten years’ time – certainly any of our customers who took our advice and bought 1996 Fiefs at £8 or 9 per bottle en primeur are enjoying it hugely now.

If you are after specific wines please do use the website facility to compile a wish list, and if you want to receive email updates please do send me an email, or sign-up for a website account, where you can now edit your mailing preferences as detailed above. Please note that we do primeurs entirely on email and the web, and that no printed list will be sent.