Bordeaux 2013: Victoria Moore interviews Charles Lea in The Daily Telegraph

by Ed H-B
The Daily Telegraph - Victoria Moore - Wine Selection

Cellar Briefing: April News

Victoria Moore 1st April 2013

Charles Lea co-founded independent wine merchant Lea & Sandeman in 1988 and has been making buying trips to Bordeaux since working as a stagiaire at Chateau Latour three decades ago. Thanks to the (unusually) honest and opinionated advice he offers his customers, L&S is the current holder of the IWC en primeur merchant of the year. Here he talks about the 2013 Bordeaux vintage currently being tasted on primeur for release later this spring.

“I arrived in Bordeaux on Sunday to taste the 2013 wines which are being shown en primeur. I think we knew all the way through last year, right from the beginning, that it was going to be a difficult vintage. “Making wine in 2013 was like sailing through a storm,” as one producer said. Just about everything that could go wrong did, it was cold at all the wrong moments, and there was rain at the wrong moments. So as a merchant, what I want to find, at least the best I’m hoping to find, are wines that can be sold at relatively low prices to restart the Bordeaux market which has got stalled with a series of good but very expensive vintages. What we all fear is another vintage like 2007, which was not very good and also far too expensive at the beginning.

“We went to a restaurant last night for dinner here and looking at the wine list made the point perfectly. All the wines were either much too expensive or they were from 2007 – which still look not very good value.

“Prices aren’t usually released until after the week of the primeur tastings. In recent years the campaigns have become increasingly erratic as we have waited until nearly the summer holidays for some of the last. This year though Pontet Canet released its price last week, before the campaign had even started, or anyone had had the chance to taste it. Given that what we’re looking for is pricing to get the market moving again, this release at the same price as the 2012 vintage, is not the start we’d hoped for. As far as quality is concerned, the wines I’ve tasted so far have been let’s say very patchy.”

Standby for our take on the 2013 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign!