2019 Bordeaux EP | Negative Comment, But Bordeaux Presses On

by Charles Lea

2019 Bordeaux EP Main image

We’ve already said that the UK trade is not terribly enthusiastic about the prospect of a primeur campaign over this summer, and we are not the only ones.

Mathew Jukes was not ambivalent “I was hoping that the entire 2019 EP Campaign would be abandoned this year and we could reconvene in 2021 and taste these 2019s, in bottle, not barrel, and then this could form the start of a new era for Bordeaux annual releases.  This horrible virus could have been the excuse that the region needed to kick this outdated and increasingly irrelevant ‘buying opportunity’ into the long grass, once and for all. UK wine merchants will now be told that they have to sell (expensive) wines that they won’t be overly familiar with while the world is teetering on the edge of ‘the largest recession in living memory’. This is nothing short of bananas. Bordeaux ought to be looking to inject confidence and dynamism into this beleaguered initiative rather than handing the undertaker the final few nails for this particular coffin.” (MatthewJukes.com)

Jancis Robinson has also made it clear that she tends to side with commentators on her site who have suggested that this should be the opportunity to reboot the whole concept of en primeur, and delay the circus by a year, so that we are tasting older wines that are nearer to their final form. She wrote, having declined the offer from the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux to send 140 samples: “I have long felt it would be much more accurate to taste wines designed for a long life at a later stage in their own life. And the top châteaux, the ones with the greatest chance of generating demand for their 2019s even in these exceptionally straitened times, are not cash-strapped.

I am extremely concerned about the wisdom of shipping unstable, unfinished six-month-old wine around the world in summer temperatures. You have only to track a parcel with a courier company to see just how tortuous a journey most of them take, and how many people handle each consignment en route. There is the health of the wine and the health of the recipients to consider.” (JancisRobinson.com)

The trade has been somewhat more reticent in expressing its views publicly, no doubt unwilling to bash Bordeaux more, but there is undoubtedly a sense that the current confusion is unlikely to produce an organised En Primeur campaign. The UGCB has asked Sopexa to help organise a tasting for the trade in July – and we were asked to give out thoughts, which are really that if the prices are all going to have been released by then, it’s probably fairly pointless to taste in mid-July, even if it might be of curiosity interest.

We have a lot of sympathy with the view that this is not the right time, but it appears that many in Bordeaux are determined to press ahead regardless, and it is clear that at least some of our customers are interested to the point of seeing whether prices will go low enough for the 2019s to look interesting as primeur buys. We will be collating as much information as we can, including our own tastings of samples sent from Bordeaux, imperfect as that may be.

Meanwhile a couple of prices of wines we usually buy have been released, Clos Manou, usually a reliable wine from a consummate vigneron in the northern Médoc, and the Sichels’ Château Angludet, which is the first wine of the vintage we have tasted. These are the sorts of wines that make good cellar-fillers, but there is no urgency to buy, so decisions can be deferred until all the wines are out.