When someone around you decides to change for the better, it’s usually a lovely thing to watch. Maybe they start eating more healthily, correct an annoying trait or start doing charity work. Even if you really liked them before, the idea of them becoming even more lovely is always a positive thing.
We had a brilliant, quite intimate conversation with Basile Tesseron of Lafon Rochet as we tasted together his fabulous 2020 release over the airwaves. This is a special year for him and the estate as they celebrate 60 years since his grandfather bought it.
The 2020 vintage is beginning to reach us, with the first major sample arriving yesterday. These blog entries will keep track of my thoughts on the samples that I am able to taste, along with a few comments regarding the market and what pricing might be considered favourable.
The short answer is, from a first hand perspective, not a lot. Written reports compare the weather to that of 2016, 2018 and 2019 – mild and wet in the spring, which followed through to a hot, dry summer and an even more clement picking season.
I look at wine prices constantly. Partly, because it’s my living, but it also goes far, far beyond that – I’m one of those people who can’t stand getting over-charged for anything, whether it’s a holiday, a new coat or in this instance, a case of wine.
There have been a fair number of ‘ifs’ about the 2019 Bordeaux En Primeur. The first and perhaps biggest was the ‘if it would happen’. With most of the world in various states of lockdown, Primeur week cancelled and critics unable to taste, the situation in April looked pretty bleak.
Wednesday was quite a day as we headed to the Rothschild family’s English home, Waddesdon Manor, for an impressive Rothschild double header – the 5 wines from the Lafite Rothschilds and 5 wines from the Mouton Rothschilds. It was a strange feeling – very reminiscent of our usual primeur pilgrimage to the great Châeaux of Bordeaux.
Although a hotly anticipated release, Cos d’Estournel, with its position next to Lafite, is arguably St Estèphe’s answer to a first growth. The 2019 was offered to us this morning with a score of 97-99 points from The Wine Advocate and sitting at £684 per 6 bottles IB.
Vintage good to outstanding. Timing poor to appalling. Pricing might be interesting We have already expressed our sympathy with the view that the interruption of the primeur tastings in Bordeaux should really have resulted in a radical rethink of the whole en primeur circus, which, in the last ten years, has become a selling opportunity for the Chateaux rather than a buying opportunity for the consumer.
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. “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.” (Matthew Jukes)
Word has been seeping out that the 2019 vintage in Bordeaux is a good one. Not ‘the vintage of the century’ again, but better than 2018, and continuing the long run of successful vintage that Bordeaux has enjoyed, both in terms of quantity and quality.