Thursday, 7 April 2011

Bordeaux 2010 En Primeur

April is the busiest month in a wine critic's calendar. This is when the en primeur tasting is held in Bordeaux, with scores of people flying in from all over the world to assess the previous year's vintage. After the stellar year that was 2009, winemakers in Bordeaux are touting 2010 as another vintage not to be missed. Looking through Robert Parker's Vintage Chart, three years out of the past decade have scored highly (2000, 2005 and 2009) compared with just two in the 1990s (1990 and 1998). Furthermore the 1998 vintage displayed inconsistencies between the Left and Right Bank of Bordeaux, with Pomerol and St-Emilion garnering higher scores.

If this trend continues to hold true, it would indicate that there is no need to rush and buy the latest, hyped-up vintage as undoubtedly another one would be right around the corner. Famed oenologist Denis Dubourdieu sums up 2010 Bordeaux as "certainly a great and even very great year for both red and white wines". Former Wine Spectator editor James Suckling awards near perfect scores to four out of the five First Growths (the exception being Chateau Haut Brion which received a score of 97-98). Similar things were said for the 2009 vintage, like Robert Parker stating that it "may turn out to be the finest vintage I have tasted in 32 years of covering Bordeaux."

With such high scores being awarded even before the wines have started maturing, what meaningful comparison can be made should a vintage that is even better come along (probably 2011)? Would Robert Parker then have to change his 100 point scale to a 1000 point scale? Would the English language have to come up with words that are more superlative than superlative?

In one respect, the consumer benefits from the en primeur process, as there is overwhelming coverage of Bordeaux wines and the influx of cash from buying en primeur has allowed the Bordelais to introduce innovative new winemaking methods such as laser sorting, leading to wines of ever improving quality. The downside is of course the increasing wads of hard earned dollars that one has to fork out for the privilege of tasting these rarified wines. A bottle of 2009 Cheval Blanc ex-château would have set you back by 900 euros. It will be interesting to see the prices for 2010, and if consumers bite or balk.

No comments:

Post a Comment