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13 October 2009Bordeaux 2009 – better than 2000 and 2005?

At least, that's what the consensus seems to be.

I know, it sounds pretty incredulous doesn't it? After all, every year we get these reports. Definitely from Bordeaux and sometimes from elsewhere as well. If not "great" or "the best since 19xx", then the vintage is at least "classic". So why should we believe the first reports on this vintage?

Well, for starters, pretty much all the critics as well as the wine trade – who have an interest in playing down the quality in order to keep prices down – seem to agree that weather conditions have been perfect. Until about 2 weeks ago, there was even a risk in some Bordeaux areas, of the grapes being overcooked - not unlike 2003. But then, just at the right moment, the rain came and generally in the needed amounts. By now, all the Merlot has been picked and the Cabernet Sauvignon should just about have been secured as well.

The quality of the grapes is dependent on a lot of things and the most variable and uncontrollable of them must be the weather. Looking at the top estates, those who have the financial means, the knowledge and the incentive to produce the best possible grapes - every year - the weather might be the only variable. 

So, let's have a look at the weather. I found this very refreshing article, which I haven taken from the website of Jancis Robinson, that just states the naked facts. Judging by these facts, conditions have indeed been very favourable if not exceptional. Whether that translates into superb wines depends on the individual winemaker, as Decanter points out: there seems to be a risk of over-extraction (although that might have subsided to some extent by the rain that has fallen since that article was written).

Well well. Another fantastic vintage? After 2000 (general consensus), 2003 (at least in the eyes of Robert Parker), 2005 (everybody agrees, including Parker although his scores don't match the rhetoric), 2008 (just Mr Parker, with skyhigh scores), yet another superlative vintage?

I'm not going to get involved in the debate over whether this is or isn't a good vintage. Other people are much better at that. After all, is anybody going to be influenced by reading the scores of Mark Schuringa?

What I will do is share with you -on this blog - the views of wine critics that do matter. And the trade. So you can be as well informed as you possibly can be, from an insiders point of view. And I'll also add some thoughts on pricing and buying opportunities, in due course.

Let's have an early peak at pricing. Although it's very early days, I thought you should be aware of this: the 2009 top Chateaux are already being sold! Prices obviously have not been released, allocations have not been secured, but already some customers want to buy. Not at any price, but they are willing to lock in at 2005 pricelevels (...!). Why? To make sure they actually get an allocation of a vintage that could indeed be superlative.

It's October and the En Primeur 2009, in a quite creative way, has started.


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