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04 2011

29 April 2011Bordeaux en primeur 2010: what and how to buy

Mark Schuringa

by Mark Schuringa


James Swann

and James Swann

 The Bordeaux 2010 En Primeur campaign has finally started. The tastings are done and reviews have been coming out thick and fast. The first wines have been released and once Robert Parker will release his scores (expected on the 3rd of May), we will see Chateaux step up the pace of releases.

 

Is it a good vintage?

‘I find it hard to imagine that I will ever again encounter such successful consecutive vintages in Bordeaux as 2009 and the infant 2010s I have just been tasting’ - Jancis Robinson MW, in her weekly slot for the Financial Times. 

Meanwhile, Decanter Consultant Editor, Stephen Spurrier and Right Bank colleague, James Lawther MW, who tasted the Medoc and Graves together, coincide, with Spurrier’s experience shining through; ‘As with great vintages, which 2010 undoubtedly is, comparisons are made with previous years and at this level of quality, there are few contenders. Only 2005, and to a lesser extent 2000, were mentioned from the past decade. 1998 was referred to as a benchmark on the Right Bank, 1996 and 1995 mentioned in passing on the Left, 1990 certainly, 1986 for the Médocs, 1970 (the first vintage when many of the classed growths made a profit, following the washouts of 1963, 1965 and 1968 and the under-ripe 1967 and 1969) and, for those with longer memories, 1949, 1945 and 1929.’

‘So, not just in my opinion’, he continues, ‘2010 is looking like THE greatest Bordeaux vintage, so far, and, contrary to expectations, not tiring to taste.’

In the meantime, a tweet from wine critic Robert Parker, gave the final touches; “2010 is another top vintage for the Bordelaise region – was Bob Dylan singing about them in the mid 60s ("With God on our side").

cellars of lafite.jpg

 

Bordeaux 2010 En Primeur

Ditton Wine Traders will be offering 2010 Bordeaux En Primeur. Hard to believe after the great 2009, but we (and more importantly, all of the influential critics) think it’s a fantastic vintage. It offers real good value for money for the “lesser” wines. Wines that you can buy for between £10 and £20 a bottle and offer quality that surpasses most recent and older vintages.

There is a number of chateaux in the classed growth category, below 1st Growth, that have surpassed themselves. According to some of the reviews, these chateaux have made wines that are far superior to 2009 and possibly the best they ever made. Watch this space to find out which wines I’m referring to. Prices will be higher, in some cases quite a lot higher than 2009, but given the quality, they will likely sell very fast.
 

We also think Bordeaux 2010 offers opportunities for investment, although pricing will be even more important than in 2009. In that respect, we feel 2010 en primeur can be an excellent buy if you can get hold of it at first or second “tranche” and you buy the right names. Some of the chateaux have made wines of staggering quality. Think Cheval Blanc 1990, Haut Brion 1989 – wines that surpass the 100 points category. However, if you can’t get in early on, then there are alternative strategies that might serve you better.

Therefore, we will be covering the campaign right from the beginning until the very end. From easy, affordable and delicious drinking wines to top flight, modern classics with a matching price tag. We will send out offers by email – sign up for them here – and will post analyses on the blog. We will also keep you up to date on En Primeur news in our news section.
 
 

So which wines should you buy?

There are excellent wines to be found here at every level. The best terroirs have dealt remarkably well with the draught conditions as soils retained water deep-down. Second wines are of vastly superior quality with leading chateaux continuing their re-definition of this style as a noble wine in its own right.

At entry level and mid-priced range, a raft of lesser known chateaux has produced wines of great, even outstanding quality. Prices overall will like be slightly higher than 2009, yet quality is higher.  Cru Bourgeois and Petit Chateaux have produced fine claret that have something to say about the place in which they are grown and will quite possibly provide the most enjoyable – and affordable – drinking in the short and medium term.

No one commune stands out, however, quality is not blanket-wide and there are some heavy-handed wines to be found in both the Left and Right Banks, with the Right Bank being the less consistent of the two.  As with 2009, harvest dates for comparable terroirs varied considerably from chateau to chateau, thus, the style being determined largely by choice rather than prevailing conditions.  2010, above all is a vintage where under-extraction not over-extraction is the order of the day.

Full list of 2010 En Primeur wines (populated on release of those wines we can recommend)

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Why buy from us? Two very good reasons. Firstly, we are better priced than all of the big, well known merchants. Secondly, we have allocations to give to you. We are growing quickly and as such, our allocations from Bordeaux grow as well. Even though overall there will be less available from the chateaux. We are primarily wholesalers – dealing with the majority of the UK wine trade. As such, we don’t have a database of thousands of private customers. Therefore, we might well be able to offer you an allocation of the sought after wines – an allocation that you can then keep throughout the years. A fantastic opportunity that you won’t easily find with other fine wine traders.

 

Is it safe? Apart from price and availability, this is the most important aspect in selecting your En Primeur merchant. Make sure you buy from a reputable company and do your homework. Ditton Wine Traders only buy from very well known, reputable Negociants. We sell to the majority of the trade in London, including En Primeur, and have never failed to deliver. We are middle sized, financially sound fine wine traders that have been trading since 2004. Ask for references, they will confirm that buying En Primeur from us is safe. And if you can rest assured that your order will be delivered to you, why pay more than necessary?

 

How to buy? Please send your wish list to mark@dittonwinetraders.co.uk. It helps us secure what you want and you will be the first we offer to. Otherwise, subscribe to our blog and email offers so we can help you to select and purchase. Or just go to the Full list of 2010 En Primeur wines.

 

Storage? We advise to have your wine professionally stored, in a bonded warehouse, unless you intend to drink them in the short term. There are various options. It is quite straightforward to open up your own account in a bonded warehouse. See here for some that we work with and can recommend. Rates do vary so shop around. Alternatively, we are happy to assist you with your own, personal account at London City Bond. We can offer trade rates which are basically half of what you would pay for a private account. Please get in touch if you would like to know more.

Our en primeur prices include delivery from France, insurance and warehouse receiving charges. They are under bond prices, excluding duty and VAT which will be payable only if wines are later taken out of bond. There are NO storage charges for en primeur wines. Storage charges will be charged only on wines that have physically arrived in the spring of 2013. We will contact all our customers on arrival of wines in the UK to obtain storage or delivery instructions.

If you think you might buy during the campaign, do sign up for our email offers – it’s the best way to closely follow the campaign, spot the best deals and secure an allocation. Don’t forget to follow our blog and news. You can of course also phone us:

020 833 99 112.
 
By Mark Schuringa and James Swann

 Categories: InvestmentBordeauxEn primeur

12 April 2011Bordeaux en primeur 2010 interim report

James Swann

by James Swann


Mark Schuringa

and Mark Schuringa

Bordeaux 2010, as with Bordeaux 2009 before it, is a vintage born out of extremity. In opposition to the no less extreme but regular cycle of 2009, 2010 is the fruit of exceptional meteorological conditions that tested the vine to its limits. 2010 is an extreme vintage which, in this instance, went the right way.

2010 as compared to 2009

Both 2009 and 2010 are big vintages; powerful, concentrated, of high alcohol and weight. 2009 are by comparison, opulent, softer wines that saw gradual concentration over a perfect ripening season followed by a perfect autumn.

2010 meanwhile are potent wines born of irregular and altogether more aggressive conditions, in particular drought and cooler August-September minimum temperatures followed by a cooler autumn leading to enhanced aroma, pigmentation and acidity. Drought-induced grape shrinkage combined to further exaggerate this acidity, being, along with tannic structure, the vintage’s most arresting feature.

As with 2009, harvest dates for comparable terroirs varied considerably from chateau to chateau, with the style being determined largely by choice rather than prevailing conditions.

2010, above all is a vintage where under-extraction not over-extraction is the order of the day, so as not to overplay robust tannins. High sugars once again have produced wines comparatively high in alcohol – broadly 13-14% for the Left Bank and 14-15% for the Right Bank – in the main a little less than 2009 although sometimes, in particular, the Right Bank and Pessac-Léognan, more so.

Left bank

There are excellent wines to be found here at every level, the best terroirs have dealt remarkably well with the draught conditions as soils retained water deep-down from the unusually heavy rains of the previous winter (which, although with no way of telling at the time, turned out to be the saviour of the vintage).

Second wines are of notable quality as leading chateaux continue their re-definition of this style as a noble wine in its own right.

No one commune stands out, however, quality is not blanket-wide and there are some over-extracted wines to be found. 

In 2010, it is a question of individual chateau over its village or district.

Graves

Despite in some instances record alcohol levels, experts (Spurrier, Laws, Decanter et al) believe these to be quite possibly the wines of the vintage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc have retained very good acidity levels at full ripeness, whereas the white wines are excellent and of an extremely high standard.

Right bank

Less consistent overall, where some chateaux have struggled to contain alcohol levels or produced over-extracted wines. Nonetheless, if one is prepared to hand-pick, there exists a wide-ranging offer of elegant and well-crafted wines to be found.

Sweet whites

A fine vintage for Sauternes and Barsac and in contrast to the other communes and districts an abundant yield. Crisp aromatic power is the hallmark of this vintage.

Trade

Some 5,000 members of the international wine trade representing close to 70 different countries have arrived to Bordeaux for the annual week of tasting barrel samples. Notably, the US trade is in attendance, after largely staying away in 2009. There are also reports that Asian buyers, in particular China but also Japan, have yet increased their interest again. Further, perhaps as a portent to future trends, KBR School of Wine, an Indian wine educator, is also taking part.

The market and pricing

By consensus, prices for the 2010 vintage are expected to be similar to slightly higher as compared to 2009.

A series of week fronts led to many flowers becoming infertile (coulure) whilst bunches that at first appeared successful ceased to develop and aborted (millerandage) with early-ripening Merlot, in particular effected. Moreover, green harvesting, begun on the assumption of what appeared to be a full crop and significant weight loss during the drought conditions led to an ever-lower yield. Whereas full bunches have been reported among petit chateaux, top growers with typically stringent selection processes, in the Merlot-dominated Right Bank above all, report a drop of up to 30% on 2009.

Chateaux and Negociants are well-capitalised after record prices for a string of high-quality high-scoring recent vintages and soaring international demand, notably from new markets in Asia. There is therefore no immediate financial pressure to lower prices.   

The re-entry, albeit a little more modestly by historical standards, of US merchants, the ever-stronger presence of Asian buyers and continuous strong demand from UK investors all point to demand being similar to 2009. Having said that, there is certainly less hype amongst private customers when compared to this time last year.

Finally, in line with recent performance, we may see certain chateaux out-perform their critic ratings against the backdrop of brand-led demand from China. But, there is some way to go yet, and we shall maintain our analysis of this in the coming days and weeks as the all-important ratings begin to emerge in full. Particularly from Robert Parker, who will release his scores at the end of this month. Interestingly, he has twittered that 2010 is a great vintage but not greater than 2005 or 2009.

On a final note, when we say prices are expected to be similar or slightly higher than 2009, that is measured in euro’s. For buyers who pay in sterling that’s bad news as sterling has dropped 6% against the euro since this time last year.

By James Swann and Mark Schuringa

 Categories: InvestmentBordeauxEn primeur

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