The 2019 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign takes place in extraordinary circumstances. The COVID-19 crisis dictating lives, economic outlook, not to mention the ability of Brunswick and wine critics alike to taste the new vintage in Bordeaux. However, to cut to the chase – these bewildering circumstances actually represent a rare opportunity for clients to take advantage of the possibility of SIGNIFICANTLY reduced opening prices in Bordeaux for the first time since 2008. The wines certainly offer intriguing possibilities after the overpriced 2017’s and the occasionally overrated, expensive 2018’s.
The consensus so far (such that it is) is that the 2019 is a very good vintage extending to greatness in some communes such as Pomerol and Saint Julien. The good news is that we seem to be looking at a solaire style vintage that sits among the higher echelons of those produced in the last 2 decades. It may not quite be 2009 or 2010 and seems more in line with 2015 and 2018. But the good news on the style is that they have similar levels of richness as last year with better freshness, well integrated tannins from lower temperature fermentations and, apparently, slightly lower alcohols.
Assuming the consensus is correct then so far, so good. Pricing, the allocation process and the general attitude of the Bordelais in recent vintages have taken the shine off the en-primeur process. However, the unprecedented circumstances this time round puts the client in the driving seat. 2019 is a buyer’s market. Our advice is to stick it to them and to buy wines only if they play ball with the pricing to reflect the unusual world circumstances. Pontet Canet and Palmer have led the way with reductions of over 30% on 2018 releases – below even our initial expectations – and we suggest that consumers and clients follow chateaux with a similar outlook. It’s not possible for all chateaux to manage quite so deep cuts – the bigger more expensive ones have more room to discount heavily – but it is reasonable to expect those in the middle ground to be looking at cuts of around 20-25% and the lesser ones perhaps closer to 20%. Accept no less. The prime Bordeaux en-primeur players stick it you when they feel they can get away with it. It’s time to strike back – don’t play ball otherwise.
As for which wines to buy? Many years of tasting the wines have demonstrated to us that there is not much new under the sun in Bordeaux. Yes, chateaux like Canon and Troplong Mondot can make gradual, sometimes radical stylistic changes. But, in the main, if you love a Leoville Barton or a Pichon Lalande or a Vieux Chateau Certan in one year you are very likely going to love them this year – at much cheaper prices than last year.
Seriously it’s all about the price in 2019 – well isn’t it? If they get it right we might all have something to smile about for the first time in a while.
Please find the wines we are currently offering below and please let us know your wish lists.
All prices exclude UK duty & VAT unless otherwise stated. Wines offered subject to remaining unsold E&OE. 23/01/2021