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St Emilion vineyard and worker
"It has become clear that the world's wine consumers are well into a period of Bordeaux fatigue and one wonders where/when it will all stop. I've been running through future scenarios in my head - 2012 gives average quality at a low price; it offers great, classic wines at low/mid/high prices etc. - and find myself struggling to see the way ahead.
What is evident to me is that each and every collector is likely to have in his or her head a firm idea of how much Bordeaux wine is enough for his or her portfolio. Those that have been buying these wines steadily for a number of vintages were probably sitting on a fair pile of Bordeaux by the time the miracle 2009 harvest came along and I imagine that some of those decided that that year's foray would be the last of their Bordeaux investing. A number of collectors to whom I have spoken of late express their interest in diversification, rather than stockpiling more of these wines. After all, there is an increasing body of exceptionally fine wine being produced in an increasing number of countries of the world.
One hopes that a message is being sent to the Bordelais: that their position is more tenuous than assured and that over-excitement in the face of interest from emerging markets should be tempered by the knowledge that such interest can be short lived and is easily distracted. But perhaps these lessons will be learned only when the cellars of Bordeaux are filled with unsold wine and the bills are stacking up.
What is odd (and slightly sad) is that this is occurring at a time when Bordeaux is producing more exciting wines than ever before, the products of obsessive and high talented people. Denis Durantou in Pomerol, for example, is owner of Château l'Eglise Clinet, one ofthe world's great wines. Yet he also produces a spread of wines from across the Libourne that are superb drinking, some of which are priced at less than £100 a dozen in bond in 2011 (a little more in 2010). Yet these I struggle to sell in any quantity.
Château Meyney is another example. Here's the combined tasting note of Michel Bettane and Thierry Dessaneauve (two of France's most respected tasters) of the 2011:
"The most impressive of all of the non-classed growths this year, with a pure and balanced nose, notes of cedar, fresh leather, and red berries, and showing an exceptionally refined palate. Tannins nicely integrated and long: we're on a par with the 15 best wines in the Médoc!"
Pitched at £210 a dozen in bond I consider that this makes a decent value drop. Regardless, it continues to "sit on the shelf"."
Introductory thoughts to the Bowes Wine release of 2011 Château Cheval Blanc and its second wine, Le Petit Cheval.