En Primeur tastings in France
For the second year running, I eschewed the annual en primeurs tastings in Bordeaux this vintage. Last year, I went to Montalcino instead, this vintage found the Bowes family in Norway, where wine is very low down the list of one’s interests largely due to the impressively gargantuan tickets charged for any sort of alcohol in that welcoming Scandinavian country. Instead, we skied.
And whilst we were sliding around on those comely white slopes, avenued by stands of fir trees, a dedication of the world’s wine merchants were swirling around Bordeaux, sampling the latest wines.
What do we know about 2018?
There has been talk about the 2018 clarets and much of it positive. But then reports are most often positive at this stage, the spiel of French marketeers being the loudest noise around primeurs time.
It was another torrid vintage and yet again a period of drought led to the vines shutting down through hydric stress. The result of this is usually an elevated level of tannin in the finished wine and, by all accounts, ’18 is no different.
Heat has brought about high levels of ripeness. Again, we are seeing some wines with extremely elevated levels of alcohol (14.9% at Calon Ségur, for example).
There are, I understand, a great many delicious wines that will drink early, but cellar well, too.
What does the press say?
As ever, Bordeaux and the world’s wine trade will await the proclamations of the press and I am wondering to whom they will be looking, now Robert Parker is well out of the game and his protégé Neal Martin – now at vinous.com - is off having heart surgery. Wine prose is running out of familiar names with global clout.
What can we expect this year?
In terms of the anticipated "campaign", it is clear that negoçiants will not want to be left holding these wines. And it is equally clear that properties not owned by major conglomerates – the insurance and luxury goods sectors come to mind – could be starting to feel an urge to actually sell some of their wine, rather than simply using it to fill their already-gravid cellars.
I am not sure how the UK trade will react. There’s been some volatility in the markets for 2011, 2012 and 2014 vintages of late (even 2013 nudged up in price slightly), but not much, and many of the big UK firms will be holding a great deal of claret, I suspect. Of course, there is always the lure of broking margins further down the line, but when does tying up capital in Bordeaux wines cease to make sense? Might 2019 be the year?
As every year, there will be a great deal of coverage in due course.
Can we help you?
If certain wines make sense I am happy to sell them, so feel free to consider Bowes Wine should you want to invest your money in the vintage.
Talking of Bordeaux....
Lastly (and sticking with the subject of Bordeaux), herewith a downloadable list of Bowes Wine's current Bordeaux stockholdings. Alternatively, browse all Bordeaux wines currently on the website. If any of these older vintages are of interest, please email Caspar or purchase the wines via our website.