The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux held its annual horizontal tasting of the most recently bottled vintage, in this case the 2008 vintage, on Tuesday at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House. It’s a great event where you have a hundred plus Chateaux proprietors all under one roof showing their wares – although there is never quite enough time to taste them all. More detailed notes will follow and the vintage profiles will be updated. Sadly I missed out on Sauternes and Barsac, despite skipping lunch to continue tasting, the end of session bell being rung just as I arrived at Bastor Lamontagne…I don’t know how I quite managed that error. Nevertheless overall tasting the 2008s reds was a far more enjoyable experience than working through last year’s austere, tricky 2007 vintage. The few whites from Pessac-Léognan I tasted looked very racy and attractive with more zip than 2009.
At long last the Medoc Cru Bourgeois hiatus is over. Following the legal challenges that overthrew the controversial 2003 classification, Frederique de Lamothe, the director of the l’Alliance de Cru Bourgeois du Medoc [www.crus-bourgeois.com] announced last week, after three years of painstaking effort, the first new selection of wines entitled to the Cru Bourgeois name. It is not, in fact, a classification at all this time round, rather a list of those wines that have met a set of standards which entitles them to use the term. 243 Chateau have been selected from a total of 290 that applied for inclusion, a selection made following blind tastings based on the 2008 vintage conducted by a panel made up of professional tasters, this time with no chateau owners involved, one of the main gripes of those who felt unfairly treated in the 2003 classification.
So the Bordeaux 2009 en primeur season finally ends in July with the release of the now fabled Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. Second tranche price – a shade under £14,000 [$21,000]. So the Bordeaux market is now in truly uncharted financial waters – this is surely a record price en primeur save of course for Petrus and Le Pin, though price comparisons are unfair as these are produced in such comparatively small volumes.
At a time when the Bordeaux 2009 is grabbing all the attention – this week Chateau Mouton-Rothschild ‘09 was released at a cool £8000 a case – it almost feels like that previous superstar vintage 2005 is being overlooked, certainly if prices are anything to go by. In fact 2005 is almost looking a bit undervalued, amazing considering the records broken in 2006 when those wines were first released. With that in mind I had a look at some of the wines that I bought back then just to see how that vintage is faring and to fill in some gaps in my tastings of them. All the wines were from the left bank and there was remarkable harmony and finesse to them all.
Well, we are waiting with baited breath for the releases of the first growths in 2009. I’ve read that London’s Farr Vintners report that Chateau Lafite-Rothschild is already ‘pre-trading’ at £10,000 [$15000] a case. Blimey. I guess when you’ve got a worldwide army of wine investors chasing your wine that’s what happens. If Lafite is releasing anything near these prices you can bet Chateau Margaux and Chateau Latour will be up there too.