We’re off! The samples are coming in. The Zoom chats are being had. The wines are being released thick and fast. Shortly I’ll be reporting my on first thoughts on Bordeaux 2019. Do watch this space! The hype says it’s another great vintage, less baroque than 2018 perhaps, more a foil like 2010 was to 2009, or 1990 was to 1989. In some cases properties believe the vintage is better than 2018. It certainly continues a pattern of talented twins in the past decade, which most recently featured 2015 and 2016. We seem to be set sail on a sea of fine vintages of Bordeaux these days. Climate change, modern winemaking and viticultural developments are all playing their part, genuinely raising the bar in this blessed wine region, in every fine vintage. But climate is more extreme too. There is more frequent drought, reversals of season, devastating frosts or hail. Things are getting Biblical the world over, as we wake up to the realities of global warming. Then in swings COVID-19, devastating us with loss of life and economic paralysis. With primeurs tastings cancelled this year in Bordeaux, my coverage will be necessarily more episodic than usual. Many properties are happy to send samples, some not. I have good tasting set up at home, but obviously it’s a poorer facsimile than darting about Bordeaux and tasting in situ, especially given the fragility of infant wine.
The big question of course is who can afford filling their boots with more fine Bordeaux? The costs of the pandemic will leave us reeling with an economic crisis the scale and intensity of which we have never before experienced. Will the 30% price reductions of some of the top châteaux be enough to stoke the market? 2019 is by no means the first fine vintage to debut in such uncertain conditions. It was the same of 1990. It was released in the depths of a global recession in 1991. The 2008 vintage, a good one but a much less exciting prospect than 2019, was well pitched price-wise when released in 2009 in the wake of the financial crash. Buying Bordeaux en primeur hasn’t really made an awful lot of sense since then, unless you simply wanted to secure your favourites. Lafite 2009 anybody?
Hey-ho! Nevertheless it’s always exciting to have a good vintage on your hands. So I’m going to start as I usually do with thoughts on the right bank first and St Emilion. My impressions so far are extremely good and I’ll be publishing first about the wines from the de Boüard stable, including Château Angélus.