As you can gather from reading my blog, I’m not in Bordeaux this week, unlike many of my colleagues. They’re out there for the Primeurs: the annual event when samples of baby wines from the previous vintage, still in barrel, are shown to the trade and press.
The excitement this year is that 2009 looks like the best Bordeaux vintage since….well, this depends – some rank it above 2005 and 2000, the other two exceptional vintages in recent years (previously, perhaps only 1982 were in the same league, though 88,89,90,96 are also very well regarded, and 1998 on the right bank was special). This ranking of vintages is all part of the appeal of Bordeaux, even though vintages are a bit of a generalization.
But unlike never before, it has been possible to follow the Primeurs from afar via social media. This will be the first Primeurs tweeted in full (#bdx09 should give you most of the reports, from those savvy enough to know about hash tags). There are also some excellent blogs, most notably Berry Bros Blog (http://bbrblog.com) and Bibendum (www.bibendum-wine.co.uk/blog/).
The real work of the journalists and merchants at Primeurs this year will be to identify the good value wines. Investment value and increased demand from the far east means that the big names will all be wildly expensive, and will sell out in a flash. For wine lovers, the great thing about a vintage like 2009 is that some of the more affordable properties will do very good work, and these are the wines that people should be buying if they are interested in actually drinking the stuff.
Expect there to be lots of hype this year, too. The main wine magazines are fighting for readers’ attention, and often a measured account works less well in getting that attention than drama, hyperbole and outright exaggeration. I notice on Twitter that Tim Atkin (@timatkin) has already called Decanter on this front (‘Right Bank very variable. Beware hype from the likes of Decanter’ – ouch!).
I’ve only looked at a few barrel samples of Bordeaux 2009 so far, from good but not great properties. They looked pretty special, but it’s a long way from the barrel to the bottle. I’ll be interested to taste the 09s at an event that Bibendum are holding on April 21st (details here). This event is sold out, but I will see if I can get some tickets for readers.