So this week it’s Bordeaux primeurs.
Unfortunately, for the 15th vintage in a row, I’m unable to attend. But I am a generous soul and I will tell you all you need to know about the 2016 Primeurs.
First of all, all the very important people – Neal Martin, Suckling, the famous French dudes such as Bettane and Desseauve (not sure, do Galloni/Tanzer and Robinson also do primeurs?) – will have gone earlier than everyone else. So this week, instead of tasting with their colleagues, they will be on social media telling everyone that they’ve already been.
Second, it’s a very good vintage. 2014 was very good and typical, 2015 was late but very good indeed, and 2016 was very good, possibly even better. That’s what most people agree on. So, what else do you need to know?
Ignore the reports on the primeur samples. Thousands of people will be tasting cask samples this week, and because they have the labels of famous Chateaux on them, these tasters will forget that they are just cask samples. ‘Drinking Petrus for breakfast!’ ‘A cheeky Lafite before lunch!’ Social media will be unbearable over the next few days. Remember: no one is drinking or tasting Lafite, Latour, Mouton or Haut Brion. They are tasting barrel samples. There’s a world of difference.
But the massed tasters will forget this, and will scribble down earnest notes, together with scores. Thousands of words will be written, and gazillions of points will be awarded, and no one really cares. Because all the information you really need to know is how good the vintage is, roughly, and then the name of the Chateau.
That is enough. With all the noise and uncertainty of cask samples of fetal wines, that’s probably just as a reliable buying cue as an earnest tasting note and a score out of 100. None of the top Chateaux screw up these days. They know what they are doing. So if you have a Chateau you like and respect, buy their wine if you think you’ll like the vintage and the price is agreeable.
Yes: prices. Soon there will be the agonisingly slow release of prices, merchants will fill our in boxes with offers, and Tim Atkin will write an article saying that primeurs is broken and dying, and then the dust will settle and all will return to normal.
I’m looking forward to the 2017 vintage in Bordeaux. It has every chance of being an excellent one.