Having joined the annual En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux at the beginning of April, here are a few musings:
– 2014 is a very good vintage on the left bank and a good vintage on the right bank. Cabernets tended to do well, so the right bank properties with higher % of Cabernet Franc seem to have performed best.
– the wines are notable for great freshness, purity of fruit and ripe tannins. They will undoubtedly provide delicious drinking in 5 to 15 years time. They do not seem to have the structure of a really long-lived vintage. Actually many of them could be drunk with a lot of pleasure right now.
– I use the word “seem” because it is too early in my view to pass any sort of definitive judgement. I was highly conscious this year that some samples were much more ready to be assessed than others.
– Both Bordeaux Negociants and British wine merchants NEED a primeur campaign this year because Bordeaux sales have been weak for 3 years and they need the business. So we can expect the wines to be sold hard to us.
– It is highly unlikely that château owners will reduce prices, as they have been begged to do, because they know they have some nice wines and volumes are relatively low. One or two may keep last year’s prices but most are likely to increase by a small %.
– It is a fact that, for the last 5 years, most people who have bought en primeur will have lost money. Prices have started too high and the market is already awash with Cru Classé Bordeaux.
– However many people like to buy en primeur because they want to be sure of owning the wines they want and they are buying to drink rather than to invest. That’s fair enough and these buyers will not be disappointed by quality this year.
– The question buyers should ask themselves is whether the 2014 vintage will be more expensive in 2 years time than it will be in the next 2 months.
– My personal view is that this is a vintage I am looking forward to drinking – but I am quite happy to wait and buy the wines when I need them and when I can assess their merits more easily than I can now.
– My favourite wines of the vintage were Châteaux Montrose, Margaux, Cheval Blanc, Angelus and Palmer. And I found Saint-Estèphe to be the most consistent appellation. I look forward to tasting these wines, and others, again in a couple of years time and deciding which ones to buy.