We hope you’re well and that the summer ahead is a happy one. Here’s our usual, somewhat patchy review of the month. It’s been pretty hectic for us and we’re hardly scratching at the surface of what we’ve been up to, with so much going on in the vineyard, so much happening around Bordeaux and no shortage of visitors, all of whom have been most welcome.
“What is it that makes a person pay nearly £100 for a magnum of claret?” Richard Whitmore of BBC news asked Michael Broadbent, referring to a sale of Lafite 1870 in this short clip. These magnums of Lafite 1870 sold for under £100 in 1978. With inflation, that’s £550 in today’s money. The same wine is on sale now for £21,000 and, by that same token, the 41 magnums of Lafite 1870 that sold in that auction for £3000 almost 30 years ago would be worth £940,000 today. Keep reading
The Bordeaux en primeur campaign has come to a close. Farr Vintners, the UK’s biggest importer of fine wines from Bordeaux, reported that this, unsurprisingly, was their best campaign since the 2010 vintage. But it could have gone better. “Although this has been a successful campaign (and clearly a great vintage), we have only really sold 30-40 châteaux in volume. It would have been more successful if prices had been more reasonable. Too many proprietors have increased their prices without justification and many wines that could have sold well have actually sold poorly as a result of this. On top of this, we were also hindered by an exchange rate that was 15% worse than last year.” Keep reading
May has been a month of highs and lows, and that’s before we even think about the vineyard.
Yet we’ve done a lot of venturing into the vines, at Bauduc and beyond. As you can see below, it’s shaping up to be a most unusual year. The crucial flowering – that’s Pavie, above, sniffing a bunch of flowering Merlot last night – is taking place right now..
As they say, the wines that are really in demand you can’t get hold of, and the wines that are available no one wants to buy. However, there are some delicious wines that are affordable – and available – which are certainly worth a punt. Steven Spurrier, the hugely respected writer and critic for Decanter who retired from judging the primeurs earlier this year, told me that he didn’t buy wines that cost more than £500 a case en primeur/in bond (ie excluding duty and VAT) because he didn’t have any friends who’d appreciate them.