This article has also been published on JancisRobinson.com and Liv-ex.
As a backdrop to the en primeur tastings that take place at the end of March and the first week of April, here’s a look at the production figures and a few statistics for the 2018 vintage in Bordeaux. More than that, it’s a fairly in-depth breakdown of how the different appellations contribute to the enormous amount of wine that’s made here, and how recent vintages compare.
On the face of it, a year that produced the same amount of wine as the average of the previous 10 years wouldn’t appear to warrant a great deal of scrutiny: the overall figure suggests it’s just an average year, volume wise. As with any vintage, however, the devil’s in the detail and none more so than with Bordeaux 2018, when the equivalent of 666 million bottles were made. (Sorry.) And while it was a glorious year for some growers, and this will be borne out by the tastings, for others the size of their crop was indeed the stuff of nightmares.
Ten highlights of Bordeaux 2018 production
- Bordeaux produced a fraction under 500 million litres in 2018, the equivalent of 666 million bottles. Keep reading
What a month. 23°C yesterday afternoon here and who’d have thought we’d need refrigerated trucks to transport our stock around in February.
Not really, but we have been busy with shifting the new vintages of our wines. The complete series is available for delivery in the UK.
Watching Rick Stein’s Long Weekend in Bordeaux for the umpteenth time when it was repeated earlier this month brought back many happy memories but, on this occasion, it was tinged with considerable sadness. The director and producer David Pritchard, who had worked with Rick for many years, died a few weeks before this showing, following a brave battle with cancer.
On the face of it, the visit by David, Rick and the production team to Château Bauduc on the last day of our harvest in 2015 had culminated in just a few minutes of TV – albeit primetime BBC. By then though, David and I had become good friends and our friendship would continue, from afar, long after the filming had ended. So here’s a small tribute to the great man, with a gallery of pictures of his reconnaissance trip to Bordeaux, when he was accompanied by his wife and assistant Fiona, and of the filming of the Long Weekend itself with his crew.
David was an avid consumer of our newsletter – he would often call afterwards or drop us a line – so it seems only appropriate. Keep reading
‘We need a picture of you with the stock you’re planning to sell’ said Jon Henley, the Guardian’s European correspondent, after he came to talk about Bordeaux wine and Brexit. We duly obliged and how smart the online version of his excellent piece looked. Then the picture editor of the print edition called. ‘Not for us, thanks. We need a ‘living the dream’ shot asap – bringing in the harvest, but no posing please.’ That proved more of a challenge than we thought but no doubt you’ll agree that Ange, Georgie and Sophie, below, don’t look like they’re posing. Not one bit. The boss reduced to a miserly cameo role, top right.
We’re usually a little wary of bottling in late January or February because of the cold. When you hire a machine to sit outside overnight, you can have nightmares along the lines of the wintry scene at the start of Gladiator, with Russell Crowe saying ‘the frost – sometimes it makes the blade stick.’ (Not quite, but you get the drift.)
Anyway, all was fine. Young Ed Findlay has been working for us in the vineyard and winery for a year. He was a junior school teacher and then photographer in England, before setting off to Bordeaux to live the dream of tending vines. Much as we think his pruning skills are improving, we’ve made use of his creative talents of late, such as with this album of the bottling of our 2018 dry whites and rosé.
With this photo gallery, you can tap, touch or click on a photo to enlarge it and for a description, then use the < arrows > to scroll through. Then use the X (top left) to exit. Keep reading
Sorry to use the ugly b-word in the subject line but we thought we should let you know that we have a plan B and, all being well, this one is deliverable.
‘They are bottling early this year at Château Bauduc’ writes Jon Henley in the Guardian early next week, so our plan isn’t quite so cunning that we have to keep it a secret. We simply aim to get as much of our new wine over to our bonded warehouse near London before the Ides of March, and a considerable stash to our collection point near Calais much sooner.
Duty on wine in the UK goes up tomorrow, 1 February. More on that below but it’s one reason our new season offer will include the option of UK delivery or Calais collection – for those that want to swerve the new UK duty rate of £32 for 12, or more than £40 for a dozen sparkling.
Everything could turn out fine but, just to be sure, we’re getting a wiggle on.
It was a pleasure to welcome Jon Henley, The Guardian’s European affairs correspondent, to Bauduc last week. He was on a mission to find out more about the impact of a possible no-deal Brexit on Bordeaux wines, and his piece is scheduled to be in the paper early next week. Do look out for it – we’ll mention it on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – and we’ll link to the online version here when it’s available. (Update – it’s online here.) Keep reading
With new duty rates on wine in the UK from 1 February 2019, I’ve updated my statistics and thrilling graphics, and added some new tables for a fairly comprehensive guide to UK wine duty. A rant it may be but, if nothing else, it should help you make better-informed decisions when buying wine in the UK – and on the continent.
1. Wine was singled out for a duty increase in the autumn budget, effective 1 February 2019, while excise duties on spirits and beer were frozen.
2. The UK duty on still wine is £2.23 a bottle plus VAT (£2.68) from 1/2/19, up from £2.16 (£2.60 inc VAT). Sparkling wine duty is up from £2.77 to £2.86 (£3.43 inc VAT). Keep reading
French Vineyard Owner Pulls Up Wetherspoon’s Boss Over No-Deal Brexit
Ran the headline on lbc.co.uk.
(The photos above are of Nick Ferrari and Tim Martin, not the vineyard owner.)
A French vineyard owner pulled up the chairman of JD Wetherspoon when he said wine would be cheaper after Brexit.
Tim Martin, who founded the popular pub chain, is a leading Brexiteer and insisted the UK has nothing to fear from a no-deal Brexit.
He told Nick Ferrari no-deal is better than Theresa May’s deal and talked of scrapping tariffs on New World wines.
He said: “If we leave the EU, one of the advantages is that we can scrap tariffs. So Gavin’s wine will continue to come into the country tariff-free, but the difference will be you’ll save 8-12p per bottle on wine from the rest of the world.
“But you save 17% on children’s clothes, you save x% on bananas, so much on oranges and all the rest of it.”
However, Gavin Quinney, who runs a 63-acre vineyard near Bordeaux, pointed out: “Tim, you’re not selling children’s clothes and bananas in Wetherspoons, you’re selling wine.
“The most you’re going to reduce a bottle of Australian wine is 8p and if the EU finishes the negotiation with Australia and removes that tariff, 8p we’re talking about on a bottle of wine, compared with the UK duty from 1st February will be £2.23 – 28-times more.
“The UK collects 63% of all excise duty on wine in the EU. It’s massive, whereas the tariff is tiny.” Keep reading
November has been a hectic month, though less so in the vineyard itself. We sometimes forget how beautiful it can be at this time of year, with the golden rows of vines set against the autumn backdrop of the woods.