Category Archives: Bordeaux 2013

Bordeaux 2013 from barrel – en primeur article

Here’s my article for Harpers Wine & Spirit magazine, May 2014 issue.

Harpers Wine & Spirit

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2013 is turning out to be the vintage that nobody wanted.

Certainly not the growers, who experienced the most difficult growing season in years and the most fraught of harvests. Yields too were well down.

The Bordeaux negociants and wine merchants around the world aren’t too happy either. At the bottom end, they’re paying 25% more for bulk wine for their brands and own-label lines because of the small crop, and at the top of the pyramid, the majority of leading chateaux have failed to breathe life into another subdued en primeur campaign by not reducing prices enough. Consumers, meanwhile, haven’t shown much interest from the day the grapes were picked.

Picking Cabernet Sauvignon at Ch Lynch Bages, 11 October 2013

Picking Cabernet Sauvignon at Ch Lynch Bages, 11 October 2013

There is, however, some good news. The dry whites are very good and many sweet whites are excellent. White vines, though, only make up 11% of the vineyard area, so the real money is on red. There’s some good news here too, as most professional tasters discovered during the en primeur barrel tastings in late March and early April. While the wines are relatively light, they’re not let down by green, unripe tannins (thanks to good weather in July and August) and a great many will provide attractive drinking over the next decade. Keep reading

Bordeaux 2013 – 10 things about the weather and the wines

10 highlights about the weather

  • 2013 was the most difficult growing season in Bordeaux for 20 years or more.
  • It was the smallest crop in Bordeaux since 1991 and 27% down on the low crop of 2012.
  • An unusually cold first half of the year held up growth in the vineyard.
  • A cold, wet May and June culminated in late, uneven flowering. Many Chateaux had much lower yields as a result.
  • July was hot and dry and August quite sunny – one of the plus points of the vintage.
  • An August hailstorm hit more than 10,000 hectares, mostly in the Entre Deux Mers, but none of the top châteaux.
  • Harvest conditions for both dry and sweet whites were good.
  • It was a late red harvest but it would have been later still, given the chance.
  • Rain and humidity at the end of September and into October forced Chateaux to pick their reds as rot set in.
  • Picking at the right moment was critical, as was the ability to eliminate unhealthy and unripe grapes.

Keep reading

Bordeaux 2013 en primeur off and running

Pontet Canet 2011 - 144When Jancis Robinson asked me on Tuesday to write a piece setting the scene for the annual en primeur tastings next week, I don’t think anyone was expecting the first release of the campaign so soon.

Alfred Tesseron of Chateau Pontet Canet surprised more than a few people by releasing the price of his 2013 to the Bordeaux trade on Wednesday. It’s the first time a leading Chateau has put its wine on sale before the world’s wine merchants – and most critics – have had a chance to taste it.

Given that Pontet Canet (above right) has been on a hot streak of late, all the Bordeaux negociants I spoke to will be taking up the offer rather than risk losing future allocations. Most importers – who buy in turn from the negociants – are (quite rightly) saying that they’ll wait to try the wine first before committing themselves.

Palmer, 6 Oct 2010 - 47’It caught everyone by surprise’ said Charlie Sichel of Maison Sichel, who part-own Chateau Palmer (left). ’In view of the strength of the brand, and assuming the quality of the wine is approved by our customers when they come to taste next week, it might be quite clever. It’s a move that the entire Bordeaux trade will focus on; but there are very, very few Chateaux with such strong brand equity as Pontet Canet and any message to proprietors to release a small amount of wine at the same price is dangerous.’

Pontet Canet’s 2013 yields were ’lilliputien’ according to winemaker Jean-Michel Comme, about half the norm at 15hl/ha and a fraction of the 40hl/ha or so of the outstanding 2010 vintage. Allocations of the 2013 to negociants are therefore 50% down on last year. Keep reading

Bordeaux 2013 yields down 27%, bulk prices up 27%

Most fine wine merchants are looking for lower prices of the top Bordeaux 2013s for the wines to have any chance of selling. At the lower end of the market, meanwhile, bulk prices have shot up because the crop was much smaller than previous years. We’ve paid special attention to this as we’ve sold off some wine that didn’t make the cut, thanks to the dreaded hail.

004278-05As you can see, the yield for 2013 is dramatically down across Bordeaux. 2011 and 2012 were both thought to be smaller crops at the time but 2013 is 27% down on 2012.

As a result, Good Ordinary Claret just got more expensive. Here are the figures for the Bordeaux appellations that make up the bulk of Bordeaux by volume.

004267-09 Keep reading

Bordeaux 2013 weather report

Here’s my weather report for Bordeaux 2013. A word of warning – it’s quite long and there’s no shortage of graphs. Strictly for geeks, freaks and Master of Wine students trying to understand why 2013 has a reputation for being such a crap vintage.

10 highlights about the weather and Bordeaux 2013

  • 2013 was the most difficult growing season in Bordeaux for 20 years or more.
  • It was the smallest crop in Bordeaux since 1991 and 27% down on the low crop of 2012.
  • An unusually cold first half of the year held up growth in the vineyard.
  • A cold, wet May and June culminated in late, uneven flowering. Many Chateaux had much lower yields as a result.
  • July was hot and dry and August quite sunny – one of the plus points of the vintage.
  • An August hailstorm hit more than 10,000 hectares, mostly in the Entre Deux Mers, but none of the top châteaux.
  • Harvest conditions for both dry and sweet whites were good.
  • It was a late red harvest but it would have been later still, given the chance.
  • Rain and humidity at the end of September and into October forced Chateaux to pick their reds as rot set in.
  • Picking at the right moment was critical, as was the ability to eliminate unhealthy and unripe grapes.

Keep reading