The focus of the fine wine trade has firmly been on Bordeaux for the last week, with many of the trade's leading members in the region to evaluate the '08 vintage as part of the annual en primeur tastings. Next week we will give you a full news round-up. First, however, here are the views of Liv-ex's 'man on the ground', Anthony Maxwell. We’ll leave scoring and expansive notes to the professional critics, but here is a short saignée of what Anthony tasted and discussed.
· “Better than expected” was the general theme. However, this was against a backdrop of low expectations due to other factors, both economic and meteorological.
· Price is always mentioned, but never has it been such a topic. Also, ALL the négociants seem to be in the “severe price reductions needed” camp. Normally they hedge their bets a little more. This year, they are clearly siding with the international trade on the issue.
· It was very empty throughout Bordeaux compared to any of en primeur tastings that I’ve attended over the past ten years. No waiting to taste, empty roads and relatively empty tasting rooms (except for the free lunches at the relevant UGC events).
· Of the people that were there: plenty of UK trade, quite a lot of French, a few Americans, a few Japanese, no Koreans.
· Rumours of the First Growths “leading” the way with an ex-chateau price of €100 a bottle and an early release date (pre-Parker at the end of April) abound. Where the truth lies, it is hard to tell. Certainly, the 'Super Seconds' didn’t seem to keen on reducing their prices by too much.
· When asked on price, plenty of answers around the issue, including “we reduced our price in 2006 and 2007, so we have already come down.” However, this doesn’t take into account how much they reduced them in those two years, compared to how much they put them up in the 2005 campaign.
· Certainly, the trade have an appetite for a campaign and believe they can sell the wines for the right price. A vintage to re-engage the claret drinker rather than speculator? And to get the consumer back onside with the wines of Bordeaux?
· There will be a campaign, early talk of the Chateaux not releasing seem off the mark (a couple may not) but in general the Chateaux want to and need to sell their wine.