Bordeaux Futures: How to Follow Us and the 2016 Campaign
I’d like to announce that Ian and I are departing tomorrow for a week to taste the extremely promising 2016 vintage in Bordeaux, and to let you know how you can follow our progress and our thoughts. I thought I’d also use this opportunity to give some thoughts on how we’re set up for 2016 in the context of recent vintages, and on the state of the Bordeaux market as a whole.
First, to enable you to follow us throughout our trip, we’re trying something new (at least for luddites Ian and me!) – the shiny and brand new Gordon’s Fine Wine Instagram: @gordonswine. We’ll be uploading photos and brief updates on this account throughout the week. I’ll also be writing the occasional longer and more detailed update on our blog throughout primeur season, which we will post links to from the Instagram page. So, follow us and check back there to get everything up to the minute.
Whether or not you’re part of the Instagram crowd, if you’re particularly interested in the 2016s and following everything that is going on with them, please do just let us know by response. We can then make sure you’re kept fully up to date ‘live’ by e-mail; just be aware that it could potentially involve multiple e-mails a day at the height of the releases. If that’s too much for you, don’t worry – we will send out summary e-mails on something like a weekly basis with my recommended picks. My best guess is that this will start towards the end of April and last for a month or so, but the Bordelais are notoriously hard to predict on how and when futures will be released.
Bordeaux’s Recent Vintages, or How the Stage is Set for 2016:
We’re in a fascinating period of vintages for Bordeaux currently. Following moderate 2011s and 2012s and then a pretty terrible 2013, Bordeaux seems to have been blessed by a trio of compelling years in 2014, 2015, and 2016. The first two of these complement each other very nicely, with 2014 a fairly light style, and an excellent value vintage. Following on from this, 2015 then possesses real ‘star quality’: wines with depth, complexity, and power. I titled my initial report on the 2015s ‘Nature Gives a High Five’, taking the quote from the normally pretty conservative and restrained Neal Martin, chief Bordeaux reporter for the Wine Advocate, which I think sums it up rather nicely. Bordeaux needed a great vintage and it got one.
So, what will 2016 bring? At this time of year as the new vintage looms on the horizon, the challenge is always reading through the hype, but I can honestly only say that at the moment all signs are pointing towards it being a bit of a blockbuster. Everyone that I know and trust in Bordeaux has been making extremely promising noises ever since the first juice appeared last fall, and I would say that I haven’t heard people so genuinely excited at this time of year since the 2009s. In terms of writers, James Suckling’s scores tend to lean rather on the high side, so I don’t necessarily put huge stock in his individual scores, but he’s the first one to come out with a report on the new vintage and it’s worth noting that he generally marked things significantly higher than in 2015. So, he seems to be of the opinion that this year is going to be even better than last. It will be interesting to see which side of the fence other critics come down on, and Ian and I will have our own opinions soon, but it does seem to be becoming fairly clear that we are at least dealing with a serious vintage. How serious? There’s no point in speculating at the moment, but I can’t wait to get out there, taste the wines, and report back to you on how they taste and why. Watch this space.
The State of the Bordeaux Market:
One of the reasons I’ve been so pleased to have the support that you all have given our new Bordeaux program, and that I am so excited about the future, is that, make no mistake, we Bordeaux lovers together are swimming against the tide. As such, I believe this represents significant opportunity for value.
Talk to sommeliers and retailers up and down the country, and you’ll find no great love for the region, mainly based off what I think is a very misplaced or at least overly widely aimed perception that it’s overpriced. However, as long as you agree with me, this is a good thing. Great wines (including delicious old ones) are available to us, prices are very sensible when you buy the right wines from the right places, and the wines themselves are as great, or perhaps even better than they have ever been.
Bordeaux produces without doubt some of the most profound, age-worthy, legendary and delicious wines on Earth, with the single most reliable track record of any wine region anywhere. Yet somehow those of us that love its regal wine have become, strangely, the trend bucking hipsters. While restaurants and stores all over the world are desperately seeking the hot new thing – I can’t help but feel many of them are missing the most glorious old thing right underneath their noses. All the more for the rest of us …
Regards, and see you all next week,
Fine Wine Buyer