• Alexander Smith

Bordeaux En-Primeur 2019, 30% off?

So this will be one of the most interesting En-Primeur campaigns I believe we will ever witness. With most countries on lockdown the Bordeaux community is not stopping, remember this is their income for the year, so these bottles need to move.

The Weather and Fruit Quality

The vintage started off early, along with a cool and wet spring, hence uneven flowering. The summer kicked in mid-June, along with warmer temperatures and drier conditions, this allowed for the fruit set to not be hugely impacted by those early spring setbacks. Summer was hotter than normal, which caused certain issues with vine stress, however, it allowed for good and even ripening. Throughout the harvest, temperatures tended to be warmer than normal which caused the fruit to be picked with maximum ripeness. This resulted in young wines that were concentrated, with high tannins yet a freshness that seemed to be lacking in the 2018 vintage. Unlike the 2016s and 2018s, consistency is mixed and this is all about how the vignerons reacted during those hot summer months. Those who were at complete control in the vineyard are rumored to have produced wine at equal to 2018, maybe even higher? The rule of 2019, don't buy blind. Many descriptors are being thrown around such as Aromatic, less powerful than 2018, bright acidity, concentrated, fruity Merlot, and complex Cabernet. Sounds perfect right? The white wines tend to be showing well, but not at the same level as 2015 or 2017.

The Vintage and pricing

The question on everyone's mind, is this another vintage of the century? Well, after stellar vintages of 2015, 2016, and 2018, the 2019 vintage seems to be close, however, only time will tell whether or not it will be at a similar level to any of these other dreamy vintages. Early tasters are suggesting it will be a blend of maybe 2003,2016 and 2018. With less power than 2018 and a touch riper than 2016. In terms of quantity, the amount of wine produced is significantly higher than that of 2017 (reduction due to frost) and 2018 (mildew). This higher yield, along with Brexit, higher tariffs in the U.S, Covid, and the possible economic downtown will make 2019 one of the most challenging campaigns ever. With so much wine available, along with the above challenges, Chateaux are forced to re-think their prices, most owners have admitted that if they want consumers to get excited they need to re-adjust prices significantly. I predict we should see anywhere from a 20-40% reduction compared to the 2018 vintage. This is a huge discount, and even with cellars full of other young vintages, most Bordeaux lovers will not pass on a potential 4* vintage at this level of discount. Already both Chateau Palmer(Margaux) and Pontet Canet(Pauillac) have released their wines around 30%+ lower than 2018.

Bottom Line

I will be tasting a range of these wines in around 18 months in Montreal. I find the true en-primeur is very difficult to assess, and a certain barrel time is required to allow the fruit and oak to start to integrate. Am I excited about the 2019 vintage? Usually, I would say no, however with the possibility of purchasing some of these wines at a 20-40% discount compared to 2018: Absolutely!

To be followed in 18 months.....

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