Every time at this time of the year we see hoards of wine buyers and wine critics trekking down to the Gironde in Bordeaux – Moleskine in hand , full of previous years grape notes and baguette stuffed full of ham and cheese – 🥪 Ready for the onslaught that is Bordeaux En Primeur
Ready to taste arguably the worlds best wines. En Primeur is a funny old thing.
It’s like buying a flat or house off plan (wine is in the barrel and a price is set for investors and consumers to purchase. Months later the wine is placed in bottles and the price is re-assessed.) In all this time critics and producers rate the wines – influencing the price up or down. Do you buy or choose something else. What is the best Chateau for the year and can i get my hands on it ?
Want to see my last article on 2016 ?
Wine critics and Producers normally have a consensus on the very best years (1982, 1990 2000 2005 2009 2010, 2016 ) . These are the best years to get your wines from – but it will cost you !!
A few years ago Lafite Rothschild was trading at £22000 a case. Some months later it was down to £14000. – if you were an investor that was bad news. It shows how much is at stake if you make the wrong choice or buy at the peak of the value price. Chateau Pavie, by comparison was raised in the upper echelons of ‘Class A’ St Emillion classification (explained) – as a result bottle price went from. £300 to £1300. For the investor this is good news for the consumer not so.
The secret is finding out which producer has excelled in that particular year.
2017 was not without its problems though as various wine critics have stated :
Will Lyons(L) of Berry Bros has stated that the “wines are lively and fresh and are possibly not of the quality of 2015 or 16” (9/10’s in the wine world – 2005 and 2000 would be a 10) Bordeaux yield (grapes grown) is also down by 40% on 2016 equating to a loss of 300 million bottles.
Jancis Robinson (M)highlights that there was a small crop this year (supported by Lyons ) that was at least 45% down on last year, that the growing season was “pretty good” but that 80% of the top wines from the best producers were not impacted by frost. Very good year for Pauillac, St-Julien, St-Estèphe. Bulk wines went up and top wines prices stayed static..
She believes that almost all of the top and very good wines are not affected. Good for potential investors.
JamesSuckling.com (R) states “The quality of 2017 is much better than most people might expect… it’s not in the same league as the outstanding 2016 and 2015 vintages.”
He scored some of the wines from the great names of Bordeaux – 96 to 99 points. The 2017 vintage underlines that vintage variations among the top wines of Bordeaux
So you have to be very careful when choosing to invest or to enjoy the wines by comparable years. So safely assume 2017 to be a 7 or 8. Kind of really good but not exceptional or outstanding. Not as good as the last two years but no far off.
All of this seems quite negative news there is some positive -the frost that seems to have attacked so much of Bordeaux seems to have affected only Côtes de Castillion-Blaye, St Emillion and Pomerol. Only small areas and not the big swathes of the heartland of Bordeaux
The frost seems to have crossed the Gironde and affected up to 1 km inland. See Gavin Quinneys map below
Please click on each map to see how close the frost got on the 2017 growing season . Any vineyards that are 1km from the river are vunerable to damage. Be cautious .
View the map below and use the red amber green spots to warn you of what to not invest in and what your safe with !
Avoid Côtes de Castillion blaye and lesser top chateaus
Chateaus close to the gironde (within 1km)- See Below
Grand Puy Ducasse (St Estephe)
Coufran (haut Medoc)
Ch. Malacasse (Haut Medoc)
Ch. Delamarque (Haut- Medoc)
Ch. Leovill – Poyferre (choose wisely)
So vineyards that fall into the red dot are producers to very carefully consider not investing in
Vineyards in the Orange dot fall in the danger zone of the frost of 2017 – research very carefully
Vineyards that fall in the green dot require very little research as 80% of the top chateaus had no problems whatsoever.
So the most important thing to understand is what wines are investable what regions are the right regions for climate over the growing season and which ultimately will mature over 10+ years. So far 2016 and 15 are better than 17 and for that reason demand will not be as high as the previous 2 years.
Cheval Blanc 201797-98
Château Suduiraut 201797-98
Cos d’Estournel 201797-98
Ducru Beaucaillou 201797-98
L’Eglise Clinet 201797-98
Lafite Rothschild 201797-98
taken from James Sucklings website En Primeur 2017
So just by giving two examples the consensus is not universal – it is merely subjective. If i highlight 6 critics you would probably find different conclusions to the vintages .
If everyone rated exactly the same that would be boring !
If you keep a close eye on the market and the ongoings with potential sales of Chateau’s classifications and what producers are doing you can get a fair indication of what might happen. That is the time to invest. In the last year I have invested £2500 and made £500 on that Most of the wines have not matured yet or are on the cusp of the maturing window. Not bad for a beginner….
GW Investment tips
2017 Leoville Barton(no prices released as yet) (2016’s price was £370 /6 outstanding value
2017 Decru- Beaucaillou (no prices released as yet) (2016 £142.00×6 =£852 )
2017 Chateau La Fleur-Petrus(no prices released as yet)(2016 £158×6 = £948)
If your feeling brave ………..
2017 Chateau Angelus, St Emillion (no prices released as yet)(2016 £298×6 = £1788)
and the outsider
2017 Chateau Clinet (no prices released as yet)(2016 £78×6= £468)
Whether you have a preference for one wine critic or another the best thing a wine investor/consumer is have some affinity with their chosen critic. It is important that you believe in the tastes and experience of your chosen taster. Whether it be status or the way he/she writes one thing is important is that you have that relationship. Hundreds of critics exist out there some notable examples are :
What ever your choice do it because you like them !
If you are going to invest in this year , be cautious. There are a lot of fabulous regions waiting to be discovered – not just bordeaux
All these areas offer good value for money and have a diverse range of tastes and styles. something for everyone. Explore and transport. Its so cheap to do so
Remember its your money Have fun with it . This could be the new pension . Wine is in demand .
Stick to a few rules and you can’t go wrong !
Enjoy the Journey !!!