Bordeaux En Primeur 2019

The Campaign

In a typical year, by this stage we would be almost 2 months on from the tastings in Bordeaux, having built up an extensive understanding of the vintage from talking with winemakers, journalists, our peers in the trade, and of course having tasted our way through several hundred samples. Piece by piece we are making our way through the wines as samples arrive with us from Bordeaux and we will keep our database updated with the key wines we taste. We are developing a strong sense of the vintage and this will continue to grow as we taste and extend our dialogue with the various Chateaux.

The Vintage

  • 2019 was a vintage of ‘events’, albeit none of which caused any dramatic impact to volume or quality (i.e. mildew in 2018, frost in 2017, both of which reduced yields significantly). Yields in the key appellations are generally above 2018 and in most cases above the 2014-2016 average.
  • A warm winter, with early bud burst, was followed by a cold spell during April and May which included scattered minor frost impacts in both April and May. 
  • Flowering took place in warm but sometimes wet conditions, although by the end of June the rain (and occasional hail) eased off until late July. By this point the rain was very welcome as temperatures had been extremely high and some vines in poorer soils were in real need of refreshment. Overall, rain in 2019 was down 25% on average.
  • From here on in it was pretty plain sailing and even the little rain that fell in September was welcome as it added a little refreshment and dilution to fruit that was very concentrated and high in potential alcohol.
  • What these various conditions suggest are ‘warm year’ wines which balance good acidity with rich, ripe flavours and deep colour. Certainly our tastings have confirmed this and there is undoubtedly a refreshingly classical element to the wines too, a freshness of acidity which brings a sense of lightness and elegance quite in contrast to the perception of heat that the vintage may carry. In some cases alcohol management will have been the biggest challenge, but the precise structure in terms of tannin style (so much more important than a mere number) is proving to be extremely impressive and more akin to the suppleness of 2016 than the depth of 2018.

Ordering Bordeaux En Primeur 2019

Given the uncertainty surrounding this year’s campaign, both in terms of pricing and likely volumes released, we have opted not to offer a pre-order system so as to minimise disappointment.

You can place an order when a wine is available for general purchase and has been listed with a confirmed price. You can order in your preferred size format – the bottling charge is already included. For any formats not listed please contact [email protected] and we will provide you with a price.

What is the outlook for the campaign?

Well, it’s Bordeaux. Most of us absolutely love it and every time you meet someone who thinks they are ‘over’ it, you open a bottle that thrills and beguiles them. It’s the ultimate collectors’ wine, and the ultimate drinkers’ wine; and every vintage is something to be explored and considered over many years.

The vintage conditions, and the wines we have tasted so far, are very good indeed – some reaching excellent levels – our scores are putting the vintage between 2018 and 2016 in quality.

The critics who have spoken thus far have been mightily positive: Pontet Canet, Palmer and Cos d’Estournel – the biggest names to come out at the start of the campaign – were extremely well scored and the general summaries we have seen thus far support this: “The wines I tasted so far are very familiar and Bordeaux-like. The sleek tannins and pure fruit character are what I expect in Bordeaux… They are all just really good quality wines and some are fantastic.” (James Suckling) “My own tastings to date have shown that the best terroirs have given wines that equal the very best vintages” (Jane Anson, Decanter)

The prices thus far have ranged from good to compelling – with virtually all offering 20+% discounts on 2018 release prices. We hope that this trend will continue. Whilst we know better from our years of trading that one can never second-guess the Chateaux, there are precedents even in recent history: 2008, released at the first peak of the economic crisis, was incredibly well priced with good quality wines; more recently, 2014, of comparable quality to 2008, was released in the first flush of the modern post-economic crisis recovery – also at very sensible prices.