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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
13 May 2002

Demand for the 2001 red bordeaux is sluggish at best, and it serves Bordeaux right.

There has been reasonably brisk trade in Sauternes with some buyers being wise enough to snap up the most desirable Sauternes such as Chx Rieussec and Suduiraut at prices as close to their relatively reasonable release prices of around £300 and £275 a case respectively as possible.

Some fine-wine traders are already trying to stir up a buying frenzy on this, the most successful wine category produced in Bordeaux in 2001. And no wonder because it looks as though there could be a great black hole in their order books this year thanks to the Bordelais' robust - some would say silly - pricing policy for their reds. Most of the prices so far released (admittedly, few of the big guns) show a small decrease over the already hugely inflated prices of the delicious 2000s. But what was needed to kick-start sales in a completely different climate to that which prevailed 12 months ago was a really substantial reduction which broadcast to the world that Bordeaux was open and anxious to do business.

Bordeaux pricing has never been strictly related to quality or quantity. It is more about pride and greed. Prices have yo-yo'ed over the years and there are many who see parallels between the overpricing of the 2001 vintage and the absurdly overpriced 1997 vintage which was of distinctly ordinary quality.

My colleague and fellow Master of Wine Clive Coates has come out with the pronouncement that 'with the exception of 2000, 2001 is the best red-wine vintage since 1990'. I can't agree, and certainly can't recommend that you spend heavily on it at this point. Prices are hardly likely to rise over the next few years. In general left-bank 1996s and right-bank 1998s are more intrinsically distinguished, I feel, even if winemaking skills have been increasing across the board in Bordeaux every year. But Coates' enthusiasm may help to stimulate a little demand, especially when his newsletter The Vine comes out (information from

For the moment, the only red wine that has, justifiably, sold well is the delicious Vieux Château Certan. Quinault l'Enclos, made on a patch of sand on the outskirts of Libourne which until recently was classified 'Sables St Emilion', has increased its price even over 2000 levels and is, in my humble opinion, very far from worth it.