Bordeaux 2013 – Parker delays primeurs verdict


Gavin Quinney of Ch Bauduc writes:

See a négociant's view of the current state of the Bordeaux market in Festive cheer? Not in Bordeaux!.

The American wine critic Robert Parker will not be publishing his report on Bordeaux 2013 until the end of June 2014, two months later than usual. Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, editor in chief for Parker's Wine Advocate and, confirmed that 'Bob will be doing his tastings slightly later this year' and will publish his notes in the summer.

The release of Parker's scores at the end of April is traditionally the focal point of the en primeur campaign. He normally comes to Bordeaux in March to taste the barrel samples provided by the châteaux, and his ratings can have a significant impact on the price that the wines are sold for in the second quarter of the year. The en primeur campaign – the sale of wines as 'futures' a year or so before bottling – is usually wrapped up before the summer break.

The last time Parker did not attend the primeurs tasting season was in spring 2003 when he eschewed tasting the embryonic 2002 vintage due to concerns over the Gulf War. The 2002 first growths were released at the knock-down consumer price of £60 a bottle.

Meanwhile, in Bordeaux, many producers are increasingly enthusiastic about their reds after the most difficult growing season in years ('here we go again', I hear you say). Christian Seely, managing director of AXA's estates, has written eloquently about his 'moments of intense relief' when tasting the wines at Chx Pichon Baron and Petit Village for the first time. Read more about the 'joyous triumph over adversity' on his blog. 'But don't just take my word for it. Come and taste them. I think you will be agreeably surprised', he writes.

Tiny yields, strict selections and final volumes remain the big issue. At Vieux Château Certan in Pomerol, Alexandre Thienpont reckons that only four or five batches out of the 14 they produced will make it into the final blend for the grand vin. There will be fewer than 1,000 cases, the smallest production since 2003. Le Pin, one of Bordeaux's most sought after and expensive wines owned by another Thienpont, will not be available for tasting. 'We have 13 barrels for 2013 of which probably seven are up to scratch, instead of the usual 25 to 30', said Jacques Thienpont's wife Fiona Morrison MW. 'There will be no tasting of Le Pin during en primeur week.' (Our picture shows Le Pin's cellar in a normal year.)

You can hardly blame the couple if only seven barrels – the equivalent of 175 cases – are 'up to scratch'. The news will have little impact on 99.99% of Bordeaux wine lovers, as few of us can afford Le Pin, but the tiny yield is revealing. Only a quarter of the usual Merlot production is good enough to make the cut. And for wine writers and the trade, the tasting at Le Pin is usually one of the highlights of en primeur week.

Never mind, those Cabernets are tasting better than we imagined...