The year 2020 has been exceptionally different in many ways, with the covid crisis causing significant changes at all levels of the wine industry (and, of course, way beyond). Understandably, the vast majority of events have been postponed or cancelled, and there was a particular focus on the primeurs in Bordeaux. The tasting of Bordeaux’s latest vintage did take place in the end, though later than usual and in a very different format from in previous years.
The primeur events in Bordeaux usually take place during the first week of April, but this year has of course thrown some obstacles in the way. Normally, the primeurs is a kind of ‘fashion week for wine’, bringing together around 6,000 professionals from across the globe to taste the latest vintage. The timing this year meant that this much anticipated week was cancelled, with no immediate idea of if, when, or how it would be run. Being a real institution in the wine industry calendar, it wasn’t easy – for the properties or the professionals – to accept that it just might not be possible. Remember, these events are important for the eventual success (or otherwise) of a vintage, so to miss out would potentially be disastrous for a Château.
But good news arrived, some of the Primeurs events would take place nonetheless! Last week, we attended some tasting sessions in Bordeaux for groups of 5-8 people – far smaller than usual! These sessions were just for professionals, with around 500 attendees in all. In the weeks and months to come, this format will be applied elsewhere in Europe and Asia, thus prolonging the event and making it accessible to as many people as possible.
It was the end of lockdown that launched the Bordeaux properties into action, with the négociants first in line to try the 2019 vintage and negotiate orders. iDealwine also runs a maison de négoce in Bordeaux, LMGV, and so we didn’t hesitate in taking up the opportunity – over the coming days, we’ll be posting the tasting notes taken by the team members who attended.
A primeurs campaign with next to no scoring
One of the consequences of a format such as this, with so few able to turn up, is that this primeurs series will mean very few notes and comments for the 2019 vintage at this stage, a phenomenon never seen before. This is largely because very few journalists could make it – there were some from France, and others from further afield in Europe, but it will be difficult for analyses of this year’s event to reach the global audience it interests. There were some alternatives to this, with some wine critics receiving samples by post. However, many properties were reluctant to partake in this, fearing the wine would be damaged en route or not transported in optimal conditions. There was also no way to confirm the quality of the wine at a distance. You can find tasting notes by Jean-Marc Quarin and Le Point, and some of the cuvées have been scored by James Suckling and Lisa Perrotti-Brown (Wine Advocate). However, the tasting notes for this year’s vintage will be somewhat difficult to come by for now.
What about the prices?
It is pretty well-known that Bordeaux prices have been increasing in recent years and there were expectations that the 2019 vintage might buck this trend. The first indications we’ve got are looking good on that front, since certain emblematic properties like Pontet-Canet have announced a clear price drop: €68 at this Château, for example, -31% compared to the previous vintage). Similarly, Château Latour – which doesn’t sell through the primeurs campaign and sells its vintages later on – recently announced a strong decrease of 20% compared to its previous vintage. These seem to be positive signs for a deflation of Bordeaux prices, good news in a year that has so far brought American import taxes, a pandemic, and an economic crisis. Knowing that the vintage is doing well in terms of both quality and quantity, it would seem that things are looking up for Bordeaux’s latest wines, and this, we are sure, is news that will be welcomed by enthusiasts.
As with every year, iDealwine will make purchases of these primeur wines and they will be up for sale as soon as they are bottled!