Journalists and critics have described this year’s socially distanced en primeur campaign as ‘one of the best ever – and certainly the best since last year’.
‘It’s just such a privilege to be able to not travel to Bordeaux,’ said American wine writer Robot Porker.
‘Tasting these 2020 wines in my study, rather than in the château itself really helps me to get a feel for what top Bordeaux is all about: money.
‘I’m 97/100 on that.’
Being several thousand miles away from the château owners themselves, he added, was ‘definitely an improvement.’
Some châteaux have expressed concerns about sending samples of their wines out to tasters.
‘It’s very important that our wines arrive in perfect condition,’ said Rose-Anne Segla of Château Croquet Mallet.
‘We’re taking all steps necessary to ensure that they arrive in perfect condition.
‘So critics can rest assured that they are just as viciously tannic and undrinkable as they were when they left our cellars.
‘Except for the press samples of course…’
Early indications from the châteaux are that 2020 is an exceptional vintage.
Bordeaux insiders describe it as ‘the best since 2019’. Which, in itself was reckoned to be the best year for at least 12 months.
‘It’s all down to the amazing work that our growers and winemakers have put into en primeur marketing over the last 20 years,’ said Dermot Itis of the Association of Châteaux, Negotiants and Exporters (ACNE).
‘Previous generations did their best when it came to dissembling, chicanery and outright lying, but they just didn’t have the tools that we do now.
‘Whether it’s a hot year, a cold year, a wet year or a drought, our winemakers are masters at using PR to manage whatever nature can throw at us.’
Higher or lower?
Pricing, as always, remains a sensitive issue.
‘Lowering prices for the last couple of years has made a huge difference,’ said Rose-Anne Segla. ‘It’s really helped to bring in new customers who might never have considered buying Bordeaux before.
‘So it’s absolutely essential this year that we raise them sufficiently to chase those people away again.’
Tutt and turrets
The region’s generic body, the Bordeaux Organisation for Fictional Facts (BOFF) is already warning that market demand is ‘very strong’, with the rescinding of tariffs in Mongolia and demand ‘soaring’ in Lichtenstein.
‘As for the Chinese, they’ll buy any old tutt provided it’s got turrets on the label,’ said Boff’s Astrid Zeneca. ‘And don’t forget that 2020 was the Year of the Rat. So it’s a good time to be talking garbage.
‘You’ve heard of the Chatty Rat? Well this will be the year of the Château Rat,’ she joked.
Piling up in the street
Merchants greeted the news with dismay. ‘We’re already sitting on years’ worth of unsold stock here,’ said Morgan Claret-Trouser of Chunqui and Quords wine merchants in Exeter. ‘Putting prices up again would be a disaster.’
The Bordelais, however, said they would rather see ‘bottles piling up in the streets in their thousands’ than lock down their prices again.
‘Fortunately, we just make the stuff,’ said Segla. ‘Some other poor sod has to sell it. And if they go out of business, well… that’s just the law of the market.
‘Which we’ve been ignoring for 30 years.’