People will have to ‘learn to love’ Bordeaux 2012

Concerns over the size and quality of Bordeaux’s 2013 vintage may force customers to review their lack of enthusiasm for the region’s 2012 wines.

BordeauxRecently back from a trip to Bordeaux, Laithwaites’ head of winemaking & Bordeaux buyer Jean-Marc Saboua echoed last week’s announcement by the Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (CIVB) that, in volume terms at least, “the 2013 harvest is going to be the worst since 1991.”

Despite the sluggish response to Bordeaux’s 2012 vintage, which was criticised more for its pricing than any particular quality concerns, Saboua indicated that buyers in search of significant volumes and good quality may be pushed into a more favourable attitude. “People will have to learn to love 2012,” he told the drinks business.

Although weather conditions could still improve over the final month until what is due to be an October harvest, Saboua noted widespread problems with both coulure and millerandage as a result of the cool growing season, with Merlot particularly affected. Meanwhile with the prospect of a late harvest, Saboua told db: “I don’t think some of the Cabernet will ever ripen.”

Despite this gloomy outlook, he remained confident that producers with the best sites would manage to overcome the challenging conditions. Even though Merlot yields could be as much as “35-50% down” on 2012, Saboua nevertheless predicted: “There will be some little batches of Merlot which will be good and concentrated.”

Similarly for Cabernet, he indicated “in the grands terroirs they might get it ripe – in a bad year the terroir makes the difference,” although Saboua suggested that a number of producers would be forced to resort to regular spraying and perhaps even reverse osmosis to achieve the right result.

“The grands crus can do so much that they will still put something nice in the bottle,” assured Saboua. However, he warned, “this is just the very top of the pyramid – the rest is worrying.”

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