Bordelais should focus on second wines in 2013

11th December, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

The top châteaux in Bordeaux could hold back from producing a grand vin this year and instead plough production into their second wines, according to one MW.

Speaking to the drinks business at a Château Brown dinner in London last night, Richard Bampfield MW said: “It would be a PR coup not to produce a 2013 vintage.

“I know a number of châteaux that are thinking about not producing a grand vin this year. There are some savvy producers in Bordeaux and they know it would be a smart move.

“What they could do instead is put everything they made this year into their second wines. It makes perfect sense in a vintage like 2013 as they can sell the wine at a reasonable price and at least it would move.”

Bampfield believes that the Bordelais are in a tricky position with the 2013 vintage.

“Whatever they do they are going to be criticised – it will be hard for them to put the price of their grand vins down this year due to the tiny yields produced, but if they don’t, people won’t be prepared to pay the prices they propose for a lesser quality vintage,” he told db.

“It makes sense not to make a grand vin as it takes the heat out of the situation, but it comes down to money in the end, and the losses they will make for taking that decision, so perhaps only the châteaux that can afford to will do it,” he added.

In terms of comparing 2013 to another vintage in Bordeaux, Bampfield said you would have to go back “a long way.”

“It was a really difficult vintage plagued by rot, which meant people couldn’t pick their grapes when they wanted to and ended up with much lower yields.

“The vintage enforced strict selection and yields were down by around 30% on average,” he said.

Bampfield revealed to db that there were “mutterings” among the Bordelais that a few châteaux might take the decision not to produce a 2013 vintage.

“It would be a bold move not to make a grand vin this year, but they do it in Sauternes occasionally – Yquem chose not to produce a 2012 vintage.

“Either way, if it were going to happen, producers would have to make their decisions before the en primuer tastings in April,” he said.

As for the 2013 en primeur campaign, Bampfield warned that it would be a mistake for the trade to turn their back on primeurs week in Bordeaux.

“The trade will probably abandon the 2013 en primeur campaign but this is exactly the vintage it’s worth going out for as there will be a marked quality difference between the different châteaux,” he said.

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