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US and Asian demand may boost Bordeaux 2010 pricing

Can the trade absorb yet another good to very good to great Bordeaux vintage? It appears that it can and wants to. The last eight months have seen an upturn in sales of older vintages, usefully clearing the cellars in readiness for the new campaign.

Quantities this year are down 10-20% at most properties because of a combination of coulure and drought (though Cos d’Estournel managed a slightly higher yield than last year) and there is no shortage of trade visitors at the en primeur tastings.

They come from 68 countries, including such relatively new names as Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and India; fiches techniques are available in Chinese at many properties; and apart from the obvious Asian demand, Jean-Guillaume Prats of Cos expects US merchants to "take a position on 2010".

Prats added: "They have sold their 2000s, and they didn’t buy much ’06, ’07 or ’08, and no ’09. There’s a demand, and nothing in the pipeline."

Prices? Some may stay the same. But if the visitors decide to buy, there’s no suggestion that they’ll be counting their pennies.

As for the wines, the 2010 Bordeaux are being touted by some as more classic than 2009. Are they? On the Right Bank, often not really. Pomerol and St Emilion offer many wines that are full of opulence, density, extraction and alcohol – most seem to be between 14% and 15%, and a few are more. They have aroma and some freshness, but a kirsch note, occasionally even reminiscent of amarone, can be found on many.

There’s a vast difference between these wines and those of the producers who, year after year, go for restraint. The JP Moueix wines, and the Ausone stable, for example, are outstanding for their balance and finesse.

On the Left Bank the picture is different: the Cabernet Sauvignon was less sugar-laden than the Merlot and most are under 14%. They still have massive tannins – "even the juice was tannic this year", says Philippe Dhalluin of Mouton – but with better balance and more freshness.

They’ll be long-lived, too, and as they age are likely to throw the opulence and silkiness of the ’09s into sharp relief.

Margaret Rand, reporting from Bordeaux, 07.04.2011

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