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Bordeaux 2011 “better than expected”

With en primeurs week looming, hopes are high for a quick campaign, reduced pricing and vintage that is “better than expected”.

Speaking to the drinks business, Simon Davies, head of marketing at Fine+Rare said that after a recent trip to Bordeaux he had a “loose idea” of what the 2011s would be like and expected a “lovely, fruit-forward and perhaps early drinking vintage”.

Davies continued that he was not concerned about the quality of the wines though perhaps they would not be “as uniform as 2009 and 2010”.

In this view he is supported by Robert Parker, who has already done his tasting and recently posted his initial thoughts on his site’s bulletin board.

In his notes Parker wrote that he found the wines: “Ripe, deeply coloured, very aromatic, generally quite pure, medium weight, and with higher acids than the two great years of 2009 and 2010.”

Last year, the drinks business reported that 2011 would be a “winemaker’s year” and Parker too has highlighted the complications that arose and as such has lead to a selection that is “irregular but very rewarding to those who got it right”.

Parker noted that Pomerol seemed more consistent than Saint-Emilion and the best names of the Médoc have “done well”.

Overall he described the vintage as being similar to 2008 and 2001 (the latter he recently declared was “overlooked”).

Graves appeared the most inconsistent and the wines from St Estèphe, which were hit very badly by hail, were “lighter than normal”.

In general though he summed it up: “The bottom line is that the vintage is better than I expected.”

However, it is pricing that is the chief concern for many going into this year’s campaign, with the massive increases of 2009 and 2010 leading some to voice the fear that “irreparable damage” has been done to Bordeaux’s reputation.

Davies reported that the owners and négociants he talked to “are all making the right noises” and may do what they did in 2008, which was lower their prices after several blockbuster years to allow them to “re-engage” with their clients.

That said, he did not think the prices would drop to 2008 levels and here Parker also added: “I could see a modest futures market if prices were slashed but I fear the price reductions will be far less than consumers and the trade desire…Bordeaux is still riding a rather astonishing bubble”.

Nonetheless, Davies hoped for a quick campaign with none of the “messing around” that was seen last year and predicted that “these are going to be wines to have and keep and enjoy”.

db‘s Lucy Shaw will be in Bordeaux next week for the en primeurs and will be providing full coverage both online and via Twitter as the week progesses.

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