Bordeaux 2013: Pontet-Canet explains itself

Melanie Tesseron co-owner of Pontet-Canet has explained why the fifth growth released so early and at the same price as last year.

A horse ploughs the vineyard at Pontet-Canet

A horse and cart in the vineyards at Pontet-Canet

Pauillac fifth growth, Pontet-Canet, caused a minor stir when it released this morning (26 March) for €60 a bottle ex-négociant, the same price as its 2012 and before most buyers had had a chance to even taste it.

Speaking to the drinks business, Melanie Tesseron who runs the property alongside her uncle Alfred, explained the decision had been driven by a “confidence” in the quality of the wine, the severely limited quantities and what was considered best for “brand” Pontet-Canet.

“We are very proud and confident in quality of our 2013,” she said and invited anyone who wished it the chance to come to the château and taste for themselves.

She added that, so far, 80% of the château’s négociants had asked for their allocations which she thought showed the “strength of the brand and supports our decision”.

In fact, she said: “Demand is higher than our production. Those who’ve confirmed allocation are asking for double.”

But, she stressed, Pontet-Canet would honour its allocations until all had had a chance to taste.

On the subject of the price of the release and not following the rest of the pack in releasing when tastings and scores had been correlated, she explained: “We believe as time goes on it’s more about brands than the (Bordeaux as a) whole. We can only think about Pontet-Canet as time goes on.”

She said that en primeurs were still “100%” important to the estate but also, “we decided to come out to get away from it,” for the reasons outlined above.

Regarding the fears of some commentators and Liv-ex’s point that there are cheaper current vintages on the market, Tesseron said: “We have less than half our crop so we don’t have much to offer. We can’t satisfy everyone with 2013.

“I would recommend that people buy what’s on the market because there won’t be much of ’13.”

However, she questioned whether there was much on the market anyway, saying, “there’s very little of it. It’s very easy to put a number on the screen but how much is out there?”

Responding to criticism from last year that some château (admittedly not Pontet-Canet) were too erratic when it came to pricing and not looking at the global market before releasing their wines, Tesseron said that she and her uncle had considered current prices around the world and it was still “where we’ve come out at.”

In terms of quality, Tesseron stressed it was very important that wines from across the region were tasted before a judgement was drawn on 2013.

“No one who has tasted at Pontet-Canet so far has been negative about the wines from before,” she said and indeed, James Suckling has already said that the estate is the “best” wine from the 150 or so he has tasted so far.

As to how 2013 stacks up to other vintages such as 2008, 2011 or 2012 – good but overshadowed in many instances by the 2009s and 2010s – she said that as a winemaker she found it difficult to compare one to another as “each is individual,” and that “vintages have to stand by themselves to a point.”

The comparison she said she would leave to the trade and press.

The question now is what comparison will be drawn.

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