Bordeaux En Primeur

by demetraWO#11:00:41:817


Nick Stephens

Nick Stephens is a respected wine expert with an international reputation as a critic and connoisseur.  Nick was awarded the Prud'homme de la Jurade de Saint Emilion in 2007 for his work with the great chateaux and vineyards of that area. A devotee of the wines of Bordeaux, Nick has many years of insider knowledge and an array of chateaux owners, courtiers and negotiants that he does business with. Each year he visits Bordeaux for the En Primeur tastings held for the trade and reports back on the vintage in barrel.  Also known as 'Wine Futures,' En Primeur is the opportunity to buy the wine before it is bottled (normally 18 – 24 months in the future) and released onto the market.  Always hectic and often full of surprises the tastings are invaluable as they are the first indicator of the quality of the vintage. This year over 5000 wine merchants, brokers, critics, sommeliers and journalists from around 60 countries descended on Bordeaux for the event. 


'This year Bordeaux En Primeur has attracted more comment and attention than expected, being even more agonised over than the boom years of 2010 and 2009. The 2013 vintage has been a trial for the Bordelais producers who have had to face severe weather conditions, reduced yields and rising production costs. If they had these difficulties twenty years ago most chateaux would not have been able to make a wine in such conditions. Thanks to advances in technology and increased expertise in vineyard management and in the chai wine was produced in 2013. The dry whites and sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac are excellent but it is a different story for the reds.  Overall they lack colour, complexity and depth.  They will drink earlier than normal and 2013 is definitely not a speculators vintage.

Given that 2013 is a poor vintage for the Bordeaux red wines it is astonishing how much scrutiny they are commanding.  Bordeaux has obviously not lost its appeal or its following.

But a spate of high priced years coupled with a run of mediocre vintages (2011, 2012 and 2013) means that wine enthusiasts and collectors need to look further afield. The best place to look for high quality Bordeaux reds is now in the past, in the back vintages of previous years and in particular 2008. In my opinion the 2008 wines are far superior in quality to more recent vintages and are more reasonably priced.

Over the past decade Bordeaux pricing hit two major price hikes and one minor. These occurred when good years were declared 'the vintage of the century'. The first was the 2005 vintage, the second with the 2009 and the third minor hike occurred with the 2010. The table below shows the release prices ex-negoce (to the trade) from a cross section of popular wines. At the time of writing the 2013 prices have only just started to be released. Pontet Canet, in an unprecedented move, released before the tastings had even begun.


Margaux Parker Score Leoville Las Cases Parker Score Montrose Parker Score Pontet Canet Parker Score


96.00 93 50.00 93 31.80 91 24.50



460.00 98+ 180.00 98 66.00 95 47.00



340.00 94+ 125.00 95 51.00 94+ 43.00 95+


240.00 92 85.00 91+ 45.00 91 43.00 91 - 94
2008 130.00 94 79.00 93 42.00 95 43.00



550.00 99 216.00 98+ 108.00 100 72.00 100


600.00 99 192.00 96+ 132.00 99 100.00




94 - 96+ 110.00 93 - 95+ 72.00 91 - 93 66.00

93 - 95

2012 240.00 92 - 94 85.00 93 - 95+ 57.60 92 - 94 60.00

91 - 94

2013  -  -  -  - 57.60  - 60.00


As you can see from the table the 2008s hold their own in terms of quality with Parker scores being the equal or in some cases being higher, than those of 2007, 2011 and 2012 vintages.  Scores for 2013 will not be released until Parker tastes the wines in June.  A recent trade survey revealed that the industry itself believes the worst vintages in terms of quality regarding the First Growths are 2007 and 2013 whereas 2008 is considered the best.  This is not surprising as the 2008 vintage represents good wine at a good price, despite the rise in value of some of the wines since their release.  The wines are elegant, not over powering but with loads of fruit and well balanced tannins resulting in classic wines that can be drunk, savoured and enjoyed now or over the next three decades.

What happens to the En Primeur system itself if prices fail to drop for 2013 remains to be seen but savvy buyers can certainly find some lovely wines at good prices if they turn to overlooked vintages from decent years in the past.'

Nick Stephens

Prud'homme de la Jurade de Saint Emilion

Owner of and Fine Wine Merchants

Posted in: Fine wine appreciation,
Tags: Barsac, Bordeaux, en primeur, fine wine, First Growths, Leoville Las Cases, Margaux, montrose, Nick Stephens, Pontet Canet, Robert Parker, Sauternes, Wine,

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