Is Bordeaux's bubble about to burst?

Those gentle popping sounds heard at Château Lafon Rochet this afternoon (below) were Bordeaux’s bubbles bursting at the en primeur tasting of 2013 vintage wines from the communes of Pauillac and St. Estephe.  It was an anorexic Shrek convention of thin and green misery. No fruit. No fun. If producers think the world will beat a path to their door for these wines, they’re in for a surprise. For heaven’s sake, Château Pichon Longeville Comtesse de Lalande is 100% Cabernet this year. The long term blending ratio is 55%, so volumes must have halved. Could this be the year that the en primeur campaign fails?

lafon 615x461 Is Bordeaux's bubble about to burst?

Of course the wines were not uniformly weedy and my two favourites were Château Batailley for putting away and Château Phélan Ségur for easy drinking. Although quite what an Irishman called Phelan will think about being spelt Phélan remains a mystery.

bc Is Bordeaux's bubble about to burst?

Margaux in the morning at Château Marquis de Terme was a far better bet. My top two cellar tips are Château Brane Cantenac and Château Cantenac Brown while for easy drinking Château Giscours and Château Lascombes appeal.

Quite what the en primeur prices will look like, remains to be seen. At Château Beychevelle yesterday, Philippe Blanc (below) was playing his cards close to his chest. He did remark that Château Ducru Beaucaillou, a former section of Beychevelle, used to cost E3 more that his grand vin and now goes for five times the price. Such is the cult of the Super Second.

phil Is Bordeaux's bubble about to burst?

Philippe had the grace to admit that his 2013 is the worst vintage in his 19 years at the estate. “And winemakers 70 years old will say the same thing.” Volumes are down from 25,000 cases to 8,000 and since 95% of his wine is sold through the en primeur system, a price collapse will be a serious problem. But at least his operation is owned by two large corporates who can withstand bad weather for a while yet. Or until their shareholders wonder for how much longer the price premium of Bordeaux over other producers of Cabernet-based blends can endure.