Bordeaux 2013 – a vintage to buy en-primeur?

Wine Cellar has been buying en-primeur on the Bordeaux market since the 2002 vintage. En-primeur customers will be smiling as Bordeaux prices have risen dramatically, making many previous EP vintages through to 2008 look remarkably cheap. 2009 saw a huge price upswing, and although there hasn’t been the same appreciation since release, the weaker Rand has also made the wines terrific buys.

So is 2013 a vintage to buy en-primeur? Or are we seeing another 1997 or 2007, where inflated prices combined with a poor quality vintage?

Parker is not attending the 2013 primeur tastings (the first time since the 2002 vintage) and his verdict will only be released in June. This makes the pricing by châteaux more speculative, although we will all of course be following the likes of Decanter, Martin, Suckling and Molesworth.

‘It was a war against nature,’ says icon consultant Stephane Derenoncourt, as the vintage is possibly the poorest since 1991! Yields were down 50% and some châteaux, such as Le Pin, will not release a grand vin. Pichon Lalande has reportedly made only one fifth of its crop in order to ensure quality. Lafite is 98% Cabernet Sauvignon due to poor Merlot, so it’s certainly a vintage of extremes.

The Crus Classés don’t make bad wine anymore thanks to better know-how and technology, but the prices need to be reduced substantially in order to make 2013 an attractive proposition. And, given our poor exchange rate, the 2013s may well be cheaper in Rand (or even Euro) terms in 2016 when they are released in bottle. We will not be travelling to Bordeaux to taste the 2013s, rather adopting a wait-and-see approach.

Pontet Canet surprisingly sprinted out of the blocks last week with a release price of R1080/bottle, the same in Euro terms as 2012 and 20% more than the similar 2007 vintage. The 2012s haven’t moved in price, so it would be imprudent to assume that 2013 will appreciate in the short term, unless the critics are somehow completely bowled over.

We will not be buying stock in 2013, but are open to full case orders of every château available on request. Instead we will be scouring the market for better quality vintages at better prices.

As always, wines will be sold in Rands at the current Euro/Rand rate, excluding VAT and shipping costs. Please email Roland@winecellar.co.za if you have any requests or would like any further information.


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