As the first week of the en primeur campaign draws to a close – and with the wine world’s interest now moving on to Verona and VinItaly – it is perhaps time for the Liv-ex's 'man on the ground', Anthony Maxwell, to give his views. We’ll leave scoring and expansive notes to the professional critics, but here is a short distillation of what Anthony tasted and discussed as he moved along the Gironde.
· Many of the wines, despite early reports to the contrary, are really rather nice – being gentle, fruit-driven and perfect for drinking early. ‘Pretty’ is perhaps the best word to describe the better wines.
· It follows that the best wines were those where the winemaker worked with the vintage rather than against it. As the head of one of the first growths told us: ‘It was a year when nature put us in our place.'
· American voices were notable by their absence in the tasting rooms
· The Wine Spectator reports, which appeared at the beginning of the week, are somewhat more negative than the views of the majority of tasters. At one point it appeared that the less than enthusiastic scores given by Suckling may have killed the campaign in its infancy. That now looks unlikely, particularly as Parker and Robinson have made rather more positive pronouncements in recent days.
· Both the whites and stickies are really rather good
· Price – always a major issue – will define the vintage. With Sterling and the Dollar having weakened significantly since the last campaign, a 15% drop will still see prices to the consumer standing still. Will some chateaux hold back more stock than usual and wait for currency movements to work in their favour?
· Mouton’s revival is now confirmed
· Is an early-drinking Bordeaux vintage really such a bad thing? We all need something to drink while we wait for our 05s to come round…