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Published:  23 July, 2008

The en primeur tastings in Bordeaux during the week of 31 March were attended by fewer visitors than in previous years, with the total said to be 4,000. The Bordeaux proprietors are said to be generally unhappy with the world's reaction to their 2002 vintage. They feel their wines were misunderstood, with acidity being misread as greenness and, in Sauternes, the impression that the wines have little or no botrytis. On the Left Bank, especially, there was a strong feeling among proprietors that the vintage is equal to, if not better than, 2001 - some even say better than 2000. It was more difficult to ascertain the views of Right Bank chteaux owners, since it was sometimes difficult to spot any at the Union des Grands Crus tastings. There has been no rush to announce prices, and the feeling is that this will be a more leisurely campaign than in recent years. Some Bordelais believe it will not get going until the end of April, when the frost risk will be over; others think a frost would have little effect and it is merely a question of waiting for an opportune moment after Easter, when people's minds can be focused on buying. At the start of the week's tasting there was speculation that there might not even be a proper campaign at all; momentum gathered, however, and speculation then focused on whether the producers might release a small first tranche to test the market. The ngociants seem happy to wait and see. Farr Vintners, the first UK merchant to produce an En Primeur report, talked up the quality, describing 2002 as a good vintage', especially in the Northern Mdoc, where some very serious wine was made'. However, Farr also said it expects to see some price reductions this year: With the war in Iraq, economic problems, falling stock markets, strong euro and anti-French feelings in America we expect substantial price reductions,' said a spokesperson. Bordeaux rarely prices its wines according to their quality, but as a result of market demand. This is why the outstanding 1990s were sold at reduced prices in May 1991, and why the average 1997s were sold at increased prices in 1998. Many producers are convinced their 2002s are better than their 2001, 1999, 1998 and 1997s, but most accept they will have to sell them at lower prices. We are anticipating big reductions that will make this a year to cherry-pick the best values. If First Growths can be bought at under 700 per case or super-seconds at under 240 this will offer good quality at lower prices than any other vintage on the market.'