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En primeur: will winemakers have 'pulled rabbit from hat'?

Published:  01 April, 2014

En primeur week is underway, with critics and buyers heading to Bordeaux to work out whether winemakers have managed to make "good wine in a difficult year".

En primeur week kicked off yesterday, with critics and buyers heading to Bordeaux to work out whether winemakers have managed to make "good wine in a difficult year".

Yields are well down, meaning production is limited, but some tasters have been pleasantly surprised by what is on offer. However, this has been tempered by sustained reminders from the UK trade that prices need to be much lower in order to attract custom.

En primeur week allows the trade and press to taste samples of the 2013 vintage from barrels before they are bottled. Soon after this week of tasting, the chateaux release prices for their wines and sell them in advance.

We take a look at some of yesterday's views from the web and Twitter.

The Wall Street Journal's Will Lyons tweeted on landing in Bordeaux that "the hunt is on for those Châteaux that have pulled a rabbit out of the hat and made good wine in a difficult year".

Joss Fowler, head of fine wine at Fine + Rare, added that he does "like a vintage that separates the men from the boys". Later on he posted that Chateau Palmer made only 3,800 cases this year, compared to the usual 9,000.

Tim Atkin MW

Meanwhile, Simon Staples, of Berry Bros & Rudd echoed Atkin's call.

But overall, it looks like there have been some pleasant surprises.

Chris Kissack, aka the Wine Doctor, noted that the tasting route was much quieter than usual. But for all that he identified some good wines. On his website, he said that at Château La Mission Haut-Brion "the red wines were good especially when taking into account the difficulties of the vintage, although they were eclipsed by the white wines, which were full of charm and energy". But he added that Château Haut-Brion was one of the better red wines he tasted on his first day.

Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate

Director of Stokes Fine Wines Justin Liddle was particularly impressed at Margaux.

Tom Jenkins, Bordeaux buyer at Justerini & Brooks, was pleasantly surprised at the Right Bank wines. He also loved Ausone, saying it was "gorgeous, ethereal stuff".

Meanwhile, Derek Smedley MW identified on Twitter both Pichons, Lafite, Grand Puy, Margaux and Latour as "nice wines".

But the day was perhaps best summed up with a tweet from Anthony Rose, the Independent's wine columnist. It is worth pointing out the date this was posted.