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UK trade still finds Bordeaux 2013 wines to buy

Published:  07 April, 2014

After much criticism ahead of the 2013 en primeur tastings, it seems that many UK merchants have been undeterred by negative press and plan to buy and sell this year's wines.

As a flurry of prices were released this morning, many believe the wines will still appeal to a core of UK merchants, if the prices are right.

Will Lyons of the Wall Street Journal

Simon Berry, chairman of Berry Bros & Rudd, was impressed by some of the wines on offer. He blogged that: "Forty, 30 - perhaps even 20 years ago - the vintage would have been a write off. As recently as the 1980s, Berry Bros. & Rudd decided to by-pass an entire vintage, and nobody complained. But now times have certainly changed."

Berry added that after visiting 40 chateaux and three different négociants over four days,and tasting 231 different wines "there are many I would not recommend, but only a handful I would actively dissuade anyone from buying".

"All of the rest, assuming the price is reasonable, will give people pleasure to drink over the next five or even 10 years. That's a new paradigm."

He said the vintage was "certainly not the disaster" that had been foretold by many commentators.

Meanwhile Lay & Wheeler, now owned by Majestic Wine, has not been put off either. It tweeted: "We'll have some #bdx13 releases soon. We've been and tasted and have now selected wines that we'd like to buy." 

Farr Vintners urged caution: "It is vital that these wines are offered at bargain, low-estimate prices to attract any market interest. With yields dramatically lower than normal, it is not uncommon to find producers with half their normal production levels. This is hardly conducive to lower pricing."

Describing the wines, it summarised: "It's a long time since Bordeaux had a poor vintage for its red wines but, with a few notable exceptions, this is possibly the weakest vintage, overall, since 1997. Maybe it will, in time, turn out to be as good as 2002, 2004 and 2007 but that is unlikely. Most wines will never be able to shake off their searing acidity and lack of flesh on the mid-palate."

Despite the criticism, it has found a number of wines to recommend.

Other merchants have less confidence. Jascots says it will not sell any wines en primeur from Bordeaux's 2013 vintage, because it no longer believes in the en primeur system.

Jascots said its decision is not a reflection on the quality of the wine but the lack of value in purchasing it in this way.

The merchant said that they wines are very expensive to buy and frequently fall in value after the initial offering, add to this low confidence from both the press and the market, and Jascots will advise its clientele to "steer clear" this year. 

Miles MacInnes, Jascots' sales director, said: "Our core market of restaurants, hotels and caterers have long since stopped investing in wine futures because of the huge capital outlay and weak returns. 

"Now it seems that our corporate, institutional and private clients will follow suit."