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Bordeaux Day 2022: Uncovering hidden gems

Published:  14 July, 2022

Now in its second year, Bordeaux Day returned to Manchester and London this week for two days of tastings, meetings and conversations. 

The two events provided a unique opportunity for the UK trade to meet producers and agents and discover the quality, diversity and value that modern Bordeaux wines offer.

Bordeaux Undiscovered was of particular interest to attendees, not least because 40 winemakers were on hand to talk visitors through their portfolios, seeking representation in the UK.

Bordeaux is not a region consumers and clients alike commonly associate with experimental styles. When faced with a wine list, you know you are in safe hands with a wine from Bordeaux – a classic region specialising in classic profiles. 

However, event organisers' Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) hopes that will soon change. Caroline Vigneron, brand & export marketing manager for CIVB, said: "We are looking to push alternative styles, particularly in the off-trade with merchants. Independents have the time to tell a wine's story and to advocate smaller producers. 

"Bordeaux has a profile, and we are very proud of it, but the region has so much more to offer than the traditional red classics."

Among the hidden gems on offer were single varietals, historic grape varieties, and several amphorae matured wines.

Chateau Vieux Landat, a Haut-Medoc-based HVE certified winery, was one of many exhibitors to showcase single varietal wines, including a 2018 Petit Verdot – an indigenous grape typically reserved for blends. 

Moving beyond the palate, new styles could also be observed in the bottles' design. For instance, Chateau Roquefort, a family-owned Bordeaux estate, presented its Les Roches Blanches 2021 with a label, not of the chateau, as is the tradition in Bordeaux, but with an illustration of the limestone terroirs that lend the wine its minerality. Furthermore, the shape of the bottle was wider and slightly broader in circumference, more akin to a classic Burgundy than Bordeaux. 

Another presumption often made about Bordeaux wines is high prices; however, the Hot 50, a range of wines retailing under £25, proved that Bordeaux could be excellent value.

Marine Martin, international PR for CIVB, said: "every year we do the Hot 50, a selection of 50 different wines from all Bordeaux appellations – 233 wines were blind-tasted and short-listed by a panel of experts including wine buyers, sommeliers and distributors."

Priced between £6 and £25, the wines were divided into three different categories: Smooth & Fruity, Fresh & Crisp and Rich & Complex.

Meanwhile, the newest Bordeaux wine offerings from leading UK agents were available to taste at BDXchange, where attendees could taste their way through the latest wine portfolios from UK agents.

Bordeaux sales

Sales of Bordeaux wines to the UK in 2021 paint a very mixed picture; the value of the wines exported grew by +31%, but the volume fell by -19%. The decline was somewhat inevitable after unprecedented growth in 2020, boosted in particular by anticipation of Brexit.

This phenomenon was so significant that, despite the Covid crisis, imports of still wine to the UK increased by 6%.

In addition, after the 2017 vintage, shipment of the 2018 vintage, highly sought-after due to its quality and availability, strongly boosted the value growth of Bordeaux on the market. 

Bordeaux remains the leader in French exports of AOP wines to the UK, representing 20% of the volume and 30% of the value.