Thursday, April 13, 2006

Enchanting Distractions and Star Attractions

The Juice is now going to lurch contentedly away from the team’s adventures in Bordeaux and look forward to the En Primeur campaign itself. A strangely negative and in our opinion, sensationalist, article by Jane MacQuitty in the Times implied that many of the wines are over-extracted. Bibendum doesn’t share this view and would like to make our position clear.

Most agree that it was a near perfect growing season that blessed winemakers with fantastic raw material to work with. The top wines from both sides of the river are phenomenally good. There is nothing new or exciting about this. Even during average years, Le Pin, Petrus, Margaux, Lafite & Co make wines that most of us can only dream of ever tasting. And while we might bang on about these wines, employing a pantechnicon of exuberant verbosity (ouch!) to that end, the truth is that they are very scarce and priced far beyond the normal wallet. So let’s not worry too much about them.

More accessible and relevant are the wines below those. Many immediately underneath have taken stellar fruit and created fabulous wines with incredible concentration, freshness, depth and structure. This year, many will take the chance to jack their prices up and promote either real or invented scarcity. The wines we are actually most interested in are those that are accessible, affordable and outstandingly good. The point that some commentators have missed is that this vintage is one of the most accessible ever. If ever you wanted to get your foot on the first rung of the Bordeaux ladder then this is the year. There will be some terrific wines in the range of £100-£200 per dozen in bond. Their prices shouldn’t go up too much, especially as many producers have huge amounts to sell so rarity is not an issue. Don’t believe everything you read – extraction, the big bad wolf of the wine world, has not in fact blown everyone’s houses down. Quality is exceptionally good across the board, with ripe fruit flavours where previously there might have been greenness. Tannins aren’t as aggressive as in weaker vintages and acidity is pretty well-judged too.

In short, this really is a vintage for the people. It is a wonderful vintage for those who are new to buying wine en primeur, they can buy almost anything with confidence. Over the next month I will pick out some gems that the Bibendum team tasted recently and give you some background and a heads up on the value players of 2005. Enjoy!


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