Berry Bros. & Rudd’s 2009 Bordeaux en primeur tasting on 5 July at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London – not as grand as it sounds, actually – gave a few wine hacks – and a lot of Berry’s clients – a chance to have a look at samples from over 20 leading estates.
The first wine was Angélus, a wine that I usually find impressive rather than drinkable. True to form, it was massively concentrated with a nice texture. But it was just too damn big for me to drink with pleasure. I would not pay £2,400 ex-cellars for that or indeed any other wine. But Beau-Site was well-priced at £168, as was Camensac at £180. Those are journalist rather than oligarch prices!
Léoville-Barton was just as good as when I tasted it in March – a wonderful wine.
The room was warm when I arrived, well before the influx of several hundred BBR punters. The poor, or rather not so poor, winemakers were likely to be as well-cooked as an entrecôte bordelaise by the end of the evening. Christian Dauriac, the owner of Château Clémence, complained to me that his wines were too warm. He had a point: they were very stewed, which in fairness to him I would put down to the heat rather than a bad wine.
On the whole, the 2009s showed sweet, luscious fruit and velvety tannins with, crucially, great freshness. It is this fraîcheur that distinguishes these wines. The 2006s that were shown alongside the 2009 échantillons tasted crude by comparison. Nearly all the 2009s, even at cru bourgeois level, need a good ten years to show, or at least begin to show, their quality.
I complimented the delightful Véronique Sanders of Château Haut-Bailly on her wine but told her that I wasn’t so keen on the price. She told me that she has 8,000 cases of her red wine to sell and “we could have sold three times the crop… It is all about demand and offer.” I suppose Haut-Bailly is reasonable at £600 but I preferred its Graves neighbour Domaine de Chevalier at £552.
With increasing interest from Asia and elsewhere in fine wine, there is only one way for prices to go. Who wouldn’t like to be the owner of a good Bordeaux wine estate these days?