Vive le vin de Bordeaux | FT Alphaville

Vive le vin de Bordeaux

Since we’re on the subject of the French savoir vivre this morning: 2008 was supposed to have been a dreadful year for claret.

So much so that a not inconsiderable number of mechants shied away from the recent 2008 Bordeaux tastings altogether. That, married to a generalised sense of ennui to do with anything en primeur (which had produced overinflated prices for a disappointing 2007 vintage) and of course, the wider financial meltdown, meant that most were anticipating a significant dip in fine wine prices.

The Liv-ex index of fine-wine prices tracks such things:

Liv-ex wine index

But, as Monday’s FT reported… 

Fear is spreading among the UK’s biggest wine sellers after Robert Parker, the American critic whose ratings have dictated the market in wine futures for 20 years, declared the much-maligned 2008 Bordeaux vintage to be “excellent”. 

Regular readers of the FT’s own Jancis Robinson should not be totally surprised. As Robinson wrote a few weeks ago:

…most of the reds are now tasting very well, with enough but not excessive ripeness, nice fresh acidity, and tannins reassuring in quantity and not too abrasive in quality; even at less exalted levels in Pessac-Léognan, my initial exposure to the vintage. In St-Émilion, which has produced more than its fair share of exaggerated wine styles in recent years, the 2008s seemed succulent, energetic, concentrated and only rarely over-extracted.

In next-door Pomerol – which relies on the Merlot grapes that caused so many headaches for Bordeaux vignerons in 2008’s exceptionally extended growing season of 120-125 days – the 2008 success rate was even more striking. The distinctive wines from the Pomerol-dependent J.P. Moueix stable seemed on better form than ever.

Parker’s scores though, were something else: the 2008 Chateau Lafite Rothschile came in, by his reckoning, with a score of 98-100/100.  As did the Cheateau Petrus. A clutch of other Pomerols scored 96+.

As to the power of such scores from Parker, here, from Liv-ex, is the price of a crate of 2008 Lafite:

2008 Lafite price

Naturally not everydone is best pleased – or convinced. The Liv-Ex blog notes the Twitter feed of BigSithewineguy – Simon Staples, fine wine director at Berry Bros & Rudd:

He went crazy about 2003 (all on his own) He missed 2005 (everyone else loved it) He’s now potty about 08(a few very nice wines)Plot?Lost?

Related links:
Les français aiment bien dormir, and other tales from the OECD – FT Alphaville
Difficult for Bordeaux to swallow
– Jancis Robinson, FT