Bordeaux 2012 Tasting Trip


We were expecting the start of Bordeaux En Primeur tasting week to pass with a little less commotion than we have enjoyed in recent years as we chose an earlier flight than normal to depart from London Gatwick. Surprisingly, the flight still seemed to contain almost everyone else we know from the UK wine trade, which was very welcome and presented the usual opportunity to share thoughts about the new vintage in what is, happily, a rather jovial environment.

Our colleagues from Hong Kong (Simon Staples and Adam Bilbey) and Singapore (Nicolas Pegna) will meet us in Bordeaux later this afternoon, but  Jake Dean (Fine Wine Sales Director), Max Lalondrelle (Fine Wine Buying Director)and I are joined in the advanced group this year by a new addition to our usual Bordeaux Buying team, Chairman Simon Berry. Although a regular and almost annual visitor to Bordeaux since the age of 12 when he took part in a school exchange trip, this is Simon’s first visit to taste the new vintage en primeur since circa 1984. Simon recalls how in those days, all of the wines were gathered together in the company’s office in the city for tasting, so it will be fascinating to see how things have changed as we make our way to many individual châteaux during the course of the week.

As we settle down to the first evening at our base in Margaux, discussions have inevitably started turning to the quality and style we expect to find in the wines this week. As was the case in 2011, very little has been written in advance of this Bordeaux vintage. Fortunately, our Fine Wine Buying Director, Max Lalondrelle, took the opportunity to taste several wines and speak to one or two châteaux during a brief visit to Bordeaux in the middle of March. He commented that 2012 is an extremely variable vintage and is not one that he could make any obvious comparisons with from previous years. It also looks to be another ‘Wine Merchant’s vintage’ where price will be a key issue and customers will need all of the advice, expertise and information they can find to select the best buys. In total, 25 members of our UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japanese teams will be tasting wines in Bordeaux this year at 57 different châteaux, so we will be able to provide a comprehensive and broad view of the quality and potential of the 2012s when we have all returned and collated our thoughts.

Our schedule hasn’t changed much in recent years, but we are excited about two or three additions to the itinerary this year, Ch. Petrus, Ch. la Tour Martillac and Ch. Belgrave. We start on the Right Bank tomorrow (Monday) and our diary is as busy as usual, with visits to Ch. Figeac and Ch. Angélus in the morning, before Ch. Ausone and Ch. Cheval Blanc among others in the afternoon.

Remember to return to the blog tomorrow morning for the review of our first day in Bordeaux and @berrybrosrudd on Twitter for live news about our tasting experiences and insights from our team and the producers themselves.