Bordeaux 2013

Bordeaux 2013 – whipping up a storm (in a teacup?)

Already there has been much talk about Bordeaux’s baby vintage. As the futures campaign approaches with the annual tastings in the first week of April, everyone is hoping that the vintage will not be judged a washout. It happens (particularly in oceanic Bordeaux) when the weather does not deliver. Is it really that bad or will it be like 1997 or 2007 which have turned out quite nicely despite being written off originally.

One thing is for sure that whatever image it will be given will stick for the rest of its (seemingly short) life. Or has 2013 already been disqualified by many, even before being able to get anywhere near the starting blocks?

There is already a campaign to #Stop2013BordeauxBashing

april apple iphone 2013 759

The dates are booked for the 2013 annual futures tastings (week of 31st March though most 1st to 3rd April including the UGC tastings see (Pomerol is at Gazin, St Emilion at La Dominique, Sauternes and Barsac at La Lagune, Margaux at Marquis du Terme, Pauillac and St Estephe at Lafon Rochet, St Julien at Lagrange, Pessac Léognan at Malartic Lagraviere, Medoc/Haut Medoc, Moulis and Listrac at Ch Clarke)

Some wine journalists are saying ‘it is not worth the bother to have a primeur campaign’ without having tasted a drop. But what do we know so far?

Bordeaux 2013 climatic conditions in a nutshell Yes the weather was not good to produce ripe, rich wines. But hey until the last ten years or so Bordeaux wines were never ripe, not to the degree they are today. Due to a late start, a lot of rain during the year and particularly at flowering and more rain and impending rot at harvest-time meant that grapes had to be picked ten days before the ideal date.

May June 2013 680

Quantities were very low. Most produced at least half of what the normal yield (around 20hl/ha in St Emilion for example instead of 40). Some producers produced 6hl/ha.

Style of Bordeaux 2013 Fresh and fruity ‘Picnic Wine’ – We need to wait and see but at the best the 2013 will be fruity, light and fresh, early and easy drinking with not too much structure. A touch of oak (not too much please) and we have some nice fresh ‘Picnic wine’.  2009 and 2010 were exceptional. 2013 is the third (and the worst) in a run of average but ok vintages. Though 11 and 12 are looking better as time goes on! 2011 and 2012 which were both thought of as ‘difficult’ years. 2013 redefined ‘difficult’ for most wine producers in Bordeaux and elsewhere in Europe.

We need fresh lighter wines that can be appreciated more easily (without lengthy decanting and breathing) and earlier, particularly in restaurants, but at the right price.

There is absolutely no reason not to produce a wine this year. Those that have already communicated that they are not are helping no one and it is a sign of failure as a wine producer (or perhaps there should not be vines on this terroir). Le Pin is not producing as volumes are too low on their 2 hectares of vineyards. This is different to not producing a wine due to the quality. I understand that there have been years in the past that due to climatic disasters such as terrible frost or hail, where devastated wine producers have had to bow their head and concede to not producing a wine. (sweet wine is even more susceptible). This is not the case in 2013.

Technical Wines made by the Rich: With attention to detail in the vineyards and in the cellar good, not great wines will be made. Yes some rich producers rich in technology perhaps may be able to produce more than picnic wine but it will be technically produced not by Mother Nature.

Bordeaux 2013 Prices: There are calls already for prices to be slashed ‘en primeur’ by 30% (already down by most in 2012 by 30%) and it was an expensive year to produce in terms of treatments, labour costs but more importantly volumes. The costs are shared over many fewer bottles to sell.

Wine producers are focussing on 2014 (with water tables filled to the brim, for sure we will not lack rain), happy to leave thoughts of the 2013 behind. The primeur campaign will dictate the image of the vintage. Lets hope the sun shines and we can all enjoy lots of picnics.


About nicolle

Wine bod living in Bordeaux whose passion is finding authentic wines and getting them to your doorstep


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