A Grand Cercle tasting of 2013 Bordeaux en primeur in London a few weeks ago confirmed what I had come to expect of the vintage; it was not an easy year and the difficult, cool conditions favoured the whites and stickies more than the reds, where the gentlest of hands was needed in the cellar.
A few days later, an email from Newmarket-based Private Cellar dropped into my inbox and provided such an excellent assessment of the vintage, with a nuanced, insightful view of its strengths and weaknesses, that I sought, and got, their approval to put out an edited version here.
Private Cellar is offering Bordeaux 2013 en primeur – see their website for more details.
From Andrew Gordon:
The Bordelais have made enormous strides in quality over the last 20 years; Bordeaux is a better drink now than it has ever been.
But has the increase in quality kept pace with the increase in price? In some cases yes, in many cases no.
As ever the clever bit is the detail and with a vintage like 2013 - which the press have damned from the onset of the poor weather roughly a year ago - the detail is mighty well hidden.
But it is there and there is some fun to be had. However, prices must reflect quality and demand.
Should you buy or should you unsubscribe from all offers and pretend that the vintage never happened? That rather depends upon a number of factors including:
completeness of your cellars
- your age
- the style of wine you like (many of the best
2013 are almost Burgundian in style)
- whether you enjoy the more recent “high alcohol” style from Bordeaux (2013 is really quite low alcohol
You should probably not buy if:
- your carefully planned wine collection is already jam-packed with little gems that will electrify you over the next 15 years. 2013 will drink early and although it will be fun it probably will have
no place in your well-structured cellar
- you love heavy beefy reds that will last forever
- you want to make a financial killing by
investing in wine
- you loathe dry and sweet white Bordeaux.
But in amongst the press-led tirade of abuse against 2013 you can find one or two serious journos saying things like “there is a lot to like about 2013”, “…quite a few jewels in 2013”, “...higher acidity and lower alcohol-rather similar to red burgundy”, and “bright punchy red fruits”.
You probably should buy if:
- you have recently started a cellar and it is still relatively devoid of immediate drinkers
- you have any gaps for fresh early drinking wines
that will sing long before your 2012s, 2010s and many 2009s
- you like lighter, less alcoholic, less tannic reds
- you are a drinker rather than an investor, and you drink for pleasure rather than to impress
- you love dry and especially sweet whites.
What you should buy is, of course, the clever bit. The vintage was very mixed with interesting wines growing directly next to filthy wines.
Edouard Moueix summed it up perfectly for us by saying that we should think of the winemaking in 2013 as an “infusion” rather than an
“extraction”. And as usual he is right. Infusion = interesting wines. Extraction = horrid wines this year.
What next then?
- do not rush into buying but do not wait forever either. This will be a quick campaign but there is stock around
- do read the tasting notes, not just the name of the wine. Tasting is believing in 2013.
Other related articles
Grand Cercle Bordeaux 2013 En Primeur
Private Cellar portfolio tasting
Private cellar - website, twitter, Facebook
Image credits: Private Cellar website