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Bordeaux 2008 – first thoughts


“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”, so said Albert Einstein. And in these uncertain times, a saying that may inspire our friends in Bordeaux when faced with another difficult growing season in 2008 amid turbulent economic times.

Wet weather throughout August, the month which is often said to “make the wine”, caused much concern. But with a motherly embrace from nature in late September and early October, combined with the investment and knowledge gained in recent years, they made the most of the opportunity given to them and made some good wines and in some cases, very good wines. We can only hope that they follow with some sensible pricing and the opportunity to re-establish a relationship with their traditional Claret drinkers.

Like many firms , Goedhuis sent a small team out this year to taste the wines. The Anglo/American alliance of Robin Kick and myself was duly dispatched from the rather misleadingly named “London Luton” airport.

I read that there have been direct trains to Luton from Kings cross since 1860…..rather irritatingly I found out on the day we wanted to travel, 148 years later, there were no trains and replacement bus service had been put in place, thus rendering “London Luton” the biggest misnomer since Posh Spice. But our trip started with great enthusiasm aboard a midday Easy Jet flight, sardined between the French women’s moustache growing team and the only slightly less attractive Bordeaux Index.

We will be sending out a much more detailed report on the 2008 vintage and each individual wines in due course, but our view was that quality overall was good although no particular commune really stood out above the others. We enjoyed the wines from St Estephe, Pauillac, St Julien and some excellent Pomerols.

It is hard to speculate on pricing, but the 2004 vintage could be a good indication. We expect to see a few chateau dipping their toes in very early to test the water and the campaign in general to be early and less drawn out than previous years.

There are many positives to this vintage in terms of quality. The fruit of many of the wines is very precise and pure and the chateau that made the best wines back up this fruit with very firm structured tannins. The best wines will not only be very enjoyable young, but will go on to have a long drinking plateau ahead of them and give enormous pleasure.

It is the wines that simply tried too hard to be good that one should avoid. These extracted wines will give the impression that they may age, but in reality the tannin will outlast the fruit and they will dry out.

The wines that stood out for me at this early stage, in no particular order, were – Lafite, L’ Eglise Clinet, Talbot, Grand Puy Lacoste, La Tour de By, Gazin, VCC, Pichon Baron and Cos d’Estournel.