How Good Is 2009 Bordeaux?
We will find the answer to the above question soon as three of us from Binny's leave for Bordeaux on Saturday and taste the new 2009 barrel samples. 2009 is already being reported as being a very good year for Bordeaux, but as the first reports are coming out of Bordeaux, the hype is starting to grow. James Suckling of Wine Spectator said that 2009 Chateau Ausone smells like perfume on the neck of the most beautiful woman on earth. Wine critics love their metaphors.
Why all the fuss about wines that will not hit the shelves until 2012? Bordeaux sells wine as futures to consumers in advance of the wines' release. The attraction to wine lovers is that in a great vintage you can reserve your wine and hopefully get it at the lowest possible price, as the wines are often more expensive when they hit the shelves. Here is how the system works.
About this time every year, Bordeaux invites members of the wine trade to visit and taste their most recent vintage, still aging in barrels. Wine critics such as Suckling and Robert Parker attend, as well as retailers and other interested parties. The Chateau base their prices on the quality of the wine, interest from retailers and consumers, and the scores from critics, mainly Robert Parker. When you hear statements coming out of Bordeaux like the texture makes you want to cry. It touches your soul. (again from Suckling), it is likely the price of the top wines will be fairly high.
So, is buying futures for you? It can be a great experience. I bought futures from Binny's for 2000 vintage Bordeaux, and was able to get wines from that vintage I would not be able to afford today. If you like Bordeaux, and buy what you can afford, 2009 could be a good vintage to go this route. In recent very good Bordeaux vintages, speculators have bought the wines on futures as an investment, to sell the wines later. In todays economy, this is not something I would recommend. Buy what you would like to drink with family and friends.
When I get back from Bordeaux I will post my impressions on the overall vintage. Later in the spring, as we release wines for purchase, I will post notes and point out wines that I think are stars of the vintage, as well as value wines that will not cost a fortune. In the meantime, go ahead and grill a steak, pop a nice bottle of Bordeaux, and check back for updates on what may be the next great vintage of Bordeaux.