There I lay, a few weeks ago, sound asleep and dreaming of the ice cream truck slowly winding its way through my childhood neighborhood. What a perfect dream; in the background played the silly Benny Hill type music notorious of ice cream trucks and every ten or fifteen seconds the truck bell, an echo-location device used to separate kids from cash, would ding! (much like the kids separated that same cash from mom and dad a few moments before.)
Just a split second before the creamsicle hit my tongue I realized I was already half awake, and the sound of the ice cream man was my email alert. The frequency of my alerts and the frequency of the ice cream truck that I was nostalgic for let me know that the 2014 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign was underway! Just about 50 emails in less than 30 minutes, and it was only the first 30 minutes.
En primeur or “wine futures” means that wines only about 6-8 months old can be purchased (while still in barrel) so that the customer can invest in a wine before it’s bottled.
Nothing yet from any of the important Chateaux, but that is just a matter of time. The excitement has begun; the annual frenzy of estates setting prices and negociants passing the information on as soon as the sun comes up. It reminds me just a little like when you are buying a new house; months and months at a snail’s pace, no calls, nobody doing much of anything. Then all of the sudden you get that check for exactly this amount and signing will be precisely at 9am and don’t be late, otherwise the whole thing might collapse… really?!?! Yes, Bordeaux En Primeur is a bit like this and it is a unique animal!
As we prepare to tackle the tidal wave of offers for the Bordeaux 2014, the first thing we consider is the quality of this vintage. 2014 will turn out to be a fine vintage for the dry whites of Pessac-Léognan and the Graves, and Cabernet Sauvignon in the Médoc did well. Merlot will be the mystery. The press and a few top wine writers have already positioned 2014, fortunately for the producers, ahead of the past three vintages. While many retailers are looking at 2011 and 2013 stocks, wondering where to put another vintage, 2014 may look attractive if the producers keep prices sensible. With the favorable exchange rate, these quality wines might turn out to be great values!
Shayne Hebert, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine supervisor
Follow me on Twitter! @abcwineshayne