In an effort to help everyone continue their education about Bordeaux, I’m going to be putting together a monthly newsletter for you with articles, resources, and information about the wines of Bordeaux. There will also be ideas for more information, websites, and writers/sommeliers you might want to follow. So, have some fun reading up and let me know if there are additional articles, you’d like me to include!
We’re launching this series at the perfect time since journalists and reviewers are in Bordeaux for En Primeur, the annual preview of the latest vintage.
En Primeur – What is En Primeur?
Each spring, winemakers in Bordeaux hold tastings with wine merchants, journalists, wine buyers, and other experts called “en primeur,” essentially a sneak peek at how the new vintage is shaping up – in this case 2022. It’s how many Bordeaux houses market their wines in advance. Since houses set prices for these presales (also called “futures”), there’s also a lot of discussion about what higher (or stable) prices might mean.
Selling a great portion of wine while it’s still in barrel gives merchants a chance to hedge their costs, and wine lovers a chance to obtain some of that precious juice (which won’t arrive for two years) hopefully priced to consider a plentiful vintage.
Barrel tasting is not an exact science, but the experts who taste and provide ratings are the bellwethers for who buys and how much. Those who bet on the en primeur can profit in their portfolios and in the glass.
For those of you who were in Bordeaux during harvest last September, you’ll remember how hot and dry it was. The results were small, concentrated berries that everyone felt would produce a great vintage. Bordeaux has been blessed with some excellent – and plentiful – vintages in the past few years. The 2022 vintage looks to be another good one, although time will tell if it’s closer to 2018 or 2019 in terms of style.
After several hot, dry summers, many winemakers credited the 1-2 days of rain in June with saving the vintage. Several regions in Bordeaux also authorized limited irrigation for the short time in 2022.
How En Primeur Works
For more on how En Primeur works (and an offer for 1-week free of Jane Anson’s Inside Bordeaux site), here’s a guide from WineSearcher.
More on the 2022s
- James Suckling’s Advance Report is out and has some great information if you’re looking for some of the best and an overall vintage report.
- Details about the 2022 Growing Season – via Jancis Robinson
- Simon Field MW writing for World of Fine Wine is in Bordeaux and has several stories including a full preview.
- 2022 Growing Season Report from St. Emilion
Travel to Bordeaux:
For any of you planning a trip to Bordeaux this year, don’t forget to reach out to the CIVB office in Bordeaux to get your member login information for the Commmanderie de Bordeaux website. In the members only area, you’ll find chateaus, contact information and the best ways to schedule a visit.
And, from Decanter, here’s a list of essentials in Bordeaux (Decanter subscription required.)
Bottles of Note
Each month, I’ll try to share a bottle or chateau of note that might be worth a look if you’re looking for something special. This particular listing is from The Chicago Wine Company. You can sign up for their email list via their website. As noted in their email, these cases are not listed on their website. You’ll need to call them express interest.
Standing outside the imposing facade of a medieval castle surrounded by sprawling vineyards that were first planted in 1254, it’s hard not to be awestruck by the historic grounds of Château Pape Clément, one of the oldest properties in Bordeaux. Seven centuries have passed since the estate was gifted to Bertrand de Goth (who would eventually become Pope Clément V and serve as the “namesake” of the property) and its initial wine production was reserved for ecclesiastical ceremonies for almost 400 years until the French Revolution in the late 18th century. Like many properties in Bordeaux, ownership would change hands a number of times in the ensuing decades and it wasn’t until then-owner Paul Montagne hired renowned oenologist Émile Peynaud in 1959 that Pape Clément would move from a historic property rooted in the church to its modern day position among the elite names in Bordeaux.
Montagne would eventually give way to current owner Bernard Magrez, a tireless visionary who has elevated this Grand Cru Classé property to a level where it often compares favorably to many First and Second Growth properties during en primeur and in blind tastings. Magrez has long been a believer in combining tradition with innovation and he’s spared no expense when it comes to providing the necessary resources for Pape Clément to not only bottle a world class red but also an ageworthy white Bordeaux blend that has become a benchmark in Pessac-Léognan. In the early 2000s, Magrez would employ a famous consultant of his own, Michel Rolland, who still oversees the blending at Pape Clément and has played a large role in making it home to some of the highest rated bottles in Bordeaux — including a pair of towering 99 & 100-point wines from 2009 and 2010.
[TCWC has]the unique opportunity to offer multiple vintages of the Pape Clément rouge and blanc by the bottle and in case quantities. Typically based on a core of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the Pape Clément rouge is rounded out with small amounts of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, while the grand vin blanc is a traditional blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon with a tiny percentage of Muscadelle added to enhance the wine’s rounded mouthfeel. Undoubtedly one of the great red-and-white duos of Bordeaux, the two wines are among the longest lived on the Left Bank and serve as a testament to the tireless efforts of Magrez and his team to keep this historic estate positioned among the world’s best. This special collection of Pape Clément will be arriving at TCWC early this Fall.
The monumental 2010 Pape Clement – A blend of 51% Merlot and 47% Cabernet Sauvignon rounded out with a small dash of Petit Verdot, the 2010 Pape Clément is only now beginning to show all of its cards after being a wine that held massive potential upon release. Patient collectors knew it would be at least a decade before the 2010 from Magrez and his team would hit its full stride, and today brings a perfect opportunity to get in on a 100-point bottle from a blue chip vintage that’s primed to drink well for the next three decades. Please respond to this email to place your order or follow the link below to order online. Bottles and cases of the 2010 Pape Clément will be arriving at TCWC later this Summer.
2005 Pape Clément – $3,159 | 12 x 750ml | 99 WA
2008 Pape Clément – $1,319 | 12 x 750ml | 95 WA
2009 Pape Clément – $2,339 | 12 x 750ml | 99 WA
2010 Pape Clément – $1,499 | 6 x 750ml | 100 WA
2011 Pape Clément – $1,319 | 12 x 750ml | 96 WA
2015 Pape Clément – $1,379 | 12 x 750ml | 96 WA
2016 Pape Clément – $619 | 6 x 750ml | 96 WA
2018 Pape Clément – $599 | 6 x 750ml | 96+ WA
2006 Pape Clément Blanc – $1,769 | 6 x 750ml | 98 WA
2007 Pape Clément Blanc – $1,229 | 6 x 750ml | 97 WA
2009 Pape Clément Blanc – $3,229 | 6 x 750ml | 100 WA
2010 Pape Clément Blanc – $1,109 | 6 x 750ml | 95 WA
2012 Pape Clément Blanc – $979 | 6 x 750ml | 96 WA
2015 Pape Clément Blanc – $879 | 6 x 750ml | 95 WA
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