Bordeaux pours out its art to 4,000 wine buffs

3rd April 2005, Comments 0 comments

BORDEAUX, France, April 3 (AFP) - The vintners of Bordeaux, after three years of disastrous sales - except for the greatest wines - are preparing to offer connoisseurs a taste of the record 2004 vintage.

BORDEAUX, France, April 3 (AFP) - The vintners of Bordeaux, after three years of disastrous sales - except for the greatest wines - are preparing to offer connoisseurs a taste of the record 2004 vintage.

Some 4,000 experts involved in the wine trade around the world, along with more than 150 specialist journalists, will be in southwest France for the tastings, which start on Tuesday.

Jean-Marc Quarin, a critic who has his own Internet site, says he is preparing to taste 400 wines.

He predicts that the 2004 vintage will produce "a good surprise".

"The 2004 wines will be better than the 2002 ones," he said. "If prices are modest, they will be bargains. If not, you would do better to buy the 2002 Bordeaux, which are already in the shops."

The sale of new wine represents less than five percent of the year's production in volume for Bordeaux, but some 25 percent in value.

The deals are made while the wine is still in barrels - bottling of the 2004 vintage is not due for several months yet - which gives the producer cash in hand in advance and in principle gives the buyer a better price.

Prices vary from year to year, not only in response to supply and demand, but also to the opinion of critics whose judgment is taken on board by professional and even individual buyers.

Prices for the 2000 vintage, for example, made spectacular surges as a result of the perception of the "millennium" wine's exceptional quality.

In 2001 and 2002 prices dipped in difficult marketing conditions; in 2003, as the result of a heat wave, the prices of the highest quality wines shot back up.

But sales of Bordeaux fell 23.3 percent last year in value and 13.9 percent in volume, leaving many producers with backed-up stocks.

That makes the new wine tastings essential for all.

"It's important to show off our new-born to professionals from the entire world," said Maryse Roba, proprietor of the Vieux Robin chateau, who organises tastings of her "bourgeois" wine there.

Now, alongside the official tastings organised by the Association of Great Vineyards in a handful of prestigious chateaux, an "alternative" festival has sprung up, with lesser producers, restaurateurs, gallery owners and others in Bordeaux city and its surroundings organising their own tastings.

"The new wine draws the crowds," said Patrick Moulin of La Lagune chateau.

"Last year, we had 800 people a day. That was a bit difficult to organise, but it got us known."

It is there, at the edge of the Medoc region, that the sweet Sauternes and Barsac wines will be presented this year, after having suffered last year from being off the beaten track for the professionals, inundated with invitations.

To seduce them, organisers bid to outdo each other in the choice of food they offer with the wine.

This year, the "bourgeois" vineyards are proposing "feasts, billiards and jazz", while the producers of Bordeaux superieur are turning on a "convivial buffet".

Far from the tumult, meanwhile, the greatest of the chateaux and the most respected of the wholesalers prefer to issue private invitations to hand-picked critics to attend ultra-private tastings.


Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article