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Posted: Monday, October 12 2009. 13:40

Bordeaux 2009 promises to be Great Vintage

The local producers who have been optimistic about the current vintage are exalted at the possibility of the exceptional vintage being the best in the last 60 years due to perfect weather conditions , overshadowing the almost perfect 2005.

Most experts agree that they would need to check the records of the weather conditions in the 1940s to find out a better weather. Growers feel that the mix of fine days and cool, dry nights in the final days before harvesting started last month, has been the finest since 1949. The cool nights stopped the grapes from over-ripening. July and August were ideal because of hot and sunny days. Drought conditions for a short while threatened the ripening of grapes and development of crucial tannins to help age the wines, but the rains came to the rescue just in time.

Pierre Lurton, Managing Director of the iconic Chateau Cheval Blanc in Saint Emilion says that rains came like the answer to a prayer, exactly at the right time, and the vines continued maturing. As a result, he said, the grapes have all the sugar content, colour and fruitiness found in the greatest of vintages.

Bordeaux winegrowers are habitual of describing their vintages as better than they actually are and especially after the fall of prices and sales of the 2005 they have been hopeful and ‘hypeful’. However, international experts seem to concur with them this time. Max Lalondrelle, the buyer for Bordeaux for BBR blogs that the weather in Bordeaux and the rest of France has been classic textbook style, with the fruit being the healthiest he has ever seen and all ingredients being in place for a great vintage.’

Alfred Tesseron who owns and manages the family owned Fifth Growth Château Pontet-Canet in Pauillac, told The Independent newspaper, ‘ít is too early to tell. But in 2005 I thought that I was a lucky man to see such exceptional grapes in my lifetime. Now it seems that I may be lucky twice. The weather patterns of the two years were very similar but, if anything, the cool nights in September could make 2009 even better.’ 

It is too early to tell which way the prices of En Primeur 2009 go next April because wine from the harvest will be ready for preliminary tasting only in January or February next year. But with the recession gradually receding and the Asian markets like Hong Kong and China expanding, the hype will help create a positive frame of mind for the prices to touch 2005 vintage or even surpass them.

The one problem causing anguish to many global fans of Bordeaux fine wines will be  the possibility of higher alcohol content than usual in this vintage. Some are dreading that it may touch 14ºC while it is normally known to be within 12.5 to 13º C.

And talking about the problem, one sore point for the Bordelaise has been the damage caused by hail storms in May to vineyards in some areas, including Entre-Deux-Mers, Saint-Emilion on the right bank and Graves on the left. Over half the crops were lost in some vineyards many of whom were not insured.

Less Pesticides too

Adding to the excitement in Bordeaux is the fact that the region has been successful in reducing the level of pesticides used in the vineyards without any effect on the quality of the fruit. French president Nicolas Sarkozy had exhorted the Bordeaux wine producers during the national consultations in environment issues in October 2007 to reduce pesticide use by 50 percent. They were to do this within the framework of ten years but they have reportedly exceeded it after just two harvests.

“We have reduced insecticide and herbicide use by 80 percent and we no longer have to treat vines against parasitic insects and mites,” according to Etienne Priou, the director of Château Beaumont, a major producer situated in Cussac-Fort-Médoc.

Bordeaux can hopefully celebrate this vintage in more ways than one. After the 2007 and 2008 which suffered sales and a price fall due to the economic slowdown and the quality not being considered as good as 2005, the current vintage should be a big booster for them. It will definitely bring smiles on their faces as well as that of one man so important to the wine making region and the rest of France- President Sarkozy.

Perhaps Mr. Nicola Sarkozy will after all, raise a glass of 2009 from the tank/barrel and toast- to the financial health of the wine producers and to the health of consumers alike.

       

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