Primeurs 2019 Bordeaux, a challenging task !

2019 En Primeurs, a challenging task !

2019 primeurs bordeaux

My Primeurs 2019 is about 320 wines including 274 that you can find commented on this blog, in the articles reserved to subscribers and accessible by clicking here (careful, tasting notes are only in french for the moment).

320 wines, it seems a lot to some and tiny to others. Compared to 2018 I tasted 3 times less wines for a much wider dedicated time. The number of visits was also higher with forty different places.

Why ? Because I went to much more individual meeting in the properties. 

The reason? Because of the global Coronavirus pandemic that severely affected the En Primeurs 2019

The Coronavirus, big troubles for the 2019 En Primeurs  :

The Coronavirus has devastated effected on the traditional En Primeurs, all events were cancelled one after the other, and this only a few weeks before the traditional beginning of the Primeurs. According to the general uncertainty and the lack of visibility for a recovery date, the spectre to don’t present this vintage was growing.It was a very difficult and painful episode for everyone. Such a frustration to cannot present this magnificent vintage ! Such a pity not to get together to taste these wines! This moment is really important for Bordeaux, with the opportunity to maintain strong commercial ties. If you want to know more about the  En Primeurs system, click-here. Something really detrimental.

But after all these problems, let’s try to focus on the positive ! In any crisis, new things can emerge, and in this sense Covid has brought some opportunities.

Opportunities linked to Coronavirus :

  • Tasting later the wines, with a common opinion wines tasted much better. 
  • Take more time during discuss, favorisant the quality of the talks. 
  • The emergence of new digital formats, such as live discussions on social networks/platforms, teasers, etc.
smith haut lafitte vignes 2019
Derrière le voile de la pandémie se distingue un très grand millésime 2019 (lieu : Château Smith Haut-Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan)

Starting En Primeurs 2019

For my part, I waited to see more clearly the general situation before starting, like many others.

As the deconfinement progressed, I was surprised because I just received few notifications. I had in mind that the priority had been given to the négoce and to the most famous wine critics, but this left me doubtful : too few announcements regarding a resumption of tastings, leaving me to believe that nothing more would be organized to taste 2019.

Strange ? Yes, because as much after COVID I received many cancellations emails, as for the recovery, not much. Some feedbacks from commented tastings appeared on Internet.  The communication was really focused on the main players of the Primeurs, drastically limiting the number of people who tasted 2019. Frustrating for all the tasting addicts like me, because we wanted to taste this 2019!

Alternatives

Alternatives were proposed, notably sending samples and organising live tastings on Internet and Social Networks. Interesting solutions, especially for the international scene.

With regard to the sending of samples, it was interesting to note that certain processes have been put in place to monitor the conditions of shipments, particularly the temperature, in order to ensure optimal transport. An expensive but effective solution. However, the samples were then delivered at the person’s discretion. But the people who received these samples are great professionals, no doubt that the optimal tasting condition were applied: This is an important point that is often crucial in many tastings, because maintaining optimal temperatures in a place can be extremely difficult.

Other estates have made the choice not to send anything, which is quite understandable and respectable, but impacting their visibility, especially with the international press.

The live Internet tastings were very successful and generated commitment.  The “live” tasting format emerged as well as short format teasers where different owners presented the vintage.  I took part in the Live exercise with Château de Rayne-Vigneau (from Sauternes) and I really enjoyed it! If you want to access the video click-here. 

Finally some events were still maintained, but had to be adapted or completely revised, in accordance with the directives of the moment. It was therefore necessary to go to the events in certain niches. This limited the number of people according to the prerogatives and followed the different protocols. In fact, and this is quite normal, these tastings were primarily aimed at the trade. Little chance of getting to taste this vintage…

livraison primeurs 2019
Réception d'échantillon en Primeurs !

Declic

And then one morning the click occurred when I received (finally!) a press release from a large domain inviting me to contact them for tasting 2019. I did so, and contacted neighbouring estates by chance. These estates quickly answered favourably to me. So I decided to continue, and gradually I realized that the majority of the estates were quite ready to receive, with the respect of the barrier gestures. In reality it did not change much for all those who had individual appointments for habits.

On the other hand, not being a world-renowned négociant or critic, I had missed the tastings of many wineries, which are essential to have an overview of the vintage on Bordeaux.

In the end, it was easier for me to taste the Grand Crus Classés, which are accustomed to receive individually, than to taste the wines of more modest estates that we usually find on group tastings. Pretty crazy, isn’t it?

Détermination

For my part I was not discouraged, and according to the high quality of the wines tasted, I decided to continue and to contact many domains to taste their wines, well decided to make my own opinion about the vintage. A great time, as the domains were actually seekers, so happy to find an interlocutor for talking and tasting this 2019. I just had few refusals. The exchanges were long, taking the time to taste, even to compare with other years. It was just great!

By using my network I finally managed to access on some events, allowing me to taste many wines or receive samples at home. I really thank all the people who contributed to it because it is give me to have an overview and to be able to write about this vintage.

larrivet haut brion primeurs
2019 En Primeurs chez Château Larrivet Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan). Mais aussi comparaison avec le millésime 2018 et dégustation surprise d'un blanc de 1992 ! Quelle joie ! Merci à l'équipe ! - Tasting En Primeurs the 2019 at Château Larrivet Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan). But also completed by the tasting of the 2018 and magnified by a 1992 white ! So glad ! Thank you for the team !

Frustration 

However, even if I am enthusiastic, I will not hide that all this was extremely difficult, constraining in terms of dedicated time, and here again some last-minute organizations did not work.  Some misunderstandings occurred, like for example a press release inviting me in advance for an important tasting, but which I am still waiting for the link to register, as well as a response to my reminder email.  I would like to say this kind of things is intolerable. I am sure there are many reasons for this, but clearly there is an important line of work.

But I was unfortunately not at the end of my surprises, the pearl returning to a tasting initially planned for another journalist and to which I had been offered to come to taste a number of open bottles. A great initiative, but here the bottles would have ended up in the sink just before I came… the main journalist having left ! Too bad and frustrating, I was comforted in the wines of the property, fortunately they were very good, and took the time to exchange with the owner, as sorry as me.

You’ll probably tell me how is it possible ? Maybe. Unfortunately this kind of thing can happen, and it doesn’t necessarily need a global pandemic ! Let’s just say it didn’t make things better. It is especially a pity because I missed many wines, but let us specify this tasting was not originally organised for me. It was a last-minute opportunity that didn’t work. I was also able to take advantage of a lot of other impromptu organizations that worked perfectly. That’s the most important for me and I thank everyone who contributed to that.

2019 : Positive attitude !

Let’s focus on the positive way : such a satisfaction to be able to taste this beautiful 2019 ! What a joy to see these winemakers happy to finally present their wines! It was possible to taste the Primeurs during several months. This is a good thing, but just to a certain extent, let us not forget that these wines are still evolving. For my part, I decided to stop at some point for this reason, in order to keep a certain homogeneity in my notes.

Beautiful things finally came out of all this, especially tasting this vintage later than during the traditional dates of the Primeurs. But we will also remember the fact of taking more time during the exchanges. And this in all the areas I visited ! Everyone was relaxed and really took the time to share.

In the end, I particularly liked this format, and I really hope that for the next Primeurs we will retain the positive things that this crisis situation has generated. Let us try to inspire ourselves to make our wines shine, they merits ! 

Primeurs covid
Dégustation Primeurs des Grands Cercles des Vins de Bordeaux, en parfaite adéquation avec les préconisations du moment

My view about 2019

I am very happy to taste this 2019 vintage ! That’s right, I would have liked to taste more, but I felt so lucky to taste them, and to discover some very great wines, that I am delighted. The few galleys and frustrations are just part of the game. The most important thing is to have been able to meet the wineries, taste the wines, and feel a lot of emotions while tasting this vintage.

I had some real favourites, which you can find in my article devoted to my tasting notes, and especially in my article featuring my top 15 of the 2019 wines (only in French) that I was able to taste.

Prices down for 2019

Another point to emphasize is the drop in prices, significant for some. 30% less is far from negligible, and after taking a look at the prices practiced I can tell you that there are very good values. Many will say «finally !! » and how I understand them ! This trend has to be welcomed, and I hope it is the starting of a serious questioning about the prices, because it is necessary to stay attractive, and to inspire commitment on this event. Consumers must have the feeling, the term is weak, the conviction, to be able to do real business during this time of En Primeurs ! From this conviction will come the emulation we so desperately need to radiate again.

I am personally under the charm of this 2019 vintage, and whether in the wines, as in the words I was able to gather with those who presented them, I found there emotion and passion. And I would say to all of you a big thank you!

Xavier LACOMBE 

Thank you a lot !

I would like to say a huge thank you to all the people and estates who have the kindness to receive me : 

Château Pontet-Canet ; Château Mouton-Rothschild ; Château Smith Haut-Lafitte ; Château Haut-Bailly ; Château Margaux ; Château Montrose ; Château Graves de Pez ; Eric Boissennot ; Cdic Communication ; Oenoconseil (big thank you to all the team !); Château Palmer ; Vieux Château Certan ; Château Figeac ; Château Cheval Blanc ; Château Angélus ; Château Ausone ; le Grand Cercle des vins de Bordeaux ; Château Croix de Labrie ; C.A Grands Crus ; Château Meyney ; Château Lafite-Rothschild ; Château Cos d’Estournel ; Château Teynac ; Château La Tour Blanche, Château de Rayne-Vigneau ; Sylvain Boisvert ; Miguel Aguirre;  Vincent Labergère; Château Lafleur ; Château La Conseillante ; Groupe Moueix ; Château Petit-Village ; Château de Ferrand ; Château Fieuzal, Château Larrivet Haut-Brion ; Château Malartic-Lagravière ; Domaine de Chevalier ; Château Batailley ; Château Guiraud ; Château Haut-Bergeron ; Château Bouscaut ; Château Latour-Martillac, ; Château Carbonnieux ; Château Pape-Clément ; Château Yquem ; Château de Fargues ; Coralie de Boüard ; Château Cardinal Villemaurine ; Clos Fourtet ; Vignobles K ; Château Mangot ; Domaine le petit Marand. 

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