Bordeaux 2019 en primeur

The COVID19 vintage

by Panos Kakaviatos for

29 May 2020

As we slowly open things up and muddle through “mask on, mask off”, it is important to take into consideration the common courtesy to wear a mask for shop owners who have to deal all day with customers whom they do not know. While opening up is important, it is equally important to be safe.

And it also clear that after some 50 days in lockdown in Strasbourg, France, followed by travel restrictions, I did not go to Bordeaux to taste the 2019 vintage from barrel.

And I am beginning to think that this has been a good thing. And not just for health reasons.

For now.

Château Pontet-Canet 2019 was released on 28 May for €58 a bottle ex-Bordeaux: that is over 30% below the opening price of the much (sometimes over) hyped 2018 release.

Indeed, as Decanter reports, “Liv-ex data showed that it is one of the lowest priced vintages of Pontet-Canet on the market, and the lowest ex-Bordeaux release price since 2008. The 2019 barrel sample received a score of 96 points from Decanter’s Jane Anson.”

So, without yours truly and other wine hacks taking part in the annual late March/early April wine tastings, creating concomitant hype, producers are left with less incentive to raise prices.

Of course the market is in bad shape given reactions to COVID19, but you may have noticed that the stock market has been doing very well lately. There is a good chance that things will “return to normal” with a V-shaped economic recovery. Airline prices are going up. As of 2 June, in France, one can travel beyond the 100 kilometer limit that has been in place since the obligatory lock down ended earlier this month. And it looks like beaches from July on will be open for business. Heck, Cyprus is ready to pay for anyone who contracts the virus while vacationing there, as you can read here.

A lingering risk remains in some quarters that may have “opened too soon” without having “flattened the curve” or that COVID19 will mutate later this year into a more aggressive form, but, for now, things are looking good. And “looking good” is a relative description. Many have lost jobs, are applying for unemployment insurance and restaurants and other venues that cannot do business in a social distance model are suffering enormously.

But we have a wine buying opportunity whatever the case may be elsewhere. Even not having tasted Pontet Canet, I am tempted to pull the trigger on a six pack of the 2019 vintage. My dear friend Jane Anson has giving it 96 points, and I like her palate, so you have that to fall back on. Among others who are having some wines shipped over to taste.

I look forward to tasting the wines later this year in Bordeaux.

But, for now, there is something nice about less hype.


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