Thursday, June 07, 2007

Charge! Bordeaux Season Begins

It's official. It's time to play Bordeaux-ball. (photo by Ian Britton of FreeFoto.com)

I just got my 2006 Bordeaux report in the mail from K & L Wines, and the June 30 issue of Wine Spectator, which includes the 2006 Bordeaux barrel tastings report. This can only mean that the futures market is open, and sure enough, I headed to K &L and there they were, with their prices, and their reviews, and the alluring little "Add to Basket" button.

But should you buy now? Good question. It's impossible to perfectly predict how any wine will age. Nevertheless, experienced tasters can give you some sense of where they think a wine is heading when they do their early tastings of the wines. And then there's cost to consider. The wines will sell now for $3-$10 a bottle less than they will after they arrive in the stores. And unless the wines fail to develop, they are selling now for at least $10-$20 a bottle less than they will sell for when they begin to hit their stride, around 2011. Before you buy, you should decide if the style of the 2006 vintage is for you, then you have to decide if you want to gamble on the wines now or wait until they develop further, and finally will you have room to store your Bordeaux properly once they arrive?

I can't answer the second two questions for you, but I can tell you what the folks at K & L Wines are saying about the style of the 2006 vintage: there are good 2006s, many of which are classic in style (meaning that they are not huge and ripe). You may want to sit this vintage out if you like your Bordeaux lush. But if you admire restrained Bordeaux, with herbs and spice to balance out the fruit, this may be a good year for you IF you buy carefully.

Here are some of the wines that stood out to me from their early reports, with links to the ones that are already on the site and ready for purchase. Of course, your local Bordeaux merchant or favorite internet supplier may already have price details for these wines, too. But I'm a loyal K & L customer, so that's where I'm sending you! One wine I'd take a look at is the 2006 Caronne Ste. Gemme from the Medoc ($12.99, K & L Wines) with dark fruit flavors and aromas and good balance, which often indicates that a wine will continue to develop and improve. At a higher price, the 2006 Cantemerle ($26.99, K& L Wines), also from the Medoc, is getting great reviews and advance reports, with many saying it is better than the 2005 vintage. In the middle price range, I'd seriously consider the 2006 d'Aiguilhe ($21.99, K& L Wines), a merlot-based Bordeaux which is drinking lush and round, according to the buyers. In Sauternes, head straight for the 2006 Doisy-Vedrines ($17.99/375 ml, K& L Wines), which is always a great value and looks to have come through the difficult vintage without problems and to be priced well.

More futures are hitting the market every day, so expect the stock at K&L to change. They have lots of good 2005 values, too, if you haven't yet picked any up. If you buy 2006 Bordeaux futures, don't expect to see them until January-June 2009. And don't expect them to begin to drink well for 3-5 years after that. Of course, you can always check back here in 2013 and see what I think of the 2006 vintage! And if you're new to Bordeaux wines, you may want to check out my previous posts on "Beginning, Budget Steps into the World of Bordeaux," scrolling down to the bottom for the first post.

6 comments:

JB said...

Bordeaux is confusing. Futures are even more confusing. As a buyer for a retailer I prefer to taste before I drink something, but that luxury doesn't really exist for Bordeaux futures, whether you're a retailer or a consumer.

Added to this, I think unless you're going for the really high price stuff, the likelihood that you're getting a deal with Bordeaux futures is pretty slim. It's all speculation. If a $17 bottle of Right Bank merlot eventually increases in pirce by 10% or even 20% by the time it hits the shelves in 2009, then you're not really gaining much since that same $1.70 to $3.40 you might be saving by buying now could theoretically be invested in something with higher returns than wine. Like, say, porkbellies (or for instant gratification, a side of bacon at Doughboys).

The classified growths, especially the first and seconds, might be another story, as long as you can afford the $100+ price-tags they command in the first place.

Dr. Debs said...

JB, you're absolutely right with all you say here. I happen to really, really like Bordeaux, and indeed all cool climate cabs. So for me, the cru bourgeois bordeaux represent great value. But I don't buy them as an investment--I buy them because I like to drink them. Of course, some people buy them for both reasons, but for me a $14 bottle of Bordeaux, in 5 years or so, will be just perfect for my palate. But it's always a gamble, and folks do need to know that going in to the futures market.

Tish said...

Isn't it odd that the new cycle of hand-wringing over BDX futures has begun even before the previous vintage has been delivered, and yet we are surrounded by great values that are immediately available and ready to drink? Plenty of good 2003s are around on the East COast, and better yet, a healthy smattering of already-arrived 2005s. I had a 2005 Ch Bel-Air Cotes de Bourg the other night that costs about $12.

Dr. Debs said...

Tish, welcome back. You're right--I'm just now taking a hard look at the 05s. Too much hysteria on release. The 06s won't have the same, just lots of complaints about high prices. I'll keep a look out for that Bel-Air, and am looking forward to opening some of my 01s and 02s this summer and fall.

David said...

interesting post. I do like JB mostly go for wines I can drink now, but am starting to buy a bottle here and there to put down, and did get a couple 2005 bdx futures.

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