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The Future in Your Hands: 2012 Bordeaux En Primeur

Barrels of Bordeaux wine resting in the cellar.

A challenging growing season to say the least, the 2012 vintage for Bordeaux will be a story of survival of the fittest.  A cold and wet spring poured a deluge twice the norm on the budding vines, affecting flowering and setting. July brought moody rains, encouraging disease and causing spotty ripening. Two weeks into July, the sun came out with no relief until August had almost passed by, at which time nature again turned a cold shoulder to the vines, weeping on the struggling fruit during a late, chilly harvest.

A difficult year? Absolutely. Pass on En Primeur? That depends. While market trends have shifted some buyers away from Bordeaux, and is still showing definitive weakness, there are some highlights worth considering. Good terroir can produce good wine, even in bad years, if handled properly and tended intelligently. This year, then, will be one in which expertise will be rewarded, and those resting on laurels, or simply hoping for the best, will fall and fail.

Nature smiled on certain grape varietals in the 2012 vintage, including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Thus, dry whites basically did well in 2012, and Merlots seem to be performing favorably, especially Pomerol and St.-Emilion wines. Rather difficult challenges were set up for some of the reds, especially those predominantly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon. Sauternes was especially hard-hit in 2012, and larger, renowned Châteaux, including d’Yquem, announced that they would not produce any grand vin from the tenuous vintage. This news did not bode well for the other Châteaux in the region. There are always exceptional cases, so we must ask, did 2012 bring anything really special to the table?

The 2012 Château Margaux found the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon ever in the mix at 87 percent. With moderate term potential, the popular dense structure, dark fruit, and high tannins may end up building a lovely glass.

The 2012 Château Palmer Margaux is put together nicely, with another densely structured sip built of 48 percent Merlot, 46 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 6 percent Petit Verdot. This wine is looking to be a true gem of the vintage and worthy of investment for the right reasons.

Nowhere is the possibility of a good wine from a bad year more likely than from Château Mouton-Rothschild, where the legendary terroir yielded a rich, extravagant wine boasting big fruit and sweet tannins at this stage. The 2012 Mouton appears poised to deliver an extraordinary result that is built for the long haul. Château Lafite-Rothschild produced a more elegant, classic style in 2012 with a precious 38% of the harvest making it into the blend. While production of the 2012 Lafite is much lower, the wine is being offered at an attainable price for the first time in years. Wines from St. Julien, such as the 2012 Château Saint Pierre, and the Château Talbot, have shown rounded, lushly endowed wines with promise.

Why risk the money in such a difficult year? As with any investment, being both smart and lucky are in the mix, but the obvious answer is to apply known factors to access wines produced in limited quantities that may emerge as stellar sips. The added impetus comes from purchasing such wines at the best price, two years before bottling.

As the wines continue to build character in the barrel, and each additional tranch firms up the price, they await the final test. No matter what the experts, negociants, retailers, and journalists say, the real deal comes from the smiles on the faces of investors tasting the results of a good decision.

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2010 Bordeaux Futures

First Growth Wines of Bordeaux

The old adage that great Bordeaux vintages come in pairs is ringing true for the 2010 vintage as it joins the ranks beside 2009.  The 2010 vintage is stacking up to be a beauty for Bordeaux and here at The Wine Cellarage, we are thrilled to present these exceptional wines for En Primeur purchase.

The 2010 Bordeaux Futures have been donned with bullish scores and exorbitant prices yet again with some of the top wines priced higher than ever.  The question is, how bullish are you feeling when it comes to 2010 Bordeaux Futures and why buy-in now?

Given the very recent turbulence in the market and the current economic uncertainty, you may be hesitant to diversify your portfolio with 2010 Bordeaux Futures at the moment, but investing in wine from a great vintage should be carefully considered nonetheless.  The main incentive for buying futures is to snag the wines up at a lower price before they are bottled, at which point the values have the potential to increase 20% to 30%.  The other payoff is, of course, guaranteeing that you get a piece of the pie, since these wines are produced in finite quantities. There is only so much wine to go around and there are plenty of consumers and investors out there who are thirsty, willing and able to lap it all up.  Wine is a very tangible commodity, another appealing aspect of the investment.

Here lies the conundrum.  The 2010 Bordeaux vintage first and second growths will cost you a pretty penny, causing a lot of seasoned Bordeaux buyers to respond bearishly, yet the quality of this Bordeaux vintage is so promising!  Robert Parker has anointed the 2010 Bordeaux vintage with fantastic scores, submitting that “it is an inescapable truth that 2010 has produced another year of compelling Bordeaux that will go down as a prodigious vintage alongside 2009. Take your pick – this news is either tragic or mythical, but I have tasted enough wines from 2005, 2009 and 2010 to realize that these may be the three greatest Bordeaux vintages I have tasted in my career.”

The 2010 Bordeaux growing season was warm and extremely dry, producing small, thick-skinned grapes with elevated sugar levels, a potentially cumbersome combo.  However, during August and September, cool nights swept into the Gironde maintaining the high acidity levels needed to balance the opulent, concentrated fruit and sugar.  These wines are thus infused with delightful freshness, giving them impeccable balance and ensuring astounding longevity.

There are several different approaches that you can take when investing in Bordeaux Futures.  Some experts advise scooping up only the first growths and highly regarded second growths, but this isn’t a realistic tactic for everyone.  Robert Parker recommends that those interested in buying 2010 Bordeaux Futures “forget about the first-growths, super-seconds and a handful of other limited production glamour wines as they will be beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest millionaires and billionaires” and advises choosing from the “many, many good values and great wines” that can be bought at much lower prices.  Mid-range under-the-radar wines, when given a favorable score, have been known to jump in value, making them a savvy choice.

The returns on your investment in 2010 Bordeaux could be really great, not to mention that you will always have the option to drink and enjoy the wine if nothing else.  These are my favorite kind of liquid assets!  Once you’ve done your homework and chosen the 2010 Bordeaux Futures that you’re going to buy, be sure to secure the best wine storage possible to keep your investment in pristine condition.

Below you will find a short guide to the 2010 Bordeaux Futures that we have to offer at The Wine Cellarage.  To view our entire collection available for En Primeur purchase, Click Here.

Red Wines of the Left Bank

First Growths

2010 Château Margaux, Margaux ($1,350; Wine Advocate: 96-98 pts)

2010 Château Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac ($1,850; Wine Advocate: 98-100 pts)

2010 Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac ($1,300; Wine Advocate: 97-100 pts)

2010 Château Haut Brion, Pessac-Leognan ($1,250; Wine Advocate: 98-100 pts)

Second Growths

2010 Château Léoville Las Cases, Saint Julien ($320; Wine Advocate: 95-98 pts)

2010 Château Pichon Longueville Baron, Pauillac ($238; Wine Advocate: 97-99+ pts)

2010 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac ($245; Wine Advocate: 92-95+ pts)

2010 Château Ducru Beaucaillou, Saint Julien ($260; Wine Advocate: 96-98+ pts)

2010 Château Cos d’Estournel, Saint Estèphe ($330; Wine Advocate: 95-97 pts)

2010 Château Montrose, Saint Estèphe ($235; Wine Advocate: 96-99+ pts)

2010 Château Lascombes, Margaux ($124)

Third Growth

2010 Château Lagrange, Saint Julien ($70; Wine Advocate: 89-92+ pts)

Forth Growth

2010 Château Branaire Ducru, Saint Julien ($82; Wine Advocate: 93-95 pts)

White Wines of the Left Bank

Superior First Growth

2010 Château d’Yquem, Sauternes ($720; Wine Advocate: 96-98 pts)

First Growths

2010 Château Climens, Barsac ($124; Wine Advocate: 94-96 pts)

2010 Château Rieussec, Sauternes ($82; Wine Advocate: 90-92 pts)

Right Bank Beauties

Saint Émilion

If right bank is more your style, choices include premier grand cru classés Châteaux such as 2010 Château Cheval Blanc, Saint Émilion ($1,450; Wine Advocate: 96-98+ pts), 2010 Château Angélus, Saint Émilion ($390; Wine Advocate: 94-96+ pts), 2010 Château Belair Monange, Saint Émilion ($330; Wine Advocate: 95-97+ pts) and 2010 Chateau Troplong Mondot, Saint Émilion ($165; Wine Advocate: 96-98+ pts).

Top-notch grand cru classés such as the 2010 Château Canon La Gaffelière, Saint Émilion ($100; Wine Advocate: 92-94 pts), which Parker has given a preliminary score of 92-94 points, represent excellent quality and value from Bordeaux that is available at a relatively approachable price.

Pomerol

The unclassified wines of Pomerol cannot be overlooked and represent some of the region’s finest quality and best values.  One of Pomerol’s preeminent producers, Château Trotanoy, is known for wines that epitomize the seductive quality and age-worthiness of great Bordeaux.  The nearby Château Latour à Pomerol is another excellent producer with an admirable track record.

2010 Château Trotanoy, Pomerol ($385; Wine Advocate: 93-95+ pts)

2010 Château Latour à Pomerol, Pomerol ($150; Wine Spectator: 95-98 pts)

2010 Château Rouget, Pomerol ($110; Wine Advocate: 91-93 pts)

2010 Château La Fleur de Gay, Pomerol ($105; Wine Spectator: 90-93 pts)

2010 Château Plince, Pomerol ($75; Wine Spectator: 91-94 pts)

Hidden Gems

Finally, when selecting your 2010 Bordeaux Futures, don’t forget to peruse the smaller, lesser-known estates.  Although these estates don’t have the prestige of Château Margaux or Petrus, certain Châteaux not only present exceptional quality for a fraction of the prices of the top-tier Premier Crus, they also hold a sentimental value with many of us wine lovers.  The words of Chris Kissack, a.k.a the Wine Doctor, strike a chord when he recalls “fond memories of bottles from small, backwater estates which [he] encountered early in [his] affair with wine.  Crisp, flavoursome whites from the Entre-deux-Mers, and rich, well-defined reds from the Côtes de Castillon, even generic Bordeaux from a good vintage such as 1990, these were early favourites…”

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