The story of 2010 Bordeaux is Chateau Batailley.
Yet, as the Wine Doctor says, there is something of the “blustery tweed jacket” about Batailley.
During the Georgian period, tax was determined by the number of windows in a building and many were, and still are, bricked up (incidentally, this is where the term “daylight robbery” comes from).
I thought about these windows a lot when I worked in Belgravia (Central London) when I delivered Bordeaux and Champagne on a trolley around Eaton Square.
Batailley was a practical claret, nothing too serious. I have always found it always a bit solid and predictable, a bit four-square (only if not served in a tea cup, then it was fun), and a bit old-school retro.
This is why the rate of sales in the UK in 2010 is so interesting. On 1 June, the real 2010 Bordeaux campaign finally commenced. Emails offering Batailley at about £300 per dozen IB ex VAT skidded into my inbox like drunk carrier pigeons.
This was one of the fastest-selling wines of the 2010 campaign in UK and sold mostly on the back of Neal Martin’s note, “Quintessential Pauillac” 93- 95 points.
It shows there is a demand for Bordeaux En Primeur for drinking but it has to be reasonable value. It also shows people are looking for something rock steady in a difficult and tumultuous European economic environment.
For serious En Primeur buyers, this was the position that used to be occupied by the Second Growths (Baron and Comtesse) but now have become a bit punchy – even to the people who are comfortable spending money and cellaring wine for future drinking.
2010 showed a distinct improvement in this cardboard and dust style of claret. It pulled out some distinctly Pauillac pyrotechnics.
Graphite, crafted symmetry and pure black fruit.
This is because the quality of all Chateaux is generally moving upwards since the 1990s because of technology and better sorting of grapes in the vineyard. The extremely strict sorting of the grapes at Pichon Baron is a case in point.
Batailley captured the attention of the traditional Bordeaux market and a few younger people who want to get their foot in the door of En Primeur allocations.
I’ve noticed a few Bordelaise are questioning their decision to alienate their traditional audiences for a shaky Chinese market which has the potential to tank the whole fine wine market.
Or not. As Alfred Tesseron noted, “There is Brazil”. Although I would argue Pontet is a new breed of Bordeaux, a bit outside the traditional system, with a distinct story about the land.
The story of the land is the real story of wine, and that includes Bordeaux (!), and where I think the future of the region lies if it does not want to become completely retro in the next 20 years.
Better than the one that leads to a closed world of daylight robbery.
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