Fraud, price crashes or anything else vaguely interesting notwithstanding, I shall write no more on last year’s Bordeaux vintage. The vintage that nearly killed me. The vintage that has made a few people rich, and may well make many people richer still. I may even make a few quid out of it.
I’m frequently mistaken for a salesman. Occasionally mistaken for a good one. I’m half the first, none of the latter. Selling something good is a piece of piss. Selling Evian in the desert is a walk in the park as long as you can find your market. Selling petrol on motorways? My point is simple: I sell stuff that people want to buy – it’s not difficult. But there is another edge to the sword. I love what I sell. I truly love it, which on the one hand makes it easy – it doesn’t take much to get me gushing about Jacques-Frederic Mugnier, Jean-Philippe Fichet or Jean-Louis Chave. The tricky bit is this: when you love something, you want everything associated with it to be beautiful, to be lovely. I haven’t felt much love selling these 2009 clarets. Greed, gluttony and capital gains, but not much love. And this genuinely pains me.
One of the reasons that I want to stay alive is so that I can drink 2009 Ch. Latour at maturity (the wine’s, not mine). This wine and a couple of others have got me thinking about God, and my place in the world. It’s that good. Poetry, music: 2009 Latour is up there and beyond. It’s your first kiss, it’s the curvature of the earth. It’s magical. It’s certainly beyond any description I can cobble together. There is love in it.
It’s also about twelve grand a case and, with less than 10,000 of these cases produced, I imagine that this price will rise over time. Lottery wins or that million-selling novel notwithstanding, I’m out of the race for this one. But are any of those who are, and who have bought the wine, actually going to drink it? A few, I reckon, and a small few at that. I’d bet that most owners of 2009 Latour have bought on the basis that someone else will buy it from them for more money.
I’m used to fine wine as a commodity. I understand the concept, the logistics and the market. To a large degree it’s what I do for a living, but this year something has stuck a bit, I’ve a stone in my shoe. Maybe this is self-righteous bullshit but trading something so beautiful, something that to me proves the existence of the Man Upstairs, seems a bit, well, dirty. Half of it is the sheer beauty of the 2009s, the other half is the amount of what I call speculative buying.
But I’ll stick a lid on my self-righteous drabble and get back to the comfort of hypocrisy. Herewith my medals:
Jean-Guillaume Prats and Ch. Cos d’Estournel. The overcast sky of the imperfect sample of this back in April has been burnt off by the sunshine that was the astonishing second sample. If this wine turns out to be as good as it should be we will have a legend, a 61 Palmer on our hands. If not, well, it was a laugh. Twice the price of the 2005 and the UK’s two biggest merchants sell 15%-20% of the crop in a day? Bananas price? Nope – sharp price, sharp wine and sharp man.
Ch. Pontet-Canet, Pauillac. This property has been repositioning itself over the past few years, climbing the ladder, and they are now at the top. They have joined the Champions’ League. Even at the £1,200 per case now asked for a case of 2009 this wine is a bargain. No, it will never be a first growth but this is the Pauillac that is chasing the big three.
All the rest really or, more accurately: the Bordelais. If there is one thing that these guys are good at it is pricing their wines “as fully as the market can bear”. This terminology implies some pain on the part on the buyer and it’s spot on. Buying some of these wines was painful, but they were still bought. So what if 2010 turns out to be unsellable? “That is next year’s problem” say the Bordelais (and that’s more or less a direct quote from one of them). If Mammon ever hangs out with Bacchus I’ll bet you they drink claret….
Two of these: one to Chateau Figeac, makers (along with the Man, see above) of one of my wines of the vintage. A price so absurd it provokes laughter – nothing else – just laughter. You can buy the brilliant 2005 for HALF the price.
The second: to all those merchants who recommended EVERYTHING that they could make 10% on. Tossers.
Latour doesn’t get a medal: it’s beyond that, it’s celestial. And Latour aside I say yar boo sucks to 2009.