The 2013 Bordeaux vintage: vins de bistro

500 words on 2013 Bordeaux.  Because it’s like a punishment..  There are tastings that you go to where, a few wines in, you divine that you could have written the notes without tasting the wines first.  This isn’t a sign of bad quality, more a sign of predictability which, in some fields (like accountancy) is a good thing.

You can’t taste the rain in 2013 in the same way that you could taste the rain in 2007s at a similar age.  And, on their release, I was more positive than most about the wines partly, I admit, because I was fed up with the miasma of negativity that surrounded them.  The weather was appalling in 2013; that the wine that was produced in Bordeaux is even remotely good is testimony to knowledge, technology and a great deal of hard work.

The UGC tasting at the Opera House was, if not quite empty, a long way from full.  The central aisle between the Pauillacs and the St Juliens was navigable as opposed to its usual claustrophobia.  Fifteen or so wines in and it was clear why.

2013s are not nasty.  They’re not green.  They’re not unpleasant.  And they’re not very exciting.  Indeed they’re not exciting at all.  They’re just nice, pleasant hooch.  Vins de bistro.

Trouble is, they’re not priced, and weren’t released, at vin de bistro prices.  Which is what the Bordelais missed in 2013.  Because so much of their wine is in bonded warehouses, on the books of the negociants, or whatever.  Their wines aren’t on tables or in glasses.  What the Bordelais have maybe missed is that no one drinks their wine any more.  At the post tasting lunch, the two clarets – 1990 Rauzan-Ségla and 2008 Grand-Puy-Lacoste – seemed like the geeks in the corner whilst Burgundy, Tuscany, Piedmont and Napa danced at the school disco.  1990 Rauzan-Ségla is about as good a bottle of claret as you will get for less than £200 a bottle and 2008 Grand-Puy-Lacoste is a wine that you should buy today if you don’t have any.  But no one knows this, no one wants it.  Drinking Bordeaux is like smoking cigarettes or using plastic bags.  It’s just not cool.

I don’t want to say “I said this from the beginning” but, well, I said this from the beginning: 2013 clarets will, or would, make brilliant “vins de bistro”.  Steak and chips and a bottle of Lynch-Bages for £20.  And how that could have engaged a few.  The class of customers that some wine merchants might describe as “adventurers” – those on the start of the voyage – would have discovered something.  Something good.  2013 Lynch, GPL, Léoville-Barton: they’re actually pretty good but no one is going to drink them at their current prices and those that bought them on release will have the bad taste of a bad buy in their mouth.  An opportunity missed.

500 words done.  One of the best wines of the tasting was Grand-Puy-Lacoste, which is hardly surprising.  £340 a case on release.  £300 or so now.  Call it £35 a bottle after the taxman and other marmalade.  You can buy the excellent 2008 for less.  Work that out.