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Monday Manifestos
Bordeaux 2010--Price Is Always A Consideration

By Charles Olken

You will read plenty of words about the about to be released Bordeaux 2010s in the coming days and weeks. That is because their makers are touring the country by the hundreds stopping in major cities along the way and pouring wine for any and all who will swirl and sip. Most of the attendees, all of whom are supposed to have industry credentials, do a good job of spitting as well, but, as at all events of its type, there are more than a few who wind up spilling wine or breaking glasses by the time the day is out.

I apologize for that diversion, but I have to admit that I was surprised to see my doctor standing there tasting—but I expect that he was not among those who failed to expecorate. I lost him in the crowd and never did track him down to find out how he had translated his love of wine into an invitation to one of the most interesting of the annual tasting events that pass our ways.

One reason you will read lots about the Bordeaux 2010s is that lots of writers attended, and we like having something to write about. Another is that the wines were quite impressive. Indeed, the wine press, especially those whose voices are strongest or firstest to print, is going to be falling all over itself proclaiming two great vintages in a row. And it is hard to argue with that notion. But, I am going to predict that when all is said and done, it will be the bolder 2009s that steal the march from the generally more elegant and classically stated 2010s.

That is lesson one from this tasting. No two vintages are alike, and if one prefers are Bordeaux for the cellar that is still a bit wound up and not showing itself at the earliest possible moment, then 2010 will be your cup of tannin regardless of what I expect to see in reviews that are simply not as over-the-top in enthusiasm as those of the 2009s. We will have much more to say on this subject ourselves when our full tasting notes are published in our March Issue and are also presented here in The Connoisseur’s Wine Blog.

Lesson two is about price. With the world economy heating up enough to take the sting out of excess capacity, and countries around the world emerging from also-ran status as wine consumers to highly motivated collectors, wines like the reds of Bordeaux, always among the most collectible in the world for their beauty, their ageworthiness and their perceived value, are sure to rise in price. As a former professional economist, I have no axe to grind with the workings of the market place. Wine sells for what the market will bear. So do soap and luxury watches. As a follower of and commenter on California wine, I am of mixed feelings. On the one hand, the pricier Bordeaux gets, the more our Cabernets, already our most expensive wines, get to enjoy their competitive price advantage. On the other hand, the more expensive Bordeaux gets, the more expensive our Cabernets tend to get.

I have watched this price spiral for almost four decades now, and one thing seems to remain constant. It is the rare good vintage in which price falls. Bordeaux 2010 has turned out to be a fine vintage. It also looks likely to be an expensive one.


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