Competition Fever!

It`s Competiton time!

We have just entered bottles of our last, well only, vintage of 2008 ‘Oro Verde’ Malbec de Xuxuy, into the 2018 World Malbec Championships. I`ll keep you posted on the results as and when. They are tasting them in H-K, along with hundreds of other World Malbec’s in September this year. Needless to say, but we are pretty excited!

Now having just arrived at the half way point through the year 2018 (June/July), I need to ask you a question or two and also let off a bit of steam here @ WWC HQ. Is it just me? or can I just please share three (there are more of course without having to over bore you too much) ridiculous things, my dearest reader, just to check with you that we are all living on the same planet, still? or am I going quite mad? No replies to that one please. (in this blog there is also a non-mad wine/travel competition*, as we are currently experiencing competition fever, so read on please! if you can.)

Malbec de Xuxuy

En Primeur 2017: I am sure that I do not need to explain to you what this aged-old, and I once thought lovely system of buying top Bordeaux, available to buy almost a year after the harvest, means to any of us anymore.  Okay, so it used to be lovely. Historically, we the ‘Trade’, were given exceptional options to buy wine that would still remain in the barrel, and then bottled in their cellars for a short time, in the ‘said’ Chateaux, before being released into our fair hands, then yours, all packed up in beautiful wooden cases at Springtime, two and half years later, once having been paid for in full of course. This would come normally in two tranches, the first tranche one would pay for a few months after the Negociant’s opening offer, and then the balance six or so months later, depending on the relationship you had with your broker. Infact back in 1980s if I am not so wrong we actually paid in three seperate instalments, amazing! It was a way of paying for wine, guaranteed ex-Chateaux stock, at a favorable price, as you or I, where taking a ‘punt’ on the Bordeaux fine wine market (and of course the money, yours or mine, was always in their bank accout covering the invoice that would one day precure liquidity in the form of pretty decent claret. Good vintage or not good vintage it did not really matter, just so long as we received our allocation of the wine), and having paid two plus years in advance (in what they now call FUTURES) for wines that you would not see until sometime later, and sometimes up to three years later, depending. It used to work beautifully, my first vintage was 1982, and we do not need to explain either what happened back in those golden years or for that matter the next 28+ years, as it was bread and butter for us British wine merchants who were still surviving on our measly markups, well up until maybe 2009/10 vintages when the ball game (then a bit of bread but definitely NO butter) changed totally. Was it? Chateau Rauzan Segla or Rauzan Gassies 2009 that made me sit up and think what the ‘eff’ is going on here. They managed to nearly triple there En Primeur price for the 2009 vintage from almost nowhere, bearing in mind they are or were still a second or third growth (sorry I cannot remember), to close to Premier Grand Cru Classe price-status. And at the time, a well known wine broker, of which I totally understood his sentiments at the time, did send, what was then called a ’round robin’ message, an email warning to everyone on his mailing list, advising people NOT to buy this wine, as it was over priced. At the time I thought how weird for a guy who is in the job of selling wine is now telling everyone not to buy this one. A little bit too negative for me. Why not leaver it up to the ‘punter’ to decide for himself. I know the wine received hi-Parkerized marks and that jazz, and actually I think I did buy a case for me, I will have to double check on that one, I do not remember tasting it. But really, it was the first time I heard of a wine sales guy throwing a pinless grenade into the wine cellar. Blaaaaah too much over information for my liking.

Now, after those two Bordeaux vintages of ‘the century’, 2009 & 2010, as they were both touted back then, all hell seemed to break loose, and ex-chais prices went through the roof, infact it quite literally took the roofs off many properties, and with some their new found wealth they were able to put a new one back on and sometimes even re-design a whole new building. In 2011 people could buy these 09s & 10s direct, or from any Charlie or his aunt offering En-P Claret, and not through the traditional Bordeaux system of Courtier-Negociant-Wine Shipper/merchant. Even the grand-frommage Ch.Latour withdrew from the game, totally, taking care of their own future selling’s. Intelligent, maybe?, but not useful to the market at all. Today, even though I read in the press that some game players have sold millions of pounds worth of 2017 Bordeaux, in the last month or so, I really don`t believe them or care much, and I imagine they are only mentioning to their vulnerably rich clients the famous four or five big hitters: M-R, L-R, Mgx & H-B. To who?, god only knows as we all know they, the wines, are going to be available at the same price, and maybe in some cases (hahah!) less, in 2021 and 2022 +.  Wanna bet? I am on.

Now, imagine giving me your money to buy 2017’s, or visa versa, with total confidence, to buy your wine that would/could be delivered two/three years later. This would mean you receiving your, paid for, wine in the years 2021-2022, when you will probably still be able to buy exactly, exactly the same wine for the same price, or maybe even less, who knows, as we have seen in the last five years, covering the last vintages 2011 through to 2016. Does this make any sense at all? Well we all know that 2015 and 2016 vintages were roarers, and expensive roarers at that. The last of our 2015 purchases are just being collected, and delivered to our bond now as I type. I decided that 2015 vintage would be my last vintage of dabbling in En Primeur. Not just because I do not have the funds to put up for these golden-gems anymore, but I cannot justify buying anything at all, can anyone? Buying for something that you can buy later, and with relative ease, on the market as & when you actually need it.  The prices of 2015’s kept going up for months after their coming onto the market place, surpassing the previous hit-vintages 2009/10. The Bordeaux 2011’s/12’s/13’s and 2014 vintages were nothing special at all, as you already know, in quality but the prices were hitting, and sometimes surpassing the same level as the golden vintages, and seemed to be quite simply going though the roof again. Except for dear old Anthony Barton`s wines and one or two others exceptions. Excessive pricing, higher and higher and in some and most cases, more than the 2015/16’s though the quality was nothing to do with these or previous vintages. Have the Bordelais gone totally mad?  Maybe lost the plot. I really don’t know. Maybe it is a sense of disconnection, too much analytical stuff, topped off with just a touch of pure arrogance and snobbism. Thank goodness we have the Rhone and Burgundy and Piedmont (please don`t buy en primeur Italian wines, it is the same old story) to quench our vinous curiosities and pockets. Well, this leads me nicely to my second point. And if you want to buy well priced 2015’s, I have them now physically to offer you, now three years after the vintage!

Finally, I would not really have known much about the 2017 En Primeur campaign in the first place, or it’s opening prices, as I have no interest at all, or even bothered following it, had it not been for various Bordeaux negociants and British wine merchants, and some European dealers as well. Some of them in the game for over 300+ years now, any guesses as to who? sending me unsolicited emails with what they call the ‘latest’ apparently ‘hot’ news, and from also what they still call a healthy ‘En Primeur Campaign’. With headings such as ‘Vintage Not to be Missed’, ‘Wine of the Vintage’ (apparently there were several different wines of the vintage in 2017 with this title, depending on which critic you follow, yawn), ‘One for the Cellar’, ‘Sensibly Priced’ and this one kills me ‘Elegance and Purity over Muscle’. WTF… seriously who cares anymore! and is anyone seriously outlaying precious funds for totally unprecious wines? (apparently Ye$) I have bills to pay today for real wines, well priced that actually exist and resemble some kind of reality to me. And from diversely as far a field as the Bekka Valley, Santorini, Basilicata, Uco Valley, Umbria, Cote d’Or, West Sussex, Champagne, Friuli and so on. Vivo Vino!! and let’s keep that diverse palate of ours alive with extremely well made wines that we can afford and that we know are made with love and delivered with care.

Wrapping up now, and having been bombarded with emails for the first six months of this year, on the verge of a panic-attack (not mine), telling me that I need to respond to this X email before the end of May’18, so as not to keep receiving annoying, unsolicited emails in the future. ‘We don’t want to lose you’ would be the general heading. Or, click on the button below? if you do want to keep receiving email from us, which was always an X button close to the button that you should push if you actually did not want to keep receiving their offers (tricky stuff here). It came under the guise of ‘The New Data Privacy Law‘. So, I decided not to respond to any of them at all, and see what would happen after the end of May’18. In theory, in doing this I managed to do my own spam-filtering system. If I do not reply, in theory I am not giving them permission to send me more messages or permission not to send me anymore emails, and the system should? clear my email address out of their mailing list. That I have given no permission either way. And for the very few companies that I do want to receive messages from, I will of course be in touch with them direct, so as to continue the relationship we had in the first place. Or maybe even visa versa, if they want to keep a good customer well stocked.


So basically it was a great opportunity as I do not want to receive anymore SPAM (Spammity Spam! not Wonderful Spam!) or Wine Offers from people/companies that I do not buy from. WRrrONG!!! I still do, after May’18 receive the same old unsolicited rubbish as before, okay a bit less, but really what was all that about? in the first place. Please do not reply. It`s all as nonsensical as the Bordelais shooting themselves in the foot over En Primeur. Take a breath please!

And finally finally, and yes, let`s take a larger breath, and a thank you for getting this far and now to change the subject entirely, and please do feel free to reply to this one. Argentine Football (Local teams or National squad). Please, this is a harmless COMPETITION by the way, so please send me your thoughts (clean or not, we can handle both here at HQ) on the subject, as I have absolutely none at all to offer and feel a little left out with my newly adopted countryman`s fascination with this topic.  The best messages/replies (with your wine order of course and please use reference: -hand of god-) will receive, FIRST PRIZE, a FREE trip to Mendoza via British Airways (London to Buenos Aires – Buenos Aires to Mendoza, without international stops, and then back again, at your own peril) in coach class*, sorry but Business is far, farr too expensive. SECOND PRIZE is a whole case of (reasonable) Argentine Malbec from the Uco Valley. Good luck and Well done already!

Competition ends on 15th July 2018 @ midday.