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[LIVE] AMA: Bordeaux EP with buyer Tim Sykes!



It is worth all the hype, by it’s probably worth reading my intro. to the main en primeur offer. All the communes produced some great wines, but the quality is less consistent than in vintages like 2009, 2010 and 2016. But the top wines are arguably even better than in those vintages. Time will tell. I personally think Saint-Estèphe and Saint-Julien were particularly impressive in 2018, but it’s hard to generalise.


You can’t, is the simple answer Neil. You really need to taste it, or rely on your merchant to select something good!


I’m afraid that price hiking by Angludet has killed it for me. Might still buy the odd bottle as it is a nice wine, but not a case on EP. And so I’ve switched my Margaux one to Segla. I haven’t found a replacement for the Chasse-Spleen so that’s still in but it’s not quite as silly as Angludet. Still uming and ahing about Puy-Blanquet as I already have a St Emilion earmarked with Grand Corbin-Despagne.


2018 is a vintage in which lots of wines shone, but I would say that no particular appellation has a higher proportion of outstanding wines than others. More generally I find it hard to compare the overall quality of vintages that are very different in style. So 2015, 2016 and 2018 all have different taste profiles. Not sure if this answers your questions?!


Interesting question. I wasn’t aware of there being particularly large volumes of mid-level mature claret in the UK market, but you may well be better informed than me on this. Most of my friends or colleagues in the trade who offer Bordeaux tell me that there’s a dearth of mature Bordeaux available.

What I can tell you is that I still, occasionally, get offered decent sized parcels of mature Cru Bourgeois level wines that have been lying in Bordeaux, and the prices are often not dissimilar to those of the latest vintages. Last year for example I got hold of some 2002 Lanessan and 6 vintages of Fontesteau (1996-2001) both of which we offered at Christmas. And we have something interesting coming up later this year from 2001.

The Bordeaux merchants ended up with quite large unsold stocks of 2017’s as the en primeur campaign was less successful than they were expecting. At some point those wines (which are not yet in bottle) will be offered again to the UK and other markets.

To answer you last question, I don’t know about other merchants but I didn’t buy large amounts of 2017s beyond member demand as I had bought quite a lot of extra stock of 2015s and 2016s. But I’m happy with the stock of 2017s that we do have as I really like the vintage.


You tease. I shall be waiting!


Yes – lots, Robin!

Yes, You’re absolutely right about the top châteaux holding back stock for future release. Not sure if it’s a large number of châteaux but it’s certainly the ones that are in most demand. Clearly this is frustrating from our perspective as we could sell some wines several times over. The smaller, less expensive châteaux try to sell as much as they can.


Most châteaux will bottle wines in virtually any format, as when you’re buying en primeur the wine is still 18 months away from bottling. We have increased then number of wines offered in non-standard formats, but from a logistical perspective it’s very complex to have a proliferation of different format for a large number of wines. Added to this, demand for non-standard formats is actually very limited.

We very occasionally offer double magnums en primeur, but we are considering stocking a few large format reds in future that have some bottle age.

Issues ordering en primeur online

It’s more that there were very few wines that I tasted this year that I felt merited being offered en primeur. In general 2017 and 2016 are better vintages for dry white Bordeaux, so those are the wines to look out for.

Yes, I will be buying some 2018s for future stock, beyond member demand from the offers.

2014 and 2017.


Sorry Tim, last one I promise. I think it would be an interesting experiment to try mature Bordeaux that has been ages in screwcap vs cork. Is this anything the wine society has ever considered and can you see a situation where wines could be offered with the option of different closings in the future at En Primeur?


If we were to buy Pétrus or Le Pin we might be offered a few bottles of each from our suppliers, so even less volume than Rousseau! So impossible to divide up the cake… Had we bought the wines consistently for the last 30+ years we would no doubt have a larger allocation today, but that’s not the case. We do however have the largest UK allocation of La Fleur Pétrus (sold out in 2018 I’m afraid!).


We haven’t done it, but Chateau Margaux has. And the Australians have been doing comparative trials since the 1960s. The received wisdom for Bordeaux is that cork is the ideal closure for ageing wines (leaving aside the incidence of cork taint).


Hi Kristina,

Your best bets currently are the JP Moueix Saint-Emilion – we’re coming to the end of the 2015:

but the 2016 has arrived (the code will be CS11241) and will be on sale soon.

They are well priced for the quality and display the typical Saint-Emilion characteristics of soft merlot fruit and supple texture.

We don’t have any Pomerols under £20 but the Château de la Commanderie 2015 from neighbouring Lalande de Pomerol is well worth looking at:

Again, it has good right bank character. It’s a bit more concentrated than the Saint-Emilion, but has good freshness and balance.



I’ll ask then what I asked the community - shall I go for Talbot or Langoa Barton?!


That’s all the advance questions (thanks!) So we’ve got about 15-20 mins to answer more live questions…


Both lovely wines. I don’t have a preference between the 2, but I’ll be buying Branaire Ducru which I particularly liked this year…


@Nowt_in_my_glass Fourcas Dupre is very good… Great value for money…their “second label” Bellevue Laffont even more so. Their whites are great …listrac was once mainly know for white wine.

They are in the EP offer…I by mine direct


Should that have been Lalande Borie (I’m not seeing Fourcas Borie in the EP)?

Edit: sorry forget that it was a general question about Listrac not the EP.


Hi Tim I’ve been really pleased about the increase in both quantity and quality of Beaujolais over the past two or three years. I’m seeing good value and interesting wines in both £10 and £20 bottles.

Where is this region heading, where’s your head at and what can we look forward to from TWS in the coming years?


Fourcas Borie is not in the EP offer - I was responding to a more general question on properties in Listrac and Moulis. We do have Fourcas Dupré in the 2018 offer.