Early Bordeaux harvest fuelling excitement

The eagerly expected Bordeaux 2009 vintage got off to an early start with the Pessac Léognan estate Château Carbonnieux commencing their harvest on August 27, at least a week ahead of the normal September harvest date.

In sharp contrast to the gloom that prevailed in May (mainly brought about by hailstorms that caused extensive damage) many Bordeaux wine producers are actually excited about the 2009 vintage. They expect it to match, if not better, the 2005 vintage, till now trumpeted as the vintage of the century.

The excellent weather the region experienced in July and August has ensured that there would be a larger yield and healthier grapes with around 13% higher alcohol potential. However, whether the vintage will be truly exceptional or not, will depend on September’s weather.

While the French agricultural ministry believes the harvest will be at least one-third more than that of 2008, the average yield is expected to be around 35 to 40 hectolitres per hectare, in spite of the losses sustained in the hailstorm damage. At the moment it does look like Bordeaux will have a very good harvest.

Wine investors and oenophiles alike will be eagerly watching the harvest, hoping the hype that surrounds the vintage is no exaggeration.

With the Liv-ex 100 Fine Wine Index in September 2009 showing year to date increase of 12.2%, a good harvest could see the value of the index continue to rise. There are already rumours circulating that the recession may be over, so there could also be a return to the dramatic pricing that was seen with the 2005 en primeur. There is even hope that an excellent 2009 vintage will boost the prices of the 2008 vintage, which have already been rated very highly by American wine critic Robert Parker, who feels that the best of Bordeaux is yet to come.


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