A Reflection on last Year's En Primeur Tastings...2008 Bordeaux Surprises

20 March 2010
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee


We must be a comedic sight to an outsider: An exhausted group with black tongues and dark tinted teeth, clothes stained with purple spots, all suffering from tannin overload. We are too exhausted to feel self-conscious, the corners of our mouths stained with dark purple liquid which we had been imbibing from 9am in the morning till 6pm at least 100 times. The Bordeaux En Primeur tasting with the press circuit is rather exhausting and by the end of the day, one needs to really concentrate and taste through the layers of tannins, oak and young, dark fruit to assess its balance and potential quality. 2008 vintage was considered a washout even before we arrived. The local French press claimed it would be impossible given the cool conditions to make great wine. I was in France throughout July and August and I carried around a sweater throughout those months because it was so cold.



Given the importance of these two critical months for grape maturation, no one expected good wine. We (the writers and buyers who descend upon Bordeaux to taste the young wines) did not have high expectations. Perhaps that was why when we tasted the wines, it was a revelation. Our faces expressed everything – eyebrows raised, surprised look — oh my, these wines are actually quite good. The right bank wines, from St-Emilion and Pomerol were especially attractive and the best wines from the Medoc had a vibrancy that was quite refreshing. There was concentration but without heaviness and a core acid structure that lifted the fruit and would definitely add to the longevity of the wines. I will be definitely buying some 2008s for my cellar.



Me with acclaimed oenologist and wine consultant Michel Rolland in Bordeaux 09