River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Bin Ends

May 2006

More excellent "wine" advice from Giles

2005 Is The Magic Number?

Hallo! Well it's that time of year again; the one where trying to find a senior member of the wine trade is about as easy as finding something drinkable from England (I'm going to get letters about that one!). And what should have occasioned this sudden, if little heeded drought of wine talent? Well it's not that they have taken a collective extended Easter holiday, even though they have been abroad. No, in the last two weeks they have been sipping, spitting, suggesting and speculating on the wines of 2005 Bordeaux, and for once they haven't travelled in vain...

The long and the short of it is that 2005 has produced, across Europe if tales are to be believed, but in Bordeaux in particular about as close to wine perfection as one could hope for. The near drought conditions, high temperatures and just enough rainfall at just the right time has produced a range of wines that are elegant, refined, powerful and with that most essential ingredient in wine, as in life, balance. Even the less hysterical merchants are making realistic comparisons to the legendary 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1996 wines.

The excitement surrounding the vintage started just as soon as the wines were made. I remember talking to the owner of Chateau Olivier at a tasting last October who told me, with unabashed glee, that the majestic 2003 he was showing that day was but a trifle compared to his 2005, a bold claim indeed, but ones that do seem to have been borne out in fact.

Is There Money In Them There Wines?

So the Bordelaise have made something worth drinking for once? Whoopee I hear you say and so what? Well, whether you are a fan of Claret or not there is now another, sadly probably more significant aspect to a great Bordeaux vintage, that of investment - a side that given recent legal changes that mean you can now put wine into your pension fund, will be especially buoyant this year.

Now before I go any further I just want to state that I am not tied to any merchant and that investments can go down as well as up (that said you try drinking a share certificate and see how far you get!) and that the following is based on experience and informed opinion.

Q. Giles, is there money to be made in 2005 Bordeaux?

A. Short answer, probably. The wines are of undoubtedly fine quality and the harvest is smaller than the recent good years. That said much would depend on the release price of the wines. I think it will be safe to say that they won't be cheap, and I mean that in a relative sense, but given time the rewards could be good.

Q. So how, when and where can I buy these liquid assets?

A. The best (cheapest) way to do this is to take up one of the en-primeur offers from one of the leading merchants (see www.frw.co.uk, www.bbr.com, www.farvinters.co.uk) They will be offering a range of wines from (approx) £100-£15,000 per dozen. When you buy these wines what you are doing is buying them in cask and will be sent them when they are bottled and shipped - anywhere from a year to two years later. If you are looking to invest then the best thing to do is ask them to help you set up a 'bond account' which means when the wines are shipped you will be able to avoid paying VAT and duty - a form that most brokers, the people you will almost certainly end up selling it through prefer. As to timing, register now and the offers will start coming through in the next few weeks.

Q. So which wines should I be looking to buy?

A. Depends what you are looking for. Buying e-p is usually the cheapest way to buy wine in any vintage, so even if you are looking for wines to drink then it's not a bad idea, but If you are looking or investment, then, unsurprisingly, the more you lay out the more you can potentially make back. The finest and rarest wines are always more sought after and rise faster, but a lot will depend on price. If you would like any advice please mail me on thewinehunters@yahoo.co.uk Personal favourites and wines that have served me well in the past include Talbot, Lynch Bages, Berliquet and Latour.

Q. So what are the risks?

A. The biggest risk is that the wines are too expensive at launch and struggle to find buyers once released - frankly an unlikely event in this case. Also we could end up with 2006 being even better - again hard to see and with the beauty of these wines and there will always be buyers. Finally you could be unlucky and chose a duff wine. Every year has under performers, though in 2005 these do seem to be mercifully thin on the ground.

At the end of the day, if you buy what you like and would like to drink you can end up with some amazing wine and a nice return. If you would like any advice though I am happy to help, so please drop me a line at thewinehunters@yahoo.co.uk

More soon!


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