The brilliantly-staged annual Bordeaux press and trade tasting week is now a gravy train resulting in the serious boosting of the coffers of the greatest châteaux. Despite staggering prices for their pre-release 2009 vintage, they made hay because the vintage was rated as one of the true greats.
Though different in style, 2010 was another great vintage but further exorbitant price hikes left a nasty taste in the mouth.
Since the much-anticipated Chinese gold rush failed to materialise, Bordeaux was left with egg on its face and wine in its cellar.
There are no bad vintages any more and saved-by-the-bell 2011 looks like being serviceable enough. But the pre-condition for buying pre-release should be that you get a great vintage at a price you'll never see again.
Unfortunately, this just isn't going to happen with the 2011 vintage. My reading of all the reports so far suggest that when the bottled wines do finally come on to the market in two years' time, it is unlikely to be substantially pricier, if at all, than it was on release this year.
It's time to wrest the PR advantage back from Bordeaux and taste and assess a little bit later.
Bordeaux 2008 is starting to look almost good value, and if you are looking for a super-delicious and high-class claret as a treat, the 2008 Ulysse Cazabonne, Pauillac, £19.99, buy 2 = £17.99, Majestic, is a chip off the old block of a Pauillac first-growth château. We're not allowed to tell you which one, but let's just say it starts with an 'L'. And it has the pedigree of the great château itself, a stylish red whose cassis core of dark fruit is polished by toasty oak and suave-textured tannins.
It's also the case that Bordeaux isn't the only game in town any more.
If you're not drowning in wine or haven't yet splashed the cash on Burgundy 2010, you might want to try the juicy, mulberryish 2010 Bourgogne Pinot Noir, £13.75, Lea & Sandeman (020-7244 0522) from Volnay's Nicolas Rossignol, or the complex, mineral and appetisingly bone-dry 2010 Bourgogne Blanc, Gérard Thomas et Filles, £14.99, buy 2 =£13.99, Majestic.
Or the wonderful Rhône 2010, whose offers, out now, include Maxime Graillot's peppery-spicy and violet-perfumed Crozes-Hermitage Les Lises, from £126 a case, in bond, Berry Bros & Rudd (0800 240 2440).Reuse content