What's it Like to Taste Bordeaux En Primeur?

tasting and lunch at Chateau Pichon Baron

tasting and lunch at Chateau Pichon Baron

Ever wonder what it’s like to attend Bordeaux primeurs? This hectic week of tasting requires a lot of planning and a lot of fortitude. While everyone has a different schedule and different goals, most will attend a mix of larger appellation tastings and appointment-only private tastings. Here's a snapshot of what a typical agenda might look like.

This year, tastings took place between  April 4-7. Most of the action occurs  between Monday and Wednesday. While some tasting is offered through Friday, most have already left Bordeaux by Thursday afternoon. More than ever, you need to have an itinerary planned out in advance, especially with more and more Chateau choosing to offer tasting only on property. The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGC) organizes En Primeur tastings by appellation. These tastings feature a wide variety of the top wines in each region, and are typically the foundation for mapping out a plan. Private appointments and negociant tastings are then typically filled in around the appellation tastings. Because all of the UGC tastings offer lunch, there is much-discussion by Monday afternoon around which chateau is offering the best lunch. All of the UGC and other organized tastings require a badge and you must be pre-registered. Badges are scanned at each property, and it is much more difficult now than in past years to attend the UGC tastings if you are not in the wine trade. Still, this was the most well-attended En Primeur since the 2010 campaign. Leading up to the week, there was a lot of buzz about the quality of the 2015 vintage.

This year, a new UGC tasting format was also offered at the new Stade de Bordeaux. I did not attend, but was told that it is something that will likely continue next year. This gives primarily journalists and those in distribution and opportunity to taste across multiple appellations in one place.

Now that I have wrapped up my tastings, I will turn attention to digesting my notes and recapping what I felt were the top wines across all of the tastings. In all, I tasted more than 300 wines over a four day span. My notes and City Wine Merchant’s futures offers will be posting soon. In the meantime, here is a summary of how I spent most of my time during primeur week

Monday, April 4th

6:00 - Tasting and dinner at Chateau Brown, Pessac-Leognan

Tuesday, April 5th

9:00 - Pessac-Leognan appellation tasting at Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere

10:45 - Tasting at Chateau Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Leognan

12:00 - Pauillac and St.-Estephe appellation tasting at Chateau Lafon-Rochet

1:30 - Lunch and tasting at Chateau Pichon Baron, Pauillac

3:00 - St.-Julien appellation tasting at Chateau Gruaud-Larose

5:00 - Margaux appellation tasting at Chateau du Tertre

7:00 - Dinner at Brasserie Bordelaise in Bordeaux

Wednesday, April 6th

10:00 - Negociant tastings

1:00 - Lunch and St. Emilion appellation tasting at Chateau La Couspaude

3:00 - St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe tasting at Chateau Villemaurine

4:00 - Tasting at Chateau Angelus, St. Emilion

5:00 - Pomerol appeallation tasting at Chateau Beuregard

6:00 - Cercle Rive Droit tasting at Chateau Laroze, St. Emilion

6:45 - Tasting and dinner at Chateau Petit-Village, Pomerol

Thursday, April 7th

10:00 - Negociant tastings

12:00 - Sauternes and Barsac appellation tasting at Chateau La Lagune

Chateau du Tertre, Margaux

Chateau du Tertre, Margaux