'05 Bordeaux: Let the hype commence!

How good is the 2005 Bordeaux winemakers will be putting on the market next month?

To hear the French wine mavens tell it, the various ailments plaguing their industry are having no effect on the Bordeaux. In fact, the 2005 vintage is being hailed as one of the great vintages ever.

Anthony Rose, wine writer for The Independent newspaper in London, is among the most vociferous journalists calling for a bit of restraint. He wrote in the April 22 edition:

"Apparently insulated from the crisis engulfing the rest of France (where supply of wine outstrips demand, regulation reigns supreme, and producers find it harder to compete with foreign imports), Bordeaux châteaux set out their stall this month for a first taste of the 2005 vintage from the barrel.

"Such is the lavish wining and dining of the world's trade and press during the week-long tasting that Bordeaux might have a serious case to answer for deliberately fattening the calf. Amid the hype surrounding what some Bordelais are calling the greatest vintage ever, the knives are being sharpened for the killing they expect to make next month when they announce their prices."

This isn't to say it's all hype and hyperbole. Early tasters are saying highly complimentary things about the vintage. Here's a small sampling, beginning with Rose himself:

• "Despite inevitable variations in style, 2005 is likely to go down as a great vintage in line with the most recent classics of 1982, 1990, 1996 and 2000. Investors will cash in, but better news for wine drinkers is that many fine, lesser classified châteaux such as Batailley, Belgrave, Brane Cantenac and Talbot should be relatively affordable, as should good crus bourgeois in the mould of Beaumont, La Tour de By, Phélan-Ségur and Charmail."

• John Hunter of the Belfast Telegraph: "The good news for embattled Bordeaux producers is that the 2005 vintage seems to be the best in years."

James Suckling of Wine Spectator: "Just how special the 2005 wines in Bordeaux are will be better understood in late March, when the wine world descends on the region to taste the new wines. However, the first indicators of Bordeaux 2005 look very exciting, even if it was only sips from a few vats and barrels."

• Bill Blatch of Vintex, a Bordeaux wholesaler, quoted in Agence France-Presse: "I have never seen a vintage like this one. here's power, 14 percent alcohol, tannins, acidity and fresh fruit."

And then, there is Robert Joseph, noted English wine critic, putting things in his own perspective:

"Come off it, this is the third 'vintage of the century.' Three already, with 2000 and 2003, and we are only in 2006. It's a bit much."

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