The WineBear Blog

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Mum, Dad …. are we there yet? May 31, 2010

Filed under: Bordeaux 2009 — WineBear @ 6:06 pm

So Bordeaux en primeur 2009 trundles along at a ridiculously lethargic pace with estates I rarely purchase even on bin end in my local Cost Co being released. Even these are only being drip fed onto the market with less than 5 releases a day.  So why are we waiting this long?

Most believe that the Bordeaux market are hoping perhaps in desperation for the Chinese to purchase in droves and with the setting of Vin Expo 2010 in Hong Kong,  in the last week of May, it seems everything has been placed on hold until the meetings, tastings and general schmoozing at this event is complete.

Decanter has reported that is was very busy and in conversations with my negociant suppliers, they also found it successful yet most established merchants still feel that it makes little sense to expect China to suddenly buy en primeur from top to bottom.

I have another concern which is how brand Bordeaux is being affected by this sudden increase of demand from a relatively nascent Chinese market. Bordeaux is certainly not just about price, yes the wines are expensive and always have been but the quality is fundamentally high and it is this that sets the prestige. It is a region that when on song can produce true vin de garde, wines that can improve for between 15 – 50 years and as such have graced the finest dining tables throughout history. They are wines that are complex, serious full of intrigue and as such require a slow, dedicated, learned appreciation. It may be nice to open a bottle of Lafite at a whim but I would far prefer to slowly build up to this point through years of drinking from; Cru Bourgeois, 5th growths, 3rds, super seconds, right to left bank and across great vintages of 1982, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2005 and more location specific vintages of 1988, 1998 to try those which drink early such as 2001 or understand that en primeur is sometimes a faulty mechanism for buying such as 1997 or more often the only way to get wines at their best price as was true in 2000 or 2005.

2009 will be a stunning vintage for one overriding factor which is how nature and winemaking has brought forward numerous wines which will drink impressively young but at the same time offer exceptional ageing potential. In the last 2 great vintages of the noughties 2000 & 2005 there were great wines from top to bottom but most were tannic and as such demanded time. In 09 the advances in viti & vini-culture have allowed us to have wines with high levels of tannin but incredible finess, balance and integration. This is a dramtic leap forward as many customers are still put off by needing to keep a wine for 10 years before even considering approaching it.

For this the Chateau must be commended and they fully deserve to price the wines accordingly but it is paramount that relationships with established wine buying customers are protected. They are the basis on which Bordeaux heritage is built and are part and parcel of the journey from vine to glass. These established markets know how to behave during en primeur, what to buy, when to pay, how to ship, where to store. Their customers often know about the wines, when to approach and drink, how to decant, drink, food match, enjoy and share. However insatiable one’s desire is to learn, and this is in no way a bad thing even if just a fad, it just isn’t an overnight thing! Wine is a complex beast, which surprises even the wisest of sage but it is precisely this which makes it so rewarding.

Entering into emerging markets is great, the wider the wine community becomes helps everyone but brands however dominant are still fragile especially those built with such care over such a long period of time. It is precisely this aspect of time which leads me to believe that the status quo should be protected. The current trading system imparted by Chateaux and negociant is a careful balance between acquiring new customers and satiating existing demand. In general everyone is encouraged to look at the vintage as a whole and make purchases across the Grand Cru Classe and selected Cru Bourgeois. Partly this is so that premium Bordeaux is protected and grows as one but also as a by product it encourages the consumer to purchase and discover Bordeaux across a range.  As such I find little reason for a system which is 200+ years old and works to be radically altered. All new customers, markets etc should be warmly welcomed but there are merits to doing it the tried and tested way although perhaps that is a conservative view and needs a dash of liberalism!


Bordeaux 2009 – views so far April 3, 2010

Filed under: Bordeaux 2009 — WineBear @ 12:55 pm

Bordeaux 2009 – Our plans

Filed under: Bordeaux 2009 — WineBear @ 12:21 pm

We will be jetting off to Bordeaux of the 12th April for 3 further days of intense tastings.  We are guests of CVBG one of Bordeaux leading and oldest (1840) negociants which will not only ensure us access to all the great chateaux but more importantly when the wines get released, great allocations.

This year our aim is to video interview the top 30 winemakers from Lafite and the 1st growths; Cheval, Ausone and the St Emilion class A; to the ever popular Leovilles, Pontet Canets, Lynch Bages etc.

If you are interested in following us to receive our tasting updates, watchthe videos and most importantly get the offers as soon as they are released from chateaux then please complete a wish list of estates that are of interest.

Every person who submits a wishlist will also be emailed a voucher code that will discount their en-primeur purchases by 5% and we hope very much that this will make our prices the most competitive in the UK

The wish list page will be complete and ready for use at 12pm, Wednesday 7th April.  It is different to other merchant’s lists as it will link to tasting notes on previous vintages, link to in depth region descriptions, give a price comparisons with the last great vintage, 2005 and estimate 2009 release prices.

We hope not only that you will have access to all the info to choose the right wines but that along with the option to pay by credit card (and the consumer protection that brings) you will feel truly confident in purchasing your Bordeaux 2009 wines through us.

If you have any particular questions please contact us directly.


The start, website shop operational!

Filed under: General wine news — WineBear @ 11:47 am

So the wine website is now operational and we feel it is about 60% complete. To users though it seems to be atleast 90% complete and just missing a few wine descriptions and bottle/label shots. This means that actually there are still lots of new improvements to come and the most recent will be the addition of media content i.e. assoicated news, blogs, pods, cids, pics etc. You’ll be able to find these next to each product and region and we hope this will keep you upto date and learning about all things vinous.

Our own wine videos are coming thick and fast, we have the first 6 winemaker videos to edit for the blog over the next 2 weeks. These will be with Moric – Austria, Rusden  – Australia, Pietracupa & Gallardi – Italy, Mullineux & Bon Cap – South Africa.  Please be kind to us when viewing as although the equipment is great we are really still learning about everything such as; lighting, setting,  interview style, length of video etc. In time we will allow you all to comment on the videos and so help us develop them in a way that is most pleasing, informative and viewer friendly.

As the webshop develops, one thing to keep in mind is that at our heart, we are just an independent wine merchant and although the aim of the site is to offer all needed to make purchases in confidence, there is still a human (Richard) on hand to help through the old tried and tested methods; by phone 0207 223 0959 or by email:

For instance just this week a customer found us when searching Google for a particular wine.  He phoned to ask if we could better our price as it was a bulk purchase for a wedding. This was greatfully receivied and we gladly offered to him the best retail price for that wine anywhere in the UK.

The point is that however we can, we’ll gladly  ‘carry that case’ the extra mile for you!


Greetings November 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — WineBear @ 9:28 am
Managing Director

Suave & Sophisticated!

Hi all, welcome to the WineBear blog where I will try to present some interesting discussions on the wide world of wine! I have worked in wine now since leaving University with a Geology honours degree. This has brought a greater understanding of terroir but the passion for wine stems from family influence with my Father being a fruit and vegetable fresh produce importer.

Since then I have worked with Australian wines and for a year imported a selection of the finest boutique wines of Barossa, McLaren Vale and Victoria. During that period at numerous trade events and tastings I met all the other great independent wine importers in the UK. I knew our range was stunning and so it was with those likewise that we socialised with. Since deciding to move into retail to further the passion I have to bring great wine to the public, I quickly contacted all these great importers and now with their help and products feel very confident that our range is consistently stunning and delicious.

Here at the blog the aim will be to use media such as videocasts, podcasts, and links to evoke cutting edge discussion and portray the world of wine. You will find tasting reports, interviews with winemakers, latest news pieces, harvest & en-primeur reports, guest bloggers and pre-release & product news.

I hope you enjoy everything about WineBear; the wine, site, blog, service but if you feel we can improve anything just get in touch.

WineBear bringing you great wine, every time!