Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
The 2019 Bordeaux futures campaign has started, but the barrel samples haven’t been reviewed. What is Wine Spectator’s plan for covering the 2019 Bordeaux vintage?
—Tim, Austin, Texas
Let me first take a moment to explain the concept of Bordeaux futures so that everyone can follow along. It refers to the practice of selling wines after they’ve been made but before they are bottled (and about two years before wine lovers will get them). The en primeur sales system has really only had success in Bordeaux. Some wine collectors enjoy buying wines well ahead of their release—paying up-front secures the allocation and the release price (although it’s not unheard of for prices to have dropped by the time the wine is actually available).
Part of this equation is to give wine critics a sneak peek at the wines in the barrel. Wine Spectator’s lead taster for the wines of Bordeaux, James Molesworth, typically travels to France in March to visit the wineries and review hundreds of barrel samples in blind tastings. It’s a trip many wine writers and merchants make, to take stock of the new vintage, and their assessments can influence the prices set by the châteaus.
This year, due to health and safety restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 vintage barrel tastings in Bordeaux were canceled. We will have to wait until the wines are bottled before Molesworth can review them. But we’re still paying attention to these important wines. Molesworth has written about the way this is impacting the futures campaign, and we’re also tracking the châteaus’ 2019 vintage release prices.