WANT TO BUY some bordeaux futures? Want to get in before the rush and buy a few cases at a great price? Want to take advantage of the vintage of the decade, maybe the century, one that promises to be almost as good as the reviews? Want to have some acquisitional sport and maybe see your investment outpace the no-load mutuals? Does any of this sound familiar?
It should. The '82 bordeaux were so advertised and discussed before they went "dumb" -- in wine parlance, a state of dormancy in which it's impossible to judge a wine's potential. At some future point, they will emerge, like the freeze-dried astronauts in "2001." The voyage may be shorter for the '82s than some critics predicted, however. No matter. The '82 bordeaux made some people rich, particularly the Bordeaux negociants and other middlemen. The idea of buying '82s today is ridiculous, since the good ones are worth hundreds of dollars a bottle and are not generally available at any price.
However, if you're interested in the '85s, now there's another great vintage, according to those selling it. Want to buy some '85 futures? Want to get in before . . .
If the '82 bordeaux represent the vintage of the century, we might as well sit back and wait for the millennium. There is simply not enough Gregorian calendar time to accommodate the opinions of the Bordelais about their own wine. I must say that I have not been to Bordeaux to sample the '85s, still in barrel, and so must rely on the expertise of those who have -- like most people. Wine writers in general are enthusiastic about what they have tasted, and the official French report on the '85 growing season and harvest is nothing short of rhapsodic. "A near perfect harvest ended an unusual year in the Bordeaux vineyards," writes the Prefect of Bordeaux in the report of Le Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB). Almost no rain fell during an unusually hot September, which means the "stressed" fruit ripened well, promising intense flavor. Harvest was twice as large as '84 and "the highest of the decade."
Quality is apparently no problem, but price is something else. You may remember that the prices of the '83 bordeaux, pumped up by the success of the '82s, approached the obscene. They went up again for the '84s, a generally mediocre vintage. Now some Bordelais have magnanimously announced that prices are high enough -- which should be interpreted as Gallic understatement.
The Bordelais created the international wine trade as we know it. They make great wine. I want to get in on the vintage play, like everybody else, but not at the $330 "bargain" price for Cos d'Estournel, $380 for Pichon Lalande or $600 for Margaux. I'm going to buy a case of '85 Gloria and one of '85 Bertineau St. Vincent, not because they are great wines but because they are good ones and I can get them for "only" $80 a case -- cheap nowadays for bordeaux.
With any luck, I may see them mature before the next vintage of the century, but I'm not counting on it.
Next week: You can still get in on a remarkable '82 vintage at less than $10 a bottle. Read, and believe.