European editor Roger Voss reports daily from Bordeaux futures week." />

2006 En Primeur: The Year of Merlot?

European editor Roger Voss reports daily from Bordeaux futures week.

The wine of the vintage is...check out Bordeaux 2006: Contradiction, Confusion and Challenge

ome years Bordeaux château owners talk about fruit, some years about price. Vintage 2006 is a price year. It is not so much a question of whether the prices for these luxury wines will come down from 2005, but by how much.

This is the week when Bordeaux producers show off their 2006 vintage to the world wine trade. These futures tastings are from barrel, but the wines are now being offered for sale, six months after harvest.

Already there are warnings from within the Bordeaux trade itself about the need for reasonable prices, even for the top wines for the 2006 vintage.

"I think it would be a mistake to keep the same prices as 2005. 2006 is a good year but it needs to be sold at lower prices. People paid a lot of money for 2005 and their pockets aren't so full now as they were last year," said Dany Rolland, who, with Michel Rolland, owns Château Le Bon Pasteur as well as others.

The real reason is that this is a mixed-bag of a year. "It's a taster's vintage," said Sylvie Courselle of Château Thieuley in the Entre-deux-Mers.

So what does this mean for you? Know the palate of the person you are buying from. There will be great wines at a wide range of prices and there will be wines that should remain unsold.

The speculation is this is shaping up to be a Merlot vintage. Tasting of wines throughout Bordeaux continues all week.

"Because of the precocity of the Merlot, people in Pomerol were able to harvest all their fruit before the rain of mid-September," said Christian Moueix, of Château Pétrus and others. "We have ripe wines with great freshness.

In fact, my early tastings show Merlot comes through as a very fruity, very drinkable wine. Basically, these will be ready to drink long before your 2005s.

Kathleen Buckley contributed to this report.

Monday: Sauternes, Pomerol, St.-Emilion

Tuesday: Pessac-Leognan, Graves

Wednesday: Margaux, Moulis, Listrac

Thursday: Pauillac, St.-Julien, St.-Estephe and first growths.

Friday: St.-Emilion, Pomerol, including Ausone and Cheval Blanc

Bordeaux 2006: Contradiction, Confusion and Challenge

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