Early this morning, Maria Miller, a British government minister, finally bowed to the inevitable and resigned. A politician who had been vocal in calling for transparency over members of parliament's expenses in 2009 had been been found to have over-claimed £5,600 or £45,000 (depending on who's counting) more in her own expenses. For several days before she accepted her fate, Ms Miller's supporters had vainly tried to claim that the media was unfairly treating her as a scapegoat. This position was somewhat undermined by the fact that many in her own party were as critical of her as any journalist.
An hour or two later I read that Christian Seely of Chateau Pichon Baron was complaining about a "concerted effort" to undermine the 2013 en primeur campaign and "to talk the vintage down in the press" To be fair to Mr Seely, a clever man I really like and respect, he was facing a tricky task. His chateau has, I'm sure, made a pretty decent 2013, especially given the challenges of the vintage, and he's played the game - at least partly - by reducing his prices by 17% against the 2012. But, and it's a huge but, he needs to sell some wine. And that means saying stuff that he certainly might not be saying if he on the buyers' side of the desk. If 2013 has had a poor press since the time of the harvest, that might have just a little to do with some of the comments that were made by producers at the time. British-born Gavin Quinney, owner of Ch Bauduc, and a contributor to jancisrobinson.com said that 2013 was the worst vintage he could remember and that "the reds will be extremely variable at all price points". Stephane Derenoncourt bluntly called it a "shit vintage" and Michel Rolland told Decanter.com that 2013's were "drinking wines... not for ageing". Visitors to Bordeaux during the harvest returned with horror stories of ugly, rotten grapes. But the people who really matter are the ones who are going to are being asked to buy these wines and, as Liv-Ex reveals, over 70% of the professionals who have tasted the first growths ranked them as fourth or fifth in quality when set alongside 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012. While a few chateaux have bucked the trend and produced really high quality, long-lived wines, they are the exceptions to a rule in which 2007-like "restaurant-wine" is actually something of a compliment. Mr Seely acknowledges that the previous four vintages have all dropped in value since they were released en primeur. He boldly suggests that this one will buck the trend. Maria Miller's supporters may similarly believe that she will bounce back after her present travails. I wouldn't bet on either. However good the best 2013s, I cannot see any reason to buy them in barrel todaywhen I could spend my money on older wines in which I have reason to believe.