Wine enthusiasts should not expect a third consecutive spectacular vintage from the winemakers of Bordeaux, it has been suggested.
The 2009 and 2010 vintages were widely hailed as two of the best produced in over a generation. This, in turn, led to high prices in the en primeur release - especially in for the First Growth wines such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Latour and Chateau Margaux.
However, Bordeaux winemakers have endured a difficult growing season, with hot weather coming unusually early, followed by cooler, wetter summer months.
Denise Medrano, chief blogger for lovethatwine.co.uk, says that Bordeaux wine producers have described the harvest as "interesting", which actually gives plenty of insight into the quality of the 2011 vintage.
"Translation: The Bordelais always say it's a fantastic harvest so if they're saying it's interesting, it doesn't bode well," she explained.
"In my opinion, 2011 isn't going to be a great year but will just have to wait until en primeur in March."
A year of more modest wines could therefore result in lower prices, Ms Medrano suggests. So while the overall quality may not match the produce of 2009 or 2010, there may be some high-quality wines available at attractive prices.
However, Pieter Rosenthal of corkandbottle.co.uk speculates that increasing demand from China has skewed the market.
"For years now the trade has been calling for a bit more reason when setting prices but with new markets opening up in Asia this has largely been ignored by the Bordelais, at least at the top level," he said.
Ms Medrano believes that Chinese drinkers are interested primarily in wines that have status, such as the First Growths.
It is therefore possible that some quality 2011 wines from lesser-known Bordeaux vineyards will not be affected by the extra premium and be available at lower prices.
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