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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

Bordeaux producers at the Grands Crus de Bordeaux 2001 tasting held last week, expressed concern that early fears over abnormally low acidity levels may have panicked some winemakers into acidifying unnecessarily, so that they now have the opposite problem to the one they started with. Christian Seely of AXA Millsimes, in charge of Chteau Pichon-Longueville and other highly rated estates, told Harpers that none of the properties in its portfolio acidified, because consultant oenologist Professor Boissenot predicted that acidity levels would rise sufficiently during fermentation. Claire Villars who, together with her husband Gonzague Lurton, runs Chteaux Durfort-Vivens, Ferrire and Haut-Bages Libral, said that early readings of acidity and pH levels had not given an accurate assessment of the balance of the wines, due to the phenomenal concentration' resulting from low yields (only 300-500 grams per vine, and under 30 hectolitres per hectare at Ferrire). She has found acidity levels changing daily, and rising by around one gram per litre during fermentation, so that while the wines were low in malic acid, and high in pH (3.8-3.9), they now have very good acidity levels'. Anthony Barton of Chteaux Loville- and Langoa-Barton added: People picked up on the idea that "acidity's low". But actually it's not so low, and what's wrong with lower acidity anyway? The idea that a wine with lower acidity won't last is rubbish.' Sebastian Payne MW, chief buyer for the Wine Society, feared that Americans would equate the hot summer with a spectacular vintage, and that demand and prices would therefore rise. The upward pressure will be all the stronger given the combination of high potential quality, low volume (up to 40% below average) and price falls for the last two vintages. By comparison with the very high prices for the much-hyped 2000s, and probable high prices for the 2003s, those from the two intervening years look increasingly attractive. Parker's belated review of the 2002s has not greatly inflated prices, and the elegant' 2001s generally represent sound value. Barton and Seely agreed that 2001 was seriously underrated from the start, in the shadow of 2000, and that it still represents what Seely called a serious buying opportunity'. Some tasters even expressed themselves more impressed by the 2001s than by the 2000s last year. This is real Bordeaux,' enthused Jan Critchley-Salmonson MW of Hallgarten.