Can I offer a very slight antidote to the apparently fairly widespread cynicism here, directed at both the wines and the merchants? Firstly, even wine merchants have to make a living, and for those operating at the higher end of the market, the Bordeaux EP season is hugely important, so you can’t blame them for making the best of things. And if they don’t want to lose their place in the queue for the good stuff in the good years, they need to keep vignerons (or perhaps the big corporates that own most of the top chateaux nowadays) sweet - or at least not piss them off by public criticism of their product! I’m getting emails from five or six of the major players in the market, and all of them are open about it having been a challenging year, and not the equal qualitatively of some recent years.
As for the wines, I do find it credible that the major houses (the classed growths and the better known CBs) have the resources, skills and experience to produce some wine at least that is of a quality they are happy to put their name to. It would not be in their interests to put their label on some reputation-tarnishing filth, and they always have the option to declassify and sell in bulk - I suspect there will be no shortage of supermarket generic “Bordeaux Rouge 2021” in the next few years!
So an EP campaign that offers a much reduced quantity of perfectly acceptable if less than stellar quality seems quite reasonable to me. Those of us who have been around a while can reduce our buying, or give it a miss altogether, and newbies (who perhaps would be more vulnerable to the creative writing of the more excitable merchants) will still be buying a source of considerable future pleasure.
It would be nice if prices came down a bit, but the trend (and it’s early days of course) seems to be to hold the Euro price from last year, giving, thanks to exchange rates, a few coppers off the UK£ price. And even that, in these inflationary times and with much reduced crops, doesn’t seem unreasonable.