The pricing of next year’s Bordeaux releases – from the 2011 vintage – will be some of the most hotly debated ever I think. With two very expensive vintages back-to-back, widespread economic crisis, faltering prices of older vintages and a ‘lesser’ vintage, it would seem the prudent decision would be for prices to come down. I am sure they will; the question is, by how much?
In a report in Drinks Business by Patrick Schmidt two UK wine trade figures express an opinion:
Adam Brett-Smith, MD of Corney & Barrow, is quoted as saying “Unless they do something of unbelievable drama there is going to be no interest at all” and that the top châteaux had lost “the loyal bread and butter customer”.
In a similar vein, Gary Boom of Bordeaux Index says “I haven’t sold a case of first growth Bordeaux for months to a person in the UK who I think is going to drink it” and alleges that the Bordelais have done irreparable damage.
I’m don’t think there is “irreparable damage” [my italics] here; yes, the prices hurt, but it could be argued that 2009 and 2010 were certainly a class apart, setting a new benchmark for Bordeaux quality as well as pricing. If the quality was there (and it was – both vintages are great), and the wines sell (yes, I’m aware that there may be huge stock retention to limit supply and bolster price) to those wealthy enough to afford them, then there is little that the more cash-strapped consumer (i.e. me – maybe you too?) and the wine trade can do. The real damage will come if the prices do not fall back with the 2011 vintage. Bordeaux has a history of taking two steps forward with pricing, then only one step back – with the 1996 then 1997 vintages, 2003 then 2004, 2005 then 2006. If they do that in 2011 I think the exodus away from Bordeaux primeurs will not just be with the consumer, but with some big-name merchants as well. The comments from Boom and Brett-Smith certainly suggest that.
I hope the Bordelais make some wise decisions next year. If not, I hope they have some very large warehouses.
Read the full article by Patrick Schmidt here.