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Calls on Bordeaux 2011 Pricing

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.

8 Responses to “Calls on Bordeaux 2011 Pricing”

  1. 1. THEY DO HAVE VERY BIG WAREHOUSES. 2. CHINA IS THEIR PRIORITY, NOT EUROPE. 3.DO NOT FORGET WHEN BUYING A GRAND CRU etc, THAT IT IS VERY PROBABLE IT WILL HAVE BEEN STORED IN A BONDING WAREHOUSE. ie NO TEMP OR HUMIDITY CONTROL, DO NOT BE SUPRISED IF IT IS “CORKED”. 4. ALWAYS BUY THE WINE YOU LIKE !!!. THAT WAY YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPOINTED

  2. Hi David. Thanks for that comment. Some good points in there, although I think the holding back of stock in the 2010 vintage will have been with the châteaux rather than the négociants and further down the chain, so these wines won’t be sitting around in bonded warehouses. There has been a lot of building in Bordeaux recently – profits reinvested. Some of that building concerns storage facilities.

  3. I predict 2011 prices coming back to 2008 vintage level, as 2011 will remind quality wise of 2008. Visiting Bordeaux during harvest 2011, I heard many statements that prices would go down at least 50%. And the financial crisis will also play a role.

    We’ll see after primeur!

  4. I fear that the en primeur prices will be too high, somewhere in between 2006 and 2007. I’m hearing a lot of contradictory stuff > rumours go that there is still a enormous stock of unsold 2007 but on ebay prices for 2007 are climbing like a rocket.

    The illustrious top level wines (Petrus, Le Pin, Lafitte,…) are slightly dropping, but the super seconds from a good vintage are still rising (even quite fast), there is little or no influence on those prices from the financial crisis.

    I think that China will decide the future Bordeaux prices, so we can only hope that they search another prestigious object to show off with

    from the last Bordeaux vintages only 2008 was an interesting year to buy en primeur (what I did, but not enough)

  5. Lafite in stead of Lafitte ofc ;)

  6. One thing is for sure Kris, without a “great vintage” hype to stimulate the market, if the very top prices aren’t slashed dramatically sales will be very sliggish indeed.

  7. Hi Chris,

    I think the prices will almost certainly drop and they will stay supressed for a few years to come.
    As for China being the major market, fair enough; they can buy the lot as far as I’m concerned. However a friend of mine who lives in Shanghai mentioned that the Chinese do like ” Baubles”; and he meant that in no way as an insult, but even baubles lose thier glitter eventually as can be seen by the softening of the market there.
    Either the Bordelais can face reality, or invest in a Chines Rosetta stone course. Unfortunately placing all your eggs in one basket is fraught will peril and a very poor business plan.

  8. Agree the prices should drop, although not sure the Bordelais always follow the logical path. If they think they can sell the 2011s for the same elevated prices as the 2010s and 2009s, I suspect they will try. But I hope they tune into what is happening in the markets and global economies and price accordingly. There will be an awful lot of egg on their faces if they don’t.