I find it slightly bizarre that the whole wine trade is occupied with Bordeaux En Primeur during nearly 3 months. The tastings were done in April and the last of the reviews (Parker) were released at the end of April. Yet, a month and a half later, we’re all still waiting for the campaign to get serious. Frustration in the trade mounts and customer interest is waning. An esteemed fellow trader dubbed the campaign “operation Escargot”. And rightly so. Can we please please get on with it?
Some thought Chateaux were waiting for the Latour auction in Hong Kong.That auction has happened but still no sign of live from Bordeaux. Perhaps the reason for the wait is hope that the euro will crash? If so, the gamble didn’t work: over the past 2 weeks, the single currency has only got significantly stronger against the dollar and sterling.
There are still roughly 200 wines to be released. With 9 working days left until Vinexpo (starting June 19th), it’s highly unlikely the big guns will release in the next 2 weeks. We were hoping that today would finally see some bigger releases but no: today is a bank holiday in China and Hong Kong.
Andrew Jefford posted an article on decanter.com last week, Bordeaux 2010 – The Titanic campaign, which he starts by saying “…I’m thinking of a magnificent vintage of unsinkable quality leaving port, buoyed by a nation’s pride – and heading for a rendez-vous with a very large iceberg”. According to Jane Anson, the Bordeaux based journalist, this article has received a lot of attention in Bordeaux.
Jefford mentions that, according to Farr Vintners, “demand is about 20% of what it was last year”. Not all agree and speaking to Bordeaux Negociants, I found it very much depends on the wine. Some have done really well – notably Beychevelle but also Cantemerle who got their timing spot on. Everybody seems to agree though that prices are being pushed to the limit and arguably over the limit of what customers can and will stomach. Very few chateaux so far have released below their 09 prices and fears mount that “without significantly lowered prices, “the whole process will stutter and stall”.
Mind you, the UK trade has always been very vocal during the en primeur campaign, pushing for speed and lower prices. Fact of the matter is though, we all want to sell wine and to do so, there has to be some momentum. Which there isn’t at the moment. Fingers crossed some brave Chateau owner with a big reputation will release tomorrow, at -10% on 2009 prices- and will resuscitate the near comatose patient.