Monday, January 26, 2009

Bordeaux 2008 - what about the primeur campaign?

While Bordeaux is recuperating from a heavy storm, a real one, the big question is if there will be any storm in Bordeaux in April − I mean: any real fuss around Bordeaux 2008.

Yes, there will be a 'campaign week' at the start of April (Monday 30 March − Friday 3 April, invitations are sent out): there will be wines to taste, and there will be people to taste the wines. I guess I will be one of them (but I think I will mainly focus on older vintages...).

But then? Usually the rest of the campaign − the weeks after the tastings, in April and May − is not so much about the wines, but about prices, and business. What are the release prices, what are the most interesting buys etc. But wait... that's how it used to be. Is there much reason to think that buyers are eager to buy this year?

The idea behind buying en primeur is to have a better price now than in the future (and also to be certain about an allocation of a certain wine, but that only really matters in years of big demand). In these days however, with a roaring credit crisis everywhere around us, who will think he will get a better price today? Or in other words: who seriously thinks about making investments, about speculation?

Then from the other side, the sellers (or should I say the cellars): is selling the wines en primeur a necessity? For some yes, for most no. The yes-category: those négociants (and perhaps some châteaux also) that fully rely on the primeurs campaign, that need to raise cash during the campaign (or actually: send invoices, for payment conditions were already being loosened the last years).

The no-category: châteaux and négociants in a healthier financial position, and with plenty of stocks. And there are stocks. After 2005 we have had two 'difficult campaigns', i.e. in terms of selling. The year 2006 was difficult, and 2007 was even more difficult. Much less is sold, hence there are stocks in Bordeaux − be it at the châteaux or at the négociants.

(There is a rumour going around that stocks are low, but that rather seems a trick to spark interest for the new vintage − thanks Jane for alerting me.)

The châteaux and négociants that do not really need the primeurs-cash might prefer to hold on to the Bordeaux 2008 wines − possibly a vin de garde anyway − instead of trying to sell it to an uninterested audience, for a low price. The fact that yields have been very low in 2008 will contribute to the reluctance to sell at (very) low prices. I think the châteaux will offer their Bordeaux 2008 primeurs, but not at much lower prices. I guess the producers rather keep their wines cellared than selling for low prices.

And if these châteaux and négociants want to earn money, they can also choose to work with their 2006 and 2007 stocks. Bordeaux 2006 is becoming available in bottle these days, and the price is not much higher than it was two years ago during the campaign. For both buyers and sellers these wines might be more interesting to look at than the primeurs.

1 comment:

D Marra said...

For some possibly naive reason, I suspect that prices of "lesser" chateaux will lower somewhat on 2006/7 prices. The perennially highly-rated wines and new "hot" wines (Pontet-Canet et al) I would assume will be happy to keep their prices closer to 2006/7 levels. My guess (admittedly unfounded on fact OR rumor) is that those with a strong need to sell wine will price accordingly. Either way, does anybody really care?