Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bordeaux 2010 campaign finally accelerated

Finally some fireworks last week. After a quiet Monday we saw a number of interesting releases on Tuesday 7 June, a/o De Fieuzal, Haut-Bages Libéral, Quinault l'Enclos, La Tour du Pin, Gruaud Larose, Haut-Batailley and Latour-Martillac.

But things really started going on Wednesday 8 June when the hottest wine of all came out: Château Pontet-Canet. This "flying fifth" flew in with a 38,9% higher price than last year's, and this first tranche sold out in one day: hot cakes at about € 140 per bottle. Extreme, but it must be said, the wine is of extraordinary quality.

The annoying thing is that it seems perfectly normal that prices are up again. As if the châteaux forgot that the 2009 prices were extreme already. The defence will be that the market has changed with the new demand from China. But for some wines it almost seems as a natural reflex, not every wine is a Pontet-Canet.

The average price rise so far isn't too bad actually. I was surprised to see that we're looking at about 4,5% on 2009 at this moment. Note that this number will grow the coming weeks. Because this is one of the strange rules in Bordeaux: the more expensive the wine, the more steep its relative price rise will be. So be prepared.

Let's look at the extremes. From the ± 35 wines that went down in price these 5 are the most extreme:

1. Balestard La Tonnelle -28% (9 Jun)
2. La Croix Taillefer -19% (19 Apr)
3. Les Gravières -18,9% (19 May)
4. Sociando-Mallet -15,9% (24 May)
5. De Fargues -13,3% (30 May)

It's always good to put these wines in the spotlight. Personally I would say Sociando-Mallet is a good pick.

At the other side, here's the top 10 with the biggest price rise:

1. Faugères Cuvée Péby +50,8% (9 Jun, curious release)
2. Pontet-Canet +38,9% (8 Jun)
3. Pédesclaux +32,1% (9 Jun)
4. Durfort-Vivens +29,8% (9 Jun)
5. Boyd-Cantenac +28% (10 Jun)
6. Marquis d'Alesme +27,9% (9 Jun)
7. Grand-Puy-Ducasse +24,3% (10 Jun)
8. Beychevelle +22,7% (19 May)
9. Croix de Labrie +21,2% (9 Jun)
10. Giscours + 20,3% (8 Jun)

Note that these releases are all from this week, except for Beychevelle. Another indication that the +4,5% average will grow. In hindsight, the Beychevelle price jump wasn't so shocking, it now fits perfectly between its peers.

The price development over time reminds me of that of 2009. Wines that were perceived as expensive at first, later seemed quite reasonably priced. Those wines will get sold out the coming weeks.

I will conclude with some personal picks, based on quality and price, released this week:

- Giscours: not a bargain, but future joy guaranteed
- La Tour du Pin: made and owned by Cheval Blanc, very good!
- Haut-Batailley: great classic, precise, and still affordable
- Calon-Ségur: yes, but the real pick is little brother Capbern
- Pagodes de Cos: not cheap, but a great 2nd wine
- Phélan-Ségur: super this year, not cheap but value for money
- Langoa-Barton: tough pure honest classic
- Domaine de Chevalier: a favourite, refined and exciting

Next week will be busy, the last week before Vinexpo. During Vinexpo I take the opportunity to escape to Burgundy for a few days. We have some very interesting visits ahead of us, more about that later. And thereafter, in the first half of July, it will be time to wrap up this lengthy primeurs campaign, with the releases of the premier cru's. Also about that, more later.

In the meantime: our Bordeaux 2010 offers are updated daily.

1 comment:

James Swann said...

It is easy to forget that until very recently no consistent living could be made in Bordeaux, at all. There was no money. Bordeaux has never made better wine, ever and demand has increased to significant new levels whereas leading chateaux have progressively dropped in yield. The usual hazards remain as with 2010’s 30% reduction in yield at top chateaux yet globally, demand has expanded significantly.

Of all the considerations of the Bordeaux trade, however, perhaps one feature influences pricing policy, or instinct, at chateaux before all others. Chateaux owners are aghast at the profits made on the wines they produce once released to on the open market while sitting, usually in London, in their original casing and being traded so profitably around the world, as evinced in the recently physical 2008.

So perhaps policy is guided somewhat beyond China by way of wishing to see some of the gains that the wine will soon make go to the people that have made the wine.

Nevertheless, as the world’s largest wine market La Place de Bordeaux is essential and irreplaceable to the top chateaux, no other system that can sell such quantities in a matter of hours.