Bordeaux en primeur buyers have lost money in five of the last eight campaigns and there is still too much wine gathering dust in merchant cellars, but Liv-ex analysts say the market is in better shape than a year ago.

Bordeaux 2015 represents a ‘great opportunity’ for the trade to re-engage with disenchanted wine lovers, particularly if tasters agree with early reports of  it being a good-to-great vintage, Liv-ex analysts have said in a report on the state of the market published just days ahead of the 2015 vintage en primeur tastings.

But, there is still an oversupply of Bordeaux wine, particularly from the 2011 and 2012 vintages – as well as the difficult 2013 crop – according to the Liv-ex report.

‘The failure of recent en primeur campaigns has resulted in a build-up of unsold stocks in the supply chain, particularly in Bordeaux itself,’ says the report.

The chart below shows the estimated extent of the problem.

Bordeaux en primeur, Bordeaux 2015, liv-ex

Stocks of Bordeaux wine by vintage ahead of the Bordeaux 2015 en primeur campaign. Credit: Liv-ex

The figures suggest there is financial pressure on at least some Bordeaux negociants.

Liv-ex figures, based on Creditsafe data, show that average profit margins for negociants in Bordeaux halved in percentage terms between 2011 and 2014.

Margins are also under pressure at UK merchants, although they generally hold much less stock.

‘Not all negative’

However, Liv-ex said there were several reasons to believe that the Bordeaux fine wine market has been moving into a better place in the past 12 months.

‘The en primeur story is not all negative,’ Liv-ex analysts believe.

Several Bordeaux 2012 wines currently look to have been a good deal for wine drinkers during the en primeur campaign. This re-inforces a re-evaluation of the Bordeaux 2012 vintage by some critics in the past 12 months.

Below is a Liv-ex chart of some wines that have performed well – and those that haven’t – against their en primeur release price. Petit Mouton and Clerc Milon, both under the Mouton Rothschild umbrella, have been two of the top performers, while Angelus has done well on the back of its upgraded status to St-Emilion premier grand cru classé A.

Returns on Bordeaux 2012 wines since the en primeur campaign, liv-ex

Returns on Bordeaux 2012 wines since the en primeur campaign. Credit: Liv-ex

Liv-ex analysts added that Bordeaux en primeur prices in recent vintages have more closely tallied with the secondary market.

Release prices rose by 237% between the 2008 and 2010 vintage campaigns, but have subsequently fallen by 60% on average.

On a macro-level, the global fine wine market has shown signs of stability in the past year.

The report re-iterates comments from across the wine trade that Bordeaux faces greater competition from other fine wine regions, such as Burgundy, Piedmont, California and Spain.

But, it says there is ‘plenty of room’ for Bordeaux 2015 to be priced attractively – if tasters give the vintage their blessing next week.

Read more on Bordeaux en primeur