Final numbers for the en primeur week indicated a drop of nearly 10% with some 13,582 total visitors – down 9.43 percent from last year’s 14,996.
Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux spokesman Jean-Marc Guiraud said he did not have specific country statistics, but estimated a drop in American and German visitors, although increased UK and Japanese visitors.
He was sure of one number. ‘Russia just collapsed,’ he said. ‘Last year we had 200 or so Russians attending, but only one badge was issued this year.’
From chateau owners to bus drivers, it was clear that despite the relatively high quality of the vintage as already reported in the press, attendance was lower than last year, even among journalists.
Xavier Gourdelle, a UGCB chauffeur, said ‘Media which sent three or four journalists last year only sent one or two this year.’
At a press dinner at Chateau Pontet Canet last Monday, there were murmurs of disbelief when UGC president Sylvie Cazes said numbers were down 3%, and producers admitted off the record that numbers were massively down.
A spokesperson for a prominent Medoc property said their visitors were down 70% – the most dramatic drop reported so far.
Noting the continued weak dollar and economic downturn, Devin Warner, president of the major importer Chicago Wine Company who was in Bordeaux noticed ‘far less Americans this time around.’
Mark Wessels of MacArthur Beverages, another major US importer in Washington DC, did not go to Bordeaux.
‘I am not tempted to buy any more wine, and I have a negative attitude, obviously,’ he said. ‘The 06s are being now delivered, and I have sold about 50% of what I purchased in 06s, and all I want to do is sell the other half to turn those bottles of wine into dollars, so I am not thinking about promoting 2008.’
Written by Panos Kakaviatos in Bordeaux