Bordeaux 2006 futures are priced too high, American importers and distributors say.

Sales are difficult – and the weakness of the dollar against the euro alone does not explain slow sales.

‘The Bordelais priced 2006 futures so high to make sales difficult in the US,’ Mark Levin, vice president at Southern Wine and Spirits, which operates in 26 states, told decanter.com.

‘Traditional Bordeaux customers are turning away from Bordeaux futures as a result.’

In Washington DC, Mark Wessels of importer MacArthur Beverages said sales of Bordeaux were strong but 2006 was ‘extraordinarily slow, for the obvious reasons – coming after the greatest vintage ever in 2005, the weak dollar and prices coming out higher than expected.’

In Illinois, Chicago Wine Company representative Simon Lambert called the 2006 futures campaign ‘fair.’

‘It is not any secret that most people were disappointed with the pricing policies of most of the chateaux,’ he added. ‘We decided to buy less wine [for the 2006 futures campaign]. In some instances, none, but more because of price than for quality.’

Some warn against a negative trend. ‘The quality of the 2007 harvest does not matter,’ Levin said. ‘If the standard for pricing in Bordeaux is the 2005 vintage, they are going to leave a lot of customers behind in the US.’

For his part, Wessels said he hoped it would not be ‘a repeat of 1997 when several retailers ended up selling the wine at cost or below.’

New York may be the one city that bucks the trend. There sales are ‘much better than we ever anticipated,’ said Michael Aaron of retail store Sherry Lehmann. ‘We are selling at a more rapid rate than the 2004 at the same period of time.

American wine drinkers are paying more attention than they ever did before. There is a new generation of Bordeaux drinkers coming into the market.’

Written by Panos Kakaviatos in Washington DC