As the 2007 en primeur season approaches, conditions are looking difficult in the Bordeaux fine wine market.
The pound is at its weakest level against the euro since the eurozone began on 1 January 2002, and the dollar is similarly weak.
But cash-rich Bordeaux producers, with some very successful campaigns behind them and with good stocks in their cellars, continue to release older vintages – in particular the 2006 – at high prices.
Bordeaux merchants are having difficulty selling them on, and indeed are being forced to buy back wines in popular vintages from the UK, where prices are lower.
‘Bordeaux wine merchants are currently one of our biggest customer sectors,’ Stephen Browett at Farr Vintners told decanter.com, ‘If your best customers become your supplier, then you ought to worry – but the chateaux don’t seem to be taking notice of this.’
Robert Parker may also be absent from this year’s tastings. He is undergoing back surgery and is not coming to Bordeaux this month for his traditional re-tasting of last year’s vintage, and is not sure if he will be recovered enough to travel in March, which may do more harm for the prospects with the US than a weak dollar.
Ireland, which is within the eurozone and therefore without the currency worries, is still concerned over prices.
James O’Connor at Wexford wine merchant Greenacres said he would be in Bordeaux for en primeur at the end of March, ‘But a number of smaller Irish merchants have said they are not going this year, after the over-pricing of the 2006 vintage and the knowledge that 2007 is not going to be spectacular.’
Alan Rayne, chairman of Magnum Fine Wines in the UK, had the usual warning on pricing: ‘If Bordeaux can present 2004 quality and prices, they will sell their wines very well. If they just take off 10% of 06 prices, they will not.’
Browett added, ‘Last year was boom time for the wine industry in England. People will categorically not be as bullish this year.’
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux