Americans are snapping up two kinds of Bordeaux 2009 this year: wines with very high scores, and early releases that seem bargains compared with blue-chip wines that have just come out.
The correlation between high scores from Robert Parker – who tweeted yesterday that the Bordelais were ‘stupid and arrogant’ in their pricing policy – and saleabilty is as marked as ever.
Unsurprisingly therefore, Pontet Canet (96-100 Parker points) has done far better than Lynch Bages (94-96 points). Both wines are priced at around US$140 per bottle.
‘By a factor of 25 to one, I have sold more Pontet Canet than Lynch Bages,’ said Mark Wessels of MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC.
Other wines which at first seemed too high in price are now perceived by some as relative bargains, ‘including Giscours (around US$60), Brane Cantenac (US$69), and Gruaud Larose (US$60),’ said Wessels.
‘Some people see recent prices and buy something else,’ he said. ‘Smith Haut Lafitte (US$100), has a high price, but it is still cheaper than Ducru Beaucaillou (US$265).’
Jeff Zacharia of Zachys in New York agrees: some wines did not do well initially, ‘but with the high prices of the top wines, people are taking a second look’.
US buyers are also purchasing lower end cru classés and cru bourgeois, merchants said.
Chris Adams at Sherry Lehmann in New York said wines like Cantemerle, Haut Bergey and Chasse Spleen were selling well.
By the same token, wines with high prices but without potential 100-point Parker scores are proving more difficult to sell.
Adams said ‘price/score fatigue’ is making wines like Ducru Beaucaillou and Pape Clement (US$140), for example, more difficult to sell.
Writing on the popular American blog wineberserkers.com, UK-based merchant Tom Mann of LHK Fine Wines described Chateau Figeac – at over US$200 but unscored by Parker for the past several vintages – as ‘a total failure.’
He later said that it could have sold if it were less expensive, because so many other critics appreciated it, but ‘I’d be stunned if anyone were to buy it in the US’.
Written by Panos Kakaviatos