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Bordeaux 2013: ‘All wines to sell within three years,’ says UGC president

The head of Bordeaux's Unions des Grands Crus believes there will be no problem selling 2013 wines, but some merchants have already accused chateaux of ignoring reality after a first round of releases.

Chateau Pichon Baron was one of the first to release

Speaking at the closing lunch for en primeur week, Olivier Bernard, also of Domaine de Chevalier, told guests that he expects all 2013 wines to be sold within three years, and many within the next three months.

He added that all of the wines will be drunk in the next decade, echoing what many have described as a light and early drinking Bordeaux vintage.

Whether he is right on sales will depend significantly on how chateaux price a vintage that was dogged by poor weather and is marked by very small volumes of grands vins.

With stocks of recent Bordeaux vintages still on the market, and several wines at relatively attractive prices, some experts have argued 2013 en primeur will be a tough sell.

Senior figures at two merchant houses have chosen to go on holiday this week, despite expectations of a quick-fire en primeur campaign.

Releases by Pichon Baron and Smith Haut Lafitte yesterday (7 April), down in price by 17% and 6% respectively, drew a lukewarm response from some buyers.

‘The prices may be down on the last few years,’ one négociant commented, ‘but they have been out of line with market reality ever since 2008. When you compare them to 2008, they are still up across the board’.

Peter Shakeshaft, of wine investment firm Vin-X, told Decanter.com, ‘There doesn’t seem to be any correlation between chateaux and negociants. Negociants are joining the wider trade in asking for more realistic pricing, but the chateaux don’t want to listen.’

Vin-X does not plan to buy en primeur wines for the third consecutive year, after buying around £2.5m-worth of wines in both 2009 and 2010.

At London-based Wine Asset Managers, Will Beck said that Pichon Baron 2013 ‘is still 26% higher than the 2008 release price’, which is also still easy to obtain.

However, Christian Seely, managing director of Pichon Baron owner Axa Millesime, said 2013 represents a good deal versus back-vintages. He said there were just 39 cases of Pichon Baron 2008 currently trading ex-cellar on the Place de Bordeaux at €80, and the lowest price anywhere for the 2008 was €72 ex-tax.

Others were more upbeat. In Paris, Gerard Sibourd-Baudry, chief executive of respected wine merchant and retailer Caves Legrand, told Decanter.com that he would definitely buy.

‘I visited all the chateaux where we have an allocation, and I’m very enthusiastic because we have tasted very lovely and elegant wines,’ he said.

John Watkins, CEO of China’s leading fine wine importer, ASC, said, ‘Bordeaux has done a great job of diversifying risk over many centuries, creating new markets and ensuring its wines are spread across them. It needs to stick to those basic business values – price to attract across a spread of markets, and offer value for money.’

Updated at 11:26 UK time to include extra comment from Christian Seely.

Written by Chris Mercer & Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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