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Bordeaux 2013: En primeur interest has ‘died’, say merchants

Consumer demand for Bordeaux 2013 wines has fallen away as a stuttering en primeur campaign draws to a close, according to several merchants.

Many critics were pleasantly surprised by Bordeaux’s 2013 grands vins during en primeur tasting week, but chateaux have been criticised over pricing.

Many negociants and non-Bordeaux merchants are likely to report significantly reduced sales revenue from the 2013 campaign versus 2012; partly because of the small volume of wines produced and also because of consumer wariness of overpaying for a vintage that has been described as the most challenging in Bordeaux for 30 years.

With all of the first growths now out – excluding Latour which has extricated itself from the en primeur system – the campaign has ebbed. There are reports from Bordeaux of the sector squabbling with itself over this year’s prices.

‘Interest this week has completely died,’ Max Lalondrelle, buying director for UK merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, told Decanter.com yesterday (28 April).

Barring a few ‘highs of adrenalin last week and the week before’, it’s been a fairly muted campaign, Lalondrelle said. Berrys still expects to achieve in the region of £5m in en primeur sales from 2013, but that is only a third of what the group made from 2012.

While Berrys has offered wines as normal in the 2013 campaign, it has only specifically recommended 15 to 20 of them as representing good value to consumers. Among those is St Emilion’s Figeac, which released this week at €48 ex-Bordeaux, level with 2012 prices.

For the first growths, ‘they have sold ok, but that haven’t sold that quickly’, Lalondrelle said. ‘Haut-Brion [€215 ex-Bordeaux] was the hardest sell.’

Justin Liddle, director of Stokes Fine Wines, told Decanter.com that consumers were more prepared to wait before buying this year, rather than diving in on the day of a particular wine’s release.

Some have criticised a number of chateaux for failing to price their 2013 wines as the cheapest vintage available on the market, which it is thought would make the vintage more appealing given its early drinking credentials.

‘The few wines that have been correctly priced – Lynch Bages, La Fleur Petrus and Domaine de Chevalier are the best examples – have sold quite well,’ said Stephen Browett of Farr Vintners. ‘Lynch Bages and La Fleur Petrus are now completely sold out in Bordeaux.’

Overall, though, he said ‘there remains very little demand for 2013 Bordeaux’.

He singled out Cheval Blanc, which released this week at €300 ex-Bordeaux, down 12% on 2012. ‘Taking Cheval Blanc as an example, we could probably supply our customers with about 15-20 mature vintages at the same price, or less, as the 2013 en primeur,’ Browett said. ‘For example, we currently have the 1995 and 1996 vintages in stock at lower prices.’

See Decanter’s full Bordeaux 2013 En Primeur ratings

Written by Chris Mercer

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