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Bordeaux 2014: Many top chateaux hold fire as first releases test demand

Nicolas Audebert of Canon and Rauzan-Segla has told Decanter.com that both estates should release Bordeaux 2014 wines within the next 10 days, but others remain coy - despite Mouton Rothschild selling well this week.

Audebert spoke to Decanter.com during a tasting of both Left Bank and Right Bank wines from the past four vintages in London. ‘We will continue to follow the prudent pricing line that we have taken since 2012 and 2013,’ he said of the upcoming 2014 vintage en primeur release.

‘So I envisage a slight increase on 2013. We want to make it attractive to the market. The Mouton price clearly did well and has brought some confidence and spark back to the campaign.’

But, an enigmatic Alfred Tesseron of Pontet-Canet told Decanter.com that he hasn’t yet decided his 2014 price or when to release. ‘We have made good wine again and I am very confident it will sell. The important thing is do what is right for us and not base our decision on what our neighbours are doing.’

Didier Cuvelier, of Leoville Poyferre, was also coy about when he will release. ‘It will be May, but I’m not committing myself yet. We need to consult with brokers see what has worked in the market to get a feeling for prices. But I think it is likely we will come out close to our 2012 price.’

Several UK merchants were encouraged by the Mouton Rothschild release this week. Farr Vintners sold all of its Mouton and Petit Mouton allocations and also praised Lynch Bages for making 2014 the estate’s cheapest vintage on the market, despite a 20% price hike on 2013 to 60 euros ex-Bordeaux.

According to Laura Taylor of Private Cellar, ‘if the price is right the wine will sell. Mouton has proved that.’ That was also the view of Nick Dagley, Lay & Wheeler’s Bordeaux buyer. ‘Until this week, the apathy on the part of buyers has been deafening, but Mouton has sold well and quickly. It may kick-start things.’

‘The problem is that private clients are still sceptical,’ said Marcus Edwards, of Albany Vintners. ‘The chateaux need to give them a financial incentive to buy if they want to bring them back on board. There’s so much transparency now that consumers are increasingly savvy. They can see the price of the other vintages and what represents a good deal. Apart from Mouton, the only other wine that has done well so far is Duhart Milon [42 euros ex-Bordeaux]. Having said that, I think 2014 is a good vintage and it’s still early in the campaign. There’s still time to turn things around.’

Although Angelus and Palmer came out this week, at 180 euros and 160 euros respectively ex-Bordeaux, other big names remained hesitant. ‘We haven’t decided yet when we to come out,’ said Florence Cathiard, of Smith Haut Lafitte. ‘We will make a small increase this year bearing in mind that our prices have halved since 2010.’

Cathiard felt it wasn’t relevant or useful to talk about the campaign as a whole. ‘The reality is that it depends on each individual chateaux. Some will succeed and others will fail. Much depends on the strength of the brand. However, I do think it will be a small campaign this year involving only about 50 Chateaux.’

(Additional reporting by Chris Mercer)

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