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Bordeaux 2010: America baulks at 2010 prices

With Bordeaux 2010 en primeur prices eclipsing last year's offerings, American merchants worry about the ability to sell mid-level wines whose prices are higher than ever.

JJ Buckley: some wines not compelling enough

As has been the case with previous vintages, the market for the blue chip wines seems solid, but wines a bit further down the pecking order are struggling.

The first growths and their Right Bank equivalents ‘will sell at any price’, Chris Adams of importer Sherry Lehman in New York said.

But the problem is in the mid range, ‘where wines that used to be $50-$60 a few years ago now come out between $100-120.’ The poor euro-dollar exchange rate compounds this problem, he added.

Too many wines are reaching ‘dangerous’ price levels, Shaun Bishop of JJ Buckley in California said. ‘I think people really do want to buy the wines, but too few wines in this campaign so far offer compelling prices for what the consumer expects to be in the bottle.’

Both Adams and Bishop expressed dismay at the 2010 price of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, for example. The respected Pessac Leognan property came out at €77 and is retailing at over €100 a bottle.

Still, potential 100-point Parker wines, such as Chateau Pontet Canet, will sell, regardless of the price increases, Bishop predicted.

‘We sold 30% more of Pontet Canet at a higher price in 2010 in the first two days since its release than we did of the 2009 in the first two days of its release,’ said Bishop.

Long-time Washington DC importer Elliot Staren of Wide World of Wines said that he is buying less this year. ‘We are buying so far, but being much more selective.’

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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