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Barton defends Bordeaux pricing

Bordeaux proprietor Anthony Barton has said that high prices for the 2006 vintage are reasonable, comparing the campaign to that of the 1989 vintage.

Writing in the September issue of Decanter magazine, the head of Leoville- and Langoa-Barton said that prices were reasonable – ‘when compared with the current prices of the 2005s’.

He added that criticism of the 2006 en primeur reminded him of the 1989 campaign.

He listed warnings that the market was quiet, a hesitant start, an over-enthusiastic reception of the first few offers, frenetic buying by negociants and merchants, and ‘habitual complaints’ that prices were too high, as parallels between the two vintages.

Barton did admit that 1989 was an ‘outstanding’ wine compared to the 2006 offering. However, he added that new markets, including the Asian market, would now ‘happily pay large sums for famous names’.

Following the superlative 2005 vintage, the campaign for the less-acclaimed 2006s has come under a lot of criticism, not least from merchants and wine amateurs in both the UK and US. Christian Delpeuch, head of Bordeaux negociant Ginestet said the UK and US had been ‘very negative’ towards the 2006 vintage.

Barton admitted that although the chateaux had not taken the ‘sound advice’ of UK merchants to reduce their prices, there were reasonable reductions in prices this year.

‘Of course, these prices [2006] were even more reasonable when compared with current prices of the 2005s,’ he said.

He admitted that there was a feeling that Bordeaux had become a high-end commodity.

‘Some feel this new demand means top Bordeaux has now entered the luxury goods market,’ he said.

Barton concluded that despite this, in lesser vintages, prices would probably be considerably lower.

In his editorial this month, however, Decanter editor Guy Woodward expressed severe doubts.

‘We are told that prices have now been “repositioned permanently”‘, he said. ‘In other words, the Bordelais want a piece of the action. It is the equivalent, though, of the Bordelais having their cake and eating it, an approach which should have been rebutted by the trade in the UK in a year when demand here is low. Instead, fear of riling the Bordeaux giants and missing out on future allocations has seen the trade pass the task on to consumers.’

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