As more Bordeaux chateaux put their 2009 wines onto the en primeur market, many are showing price rises to above their 2005 levels.
Duhart Milon was released yesterday up 72% on 2008 (€22), and up 46% on 2005, continuing the price rise trend on 2005 seen from the majority of releases so far.
Chateau Gazin in Pomerol came out last week at €45 (per bottle) ex-Bordeaux merchants, a rise of 56% on 2008 (€28.8) and 41% on 2005 (€32) – a price that was dismissed as ‘ridiculous’ by UK wine merchant Nick Stephens.
Chateau Fourcas Hosten came out at €7 this year, up from €5.7 in 2005, while Denis Dubourdieu’s Clos Floridene was at €9, up from €7.50 in 2005 (but unchanged from 2008) and Chateau d’Agassac at €8.75 this year, compared to €8.5 in 2005.
The Sauternes have seen the steepest rises so far, headed by Suduiraut at €45 (it was €30 in 2008 and €35 in 2005).
Others have kept the rise to somewhere between these two vintages – Chateau Monbousquet, owned by Gerard Perse, is at €27 ex-Bordeaux, up 15% on 2008 (€23.4) but a drop of 15% on 2005 (€31.80). Chateau Labegorce is at €13.5 ex-Bordeaux, a rise of 4% on 2008 (€12.98) but down 15% on 2005 (€15.90).
Simon Quinn, Bordeaux Wine Investments, said that the increase in prices had so far not put consumers off buying the wines.
‘I’m sorry to say this, but so far, a lot of the prices seem to be working. We’ve never sold so many of the smaller wines, and maybe the quality does justify it.’
‘The hardest prices to swallow have been the Sauternes, because price rises makes it hard to promote an already difficult category, no matter how good the wines are.’
Tim Snyder, Manager Fine Wines at Republic National Distributing Company in Washington, agrees – for these mid-range wines.
‘There is a demand, but mainly for more inexpensive chateaux, many of which are rated about 90 points. All of the stores that I know that import directly are being very cautious about the top chateaux.’
The big-name chateaux are still not expected to release their scores until the end of May, or early June, after the trade show VinExpo Hong Kong has been completed, in recognition of the important that the Asian market has now been accorded.
Robin Kelley O’Connor, director of sales at Sherry Lehmann in New York, was more cautious about the market.
‘There is a little optimism now with the dollar showing some signs of life against the euro. But we have the whole Goldman Sachs thing, and the stock market drop a few days ago, and then the Greek debts and the UK election,’ he said.
‘Things are just not stable, and there is simply not the excitement that there was with the 2005 vintage. I would say there are market forces at work that are way out of control of anybody, least of all Bordeaux chateaux owners.’
Bordeaux 2009: All the coverage
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux