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Bordeaux 2011: New releases but Lafite dominating early sales, say merchants

A handful of releases this week all show price drops, of up to a third less than last year, but still merchants are reporting a sluggish campaign with little interest in anything except Lafite.

Lafite: pointing the way to healthy 2011 sales?

Since the dramatic announcement of Chateau Latour‘s withdrawal from the en primeur system, and Chateau Lafite Rothschild‘s price release at €420, not much has moved.

This week there have been a few key releases, including Hubert de Bouard’s Carillon d’Angelusand Chateau Bellevue, both at €35 ex-Bordeaux, a 30% and 21.35% drop respectively on their 2010 prices, and Chateau Suduiraut, from the AXA Millesimes stable, at €45 ex-Bordeaux, a drop of 7.22% from 2010.

Other releases include Chateau Haut Marbuzet, in Saint Estephe, at €21.60 a drop of 18%, andChateau Sociando Mallet at €20.40, a drop of 8.11%.

‘Things are inching forward, but we have so far had a muted response to the campaign,’ Simon Quinn of Bordeaux Wine Investments told Decanter.com. ‘It’s seems likely now that chateaux are waiting for Robert Parker‘s scores, due out next week.

‘But we don’t have a huge amount of confidence in what is going to happen – there are some great wines this year, and we would love to present it as a drinking vintage, but if the prices are not right, we can’t risk our own credibility.’

Shaun Bishop of JJ Buckley in the Oakland, California, was equally cautious. ‘We expect to buy around half the quantity of 2011 than we did in the past two years. We got behind 2010, because for us that was the magical vintage. We don’t see our customers seeking out many of these wines, although we are hopeful that price decreases may encourage them.’

The only wine so far to have really prompted a response, according to most merchants, has been Lafite – but that is because it was priced below other comparable vintages already on the market.

‘And we have already had plenty of pre-orders for the last en primeur vintage of Latour,’ said Quinn.

In London, Stephen Browett of Farr Vintners said Lafite was the only wine to sell so far this year.

‘Lafite is nearly sold out but nothing else has sold at all. Unless wines are offered at genuinely interesting prices – ie cheaper than the consumer can buy physical vintages – then I can’t see any interest at all, except for maybe the vintage’s handful of top-rated wines.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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