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Bordeaux 2012: major releases ‘next week’

A flurry of early Bordeaux 2012 releases is expected next week including Chateau Gazin in Pomerol, Rauzan Ségla in Margaux, and ‘a high probability’ of a First Growth.

Kolasa: ‘we have to get people drinking the wines’

Merchants and négociants are gearing up to get straight into the 2012 campaign, without the usual break that is observed after the en primeur tastings, as chateaux owners seem to be listening to calls for a quick campaign.

Among the chateaux expected out next week are The 13 RendezVous Médoc chateaux, including Arsac, Cambon La Pelouse and Caronne Ste Gemme, have already confirmed that they are coming out with prices next week, from April 15 to April 19.

Jean Luc Thunevin’s Valandraud is expected out on April 22, at half the price of its 2011, despite its new status as a classified Saint Emilion – meaning around €96 ex-Bordeaux.

At Chateau Angelus, managing director Stephanie de Bouard did not comment on timing but said they would set their price at ‘between €140 and €200 per bottle’ – the hike in price from last year’s €115 to reflect the fact the chateau is now in the top level of the St Emilion classification, Grand Cru Classe ‘A’.

Chateau Rauzan-Ségla in Margaux has been criticised in the last few campaigns for its high prices, but director John Kolasa told Decanter.com today that he hopes to come out early, and close to the 2008 price of €36 ex-Bordeaux, although the final decision would be taken by the Wertheimer brothers, owners of the chateau. ‘There are many friendly wines in 2012,’ said Kolasa, ‘and I hope to offer some friendly pricing also, and give people a good deal.’

As ever with difficult commercial vintages, the First Growths are being asked to come out early and ‘set the tone’, as one leading courtier said this week.

This same source suggested that Mouton would lead the way next week. Director Philippe Dhalluin would not confirm timings, but did agree that the campaign was likely to be early.

In a sign that prices at Mouton is likely to be responsive to the market, Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy, director of the Mouton’s sister property Clerc Milon in Pauillac, told French magazine Terre des Vins that he expects to release at under last year’s exit price of €30.

At another first growth, Chateau Margaux, director Paul Pontallier said they would adapt to the ‘diffcult’ market conditions. ‘That’s what we always try to do, more or less successfully’, and Nicolas Glumineau at Pichon Comtesse agreed: ‘I think that all of us have understood we have to decrease the price’.

Philippe Dambrine, director of Chateau Cantemerle said, ‘I expect it to be a fast campaign. Prices won’t go as low as 2008, that’s a dream, but maybe close. The difficulty is that we have found if we price too low, it can harm sales. So we have to find the right level.’

The bi-annual Vinexpo wine fair begins on June 15 this year, and most observers expect the campaign to be largely over by then.

‘We have to get people drinking the wines,’ said Kolasa, ‘and recognise that when things are just about points and egos, it’s not professional. Effective distribution has a cost, and everyone involved needs to be able to make their margin.’

Kolasa also said he would like to see the top properties releasing at €200 per bottle – ‘and even that would be too much. We’d like to be able to sell at €200 per bottle.’

Privately, owners and directors around Bordeaux expect the top properties to release at between €230 and €250 per bottle.

Written by Jane Anson, Adam Lechmere and Georgie Hindle in Bordeaux

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