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Bordeaux 2012: Merchant dismay as Haut-Brion, Haut-Bailly and Pontet Canet join flood of releases

Wine merchants have expressed some dismay at today’s flood of releases, with First Growth Chateau Haut-Brion leading the pack.

Haut-Brion: follows fellow First Growths

Following yesterday’s bank holiday, today has seen Chateau Haut-Brion at €240 ex-Bordeaux, the same price as fellow First Growths Mouton and Margaux, and Mission Haut-Brion at €150 ex-Bordeaux, a drop of 30.6% on 2011.

‘The Bordelais are following that classic model of getting back off holiday and everyone releasing at once,’ James Snoxell of Armit told Decanter.com today, as dozens of chateaux release their prices.

Simon Staples of Berry Bros clearly agreed, tweeting: ‘25 price releases in 45 minutes just doesn’t work’.

Mission Haut-Brion white is €480 ex-Bordeaux, and Haut-Brion white €600.

Pontet Canet joined the Lynch-Bages price of €60 ex-Bordeaux (a small drop from €66 in 2011), at Haut Bailly came down a full 22% to €42 ex-Bordeaux, with Parde de Haut-Bailly at €15 ex-Bordeaux.

The second wine of Cos d’Estournel, Pagodes de Cos, is down 10% to €27.

On the Right Bank, Chateau Villemaurine dropped 5.26% to €21.50. La Mondotte came out at €100.30 ex-Bordeaux, down 5.4% on 2011.

Edouard Moueix of Ets JP Moueix, speaking in his role as a négociant, said, ‘Haut-Brion was smart to come out at the same price as Margaux and Mouton. A great price and already moving.’

‘Haut-Brion had to match the other two Firsts of course,’ said Snoxell. ‘But Haut-Bailly seems at the top end of pricing, even with the discount, and even Pontet Canet I can’t see shooting out of the traps as quickly as usual.’

James Wormall, director of private sales at Jeroboams, agreed. ‘With the exception of the First Growths, and Rauzan-Ségla, it seems a lot of people are going to boycott this campaign because the prices just haven’t come down sufficiently.

‘The relatively low scores have put a dampener on things, but that message doesn’t seem to have got through to Bordeaux yet. We have had interest from clients, but all interest has consistently been dependent on release prices.’

Courtiers in Bordeaux are so far reporting that buyers are mainly staying in the traditional markets. Jay Ginsberg of Ginsberg + Chan in Hong Kong confirmed that his company tends to stay away from en primeur.

‘We focus on ready-to-drink older vintages, as we find that in Hong Kong most of our customers would rather pay the same price, or a small premium, for wines that are ready to drink. And many serious collectors would rather store the wine in London, so that they retain resale value.

‘Having said that, I have found some interesting prices – particularly Lafite, Carruades and Mouton. Lafite is still a commodity at the end of the day, and the price was compelling. In fact it was probably the best price of the campaign so far.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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