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Bordeaux 2012: Stream of small chateaux release but no big names yet

After Chateau Gazin started things off on Monday morning, a steady stream of smaller chateaux have released their Bordeaux 2012 wines, with a few healthy - and other less healthy - reductions, and a glimmer of hope that there may be a market for the wines.

Belle Vue: ‘widely appreciated’

Two Cru Bourgeois, Chateau Sénéjac was released this morning at €7.80 ex-Bordeaux (-5% on last year), and Chateau Belle Vue at €8.30 ex-Bordeaux; a healthier drop of 14% for a wine that was widely appreciated during last week’s tastings.

Fifth growth Chateau Camensac saw an 11% drop to €14.40 ex-Bordeaux, while another Cru Bourgeois, Chateau Citran has come down 3.3% to €8.75 ex-Bordeaux.

Yesterday, Chateau Le Prieuré in Saint Emilion and Pomerol’s Vray Croix de Gay both managed a slightly under 8% drop to €21 and €30 respectively.

Joss Fowler, head of fine wine at Fine+Rare, told Decanter.com, ‘There’s been nothing to get our customers excited about so far. From a commercial point of view, something needs to come out at the right price, and big enough to send a message. From a Bordeaux point of view, no one wants to be the litmus test and go first. They don’t want to be too cheap and fly out the door, but they don’t want to be too expensive and fail. So despite rumours of a quick campaign… I wonder.’

Jerome Jacober of Eminent Wines, a merchant based in London and Hong Kong, who works with many private clients and restaurants on the Chinese mainland, sees demand from his clients potentially picking up after a significant drop last year.

‘The big labels still count in China. But I want and expect a 25% price drop to assure client interest. It’s a tricky vintage, all about grapes and brands, but I will be recommending my clients to buy at the right price.’

‘As the Asian en primeur market is so young,’ added Fowler, ‘those who bought in 09 and 10 have only had experience of getting burnt. So just like in Europe and the US, it’s only seriously interesting prices that will tempt them.’

Alex Dolan, sales manager at Symbolic Wines, which is based in California but does half its turnover with Russian clientele, said, ‘The vast majority of our Russian clients still want the labels. En primeur represents under 10% of our turnover, but we expect that to go up this year, if we can offer good value.’

Also in California, but concentrating more specifically on the US domestic market, Chuck Hayward of JJ Buckley thinks chateaux need to be realistic about supply and demand. ‘Many wineries still have stock from the more expensive 2010 vintage, while the 2011s currently in barrel saw little demand when they were offered last year. In addition, consumers can buy older vintages at prices that rival the prices for 2009s and 2010s.’

NB in all En Primeur articles ‘ex-Bordeaux’ indicates the price from the negociants, ie the Bordeaux Place

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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