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Bordeaux admits prices must reflect depressed market

The proprietors and negociants of Bordeaux admit that prices must be ‘realistic’ on the 2011 vintage – while insisting its quality should not be downplayed.

Lynch-Bages: ‘better than 2008’

The market, insiders agree, is ‘not as buoyant’ as it has been, and prices must reflect that.

Chateau Lynch-Bages’ Jean-Charles Cazes told Decanter.com, ‘There’s a lot of uncertainty and we know buyers are cash limited. They bought a lot of wine in 2009 and 2010 so will need a good reason to buy 2011. It is not as buoyant this year.’

‘At Lynch-Bages, we always come out at a discount to physical vintages of similar quality and that’s what we’ll do this year. We want to offer value so there’s an upside for end consumers.’

But, he added, merchants’ demands for reductions of 50% and more was ‘neither meaningful nor realistic’.

‘Bordeaux is more complex than that. Some chateaux will have to cut by those levels, but others won’t have to adjust by anything like the same extent. It really depends on the brand, the quality of the wine and how it has been priced in the past.’

The quality of the vintage should also not be downplayed, Emmanuel Cruse of Chateau d’Issan said.

‘It’s not at the level of 2009 or 2010, but it is far better than 2008. That’s certainly the case at Issan.’

Mathieu Chadronnier, managing director of negociant CVBG Grands Crus, which also owns a number of Cru Classes agreed. ‘It’s not the calibre of the previous two vintages but the wines are still good.’

One owner, who wished to remain anonymous, admitted that Bordeaux isn’t always rational when it comes to en primeur.

‘The top chateaux are sitting on a lot of cash and some can afford the luxury of making another mistake on price. If too many come out at the wrong price, it could derail the campaign.’

Nevertheless, there is an expectation in Bordeaux that prices will come down. ‘The big question is whether they will come down enough,’ said the negociant Francois Dugoua of negociant Ulysse Cazabonne.

That is not his only concern. ‘We definitely need a quick start and good momentum. We don’t want it to drag on until July,’ he said. ‘I’ve heard that some Cru Bourgeois will come out straight after the tastings, which would be positive.’

Cazes also said he hoped for a successful and positive campaign. ‘We certainly need one,’ he says. ‘But it really depends on how realistic Bordeaux will be.’

Written by John Stimpfig

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