Bordeaux stand-off continues despite plummeting sales

The Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur union has voted to continue to withhold the 2005 vintage unless winemakers receive €1,000 per tonneau, despite a sharp downturn in sales.

The move is a continuation of the union’s decision, by vote, to withhold AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) certificates from its members who do not sell their tonneaux (the equivalent of four barrels), to négociants for the minimum price of €1,000 (£690).

However, since the original vote on 2 December 2006, sales have fallen drastically.

January and February 2006 recorded 34,000hl of 2005 red AOC Bordeaux being sold, compared to 213,000hl in the same period last year (for the 2004 vintage).

The 2004 vintage, currently worth around €800 per tonneau, continues to sell although negociants are currently not taking their prices higher for the 2005.

‘Negociants have never requested the right to sell at lower prices, it’s just the result of market forces,’ Allan Sichel, president of the Union of Negotiants, told decanter.com. ‘Consumers aren’t looking to buy a Bordeaux at €3 [£2], they are looking to buy a bottle of wine at €3, and if we don’t provide it, they will buy from somewhere else.’

Sichel also questioned the thinking behind the block.

‘There doesn’t seem to be a long-term strategy to the sales block,’ he said. ‘We can’t just wait for the market to adapt, because it might not happen.’

The winemakers are more optimistic.

‘Negotiants only have a few months supply of 2004 left, so they will have to start buying again soon,’ said a spokesperson at the union.

‘This is a way for the Syndicat to give some power back to the winemakers – and it’s got to be better that going out into the road and burning cars,’ said Veronique Barthe of Chateau la Freynelle.

Written by Jane Anson