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Demand not matching Bordeaux 2009 hype, say US merchants

American merchants are reporting seeing moderate consumer demand as Bordeaux 2009 en primeur prices continue to be released.

Reacting to the releases so far this week, several US merchants have said that despite the hype surrounding the vintage, sales are below what they’d expected.

‘This is not like 2001, when the 2000 campaign was underway and clients had not seen a great vintage in a while,’ said Elliott Staren, owner of Wide World of Wines in Washington D.C.

‘People have full cellars already; they bought 2003s, 2005s, some 2006s, and they have not even received their 2008s.’

At Premier Cru in California, senior wine seller Michael Glasby agreed.

‘People with an interest to sell the wine are trying to build the hype. The hype is almost identical [to the 2005 and 2000 vintages], but on the other side, the demand side is nothing like it was for the 2005, and even less so than for the 2000 [upon release].

‘There is greater sobriety on the part of the consumer,’ he said.

Some wines are selling through, however. Sellers also notice a vivid correlation between high Parker scores and prices – ‘more than we have seen before,’ Glasby said.

Despite the price hike, Potential 100-point Parker wines such as Pontet Canet, have sold through, both merchants said.

Customers are asking about top-scoring Parker wines ‘left and right’, said Ben Nelson, President of Hart Davis Hart Wine Company in Chicago. ‘The prices are unbelievably high, but they are going to sell,’ he said.

‘It seems we have done well with Pontet Canet in the last couple of days, Glasby said. ‘At just under $100,’ he added, stressing the initial price.

Other wines so far released have gotten mixed reviews.

For Staren, wines like Grand Puy Lacoste, Gruaud Larose and Giscours with somewhat lower Parker numbers are seeing little demand, although Glasby says that these wines are doing ‘rather well’ for Premier Cru.

Another worry is if the euro falls further against the dollar by the time 2009s are on the shelf, which is a ‘disincentive’ for buying futures, Glasby said.

On the other hand ‘the big mystery is China,’ he added. ‘If the Chinese are going to buy these wines upon release, then the interest is to buy now.’

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Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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