Bordeaux has welcomed the Euro with open arms – because most producers had been using it for over a year before it became standard two days ago.
There are some lingering doubts about the new currency, with some producers suggesting price differences between top Bordeaux and top Rioja for example will be starkly illuminated – to the detriment of the French wine. But in general producers are not noticing much difference between 31 December 2001 and 1 January 2002.
Marie-France Hairon of Château Olivier in the Graves said they have been ‘Euro-compatible’ since November. ‘The passage to the euro is happening at a gentle pace.’
And John Kolasa at Margaux second-growth Château Rauzan-Ségla has been dealing with the Euro, at least with international contacts, for a year. ‘We’ve had to have both currencies on the desk, as it were,’ he told decanter.com. ‘If I was dealing with Farr Vintners in London I would be talking in Euros, and with a cellarman in Lyons I would be dealing in Francs.’
For Kolasa the difference now is that the domestic market has moved fully across to the Euro. ‘That makes it a little more complicated.’
Bordeaux merchant Fréderic Sans of Jack’s Wines sees the same problem. ‘Our suppliers are billing us in euros, but the growers are taking longer to readjust,’ he said.
Another Bordeaux merchant, Calvet, was unperturbed by 31 December because it had been using the Euro for two years. Calvet boss Jack Drounau is looking forward to improved export opportunities with a unified taxation system and the simplicity of a single currency.
But there are some misgivings about the ease with which tourists will be able to compare prices of wines from different countries.
‘A Spaniard will be able to compare his Rioja with a quality Bordeaux,’ Sans said. ‘The foreigners will then be more demanding and they’ll check things out. And then, the comparison in price will immediately be apparent.’
John Kolasa does not see this as a problem. ‘I know what they mean, but Latour will always be Latour. People are able to put things in perspective – and in any case the best wines from any region can be as expensive as good Bordeaux.’
Written by Adam Lechmere, and agencies3 January 2002