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Leoville Barton, Brane release among flurry of activity

Pomerol’s Vieux Chateau Certan broke the 2007 price trend yesterday, releasing at 40% under its 2006 price, much to the relief of merchants in Bordeaux and overseas.

This week has seen heightened activity in the campaign as chateaux speed up their releases after London International Wine Fair and VinExpo Asia Pacific.

Among the big names out this week are Leoville Barton, down 10% under 2006 (€34.50), Ormes de Pez down 17% (€15) and Grand Puy Ducasse down 5% (€17.10). Lynch Bages remained at the same price as last year (€40).

Chateau Brane-Cantenac in Margaux released at €22.50, down €3 on last year’s price.

Marketing director Corinne Conroy told decanter.com that proprietor Henri Lurton ‘was prepared to listen to the trade.’

‘We can’t ignore the warning signals from merchants. This is a big statement we are making.’

Anthony Barton of Leoville Barton told decanter.com it was ‘yet another crazy en primeur campaign.’

‘Everyone curses and swears, but they go on buying. One or two of the more expensive wines are selling slowly, but they are selling.’

Barton also said that the fact some negociants were selling under the official resale price set by the chateaux indicated that the release prices were too high.

He added, ‘I am convinced that my policy makes sense, but if other people can get away with their prices staying the same, you do wonder if you are missing out.’

Barton shouldn’t worry. Fraser Jameson at Corney and Barrow said in an email to his customers, ‘The wines from the Barton stable are released today and thanks to their sensitive pricing policy, and even allowing for the weak pound, we are able to offer the 2007 vintage at lower prices than the 2006. Bravo Anthony!’

Jameson told decanter.com that he hopes this is an indication that the campaign can get moving again.

Chateau Montrose is the first wine to have come out without a recommended resale price, so is available between €44 and €46 – reflecting the reality of a campaign where more flexibility in pricing has been essential, and the power has shifted from seller to buyer.

At Chateau Latour – still to be released – managing director Frederic Engerer said he expects things to move quickly now. ‘The campaign should move swiftly if chateaux are sensible. If you want the merchants to offer the wine, you at least need to give them some time before everyone leaves for summer.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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