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Bordeaux 2011: Mouton release follows raft of big-name discounts

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild has released its 2011 at €360, on par with its first growth peer Chateau Margaux.

The announcement follows the recent raft of big-name releases, all at discounts that have been initially well-received by the wine trade, in London at least.

Pichon Comtesse showed a full 47.3% drop from to €72 ex-negociant, down from €138 in 2010. Over the road, Pichon Baron also came out at €72, a drop of over 45% on last year.

Others drops included 33% from Clos Fourtet, down to €48 per bottle ex- negociant, Leoville Barton down 37.5% to €45, and 25% from Clerc Milon, down to €48.

Petit Mouton, the second wine of Mouton, came down 33.3% to €72, from €108 last year.

Rauzan Segla, which last year was heavily criticised for its high prices, offered a 31.4% drop to €57.60 (down from last year’s €84). Grand Puy Lacoste came down 33.3% to €38.30, while Leoville Poyferre came down just over 39% to €51.60.

‘We had to offer the market a good drop,’ Florence Cathiard of Chateau Smith Haut-Lafitte told Decanter.com. She has offered her wine at €45.50 ex-Bordeaux, a drop of 40.9% on last year.

While London merchants were cautiously positive about the price drops, elsewhere it seemed, attitudes had not softened.

Negociants and merchants continued their complaint that too many wines are being flooded on to the market, adding to the bad feeling being created by the management of the entire campaign.

Paolo Pong of Altaya Wines in Hong Kong felt these drops were coming too late to make a difference. ‘Sadly, the campaign will pass without many people participating or even noticing that it actually happened.’

Nan-Ping Gao-Guo, a Chinese merchant who has lived in France for over 25 years, sees half of the problem being the extensive price-cutting of older vintages in the Chinese market, making this year’s prices even more off-putting to Chinese buyers.

‘Too many merchants not working well can destroy Bordeaux’s image. There are people who are cutting prices because they can’t get rid of stocks, but the problem is they are not being helped enough by the Bordelais.’

Charles Sichel, export director of Bordeaux negociant Maison Sichel, which carries crus classes including Chateau Angludet, Beychevelle, Bellevue, Malartic Lagraviere, Cantemerle and many others, said he was unsurprised by the failure of the 2011 campaign.

‘It was clear at the beginning that whatever the price drop, the campaign was going to be very difficult.’

Chateaux could not price their wines lower than vintages such as 2001 and 04, he said, because they felt they had to ‘manage their brand image’ and ‘retain their position in the market’.

He added that the fact the wines were released in unmanageable blocks came from the chateaux, not the negociants.

‘It’s down to the chateaux to control this. When the wine is released the negociants have to put it out to the merchants at the same time as everyone else.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux, and Adam Lechmere

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