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Negociants dismayed by UK and US reaction to Bordeaux En Primeur 06

Negociants in Bordeaux are very unhappy with the way this year’s En Primeur campaign has been received by press and professionals in the English-speaking world.

They are particularly disappointed by the criticism of the campaign coming from both the UK and US.

‘I’m surprised by the negative comments made by merchants and journalists,’

Laurent Ehrmann of negociant Barriere Freres told decanter.com at Vinexpo.

He was responding to recent comments made in a podcast by Jancis Robinson MW to Berry Bros’ director Simon Staples, saying she hoped 2006 would not be a success.

Ehrmann said the ‘negativity’ had not affected the market: the majority of Bordeaux’s ‘classic, institutional brands’ had been sold without problem.

‘We will have sold 90-100% more on 06 than on 04. The bad publicity has had no effect on sales whatsoever.’

Taking Lynch Bages as an example, Ehrmann said its main markets were the UK and the US (16% and 13%) and Japan (13%). Russia took around 4%, China 5%, and France 5%. The chateau’s sales were representative of ’60-70% of institutional, blue-chip cru classes’.

Others however were less positive. ‘It’s vexing,’ said Emmanuel Coiffe at negociants Salin, but added he would be able to make up the loss of the English-speaking market with increased sales to ‘traditional’ markets such as France and other European countries. Coiffe said that even a small part of the Asian market – which so far has mainly been buying already-bottled vintages – has shown an interest in En Primeur this year.

Christian Delpeuch of Ginestet said, ‘Globally speaking, the campaign went reasonably well, apart from one or two chateaux where there had been higher than expected prices.’

But, he added, its reception in the UK and US had been ‘very negative’.

The campaign has come under fire from many quarters for the high pricing compared to the previous vintages. Jean-Christophe Mau of Yvon Mau was one negociant who agreed that prices this year had been ‘disappointing’.

‘There’s been a 10% drop on 2005, but a 60% increase on 2004 ,’ he said. ‘Maybe ’06 is better than 04, but is it 60% better?’

Mau said that he hoped that prices would return to a more ‘reasonable’ level.

Delpeuch was less concerned and although he admitted losing some European interest in the ’06 wines, he blamed high prices on the UK and US.

‘If you embrace the free market, you have to accept that prices will go up if the market is there,’ he said.

Written by Oliver Styles in Bordeaux

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