A message for Bordeaux
June 15, 2010
I love Bordeaux. I first visited Bordeaux in 1998 to complete a CIVB tasting class. Two years later, I visited Langon, the heart of the southern Graves region, to participate in the harvest festival for what turned out to be the first of three vintages of the century in less than 10 years. And now, here we are, on the verge of summer 2010, and many chateaux have not released their prices, created much angst among potential buyers. Already prices have shot into the Stratosphere, despite a still difficult economy, with apologists explaining that Asia will buy many of these wines in any case. Or the Negoce can sit on 2009 if it does not sell through as much, because it is such a great vintage. But when I was able to buy a cru classé back in 2001 for about $30, and then that same cru classé in 2006 cost $45 and now in 2010 costs closer to $60, I scratch my head and ask: ‘What the hell?’ Robert Parker tells people to find wines elsewhere if the prices make you dizzy: if you do not look elsewhere, ‘shame on you,’ he says, because there are so many great wine producers outside of Bordeaux. That is true. But for Bordeaux lovers, doubling the price of a wine in a comparable vintage in less than 10 years is not exactly creating a happy situation. So my message is: be careful with these price increases (and that does even count overpriced 2006s and 2007s because at least the 2008s were nicely priced). I am talking about the star vintages with which more people seem disenchanted, even though all critics and observers, including myself, agree that 2009 was great. It was. But too many futures prices are not.