A message for Bordeaux

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.

2 Responses to “A message for Bordeaux” (Leave a Comment)

  1. Jeff Cassetta says:

    Panos, they don’t seem to be listening…

  2. pkakaviatos says:

    No, I guess not. It will be very interesting to see – long term – how these wines will be priced. Asia is the key, I suppose. I have heard of many cru classés being sold in China for much higher prices than in Europe or in the US. But with these extremely high prices for futures, is there much room for appreciation? Will the off the shelf price be the same, or less if the Euro tumbles further? Lots of ifs and in a still shaky economy, I can see why people are not as interested. Especially with some fine back vintages off the shelf for the same or less money.

    A new generation of Bordeaux buyers is a given as time passes. And they are not so much concerned about prices because they are not comparing it to the last vintage of the century. For them, 2009 is the first vintage of the century. That may be so, but the alienation of other buyers may be multiplying, as margins are cut on futures offerings. Will Lynch Bages as a future price of over $100 be worth more in 2012? I have reason to doubt this. And is it really that much better than the 2006 or 2008? Same goes for Grand Puy Lacoste. Heck, Parker gave Lafite 2008 the same score as Lafite 2009 and look at the difference in opening price.
    This is getting a bit absurd. I love Bordeaux, as said, but not the 2009 futures prices, with some notable exceptions.

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