Bordeaux 09 in the US: best buys and potential 100 point wines sell, but far less volume than in 2005

By Panos Kakaviatos

In two tweets this week, the influential American wine critic Robert Parker said ‘the Bordelais are indeed killing the golden goose’ and ‘the ridiculous and painfully slow release of prices for the 2009s is both stupid and arrogant, moreover… expect sticker shock… dumb and dumber.’

Amidst mounting criticism that Bordeaux 2009 prices are reaching outer space, US merchants explain that wines which Parker graded as potentially perfect (100 points) are selling.
A wine like Pontet Canet (96-100 Robert Parker points) has sold well. ‘By a factor of 25 to one, I have sold more Pontet Canet than Lynch Bages (94-96 points),’ said Mark Wessels of MacArthur Beverages in Washington D.C.
Other wines which at first seemed too high in price are now perceived by some as relative bargains, ‘including Giscours, Brane Cantenac and Gruaud Larose’, said Wessels. ‘Some people see recent prices and say “never mind” and buy something else,’ he said. ‘Smith Haut Lafitte has a high price, but it is still cheaper than Ducru Beaucaillou.’
According to Jeff Zacharia of Zachys in New York, some wines did not do well initially, ‘but with the high prices of the top wines, people are taking a second look now.’
US buyers are also purchasing lower end cru classés and cru bourgeois, merchants said. Wines like Cantemerle, Haut Bergey and Chasse Spleen, according to Chris Adams at Sherry Lehmann, also in New York.
On the other hand, certain wines prove more difficult to sell, particularly those with high prices without potential 100-point Parker scores. Adams said ‘price/score fatigue’ is making wines like Ducru Beaucaillou and Pape Clement, for example, more difficult to sell. Writing on the popular American blog, UK-based merchant Tom Mann of LHK Fine Wines described Chateau Figeac – at over $200 without a Parker score – as ‘a total failure.’ He later said that it could have sold if it were less expensive, because so many other critics appreciated it, but ‘I’d be stunned if anyone were to buy it in the US.’
‘Clearly miscalculated’, is how Daniel Posner, of Grapes the Wine Company in New York, describes Bordeaux 2009 pricing. He bought 75% less in futures compared to 2005. ‘Very few wines are going up in value, which is to be expected,’ he said. ‘I suppose La Mission Haut Brion gets the award for the dumbest price.’
Wessels, who bought 3-4 times less wine compared to 2005, said ‘I don’t think most American wine merchants are going to finance and invest heavily in this vintage because there is little opportunity for upside potential, but a very real possibility that the economy will weaken or the euro will weaken.’

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