I thank you, the readers of this blog, for your many comments. I’ve gathered some of my responses together for your consideration.
Many readers have complained about Bordeaux prices, especially with the 2005 vintage. I will not argue with them, as I suspect we will never come to an agreement. Indeed, a wine is always too expensive for consumers and most of the time considered to be a good value by the producer himself. Nevertheless, I wish to point out various aspects of this issue, in response to some of your specific comments and reactions.
The en primeur game (which is now starting in Bordeaux with the 2006s) allows a consumer to buy wine at an early stage, before it goes up in price when the bottled wines are put on sale, after two or three years. Négociants make their decisions to buy while the wine is starting its barrel aging, knowing that it might eventually slightly change after 18 months of maturation. Yes, as Troy said, a consumer might buy a wine based on a barrel-tasting score and that wine's score could eventually be lower after it's bottled. But in fact, that rarely happens, if you follow the scores of James Suckling and reliable U.S. wine merchants.
Bernard wanted to find out about the tranche system. It is a way by which the châteaus release parcels of wines to the Bordeaux wine merchants at different prices. It is (at least in my opinion) a way to reward those who buy year after year and are therefore entitled to an allocation at a preferred price. If you have been buying Wine Spectator every month for 10 years, you could eventually be entitled to a little discount. Marvin Shanken may disagree with me on that one ….
It may be hard to believe, but the Russian and Chinese wine lovers did not buy substantial volumes of Bordeaux 2005. The American and British wine lovers were really the most active. Errol’s wife had very good taste to give birth to their daughter in 2005. Despite Errol’s complaint in my earlier blog, it was wise and appropriate to buy Bordeaux 2005 en primeur as there will clearly be pressure on the supply and prices when the Far East and Russian wine lovers start to purchase this vintage some three to five years from now.
Philippe is accurate when he says that some of the mature vintages of Bordeaux (1982, etc.) are close in prices to some of the 2005s. But the 2005s were produced at much lower yields (in many cases, half of 1982's) and with greater attention to detail. 2005 will turn out to be one of the greatest vintages ever produced in Bordeaux, in the line of and superior to 1959, 1961 and 1982.
Guus complained saying that the recent en primeur prices are no longer affordable. I agree with that, but one should ask also about the price you have to pay once the wine is bottled. For the last six great vintages of Bordeaux, you will have to pay a substantial premium today for one of those vintages compared to its original en primeur price. At least, that is the case (allow me to be proud) for Cos-d’Estournel. The vintages where buying en primeur proved to be a disadvantage for the consumers (in price) were 1984 and 1997. Not a bad ratio over a generation.
Glenn was commenting that the en primeur system will not flourish in the U.S. in the coming years. I totally disagree with this. In 2008, you will have the biggest wine market in the world both in value and volume, along with some of, if not the most accurate media for the information of the consumer. Yes, the U.S. consumers are very much informed and have a wider choice of wine in front of them from around the world. It will force the Bordelais to price their wine according to the style of the vintage.
Errol again was worried that the Bordelais would have a difficult job regaining damaged relationships. Please don’t worry. The French are very good at managing various mistresses at the same time!! Just look at our late President Mitterrand …. No doubt the Bordelais will know how to please the American consumers (an old mistress) with the 2006s.
As a conclusion to today’s blog, may I just refer to Jason, who said that Cos is at the same quality as the first-growths of Bordeaux. I would simply add that we are at one-third of their price for the 2005.
Glenn S Lucash — March 27, 2007 10:28pm ET
Greg Malcolm — St. Louis, Missouri — March 27, 2007 11:41pm ET
Michael Haley — Eugene, OR — March 28, 2007 1:37am ET
Guus Hateboer — Netherlands — March 28, 2007 3:45am ET
Rick Smith — Jersey City, NJ — March 28, 2007 8:26am ET
John M Blackmon — March 28, 2007 10:08am ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — March 28, 2007 11:30am ET
Tom Murray — Rumson, NJ — March 28, 2007 11:31am ET
Jason Fernandez — Boston, MA — March 28, 2007 3:34pm ET
Michael Tracy — trabuco canyon CA — March 28, 2007 4:15pm ET
Scott Cheney — Michigan — March 29, 2007 12:29am ET
Erin Bakonyvari — Imaichi, Japan — March 29, 2007 12:55am ET
Steve Wooden — Montreal, Canada — March 30, 2007 8:00am ET
Domaines Reybier Sa — france — March 30, 2007 4:10pm ET
Jim Nuffield — Toronto — March 30, 2007 10:18pm ET
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