I heard some whispers from the Bordeaux wine trade around the world that some of the first-growths were actually contemplating not coming out with 2006 futures. It is probably nothing more than rumor, since 2006 Latour and Margaux came out with their en primeur offers today in Bordeaux. Prices were apparently about three-fourths of the 2005 release price from the châteaus, and the wines are being offered to U.S. consumers for a little under $500 a bottle.
I wonder how well they are going to sell at those prices? They seem a little steep to me!
But more interesting to me is the idea that the first-growths might not see the need to sell futures for a vintage that isn't in demand (even though 2006 produced numerous very good to excellent wines). They made so much money on 2005 that they could afford to hold the '06 wines in their cellars and sell them when they are bottled--or at least sell a much smaller quantity of 2006 en primeur.
I am not sure that would be a very good idea after decades of futures sales. Plus, it could potentially change the way top Bordeaux is being sold. Perhaps the top names would simply sell directly to distributors around the world and bypass the courtier and négociant system in Bordeaux?
Something to think about ….
The system in Bordeaux has already changed significantly in the last 10 years. I remember when hundreds of négociants, large and small, had allocations of first-growths to distribute around the world. Now, most of the big-name properties in Bordeaux work with just a few dozen négociants. Would it be more efficient for the châteaus to do the marketing and selling themselves? That means they would have to employ marketing and commercial directors as well as winemakers and other employees.
I don’t think it’s a question of cost. I think that the current system is pretty efficient, at least for consumers in the United States. The wines of Bordeaux seem better priced than those from regions that sell directly to U.S. distributors. Take, for example, Italy. A wine that sells ex-cellar in Tuscany for about 20 euros a bottle ends up at about $70 to $80 a bottle at retail in the States. A bottle of Bordeaux leaving the winery at the same price would be more like $50 or $60.
Or maybe some châteaus think they can make more money by selling the wine in bottle and holding more stock? It’s all something to think about if you are interested in fine Bordeaux. Just like the high prices for the first-growths.
David A Zajac — June 28, 2007 10:40am ET
Anacleto Ludovic — paris france — June 28, 2007 2:07pm ET
James Suckling — — June 28, 2007 4:54pm ET
John Miller — Windsor, CA — June 28, 2007 5:34pm ET
James Suckling — — June 28, 2007 9:25pm ET
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