There seem to be a lot of unhappy people out there today on the Internet, especially now that the Bordeaux first-growths have come out with their 2006 futures prices, with the exception of Mouton. Prices at U.S. retail seem to be $500 a bottle, plus or minus $25 or $30. Haut-Brion apparently came out at 5 euros more than the other first-growths.
So what, I say! Let the market decide. If you can’t afford it, stop complaining. You can buy something else. I must sound like a broken record. Sorry.
I even heard that one of my colleagues in rain-soaked England, British wine writer Jancis Robinson, wrote that she hoped the Bordelais failed with the sales of their 2006 en primeur offerings. Why such animosity and bad will? The market will decide in the end. It always does.
Take for example when Bordeaux released its 1997 futures and wine merchants bought, even American merchants with the then-strong dollar. Consumers didn’t buy because they thought the wines were too expensive and not good enough in quality, and a few years later when the wines were in bottle, they were dumped at half the release price. The market decided then, and it will decide sooner or later with the 2006s.
The good news is that there are many good to excellent wines. So, 2006 shouldn’t be a problem for people who are going to one day drink the wines (rather than hoping to resell at a profit).
I checked with a few Bordeaux vintners, and they said that the 2006 first-growths were selling to brokers, importers and distributors. They didn’t expect a lot of action from the U.S. market on much of anything—first- or fifth-growths or anything else. Also, I heard that châteaus that got their prices wrong and didn’t drop them enough didn’t sell or barely sold their futures.
For example, a London wine merchant told me that after the release of the 2006 Cos, they only sold about 20 cases in the first few days. Over the same period last year, they sold 1,000 cases of Cos. The market spoke and it will continue to speak for a while about 2006 … the rest is mostly noise.