In between tasting hundreds of Tuscan wines for the magazine over the last couple of weeks, I have been hearing some interesting things about 2006 Bordeaux futures. The US distributors I have spoken to say that they haven't sold a thing, and that consumers are totally uninterested.
One told me that the US market is going to lose its allocations for the best Bordeaux after not buying the 2006s. Maybe you already know that, but each year, distributors are allotted a set number of cases of Bordeaux futures from négociants, who act as agents for the various top name châteaus. They have to buy the same amount, or less, each vintage, regardless of what I write or others or what the market wants. But they have a set amount of wines guaranteed each year, whether it's five cases or 500 cases. So, in effect, they make lots of money with a sought-after vintage like 2005, and much less like 2006 or 2004.
I had lunch today with a mammoth US wine distributor at the restaurant below my house, and I asked him if he bought any 2006 futures from Bordeaux. “No,” he said, looking rather pissed off.
“But, brother, you are going to lose your allocations of Bordeaux,” I said in a rather provocative way.
“Who cares?” he asked, looking at me straight in the eye.
I hear that Russia and the Far East are taking up the slack from the US market, but I have my doubts. Only time will tell. I can see 2006 being another 1997, when the top names sold for too high a price at the beginning, and then sold for less than cost a few years later. At least the quality of 2006 is much better than 1997!