VinExpo is subdued to say the least. I have been going to the mother of all wine fairs since 1983 and I never remember it being so sparsely attended. I would guess attendance is down 30 percent or 40 percent.
In the past, it would take more than an hour or so to get into the fair grounds in the Bordeaux Lac. Now it’s straight through. Parking is not a problem. The massive halls are easy to walk through. Restaurants are happy to see you. No reservation is needed.
But the real action is happening outside the fair, at the châteaus. Last night, the international wine press were wined and dined by grands grus classés of 1855 at Château Lafite. All the owners and winemakers of the top châteaus on the Médoc, Pessac-Léognan and Sauternes in the classification were there. There were dozens of members of the wine press from just about every major wine-consuming country in the world in attendance. I had never seen half of them before. I guess the trade is growing. VinExpo is still the big wine event for the world press. It’s a little like national conventions in politics in the States—you gotta be there if you're a hack.
Eric de Rothschild of Lafite gave the opening speech of the evening. It was quite humble and friendly. In fact, he used the word "humble" a number of times in his 10-minute speech.
He thanked the press for communicating about Bordeaux and its wines, positive or negative, and emphasized how the world had changed with the global recession. The market for fine Bordeaux was certainly different. He spoke a little about the system of tasting the new wines from barrel for reports on futures, or en primeur. He compared it to something Winston Churchill said about democracy: "Some have doubts about this method of showing and selling our wines," Rothschild said. "I would like to paraphrase Churchill talking about democracy. 'Democracy is a terrible way of running a country. Alas, no one has ever been able to find a better one.'"
He continued a few seconds later: "This year, with the prudent opening prices of many châteaus and the subsequent show of strength of certain names, the interest of the method was evident. It also made the point that the market always surprises you, but that it is always right."
I am not so sure the market is always right, regardless if it is trading in stocks, currencies or wine. I felt a little uncomfortable last night sipping some beautiful wines with the château owners, from 2001 Pontet-Canet to 1978 Lafite.
The fact is that the market can also be wrong—be careful if you are buying 2008 Bordeaux as futures.
David A Zajac — June 22, 2009 2:28pm ET
James Suckling — — June 22, 2009 2:45pm ET
Michael Myette — Sacramento, CA USA — June 22, 2009 3:54pm ET
Jordan Horoschak — Houston, TX — June 22, 2009 4:16pm ET
James Suckling — — June 22, 2009 7:29pm ET
Merlin — Zurich, Switzerland — June 23, 2009 2:53pm ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — June 23, 2009 7:27pm ET
Philippe — June 24, 2009 6:03am ET
Thomas Hughes — Texas — June 24, 2009 10:35am ET
Maxim Kashirin — Moscow — July 1, 2009 9:53am ET
James Suckling — — July 1, 2009 10:07am ET
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