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Delhi Wine Club
Bordeaux 2011: En Primeur Wine ‘Sale’ is on

Posted: Friday, 20 April 2012 18:00

Bordeaux 2011: En Primeur Wine ‘Sale’ is on

Apr 20 : Come April and the lovers of French wine and fast cricket had reasons to enjoy speculating daily on which chateaux announces the price reduction on Bordeaux 2011 and which two teams would win the 20-over Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket match. Though the finals for the wine prices may not be announced during the same time as IPL- The 2009 and 2010 vintages are still coming down in prices up to two years hence, the release price and their impact at the customer end will be known.

There has been a unanimous agreement in the trade of which a record number of over 6000 professionals including journalists from several countries visited the so called circus of en primeur wines during the last week of March and first week of April, that the prices would be lower- by around 30%. The strong clique in Bordeaux collectible wines has not be able to label it as another ‘historical’ or excellent vintage ‘almost as good as 1982’ that catapulted Robert Parker into an orbit from which he has been the most influential one-man band.

The significant number that speculated on the price drop of 30% felt this drop would be too little especially as some of them, like the super-second Cos d’Estournel from St. Estephe had jacked up the price of 2009 by over 230% to €210 as compared to the affordable €65 for the 2008 vintage which had made a decent entry till Parker patted the back of the vintage, making the prices jump overnight. So Bordeaux watchers are not too impressed by the announcement by the president of the Chateaux Jean-Guillaume Prats reducing the price of the chateau (first) wine by almost 50% to €108; it is still 66% higher than the release price of 2008, which they feel should be the benchmark. Drop in the price of their second wine, Pagodes de Cos is much less- 25% at €30.

According to Decanter, bottled vintages of Cos from the 2001, 2004 or even 2008 may be picked up at around £850-900 a case in UK where the stellar 2009 still costs a whopping £2375 with the 2010 not far behind at just under £2000.

Sensing that China may not be as hot as the last couple of years in its demand, Chateau Lafite Rothschild has announced a lower ex-chateau price of €350.  This will perhaps translate into €420 ex-negociants whereas the merchants will wait till they know how much allocation they get. Generally the trade has welcomed the price, hoping that the prices of other en primeurs will be lower to the same extent too. Reportedly, this year has seen no compulsory purchase, known as tie-in,  of Chateau Rieussec dessert wine from Sauternes, also owned by the Lafite-Rothschild group Domaines Barons de Rothschild.

Logically, Mouton Rothschild should open at the same price of €350 but the industry observers feel that the first growths like Mouton, Haut-Brion, Margaux and even the right bank Premier Grand Cru Classe  ‘A ‘wine, Cheval Blanc in St. Emilion might not bring their prices to these levels. The well-known British merchant BBR speculates that Mouton may release a small tranche to match the price of the cousin’s wine and then wait for the market reaction. It is a customary practice to release en primeur wine in various tranches, pretty much like a limited company unloading its shares to private equity investors in several tranches at increasing prices, before going for the kill to the public.

Frederic Engerer, President of the First- growth Chateau Latour whose 23 hectares of vineyards are now organic or biodynamic announced in a letter to negociants last Friday that the 2011 vintage is the last to be offered as en primeur. Instead the bottled wine will be released only when ready to drink. Same goes for its second wine Les Forts de Latour. Incidentally Chateau Margaux has also confirmed that the vineyards whose grapes go into the Chateau wine will be organic too in three to four years.

As the prices of several other five growths of Bordeaux and several on the Right Bank unfold, the interest would be high for those who love fast cricket and fine wines. The en primeur ‘Sale’ is on but with the higher than desired ‘regular’ prices, it may not be as attractive as the discounts suggest.

And who knows- Chateau Latour might just have set a new trend!!

Subhash Arora



Niladri Dhar Says:

Latour has taken a huge gamble by exiting the annual ritual, that too at a time when the international economy is at a downward slide. En Primeur guarantees the best ROI a wine producer can ever think of. Add to that the (often) generous reviews from Parker and the likes. So, why this unusual decision? Do they really think that the market will pay a premium on their wines just because they nurtured it to be 'Ready'?...which also raises the question of how the spending on this nurturing the wines will be recovered? There are many questions which no one has come up with clear answers...hope to hear from the Chateau itself. .

Posted @ April 21, 2012 10:40



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