Merchant declares Bordeaux 2012 overpriced and skips vintage

16th May, 2013 by Patrick Schmitt

Enotria subsidiary Great Western Wine won’t be offering Bordeaux 2012 this year because it believes the wines are overpriced.

Great Western Wine won’t be offering Bordeaux en primeur for the first time in 12 years

Speaking to the drinks business yesterday about the decision, Tom King, fine wine manager at the merchant said that he hoped this year’s releases would offer value for money, but that the majority were priced too high for his customers.

Although he admitted that certain châteaux had priced their 2012 releases at a suitable level, such as Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Pontet-Canet, he said that it wasn’t worth the extra work running an en primeur campaign for just a handful of wines.

“It’s the same amount of effort whether we offer 4-5 wines or 40-50,” he told db.

He also said that the high release prices for the majority of estates had created a sense among his customers that it was an overpriced vintage across the board.

“For the few châteaux who have made serious cuts the consumer perception of the vintage is already tainted by the releases that are too expensive.”

He also pointed out that the margins for merchants who sell en primeur have become too low to make the process profitable.

“There comes a point when what you get back from it is too small. To mitigate the fact the prices are too high merchants are selling at low margins – there is just 2-3% between the price they buy at and sell at.”

While he acknowledged that the majority of châteaux have reduced their prices compared to 2010, 2009 and 2011, he said the drop was not enough.

“The asking prices are still too high for where the demand would be.”

To some extent excusing the expensive releases this year, he said that the low-yielding 2012 vintage had cost producers more to make.

“It was a low-yielding vintage that required expensive, laborious techniques to make good wine, so the châteaux are more resistant to putting prices down,” he said.

But for Great Western Wine’s customers, he said they have bought a lot of 2009 and 2010 Bordeaux en primeur, and don’t feel the need to buy wine every vintage, “unless it’s a real bargain”.

As a consequence, he explained that the merchant “didn’t want to be seen to be flogging a dead horse”.

In place of Bordeaux 2012, King said he would be recommending wines from the Rhône Valley to his customers.

Speaking about wines from both north and south of the region in the 2011 vintage, he said they were “delicious, in the UK already, and won’t break the bank.”

As for next year, King said he would offer Bordeaux 2013 if it was an outstanding vintage or if he thought “it would work”.

Last year he said en primeur sales represented between 8-10% of Great Western Wine’s business.

“Bordeaux en primeur is nice to have when it works, but our business doesn’t depend on it,” he said.

 

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