Fine wine buyers shun Bordeaux for Napa

Buyers are shunning “boring” Bordeaux for an “eclectic” collection of fine wines, particularly cult Californian Cabernets, according to Fine & Rare director of fine wine, Joss Fowler.

Screaming_Eagle logoFollowing a drinks business story on the rising demand for California’s Screaming Eagle in Asia, Fowler contacted db and reported a surge in sales for the label in 2013, including a £100,000 deal this week.

“We are selling a shedload of top-end American stuff at the moment, and we’ve sold something silly on Screaming Eagle – around £560,000 this year, including £100,000 on the day before yesterday.”

Fowler believes the call for the cult Cabernet, which sells for over £1,000 a bottle, stems from the wine’s “genuine rarity” and the fact it’s “different”.

“It’s genuinely prestigious and interesting,” he also stated.

He speculated that fine wine buyers are demanding Californian, along with Italian wines, because they are looking for something other than Bordeaux, which is increasingly deemed unexciting.

“Bordeaux is boring,” he said.

Furthermore, its image has been damaged by the rise and fall of prices on the secondary market.

“Bordeaux has been tainted by the commodity thing, the up and down of prices – even hyper-Bordeaux like Le Pin and Pétrus has been affected.”

Aside from Screaming Eagle, Fowler recorded rising demand for other Californian fine wines such as Bond Estate, Shafer Vineyards, Paul Hobbs, Harlan, Colgin and Sine Qua Non – with the latter in particular demand.

Explaining Fine & Rare’s success with these wines, he added, “I doubt many other merchants [in the UK] have sold as much as we have of this kit because we have been very good at sourcing it.”

Beyond the top-end Californian Cabernets, Fowler told db that Fine & Rare was selling a lot of Italian wine, from the traditional regions, such as Brunello di Montalcino, to the more modern Super Tuscans.

As for Bordeaux, he said sales were focused on mature wines, recording a recent sale of 1990 Château Lynch-Bages.

Summing up, he said, “We are selling the most extraordinary, eclectic mix, leaning a bit towards Italy… we are selling wines that offer value, or wines with romance.

“But what is slightly more difficult to sell today is the wine which selling five years ago was like shooting fish in a barrel: we’re no longer selling pallets of classed growth Bordeaux to speculators.”

2 Responses to “Fine wine buyers shun Bordeaux for Napa”

  1. James B. Davis says:

    My friend Martin Cohen, now enjoying heavenly wine with God (or the Devil), used to refer to Screaming Eagle as “Screaming Sucker.” I’ve tasted it a few times and was not impressed. Of course, with 8,000 bottles of mostly French, mostly Bordeaux, wine in my cellar, I could be called a Bordeaux snob. But I could put up any number of bottles of Bordeaux that would blow Screaming Eagle away. I could toss in some older vintages of Vega Sicilia and Masseto and even Dominus that would also blow the Screaming Eagle away.

    Another friend in the wine business specializes in buying premium wines from collectors in the U.S. and selling them in the Asian market. The Asian market is for labels, not fine wine. They want Lafite, DRC, etc. and will pay a premium to get it. Most of the time when you are tasting or dining with these Asian “collectors”, they talk about how much the wine costs, not what it tastes like.

    If you must, buy Screaming Eagle to sell to the suckers. Buy Bordeaux to drink.

  2. DAVID DEAN says:

    Before you crown a California wines as the best wine produced in the USA may I suggest you try offering several Washington sate wines. At this time there are over 800 wineries in the state of Washington. The top three as noted by Parker and other notables are:; Quilceda Creek, Lionetti and Cayuse. Quilceda and Lionetti have waiting lists (starting at one bottle annually) of over 3,000 wine aficionados. The lucky ones start out at one bottle per year. The retail prices for the top of the line is around $135.00 for Quilceda and around $100.00 for Lionetti. Because of the history and market rarity of these two leading wineries, touted by Parker as the best, you (and your clients) might be interested in your ability to furnish said wines to your clients. The top wines from these wineries are in great demand. On the retail market to referred customers the top of the line from Quilceda sells for around $300, (per bottle); Lionetti sells for around $225. (per bottle). If you are interested in obtaining said above wines in perfect condition and ages from 1990 to present please feel free to e-mail a reply to the address of this e-mail to you. Your knowledgeable wine buyers should leap at the opportunity you can offer them and bring you closer to them for future business. If you are interested please reply to this e-mail at your earliest convenience. We are giving your company “first crack” at doing something special for your clients. A “no reply” within ten days will indicate to us that we should try others in your profession.

    If you are interested we suggest you supply a surrogate buyer to protect your interests. Said ‘buyer” will inspect the wines before shipment and make sure they get on the truck to your facilities. With his/her approval we will be given a certified check for the agreed upon amount and release the wine to you. We think you will raise the status of your company if you can provide top quality Washington wines to your customers. We have vintages of the wines listed herein going back fifteen years. These older wines may be more expensive similar to French pricing.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    David Dean

  3. Karl curran says:

    Bordeaux and napa are completely different. The top tier wines in both are great. However the prices are purely at this stage spec and have been mostly driven by snobbish sentiment mostly by Chinese buyers certainly regarding Bordeaux top tier. However I would suggest the 2nd market in Bordeaux and the cru bourgeois markets. These wines are of exceptional quality and the pricing seems to be more adequate. Screaming eagle if you pay the prices is great. But having worked in financial markets for 20 years it all seems a bit excessive and reeks irrational exuberance. Karl curran Charlemagne inc

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