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2010 campaign begins at last?

This week has seen the release of some of the more notable names among the Bordeaux châteaux, leading some to ask if the campaign is finally starting to take off.

With rumours of low consumer interest and with many thinking that Vinexpo will be the stage for most releases, this year’s en primeur campaign has been slower than usual.

The big names released at the beginning of the week included Gruaud Larose, Haut Batailley and Giscours, as well as second wines Echo de Lynch-Bages and Les Pagodes de Cos.

These were quickly followed by Pontet Canet, Calon Ségur and Phelan Ségur. Liv-ex reported that the average price increase of these bigger names was 20% up on 2009 prices, but Pontet Canet itself is a full 39% up on ‘09 with an ex-négociant price of €100 a bottle.

The château’s prices have come on steadily since 2005 when it was €47 a bottle from the négociants, a 113% increase. Pagodes de Cos is also getting more expensive. Its €40 a bottle tag is only 11% higher than last year (€36) but it is 90.5% more expensive than 2005 when it came out at €21.

The price jump did little to dampen Pontet-Canet’s demand however and it was trading on the index at £1,400 a case yesterday morning before settling back down to £1,210 by the afternoon.

The ’09s saw an uplift as a result, rising from last month’s £1,185 to £1,260. However, prices for its other vintages remain attractive and it was recently named the best value Bordeaux at a retrospective tasting attended by the drinks business.

However, the stop-start nature of the campaign is apparently exasperating some merchants, with Bordeaux Index founder, Gary Boom, calling it a “mixed picture”.

He said: “The releases have been frustratingly slow and the pricing perhaps even higher than we had predicted.
“It’s long been our contention that demand would be softer, but with an emerging trend of price hikes in excess of 10% in some of the smaller wines, the châteaux risk turning off consumers before the campaign even warms up.
“Only Beychevelle stands out so far. Priced at a discount to both the ‘05 and ‘09 market prices, its perceived value saw it sell extremely strongly.”

Lay & Wheeler have Beychevelle at £348 a case, however, you only get six bottles in exchange. Although 2009 was more expensive at around £511 when it began trading last year, it was for a full case.

Rupert Millar, 09.06.2011

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