Fine wine comment: Bordeaux 2010

As prices are released for Bordeaux 2010 en primeur, Mark Savage MW asks the question, is it a good buy?

mark-savage-2.jpgFor a game to be worth playing it must be fun for all the participants. I think we are long overdue a look at the playing field with regard to Bordeaux 2010 and whether it is still worth running onto the pitch.

The original reason for the en primeur market was a) to provide the châteaux with cashflow after the costs of the harvest and b) to give the early buyer a price advantage. The first reason is no longer valid. The top châteaux are awash with cash, to such an extent that the price now bears little relation to the costs of production.

Hence a wine that opened at £60 per dozen in the 1982 vintage may well be coming out at 10 times that figure in 2010. Construction cranes hover over the châteaux as their surplus profits are spent on the creation of ever grander chais and tasting rooms, none of which incidentally make the wine taste any better than it did before.

As for the second reason, there is decreasing evidence every year of any advantage to be derived since the price after bottling may well be no higher than at the en primeur stage. There is in fact a possibility that it will actually be cheaper should the pound strengthen against the euro.

Ever since I first started to offer Bordeaux en primeur with the 1975 vintage, I have always reminded myself and my clients of the criteria required to justify taking the risk, and summarised them as follows:

a) exceptional quality;
b) limited availability;
c) a price advantage for early buying.

I rule out the need for buying “petits châteaux” early on the grounds that their quality is likely to be respectable rather than exceptional and that it is wiser to buy such things after bottling. The same applies to “second” wines, although the picture here is changing and there may be opportunities for the early buyer in future, especially if one can identify wines that are not significantly inferior to the grand vin. I have myself on occasion given the same score to both wines. In other cases the gulf in quality and the purpose of careful selection are made admirably clear.

3 Responses to “Fine wine comment: Bordeaux 2010”

  1. Dr.Hebold says:

    Excellent analysis. What consumers ( real wine lovers) now need is a less than perfect vintage, lower scores of Robert Parker who, as it seems is not at all amused by the 2010 campaign, another overpriced release relative to the vintage value and the first négociants going bust, flooding the market with lower priced wine. We call that the beginn of the burst of the bubble.

  2. James Swann says:

    The chateaux have recognized that if they are indeed to command the heady prices seen in recent years, they will have to produce an ever more rarified product, however, less production will itself fuel higher prices. There is, nonetheless, a wider concern that chateaux may yet have to adequately address: the possible distancing of the already loose definition of terroir and chateaux identity vs. the 1855 Classification

  3. […] Bdx10 second wines be a great choice this year? I really enjoyed this original and insightful piece by Mark Savage MW the other day in The Drinks Business. There’s good common sense throughout, […]

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