30th June, 2011 by db_staff - This article is over multiple pages: 1 2
As prices are released for Bordeaux 2010 en primeur, Mark Savage MW asks the question, is it a good buy?
For 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 chÃ¢teaux 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 The first reason is no longer valid.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 chÃ¢teaux 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 Â£60 per dozen in the 1982 vintage may well be coming out at 10 times that figure in 2010. Construction cranes hover over the chÃ¢teaux 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 â€œpetits chÃ¢teauxâ€ 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 â€œsecondâ€ 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.