Yvon Mau tackles Bordeaux’s middle tier

Yvon Mau is seeking to rejuvenate the fortunes of mid-tier Bordeaux with the launch of its L’Esprit de Bordeaux collection in key markets worldwide.

Currently comprising eight producers, all exclusive to the negociant, the collection has been designed to represent a wider range of regions and styles at retail prices between £10 and £30.

First shown at Vinexpo this year, L’Esprit de Bordeaux has since been introduced in Hong Kong, the US and Canada, with plans to extend its coverage to China in early 2012.

Explaining the need to find a way of promoting Bordeaux’s mid-tier wines, Yvon Mau’s managing director Philippe Laqueche remarked: “The luxury brands have been very successful so far and the low end of Bordeaux is struggling.

“In between, I feel we have fantastic wines; it’s probably the region where Bordeaux is the most competitive in the world.”

He laid some of the blame for the decline of this middle sector at the door of the negociants, through whom the majority of Bordeaux producers sell their wine.

“We lost our way and decided to focus on the high end sector,” accepted Laqueche, “but the future of Bordeaux is this £10-£30 RSP, we just have to work a bit. We are a team and we want to express Bordeaux at an affordable price.”

Laqueche confirmed he is “actively looking for new wines” to add to the collection, suggesting that it could incorporate up to about 15 estates in total, a limit he set on the grounds that “we don’t want the wines to compete with each other.”

“But we’ll take our time,” he remarked. “You have to find an owner who wants an exclusive relationship, will produce good quality and wants to build something that will last.”

With the group of estates kept to this manageable but representative size, Laqueche explained that Yvon Mau is now targeting the UK’s regional wholesalers and some independents, with the aim “where possible to get people to take three or four wines.”

Richard Bampfield MW, representative for Yvon Mau in the UK, flagged up L’Esprit de Bordeaux as a means of tackling the region’s highly fragmented offer. “The difficulty with Bordeaux is there’s lots of disparate estates so it can be a bit confusing,” he observed. “If you can put them under one umbrella, it makes it easier for the customer.”

In particular, Bampfield suggested the value of this approach for attracting interest from younger consumers, saying: “Bordeaux is a name that these people are aware of, they look up to it. I get the impression that they would buy Bordeaux if it was made a bit easier for them.”

For the moment, the collection includes just a single white wine, with no rosé or sweet styles. Pointing to the difficulties Bordeaux currently experiences in selling these styles to the UK, Laqueche referred to the sweet wines in particular when he said: “We’re bad at selling them and the owners are not always proactive.”

The following producers currently feature in L’Esprit de Bordeaux:

Château Ducla Experience Blanc, AC Bordeaux

Château Ducla Experience, AC Bordeaux Superieur

Château Preuillac AC Médoc

L’Autre de Sociando, AC Haut-Médoc

Château German Marbuzet, AC St Estèphe

Jacques Boyd, AC Margaux

Château Guadet Plaisance, AC Montagne-St-Emilion

Château Val D’Or, AC St Emilion

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