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Predicted 2011 Bordeaux price cuts may not be enough

Drastic price reductions will be needed to make Bordeaux 2011 good value for money.

Photo credit: Michel Guillard

Despite claims that prices will be slashed in comparison to 2010 and 2009, 2011 is likely to remain more expensive than 2008.

The news from Bordeaux is that prices for 2011 could fall anywhere from 20% – 50% on 2010, although around 30% is more likely from initial reports.

the drinks business has already reported that Christian Moueix might lower prices by up to 50%, Sylvie Cazes has announced drops at Pichon-Longueville and Lafite has said it would release at a “early and low”.

However, prices rose so far over the course of the 2009 and 2010 campaigns that those hoping for much of a bargain in 2011 are likely to be left disappointed.

Recent analysis by Liv-ex clearly shows that the release price of 2010 was still anywhere between 13% to 80% above even the current prices of 2008 – to which 2011 is often compared.

Cazes stated that the 2010 prices were 10% – 12% up on 2009 and as 2011 was not of the same quality as either of those vintages, a 10% to 15% drop would be in order – meaning 2011 will be roughly the same price as 2009?

With 2008 Pichon-Baron and Pichon-Comtesse currently trading on Liv-ex for £730 and £673 respectively, their 2010 equivalents were released at £1,500 and £1,400.

As 2008 Pichon-Baron and Pichon-Comtesse were released at £475 and £455 the difference between then and 2010 was already over 200% and even when comparing the release price of 2010 and the current price of 2008, the difference is still 61% between the Pichon-Barons and 55% between the vintages of Pichon-Comtesse.

Therefore, even with Bordelais appearing magnanimous with assurances of a 20% to 30% price drop, Liv-ex reported that, “on average, 2011 London release prices will need to be 47%-52% lower than those of 2010, at a minimum, for the wines to be a worthwhile purchase.”

Other gaps between 2010 release and current 2008 prices include an 80% disparity for La Mission Haut-Brion; 63% for Mouton Rothschild; 69% for Cos d’Estournel and 56% for Pontet-Canet.

The Right Bank in particular appears to have a very large discrepancies in pricing with Conseillante, Figeac, Eglise Clinet, Cheval Blanc, Lafleur, Ausone and Vieux Château Certan all having differences of 70% or more between the vintages.

The other first growths have differences of 64% for Haut-Brion, 66% each for Margaux and Latour and 48% for Lafite.

Potentially, therefore, there exists a vintage of the same quality as 2008 or 2007 (depending on those commentators who believe that 2011 was either better than expected or distinctly average) priced above both regardless of the trade’s opinion.

One château has already released. Château Angludet in the Médoc released at £198 a case, a 20% reduction on 2010 but it is not considered likely that this will be a standard percentage decrease across the region, particularly as it only sells to the trade through Maison Sichel, which jelps keep the price down – it was still more expensive than 2008, which was released at £150.

More generally, 2008 has proven that it still has room to appreciate, with nearly all of the major châteaux showing increases of several hundred or even several thousand pounds – despite some hiccups on the way.

By contrast, 2010 has often realised a decrease by the same margins – although this may of course change once the wines become physical next year.

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