Bordeaux campaign set to pick up speed

Christian Seely, managing director of AXA Millèsimes, has said that the 2011 en primeur campaign should “pick up speed from now on”.

Christian Seely

Speaking to the drinks business at Bibendum’s 2011 tasting at Lords’ yesterday, Seely said that the general view from the châteaux was that “it’s a campaign to get on with”.

As for the continued question of how to price the vintage, where, so far, some châteaux have clearly succeeded and others have not, Seely said that it was wrong to try and talk about “Bordeaux pricing” as a general term.

“Price should always be viewed from château to château,” he said. “I’ve yet to see a campaign where every single estate gets their pricing right and inevitably some test the upper limits of their pricing.

“I think we can see already some quite substantial price drops and the wines are great.”

As for the widely held view that the wines are not as good as the two previous vintages, Seely commented: “They’re not as ‘epoch-making’ as 2009 and 2010.”

Talking of the pricing, he compared the situation 2011 finds itself in to other over-shadowed vintages where all the commentators were clamouring for reductions.

“This happened as well with 2004 after 2003 and, under a different set of circumstances, with 2008,” he said, “but actually they’re the two years you would have made the most money off”.

The continuing calls for the prices to come down is not lost on the estate owners. Last week at the Grands Crus Classés tasting, Stephan von Neipperg told db that he was well aware that the prices for his top wines – La Mondotte and Canon la Gaffelière – would have to come down for them to attract buyers.

Meanwhile at Bibendum’s tasting, Emmeline Borie co-owner of Châteaux Haut Batailley and Grand Puy Lacoste said that 2011, while a step down from 2010, should not be underestimated.

“We know that 2011 is not 2010 and should perhaps be less than 2009 as well but we think it has more complexity and length than 2008.

“We will be less than our neighbours (Pontet Canet and Ormes de Pez) but it will be the right price for the market.”

Margaux Pariente of Troplong Mondot advised people not to “expect 2008 again” through a combination of rising quality and changes in the market place.

It is worth bearing in mind that too that 2008’s prices were almost artificially low as estates tried to simply get rid of their stock to prevent a back log, added Pariente.

Now though, production costs are rising and quality is good, prices can perhaps never go back.

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