Priced-out Bordeaux fans shop elsewhere

UK fine wine lovers are abandoning Bordeaux in favour of other regions, as high prices and a run of good European vintages encourage them to seek alternatives.

“If you put wines in front of people that are interesting and good enough, they’re more willing to try it than 10 years ago”, Giles Burke-Gaffney, buying director at Justerini & Brooks told the drinks business. “These things catch on more quickly than they used to.”

As a sign of this widening fine wine focus, Burke-Gaffney revealed that “Burgundy, Rhône and Italy sales are booming”, with Burgundy in particular “bigger than ever before”.

Presenting a combination of factors contributing to this shift, he remarked: “07 and 08 in Barolo were great vintages – there’s lots of noise so people want to see what all the fuss is about – but it also shows a broadening out of people’s horizons; they’re being pushed into areas they’d never considered.”

Presenting the UK-based merchant’s 2011 Rhône en primeur offer, Burke-Gaffney was upbeat about the quality, without expressing too much concern that the vintage had failed to receive the same critical acclaim as 2010 and 2009.

“We sort of need a vintage like this to be able to offer customers something that’s drinking well now”, he commented, highlighting particular demand for these styles among J&B’s restaurant clientele.

This early-drinking appeal is particularly true of the Southern Rhône in 2011, whose wines, Burke-Gaffney suggested, “will be drinking nicely in two to five years time.”

Summarising 2011 in the south as “a very fruity, easy vintage to taste”, he added: “The wines are very balanced – the alcohols are not ridiculously high as they can be in ‘great’ vintages.”

As for the Northern Rhône, Burke-Gaffney was even more complimentary, describing it as “a really lovely vintage, but with more substance than the south. It will be reasonably early drinking as well.”

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