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Poor en primeur campaigns favour the fittest

Poor recent en primeur campaigns such as the failed release of 2013 Bordeaux have prompted a shake-out that favours the strongest properties, according to one château director.

En primeur “is back to normal” according to Paul Pontalier

“You buy en primuer because either you can’t find the wine in two years time, or because the price will be higher, and that’s why the en primeur market is restricted to fewer properties than before, and it’s just returning to what it used to be,” said Château Margaux managing director, Paul Pontallier, during a discussion with the drinks business in Bordeaux earlier this month.

Continuing, he explained, “When I started in early 80s there were just a few wines that were offered for sale en primeur, not hundreds, so we are returning to a normal situation where it is only for the ones with a great reputation, those that are able to generate excitement, and for those whose prices you know will go up – so I say it is back to normal.”

Nevertheless, a Liv-ex report on Bordeaux released at the end of March showed that buyers of Château Margaux en primeur since the 2004 vintage would have lost on average 6%, with the 2009 suffering a 34% price drop since release, and the 2010 and 2011 a 26% and 23% decline respectively – although they would have made a 4% return on the 2012, and then a 7% loss on the 2013.

Speaking about this year’s release, Pontalier acknowledged that recent en primeur campaigns have not provided a return for buyers in the short to medium term, and as a result said that the price of 2014 Château Margaux “will be sensible”.

He added, “We know it is a very good vintage but we also know that we have to show good will to those interested in buying en primeur.”

He also remarked that he sensed a latent demand for the 2014s.

“It seems to me that while we don’t have the same level of excitement as we do for an extraordinary vintage, the amount of interest for all markets is quite significant,” he said, referring to the US and Asia in particular.

His comments echo those previously reported by db following a similar discussion with Hubert de Boüard, who said that there is “a huge demand already” for Château Angelus 2014.

Meanwhile, president of Domaine Clarence Dillon Prince Robert of Luxembourg defended the practice of purchasing Bordeaux before it is bottled.

“A lot of people, like myself, like to have the wines from the get-go, and they are not looking at the price, because they are buying the wine to drink, although of course they are happy if in 15 years time when they drink it the wine is more valuable,” he said.

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