Trading Place: gaining global distribution through Bordeaux

Some of the world’s most famous wineries are abandoning their own sales networks for one worldwide distributor – La Place de Bordeaux. As Roger Morris reports, for those who can get in, it’s a win-win situation.

Around 400 négociants ship wine worldwide from Bordeaux

In February 2004, David Pearson has just been promoted to CEO of Opus One, moving across Highway 29 in Napa Valley from his previous position as vice president and general manager of the Robert Mondavi Company. It was an exciting time for Pearson, but a turbulent one for RMC, which founded Opus One in 1978 with Baron Philippe de Rothschild, but now was undergoing an internal revolt by its board of directors. The month before, the board had ousted Michael Mondavi as CEO and was now openly looking for a buyer. A few months later, RMC, including its shared ownership of Opus One, was sold to Constellation Brands.

It was also a time of change at Opus, then in its 25th vintages – good changes, but ones involving some difficult tasks. One of his first duties as CEO, Pearson remembers, was to write individual letters to about 60 importers and distributors who sold the icon wine around the world to tell them – essentially – that they had been fired.
Opus One was taking the unusual step of deciding to sell its wine internationally through La Place de Bordeaux, a network of 400 or so négociants whose centuries- old job has been to buy wines produced by the châteaux along the Left and Right Banks of the Gironde and to make sure the wine was sold and distributed in every nook and cranny of the globe where people drank fine wines.
“The owners had looked at this option a couple of times before,” Pearson says, “and they made the decision to do it shortly before I joined.” In the years since, Opus One’s sales outside the US have increased from 16% to 52%, a tribute to La Place’s global reach. Its selling price has also risen to reach parity with the top Bordeaux properties.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

We encourage debate in the comments section and always welcome feedback, but if you spot something you don't think is right, we ask that you leave an accurate email address so we can get back to you if we need to.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Key Account Manager

MMI Maldives

Financial Controller

London City Bond
Barking, UK

Duty Manager

The Whisky Exchange
Great Portland Street, London

Spirits Advisor

The Whisky Exchange
London, UK

International Sales Manager

Elixir Distillers
Park Royal, London, UK

Brand Marketing Executive

Elixir Distillers
Park Royal, London, UK

Cellar Door Manager

House of Townend
Melton, North Ferriby, UK

Marketing Assistant

Bancroft Wines Ltd
London, UK

Marketing Manager

The Whisky Exchange
Whitby Avenue, Park Royal, London NW10 7SF

Millésime Bio 2020

27th Jan 2020

Maisons Marques et Domaines Annual Tasting

London,United Kingdom
29th Jan 2020

Austrian Wine Tasting

London,United Kingdom
3rd Feb 2020
Click to view more