Bibendum announces ‘game-changing’ ex-cellar Bordeaux initiative

Bibendum has announced a “hugely exciting” new fine wine initiative which will see it offering ex-cellar Bordeaux to the UK on-trade at market prices as part of an effort to re-engage the trade and diners with the classic French region.

Starting from today (Monday 3 February), Bibendum will be offering ex-cellar parcels of “drinking vintages” from Cos d’Estournel, d’Issan and Pedesclaux first, followed by parcels of other châteaux up to a first growth, all at market price, over the coming months to on-trade accounts.

Speaking to the drinks business, Bibendum’s CEO Michael Saunders, explained that he had always felt that the way the distributor “worked the market” was very co-ordinated and integrated but the one area that it didn’t happen so much was with Bordeaux.

And considering how integral Bordeaux is to the fine wine market in general, he felt there is a sense that many estates have become “very distant from on-trade customers”.

Another problem with the spiralling costs of quite a lot of top French labels is that getting hold of mature vintages quickly makes them terribly expensive on restaurant lists – driving them ever further beyond the reach of many customers.

Saunders said he felt there was a need and a chance for the Bordleais to “reconnect” with the on-trade and ultimately their customers and he thought he had hit upon a solution, which also made sense given Bibendum’s connections to some of the UK’s leading on-trade accounts.

Travelling through the region last summer he has persuaded over 20 châteaux from across the Left and Right Banks and from petit château all the way up to a first growth, to set aside a selection of wines from their library stocks, occasionally “quite significant” amounts depending on the wine.

The first wave includes the 2008 ‘grand vin’ from Cos d’Estournel and its 2015 white and 2012 Pagodes de Cos, as well as 2014 Pedesclaux and 2007 d’Issan.

Other wines slated for future offers include 1996 Potensac, 2006 Peyrabon (in bottle and magnum), 2014 Tronquoy Lalande, 2013 Batailley, 2006 d’Armailhac (in bottle and magnum), 2004 Clerc Milon, 2010 Pichon Baron, 2014 Gravette de Certan, and 2004 Mouton Rothschild.

Furthermore, Saunders said there were already additional producers signing up for a “second wave” further still down the line and he felt sure more châteaux would join up when they saw the response he felt the initiative was going to generate.

As well as wines, Saunders said the whole initiative would be supported with staff tastings, training, and château visits and the wines would be available by the glass as well as bottle, with one leading London account apparently keen to put its Coravin to use.

He said that, “being able to do something new in a very traditional area,” was a, “great departure” and added that it was not only “hugely exciting” but also going to be a “game changer”.

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