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Wine Spectator: Why Aren’t 2012 Bordeaux Futures Selling?

May 22, 2013

The 2012 Bordeaux futures campaign defies easy description as it limps toward a lukewarm finish, according to château owners and wine merchants around the globe. Was it a success? A failure? It depends on which wine you’re talking about. “The wines that are at the right price have no trouble finding a market,” said Mark Walford of U.K. merchant Richards Walford. “Those that are wrongly priced meet complete apathy from buyers everywhere.”

Among first-growths, the campaign went fairly well. Prices were dropped 25%-35% from 2011 releases. “They’re a good value. They represent the cheapest vintage in the market of comparable vintage,” said Gary Boom, managing director of U.K. merchant Bordeaux Index. “About 98% of what we sold in terms of value was first-growths.” American retailers believe other well-priced wines include Pontet-Canet, Rauzan-Ségla, Haut-Bailly and Pape Clément on the Left Bank and Troplong Mondot, Fleur Cardinale and Valandraud on the Right.

But others held prices steady—or even raised them. The recent reclassification of St.-Emilion estates prompted the newly promoted Pavie and Angélus to heft prices by 57% and 28% at retail, respectively. Retailers balked. “I don’t think this was the campaign to make that statement,” said Chris Adams, CEO of Sherry-Lehmann in New York.

“It’s up to the estates to decide whether they want to sell or not,” said Yann Schyler, CEO of négociant Maison Schröder & Schÿler. “Those not reducing the prices, or doing it symbolically, think that it will just work, regardless of the state of the market. It just does not work. The stocks will just sit in the pipeline. Those willing to sell their wine in a slow market have priced their wine strategically low, near 2008 levels. Things seem to be working better for those estates.”

For Wine Spectator’s full story on Bordeaux’s 2012 primeurs campaign, click here.

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