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Wine Spectator: Do American Consumers Want Bordeaux’s Latest Vintage Yet?

April 30, 2018

Last week on the Place de Bordeaux, the exchange where Bordeaux’s négociants buy and sell wines, Châteaus Palmer and Valandraud surprised many by getting an early start on the 2017 futures campaign. The two estates released their 2017 futures at $121 and $232 a bottle, ex-négociant, respectively. That’s a 20% and 22% drop on their 2016 release prices.

American retailers who traveled to the region to taste barrel samples were happy. “Good trend here. We need to send the message of adaptability to the market in vintages like 2017,” Chris Adams, CEO of Sherry-Lehmann in New York, told Wine Spectator. But there was a catch. “There hasn’t been much interest for the vintage,” admitted Adams.

Barbara Hermann, wine director for Binny’s Beverage Depot in Illinois, agreed. “I think there will be zero interest in the 2017 vintage,” she said.

And that sentiment was echoed on the West Coast. “The public’s buying interest in EP [en primeurs] 2017 is almost non-existent. The lowest in my 30 years of selling EP,” said Ralph Sands, Bordeaux buyer and senior wine specialist at K&L Wine Merchants in California. “The (price) decreases make good common sense, but I don’t feel that it will change any demand for the vintage pre-arrival.”

Adams points out an added complication for the futures campaign: The U.S. dollar is weak compared to the euro, making the wines more expensive. And there is plenty of wine already in the pipeline. Some of the 2015s and most of the 2016s have not yet arrived in America, and retailers question why a consumer would buy the 2017 on pre-arrival when several good vintages are on the market. Wine Spectator has a full report on the outlook for the 2017 Bordeaux futures campaign.

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