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Wine Spectator: Bordeaux Vintners Excited About 2018 Wines, Uncertain About Futures Campaign

April 23, 2019

Bordeaux could be excused for feeling smug in the wake of the annual barrel tastings introducing the 2018 vintage, the world’s first chance to taste the wines before futures go on sale. Early reports compare the wines to recent excellent vintages. Wine Spectator’s lead taster for Bordeaux, James Molesworth, has spent two weeks in the region, meeting producers to discuss the vintage’s character and quality, and conducting blind tastings of more than 280 barrel samples. The wines show great promise.

Still, the success or failure of a futures campaign relies partially on its economic context, and while the global economy continues to grow, anxiety does too. Current trade spats and the looming shadow of Brexit are sure to have an impact on this campaign.

At Château Mouton-Rothschild, CEO Philippe Dhalluin told Wine Spectator, “Of course for the Bordeaux wine merchants, there is a lot of interest in the vintage, they don’t want to miss it. But they will probably only focus on the top, very secure brands, the 40 wines you need to have in your cellar. The international market is difficult to feel—there is a lot of interest from all countries, but there is a lot of economic incertitude.”

“The vintage is always priced on two factors linked to each other: the first is quality and the second is market conditions—demand will be affected by external factors we can’t control, like Brexit,” said Mathieu Chadronnier, managing director of négociant CVBG.

Of course, négociants are hoping a reasonably strong U.S. dollar combined with the quality of the 2018 vintage will pique American interest. “American consumers have always been here for the great vintages. They never miss one,” said Yann Schÿler, CEO of Maison Schröder & Schÿler, a leading négociant firm. “The U.S. market has the greatest potential for the long term. It’s always growing.”

But U.S. merchants told Wine Spectator their customers show little interest in futures. With so many good vintages currently on the market, most Americans are happy to wait for the 2018s to arrive in stores before they buy. Wine Spectator has more.—Suzanne Mustacich

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