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Market Watch: Retailers On The U.S. Outlook For Bordeaux

February 25, 2022

The 2021 harvest in Bordeaux looked problematic for many chateaux. Almost everybody suffered low yields that will result in an uncommonly short volume vintage. But on this side of the Atlantic, the trade isn’t worried. After a long streak of very good Bordeaux vintages, many in the U.S. agree that the region may need a breather of sorts—an escape valve that serves to actually tamp down volumes and prop up prices.

“In the world of global warming, winemaking everywhere, including Bordeaux, has gotten much more consistent,” says John Kapon, chairman and majority owner of Acker Merrall & Condit, the fine wine retailer and auction house based in New York City. “The Bordelais have made so much money in recent years that they can now afford to hold back. They can wait.”

But maybe they can’t wait too long. After the former tariffs on French wine were lifted, Bordeaux shipments to the U.S. exploded in 2021, rising 24% to 2.7 million cases and 68% to €349 million ($392m), according to Impact Databank, easily surpassing their 2019 levels.

Jeremy Noye, president and CEO of Morrell & Co. in New York, says that his Bordeaux sales were running up 18% in the fall of 2021 compared with a year earlier. He credits the region’s continued success to sheer quality, but also believes that savvy consumers are turning to France as Napa wines have escalated in price. “Bordeaux actually offers better value now than Napa does,” he says.

“Bordeaux is on fire for us right now, and it was already doing very well before the tariffs,” says Zachys Wine & Liquor wine buyer Michelle Weiss, who notes that, through October 2021, Bordeaux volumes were up 25% for the year to date at this single-unit store in Scarsdale, New York. Store president Jeff Zacharia attributes some of the sales gain to rising household incomes. “People who once popped a $24 Chianti are now looking at a $30 Bordeaux,” he says. “Bordeaux had a perception of being overpriced, but people are moving past that now.” Market Watch has the full story.

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