Sunday, February 8, 2009

2008 Bordeaux and the en primeur campaign

I was already able to taste Phelan Ségur, Clément Pichon and of course Bellevue de Tayac, Marojallia, but I can’t wait to see my friends from the Left Bank and taste their 2008. Even if the en primeur campaign is meant for work, I am also doing it for curiosity and pleasure.

Will we experience the same surprises for the Left Bank than the Right Bank?
If I believe the consultants and “radio brokers”, there are some pretty good wines! I know that, without even having tasted them, Pontet Canet and La Tour Carnet were very very good!
Will there be the same impression of sweetness, softness lightly acid, aromas that I experienced in some 2005 and 1998?
Will the sensations of too “sexy” or too “exotic” will arouse the same wars between classic and modern?
Will we get again the same stupid remarks stating that what is good today won’t be tomorrow? Knowing that for this 2008 vintage, pHs and acidity levels were technically superb, with sensations of mandarin flavored candy, violets, raisins and vine leaves… You probably guessed that I am starting to say that there will be some great wines in 2008. My mouth is already watering at the prospect of tasting Lagrange, Talbot, Ducru Beaucaillou and all his range, Léoville Poyferré, Giscours, Le Tertre, Fieuzal, Haut Marbuzet, Lafon Rochet, Pape Clément, Lynch Bages, Malartic Lagravière, Maucaillou, Pichon Baron , Smith Haut Lafitte, and, of course, all the wines from Mouton Rothschild.
All these wines, including those I might have forgotten, that we sell as futures every year and that I will have the pleasure to buy and sell this year, if all goes well.

What sorts of positive things are going to take place?
- That this vintage gets good reviews from the media and the profession
- That release prices be realistic and pragmatic
- That our clients are open to payment terms, and price changes
- That the financial crisis and its effects are behind us.

What about negative things?
- That the economic crisis contradicts journalists. That’s not too serious as quality always stands out (as in 2001 or even in 2004)
- That release prices are too high and that the properties lower their prices after one or two years. This would damage confidence. It already happened in the past with Vignobles Fayat and others and is simply not proper and hard to forget!
- That our clients don’t have the means or the will to defend our wines. It is our responsibility, as wine merchant, to make good offers and support. we need to go from “I can provide you this wine” to “I want to sell you this wine”. It is not the same thing.
- That the crisis carries on. Then, there’s trouble!

Conclusion: Without being too pessimists, the price set by the property will still be too expensive, wine merchant won’t have enough money, and our professional clients will be the determining factor! Consumers will probably have the opportunity to see again fine wines available at a good price. But will it be as futures or during wine promotion campaigns? It is quite possible that it will be at the time of deliveries.

Should we be obsessed by the prices from the past, 2006, 2007 even 2005 inventories or just forget about the past and consider that we are entering a new “economy” era?

All these thoughts will make us react a certain way – like my colleagues : don’t be too pessimistic, nor blind, review our positioning, price, distribution. For me, I already started with my new distribution strategy for Valandraud and my wines, using the sales force of my negoce business, my 15 sales reps (yes) and synergies with my colleagues wine merchants in Bordeaux, for out of 400 companies, there will certainly be some interested in my wines for specific sectors or countries we are not selling well or even present.
Brokers are also changing their tune from “I can fulfill your request” to “I can probably find some wine to complement your portfolio or even sell exclusively a few Thunevin wines in specific country, etc…”

1 comment:

D Marra said...

From what I've heard, I expect to see some very good wine from 2008. However, if the first growths are at more than €150, expect the en premieur campaign to be an abject failure. I've heard the argument that lowering the prices too much could damage those negoces who purchased a lot of 07's, but for me, this holds no water. No one will be buying those wines anyway regardless of what happens with 2008. The negociants will lose money on these wines either now, or when they discount them heavily after they are past their prime. This is the fault of the chateaux and as such, the chateaux need to make the 2008 wines saleable and create a bit of excitement. Quality alone will not do this as a lot of people have a lot of quality Bordeaux in their cellars. Only pricing can get this ball rolling again.