Bordeaux tastings offer hope for brisk sales

French wine capital Bordeaux wrapped up an intense week of barrel tastings of its new vintage Friday, with wines expected to go quickly on sale next week, as chateaux negotiate lower prices.

"In terms of attendance, the number of professionals that came for the UGCB events has never been higher," Jean-Marc Guiraud, director of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB), told AFP.

"Tuesday we had more than 3,500 professionals that visited at least one of the seven tastings -- more than recorded for the presentation of the 2009 and 2010 vintages," he said.

Europeans arrived in force and 30 percent of the visitors during the first two days were foreigners, according to Guiraud.

The total number of visitors per day was estimated at 6,500. Chateaux also opened their doors for dinners, parties, art exhibitions and concerts.

"The primeurs tastings are a unique marketing event each year that is a tremendous success," said negociant Antoine Darquey. "People buy plane tickets, get hotel rooms, just to come taste a wine that is not finished."

After a week of travelling from cellar to cellar, importers were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the vintage, with many of the chateaux receiving respectable scores from American critics.

"The vintage is better than the British press was indicating," said James Gunter, senior vice president of fine wines at Glazers, one of America's largest importer-distributors.

"What Bordeaux is doing in the vineyards, in the cellars, with technology and the warmer climate, they make great wine. They know what they're doing."

Chaotic weather, including devastating hail storms, tested the savoir-faire of even the most well-equipped chateaux.

"To produce this quality was a real tour de force," said Jean-Guillaume Pratts, director of Chateau Cos d'Estournel, who presides over a state-of-the-art gravity-led vat room.

Now that the quality of the vintage has been assessed, discussions are focused entirely on price and the release dates for the sales campaign.

Last year's futures campaign was long and disorganised, with prices jumping more than 50 percent for some labels, leading to mass defection from clients in Europe and America.

Glazers, which might buy 20,000 cases of Bordeaux futures when quality and price find their sweet spot, only purchased 2,000 cases of the 2010 vintage sold last year.

"Those 2,000 cases were very expensive," said Gunter. "We need a major price reduction."

Major customers in Hong Kong also remain cautious. Vincent Yip, owner of Topsy Trading Co. Ltd in Hong Kong, said that they would not maintain their allocations "at any price".

"We prefer to be cautious and realistic," Yip told AFP. Topsy Trading has been buying Bordeaux futures for two decades, and normally purchases 20,000 cases every vintage.

The fear of losing loyal customers in Asia as well as in traditional markets has forced the Bordelais into an about-face.

"The Bordelais learned from their arrogance and incompetence last year, ourselves included," said Pratts.

"The wines will be released early this year, and I think we will have some real interest from the US if the prices come down. There has to be a substantial price reduction to make it appealing to Americans."

Bordeaux's futures market is based on the principle that customers buy the wine up to two years in advance of delivery, financing the chateaux stock in exchange for a lower price.

Speculators and Asian demand have put pressure on prices the last two years, and traders are calling for a return to consumer markets.

"If chateaux care about the traditional consumer market, they must set a price that merchants are happy to buy and happy to sell, a price consumers are happy to buy and most importantly, happy to drink," said Yip.

Negociants expect the First Growths -- Lafite, Latour, Mouton Rothschild, Haut Brion and Margaux -- to slash prices up to 50 percent, and release their wines for sale shortly after the Easter holiday.

Bordeaux's smaller chateaux are also preparing for a brisk campaign in hopes of drumming up sales.

"We sell a lot of petit chateau wines, but it's quite a complicated situation for them," said Darquey.

"They do the same work, make investments and make some really good wine, but they have been selling their wine for the same price for ten years. It's very frustrating."


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Autopsy: 'Versailles' daughter died of accidental overdose

    ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — An autopsy shows that the 18-year-old daughter of the stars of the "Queen of Versailles" documentary who had struggled with an addiction to a drug used to control her seizures died last month of an accidental drug overdose. …

  • Mike Holmes: Buy a home using intelligence, not illusion
    Mike Holmes: Buy a home using intelligence, not illusion

    NEW YORK (AP) — Mike Holmes, famous for calling out bad plumbing, woodworking and electrical work on the HGTV show "Holmes on Homes," says there are steps homebuyers can take to avoid many of those problems. …

  • Shakira and Pique may have another athlete in the family
    Shakira and Pique may have another athlete in the family

    MIAMI (AP) — Shakira and pro soccer player Gerard Pique may have another athlete in the family. …

  • 2 houses from 'Breaking Bad' for sale in Albuquerque

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two houses featured on the hit AMC-TV series "Breaking Bad" are up for sale in Albuquerque. …

  • Demi Lovato's Dog Dies
    Demi Lovato's Dog Dies

    Demi Lovato has lost her "tiniest little nightingale" – her dog Buddy. #NMM snuggles with my little baby!!!! 🐶💗 we wanna see your #DevonneByDemi results!!! #nomakeupmondayA photo posted by Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) on Jul 13, 2015 at 12:39pm PDT …

  • At $90 million, Garth Brooks tops Forbes big earning country acts
    At $90 million, Garth Brooks tops Forbes big earning country acts

    Country music veteran Garth Brooks on Wednesday topped the annual Forbes list of the world's highest paid country acts, raking in an estimated $90 million in earnings over the past year. Brooks, 53, who resumed touring last year after 13 years off the road, also notched up the biggest pay day in a single year ever recorded by Forbes for a country music act. Toby Keith, best known for more pop-driven hits like "Red Solo Cup" and "How Do You Like Me Now?!," ranked No. 2 on Forbes list with $53 …

  • Oculus deploys virtual reality hedgehog to lure filmmakers
    Oculus deploys virtual reality hedgehog to lure filmmakers

    By Piya Sinha-Roy and Lisa Richwine BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Reuters) - In a Beverly Hills mansion on Tuesday, Facebook-owned Oculus rolled out "Henry," a movie that takes advantage of its virtual reality technology to tell the story of a hug-obsessed hedgehog. The company's pitch is to lure filmmakers to use the technology and produce content that attracts consumers for the Rift, its virtual reality headset. Oculus doesn't plan to sell "Henry," the second film from its film division, Story …

  • Review: Mission accomplished for Cruise in new 'MI' flick
    Review: Mission accomplished for Cruise in new 'MI' flick

    There's some interesting talk in the cleverly satisfying script of "Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation" about the element of luck. As in: How much is luck a factor in the success of Ethan Hunt and his IMF cohorts? After all, in the last movie they merely saved us from a nuclear holocaust. Was it talent, work, or dumb luck? …

  • Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Celebrity News - Fri, Feb 20, 2015 1:47 AM PHT
    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce’s #Flawless image is embroiled in controversy once again. On Wednesday, a web site called The Beyonce World leaked 224 allegedly raw photos of the musician. The images showed Bey in full makeup for the 2013 L’Oreal ad campaign — but with the kinds of “imperfections” we all have — beauty marks, bumps, creases. In the wake of Cindy Crawford’s unretouched photos, the images have been praised by critics of a beauty industry that sets impossibly high standards, standards that Queen Bey …

  • Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    omg - Sat, Feb 14, 2015 12:14 AM PHT
    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    The 25-year-old released the video for her third cut from platinum selling album 1989. …

  • My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    Write Away - Wed, Jan 28, 2015 2:29 PM PHT
    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    For my mother-in-law Mrs. Elsa Yrastorza Yuzon, flying and soaring in the skies is part of her normal routine. But it reached new heights when Pope Francis boarded Shepherd One. …