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Brand Bordeaux takes a hit - with 2011 merchant sales just one fifth of last year

Published:  14 June, 2012

Sales of Bordeaux's 2011 en primeur campaign reached just 20% of the value of the 2010 campaign for most merchants, says Liv-ex.

The fine wine exchange accused many of the Bordelais of having "misjudged the mood badly this year", and dragged out the campaign into a "long, overly-complicated slog".

On the exchange, 2009 vintages accounted for the largest share, at 17%, of Bordeaux trade, with 2011s accounting for just 7%. Previously the 2008, 2009 and 2010 releases, accounted for at least 20% of trade in both the May and June of the relevant year.

Some wines managed to buck the downward trend with Latour, Lafite and Pontet Canet trading successfully. But overall, there was a move towards Italian wines, whose market share reached a new high of 4.5%, up by 3.3%, with well-priced, high scoring Solaia boosting monthly turnover while Ornellaia 2001 rose 9%. Rhone also boosted its market share to 1.3%, driven by demand for Guigal Mouline. 

Overall the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 fell 4% in May, reacting the the economic and eurozone crisis. The index ended the month at 278, meaning that the market is down year-to-date for the first time in 2012, by 2.8%.

The exchange blames the failure of Bordeaux's 2011 campaign to ignite on few chateaux releasing "at a price that could be considered good value by the end purchaser, with comparable vintages often available at significantly cheaper prices".

In addition, the decision by many chateaux to release their prices on the same day was a poor one, as "merchants usually pick three or four wines to work with per day - giving 40 wines the attention they deserve is all but impossible".

What's more the Bordelais failed to look after their traditional markets, and there was little appetite in Asia following a "shaky" 2010 campaign. "2011 should have been treated as a chance for Bordeaux to re-engage with its traditional markets (essentially the US, UK and mainland Europe) by offering wines that truly presented value. It was an opportunity missed."

A spokesman added: "Brand Bordeaux has clearly taken a significant hit - Bordeaux will have to work hard in 2013 to win them back."