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Pontet-Canet's early high price could make it 'un-saleable'

Published:  26 March, 2014

In an unprecedented move Bordeaux wine producer Château Pontet-Canet broke ranks on Wednesday by releasing its trade price, of €60 per bottle for the 2013 vintage, ahead of  next week's official tastings.

Every year, Bordeaux's top wines are sold "en primeur" only a few months after the harvest while still maturing in barrels. Traditionally the wines are tasted first and priced after. The official 2013 tastings are not due to begin until March 31, making the chateau's announcement a surprising one.

Chateau Pontet-CanetChateau Pontet-CanetChateau Pontet-Canet has made an unprecedented move by releasing its price before nest week's 2013 en primeur tastings in Bordeaux.

"I have never known this to happen before," said UK-based Farr Vintners director Tom Hudson. Apart from confusion over what the move meant, Hudson said the price of €60 per bottle, the same as 2012, was in itself problematic because 2013 is seen as a weak year. 

Although buyers in Bordeaux who have already tasted many of the wines say some are surprisingly good, the 2013 vintage is seen as below par due to poor weather conditions during the growing cycle and harvest season. Many in the trade have already said prices for 2013 en primeur need to fall by 25% to 30% to generate any interest. Pontet-Canet's current price would make it "as good as un-saleable" said Hudson.

Neither the owner of Pontet-Canet, Alfred Tesseron, nor his niece Melanie, who runs the château with him, were immediately available for comment. However one negociant in Bordeaux said he had already begun selling the wine and described demand as 'medium.' Asked what he thought of Pontet-Canet's decision, Jean-Pierre Rousseau, of negociant house Diva, said it basically meant Tesseron - whom he described as "a bit of a maverick" - had sufficient confidence in both the quality of his 2013 wine, and his brand.