Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Entire Bordeaux 2013 production will be drunk within 10 years, says UGCB president

Published:  07 April, 2014

The head of the body which represents Bordeaux's top chateaux has predicted that 2013 wines will have been consumed within 10 years, but merchants are less sure.

The head of the body which represents Bordeaux's top chateaux has predicted that 2013 wines will have been consumed within 10 years, but merchants are less sure. 

As tastings of the troubled 2013 vintage ended last week in Bordeaux, Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux president Olivier Bernard said the volumes of 2013 are so small that the market will consume the entire vintage in 10 years

Bernard compared the quality of 2013 to that of 2007, pronouncing it an early drinking vintage. "But we produced half as much wine in 2013, so that means that it will go through the market more quickly," he explained.  

The trade is less optimistic about sales because opening prices for Pontet Canet and for Gazin have not been as low as expected.  Additionally, fewer merchants attended the en primeur tastings this year.

The UGCB issued around 10% fewer badges last week compared to last year: "We had about 5,250 badges issued this year as opposed to 5,800 or so last year," Bernard said. 

Noticeably lacking were Chinese and American buyers who had come in droves for the 2009 and 2010 campaigns.

Similar reports came from trade tastings with "obviously less Chinese, less Asians and less Japanese as well," said John Kolasa, chief executive of Bordeaux negociant Ulysse Cazabonne, which holds a large trade tasting every year for futures.

"We've only seen three customers from Japan," he said. "The Europeans are still there - the core elite buyers of London, Frankfurt and Zurich - but we've got about two-thirds the number of people we normally see," Kolasa said.

Merchants were surprised by good quality wine from top-tier estates but remained concerned about pricing. The French adage of choisir un grand vin dans une petite année or buying great wine in small vintages - was very apt this year, said Hugo Rose of wine investment firm Culver Street and online retailer Vinsignia. The atrocious conditions spelled trouble for "average producers not endowed with deep pockets," explained Rose. But like other merchants, he was concerned about pricing.

Kolasa compared the en primeur system to a "house of cards that will could come crashing down" if prices are not lowered significantly.

"The new markets are losing money, and I do not see them coming back," Kolasa said of first growth buyers. He stressed that none of his customers have purchased any first growths "in the last two years", which are available now for less money than they were en primeur. "Like everyone else, Chinese people like to make money."

He echoed criticism of the opening price of Chateau Gazin. "It should have been around 28 euros; that would have sent a better signal, to gain confidence in the market," he said.

"We are running the risk of the whole thing coming to a halt, just as it is coming to a halt with the first growths," said Kolasa, who also manages Chateau Rauzan Segla in Margaux and Chateau Canon in Saint Emilion.

"Someone should hit their fist on the table and bring Bordeaux together again," Kolasa exclaimed. "We should be in the business of selling vintages, and not brands."