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'No compelling reason to buy' Bordeaux 2013, say merchants

Published:  10 April, 2014

Merchants have so far sold very little, if any, Bordeaux 2013 wines, as collectors lack any compelling reason to buy.

Merchants have so far sold very little, if any, Bordeaux 2013, as collectors lack any compelling reason to buy.

UK merchants were disappointed at today's Montrose release prices, at €57.60  it is the same as last year - but Lynch Bages, at €50 is 17% cheaper than 2012, is a "first ray of hope".

Fine wine experts also questioned whether wines are selling through the system or simply being stockpiled at negociants, where they pile increasing financial pressure on to wholesalers.

Liv-ex's co-founder Justin Gibbs told "The merchant community internationally is rather dismayed by the campaign to date because they can't recommend these wines to their clients. Merchants are either offering them on their websites or choosing not to offer them at all depending on the wines. They're certainly not taking any stock on, so the stock is pushing back towards the negociants."

He said taking on 2013 stock was a major risk for negociants who have "faced a lot of financial pressure in the last two years and come under enormous strain".

"The chateaux are not getting the attention they would like - the criticism and concern [about the 2013 vintage] is mounting.

"It's a bit of a worry - regardless of the great efforts made by the chateaux, this is not a great vintage and collectors know this."

Gibbs said he wasn't sure how far prices needed to fall, but added that Pichon Baron 2008 was trading today at £630 for a 12 bottle case, while merchants were offering 2013 for £600, a difference of £30 "for a wine that's physical and better". "It's the cheapest Baron in the market, but it seems it's not cheap enough."

Oliver East, director at Farr Vintners, said it has not yet sold any wine. "We've done a very narrow selection of just 100 wines - about half what we normally have. We are moderately recommending them with a caveat on price. If the price doesn't make sense we are quite frank on it."

"Montrose has the same prices as last year. 2012 is currently cheaper than 2013, and 2012's a better wine. So what's the point in buying it?"

But he said Lynch Bages was a "brighter light": "At £550 per case that's a good deal for Lynch Bages buyers. The next cheapest Lynch Bages is £100 more per case."

He said he was "baffled" by some of the chateaux pricing strategy, which gave "no compelling reason to buy 2013. At this stage we're not sure whether we will have any demand at all".

"The reality is we've got to go back in time. A lot of younger vintages are hard to sell. We don't want another hard-to-sell vintage. We certainly don't want 2013 to look like a mistake in 12 months time. The market is almost more important than nature next year."

Joss Fowler, fine wine director at Fine + Rare, said "people aren't fighting to buy 2013". Despite many winemakers being very proud of producing some "quite pretty" wines, "it's not a great year".

He said a "really attractively priced wine would get through the system and to the end consumer, which would engage the consumer with the chateau and with Bordeaux again". "I like the sound of that but it's not happening," he added. "The Bordelais are not taking a long term view."

But Fowler added that "Bordeaux as a marketplace will always correct itself".

Juel Mahoney, Bibendum's fine wine marketing manager, said that while she had been impressed with some of the wines, most customers were adopting a "wait and see" approach. So far the campaign has lacked "the rush" of previous years. She described Lynch Bages price as a "first ray of hope", and said the company was seeking out allocations from negociants now. As for the rest of the campaign, she said: "It has to be cheaper than what's in the market now, because otherwise, why would you buy en primeur?"