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'We cannot be the chateaux' bank forever', says Bordeaux negociant

Published:  16 April, 2014

"We cannot be the bank of the chateaux forever", leading Bordeaux negociant house Ginestet has said as the 2013 en primeur campaign struggles on. 

"We cannot be the bank of the chateaux forever", leading Bordeaux negociant house Ginestet has said as the 2013 en primeur campaign struggles on.  

Dominique Cruse, UK area sales manager for Bordeaux negociant house Ginestet, told that 2013 was a "very, very difficult campaign".

"It's up to us to take the risk if we're offered an allocation. We can say yes or no. It depends how much we sell to customers and how much we want to keep in the market."

He said it was willing to take the risk on some wines because "we believe in the brands", such as Pontet-Canet. But he was clear that the business would not "take everything".

So far only Rauzan-Ségla and Lynch-Bages have been selling well, but "not many others", he added.

Coming on the back of two difficult campaigns in 2011 and 2012, Cruse said "probably a lot of people [negociants] will decide not to take allocations" from chateaux. "We cannot be the bank of the chateaux forever," he added.

On a more positive note, Cruse said that customers will return to Bordeaux, "if there is a good vintage next year". "We're not finished yet, it's a difficult year, but if we get a good vintage, some good publicity and if the prices are right, people will be back."

Liv-ex's Justin Gibbs said: "A successful campaign is when the international community sells out, not the chateaux. It's very different. It's when collectors are all asking merchants for more. Otherwise you're just putting financial strain in the distribution chain. That's sustainable for only so long. After three tough campaigns it's beginning to tell people that the risk is rising, and that's not a good thing for Bordeaux."

He said negociants were in a very difficult position if they choose not to take allocations. "If it's a single voice pushing back it's easy for the chateaux to say, 'you're out'. They have to do it with a united voice and it's difficult for people who are competing for the chateaux goodwill and largesse to get together," said Gibbs.

He added: "That's always been the power of the chateaux to divide and rule, but problematic if you start sending people bust, then there will be far fewer negociants and then they will have the power.

"It doesn't seem to make long-term financial sense."

Farr Vintners' director, Oliver East, added: "The message we are getting from negociants is they are struggling to find any market in the world for these wines. While they are picking up orders they are very small orders. I wouldn't want to have their business this year. If they feel obliged to take the wines it could be very difficult. They could have to carry the wines for a very long time."