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‘Compressed’ Bordeaux 2019 EP campaign sees prices 30% lower

Published:  11 June, 2020

As Bordeaux’s top estates continue to trickle their 2019 releases onto the market, prices are typically 15-30% down on 2018, with around two thirds of prices now declared.

Given the extraordinary conditions under which this year’s En Primeur campaign is taking place, no-one expected anything like a ‘normal’ year, but the hallmark appears to be a “compressed” affair, as Justin Gibbs of Liv-Ex trading platform explained.

“Everything is compressed, the release time is compressed, the volumes are compressed, and the ability to concentrate on the releases is being compressed, with uncertainty on when [wines] are coming,” he said.

“It does seem that many of the releases have come quicker and earlier than expected, which does lead to really crowded days, where 25 to 30 wines get released and only the big three get looked at.”

Volumes being released are also lower this year than the average, with some estates offering only 50% or less [wine] than in 2018.

Gibbs suggests that this may be a mistake, as while the price discounts – which have to be considered historically against recent years when investors have often not seen a good return – could make the “solid” 2019 vintage worth buying into, there simply isn’t enough volume on offer to allow for new customer buy-in.

There may, of course, not be as much appetite for purchasing high-end Bordeaux at such an uncertain economic time, with the pandemic and uncertainty over exchange rates and Brexit all hovering over the 2019 campaign, and off the back of a few less than sparkling En Primeur campaigns.

But the nature of this year’s campaign, also much criticised by many for taking place while lockdowns are still in effect and both health concerns and economic hardship are pressing down on so many, may further dampen enthusiasm for the annual En Primeur jamboree post the crisis.

“On the one hand they’ve done the right thing and where they have [set realistic prices] it’s been successful, but on the other hand I don’t expect the sales to match 2018 sales, despite the better prices,” said Gibbs.

“We’ve still got quite a few wines to go, a lot of the second growths, but its happened a lot faster than expected, which maybe means that the Chateaux have realised there isn’t that much money on the table.”

Beyond the big names, said Gibbs, which have generally come out at fair prices, there is some good value to be found, if would be purchasers can get their hands on the wines.