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Price cuts deliver unexpected bounce for Bordeaux 2019

Published:  09 July, 2020

A fast, four-week campaign with average price cuts of 21% confounded many expectations by delivering a successful En Primeur 2019 release.

Set against myriad challenges posed by Covid-19 lockdown, meaning samples were shipped to critics and some merchants rather than tasted in Bordeaux, sales of 2019 were up volume-wise on the 2018 release, according to the Liv-ex Bordeaux 2019 report.

Describing the 2019 campaign as “a surprising success given the backdrop”, the report added that with the “21% price cuts on average, En Primeur felt livelier than ever - the cuts reawakened demand and rebuilt some faith in a system that had become an increasingly difficult affair for all involved”.

The leading critics agreed that 2019 has delivered a standout vintage, overcoming the challenges of a warm and dry year.

There were marked differences to previous years, however, with UGCB president describing it as the year that “Primeurs come to our customers’ door”.

With an average of 25 releases a day, the attending hoopla mainly swirled around the top names, with merchants, many unable to taste the young wines, reporting “a narrow campaign, with around 30 wines seeing strong demand”.

A Liv-ex poll of merchants revealed that the “standout successes” included Pontet Canet, Lynch Bages, Mouton Rothschild, Mission Haut Brion, Pichon Lalande and Clinet.

The tone for the campaign was set early on, with Pontet Canet releasing 31% down on 2018 prices, swiftly followed by Palmer, also 31% lower than 2018, with other big names, such as Mouton Rothschild, offering a similar discount on 2018 prices.

However, while lower prices did much to stimulate demand, volumes offered were low, with many chateaux holding back stock for a later date, with stocks continuing to build in the cellars of Bordeaux and the supply chain.

In addition, the report highlighted fairer prices for the big name top tier wines, with second and third tier wines described as “less fairly priced”.

For merchants offering En Primeur, 2019 proved a mixed bag, with outliers reporting strong demand from their customers, while sellers for whom En Primeur typically forms a big part of their sales portfolio seeing value of sales drop by up to 30%, down to price and volume cuts.

“The Bordeaux 2019 En Primeur campaign grabbed the market’s attention in a time of great uncertainty and considerable financial stress. While the quality of the vintage played an important role, the success of the campaign was squarely down to its attractive pricing,” the report concluded.