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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

A gloomy sales outlook for 2002 Bordeaux en primeur and second wines has been given by Christian Seely, MD of AXA Millsimes. Speaking to second year MW students about the distribution of crus classs through La Place de Bordeaux, which on balance he defended, Seely argued that some ngociants depend too heavily on en primeur sales, which can cause problems in difficult years, which I fear 2002 may be'. Agreeing with Patrick Bernard, president of major ngociant Millsima (see Harpers, 7 March), he said that because of anti-French feeling over Iraq, and a 20% fall in the dollar, Bordeaux can just about forget about the US market this year'. Seely suggested that producers would still be reluctant to lower prices. Describing the 2001 Pichon-Baron (the top AXA chteau) as great', he said the 2002 is better still - an absolutely lovely wine' - but that there is less of it. In a situation like that, many producers don't feel disposed to lower prices. The vintage doesn't deserve to be cut in price.' Seely also said Bordeaux faces problems selling second wines, which have become an acute problem over the last ten years', as more rigorous selection for the grand vin has doubled the proportion relegated to the second wine, from 20 or 30% to 50%. He said that Bordeaux needs to revise its strategy' for second wines, which used to be held at the chteaux until they were ready to drink. He identified chteau-owned ngociants and the on-trade as possible part solutions, and preferable to the cheap dumping of stock by ngociants who struggle to sell their stock.