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BORDEAUX WINE CRITIC

Part-II: When the right bank copies the left bank’s business model
The "Big" want to improve their second wines of quality and also to divide up the market. (Photo: Château Clos Fourtet)

FRANKREICH (Bordeaux) - Thus history, I already described in Part-II, is evolving before our very eyes, showing how Bordeaux continuously adapts to the markets. This reality driven by economics will disturb those people’s dream of wine, who believe in happy-ever-afters, where unique-looking long-lasting assets are acquired for princely sums, justified by the fundamentals of terroir and Nature. Sorry my friends, but wine would be nothing but vinegar without the craft of men!

 

In the time-honoured competition between the Medoc and Saint-Emilion, the latest Saint-Emilion classification thus releases the bridle on this wine growing area that has for years sought to differentiate itself, including going to the lengths of inventing its own classification, consisting of Premiers Grands Crus Classés A and B, then Grands Crus Classés, instead of adopting the Medoc system, which would have been easier for enthusiasts, where there are no Grands Crus Classés but “only” 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and even 5th Classed Growths. Without this release and the associated asset advantages, which are colossal, would Clos Fourtet have bought three Grands Crus Classés last March? These were its next-door neighbour Château les Grandes Murailles, Clos St Martin, a little further away that shares a common boundary with Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse and Côte Baleau further down. What will they become?

It is funny to see that the Medoc owners do not want to hear of any classification system that is revised every ten years à la Saint-Emilion. They prefer to keep their historic 1855 ranking, finding no other system more attractive or glorious and leaving the others “opposite” to carry on with their small concerns. It cannot be denied that despite its history that is nearly a thousand years older than that of the Medoc, Saint-Emilion has never really been able to impose its wines on world markets because of its lack of volumes. Still today, when the latest harvest is brought to the primeur market, the Medoc sets the prices and Saint-Emilion follows.

So will Quintus be bundled with L’Arrosée? Will the two properties change names? Why not? Belair became Belair Monange after the name of Christian Moueix’s grandmother. A way of doing things reminiscent of the history of the great Medoc estates. In the past, as the three consecutive owners acquired the Léoville estate, they adjoined their names to their new purchase: Las Cases and Barton and later on Poyferré. Same thing for Mr. Lynch the Irishman, who added his name to two estates in the 17th century, producing Lynch-Bages and down the road, Lynch-Moussas. And so on.

So what will the people in Bordeaux and indeed the French at large say, when one day a certain Mr. Li or Chang, a respectable Chinese businessman adds his name to the estate he buys? The French, who know so little about Bordeaux will think their national heritage is being ripped off. In Bordeaux they will be delighted with the gift to the new investor’s ego, which for them will sound like a guarantee in this liberal economy. (jm.quarin)

sys_pfeilRead my comments in Part-I of "The principle to take over adjoining property"

 

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