Three topics dominated the talks of experts and producers in the cellars, tasting parlors and at the evening meetings: quality, price and timing. Fortunately, the participation was higher than expected. Despite a turbulent state of economy, top buyers from Great Britain, Russia and the United States have also been presented. There seems to be an interest.
According to the statements of tasters, wine experts were largely keen on the quality of the 2008 vintage. The freshness of the vintage, the fruit and the structure that has made Bordeaux so popular were praised. "The 2008 vintage is based on a good yield," said Michel Rolland, French oenologist and consultant to over 100 wine estates in 13 countries. He adds: After 2005 vintage, the 2008 vintage is the second best in this decade."
However, is a good vintage sufficient to ultimately convince buyers? The French still remember that the market dropped 20 percent in the second half year of 2008. Justin Gibbs, director of Liv-Ex, points to another problem: "The cellars are crowded with 2006 and 2007 wines. Those wines are not bad, but they have to be sold and this can only happen if the wines are prized aggressively and if they are advertized."
"If the French want to find buyers, the price is important," confirms Arnoldo Palacios, the American Sales Manager for Ginestet, one of Bordeaux's largest exporters. John Avery, director of Averys Bristols says: "I expect a tougher sell of Bordeaux wines in Great Britain." He added: "The wines taste fine, but even if the French reduce the prizes, the market is beleaguered at the moment. I do not have much hope that there will be a change in the short term".
In addition to the global financial crisis, the French have to pay for their mistakes made in pricing the 2006 and 2007 vintages too high. The responsible strategists of the wine estates have realized this, of course. For months they have worked together with wholesale traders to correct the prize confusion and to keep the sale period short and brisk.
"I think we have to inform our customers better in the future. We should advertise our wines already from the harvest on and we have to find a reasonable prize," said Pierre Lurton, managing director of Chateaux Cheval Blanc and Chateaux Yquem. He adds: "What is a good price? I don't know. In regard to every vintage, I recommend to first look at the quality, and then find a good balance between the quality and the price."
While Herve Berland, managing director of Chateau Mouton Rothschild would not discuss prices prior to the En Primeur- tastings, he nevertheless argued to release prizes shortly after the end of the campaign and to enter sales. Berland said: "The years in which we release the price late are always the years when the market is positive. At the moment, we have to fix the prize early and we should know quickly what we have to do. Waiting for good news now is pointless. We have to act in line with the market."
In general, the mood of the producers is cautious. In consideration of the noticeable decrease in exports of the last couple of months, they would be glad to record an even slightly increased sale of their wines. Eventually, it is up to the consumers. They decide to a great extent whether the selling of Bordeaux wines will furthermore remain static or if it will slowly kick in again. (aw-yoopress)