The All Important Question – The Price of Bordeaux En Primeur Wines in 2014

Decanter’s recent consumer report has raised the issue of Bordeaux’s En Primeur pricing for next year and they say that Bordeaux En Primeur buyers fear being priced out of the market.

The Decanter Bordeaux En Primeur Report is the first of its kind to focus solely on consumer attitudes to buying wines en primeur and included questions on buyer habits, critics’ influence, evolving opinions and loyalties, as well as volume and price data on wines bought by individuals during the en primeur campaigns of 2000 to 2010 inclusive. Over 800 international respondents took part in the questions. Decanter report that:

“Around 45% of those surveyed said they ‘agreed strongly’ that they were concerned about being priced out of the Bordeaux’s en primeur market in the near future. A further 32% agreed slightly with the same statement.

The data also suggests that only a small number of those buying Bordeaux en primeur do so solely for financial returns. Just 5% claimed to buy only for investment purposes.

However, 42% said that they buy Bordeaux en primeur with both future drinking and investment in mind and just over half value their portfolio once per year.”

Decanter point out that the figures highlight the sensitivity around pricing at a time when many Bordeaux properties will be starting to consider their sales strategy for the weather-hit 2013 vintage. The vintage is not going to be a ‘great’ one and production is down dramatically thanks to a poor year and the subsequent low yields from the vineyard.

We always see complaints about pricing coming in around this time of year – rightly so in my opinion. You’ll see a lot more in the press during the run up to next year’s En Primeur campaign. But there is no universal pricing policy in Bordeaux.

Chateaux tend to see what their neighbours prices are and follow suit. Of course some chateaux take note of the market and utilise a sensible pricing strategy that will appeal to merchants and consumers alike but the majority don’t.

The problem has been that Bordeaux’s wines have been over priced for a few years now. Prices reached dizzying heights for the 2009 and 2010 vintages when Asia began buying Bordeaux wine in earnest. However the 2011 and 2012 vintages were average and a lot of chateaux did not adjust their pricing down low enough to reflect this which became a sore point for wine merchants across the board.

What’s more the chateaux failed to respect their traditional markets and long term customers. Now it seems this lack of foresight is coming home to roost. Asia is not buying as she once was and with a recent string of lesser vintages Bordeaux needs to think seriously about lowering prices in order to get the market moving again.

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