2008 is deemed by all to be better than 2007 and 2006 and yet prices are being reduced by half. Why? Because of the financial climate and because of the run of ‘average’ cooler vintages since 2005. That was the vintage of the century with wonderful wines being produced throughout the region, Grand Cru Classe and Petits chateaux alike. The price for 2005 went up, understandably. Prices did not really come down that much for the next two vintages. That is where the problem started. Merchants continued to buy and now with the new reduced 2008 the 2006 and particularly 2007s are unsellable at their high prices. Don’t forget that the 2007 are still sleeping soundly in barrel in the producer’s cellars unaware of their high price tag that no-one feels is worth it. They will be bottled and shipped later this year. Many merchants are looking at a good 2008 price and a re-look at the prices paid for 2007 – buy one get one free idea! Are these conditions that special to change the Bordeaux Market Place? Or have we seen them before in 1997 for example. Is is history repeating itself or will the closed system of the Grand Cru Classe selling only through merchants (take 30%) and firstly through courtiers (take 2%) crack this year?
Negociants in Bordeaux have massive stocks that have not been sold bought at high prices. One merchant told me he had 14 million euro worth of stocks particularly 2006 and 2007. They are having to devalue their inventories and sell whereever possible to release some cash to make purchases of the 2008s!
Smaller chateaux have different problems. The same negociants are taking lower quantities to sell of Cru Bourgeois or other petits chateaux properties. France is not the market is once was and so suddenly producers in their thusands are looking at developing export markets themselves. Urgently. Many without good English, many with thousands of cases of stocks from the vintage of 2000.
Then we have the ‘Parker Effect’ which has just come into play. Many producers had already released prices and not accounted for Parker heralding 2008 as good as 2000 or 2005 in some instances. Here are some of his favorite wines in 2008; Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Cos d’Estournel, Haut Brion, Lafite, Latour, Leoville Barton, Montrose, Margaux, Palmer, Mouton, Pape Clement, Petrus, Troplong Mondot…………Those who had already released prices had their prices soar. Who benefits but the negociant who has not sold or the next in line if they have! Not the producer.
According to Simon Staples of Berry Bros (ww.bbr.com) Parker was the only one to rave about the 2003 vintage and was lukewarm about the 2005 vintage. So perhaps it is not such a good omen for 2008.