Thursday, 11 March 2010

Bordeaux 2009 (Part 2) - Prices

Following on from my previous Bordeaux 2009 post, I want to look at the potential pricing of the 2009 Bordeaux vintage.

Firstly, let's play the game of the Bordelais this time and ignore all the people that say you must wait until you've tried the wine before you judge it (a call that generally applies to journalists and merchants, not necessarily to the end consumer)...

OK, not being one to make sweeping generalisations, I think Robert Parker will like it - if not love it. I am slightly miffed by many people attacking his palate for being predictable because he does champion some beautiful wines (ref. 2001 Yquem), but I do think this vintage ticks all his boxes.

It was late, very ripe; has high alcohol levels, and high tannins [see below]. Again, one mustn't generalise but Parker will definitely like it.

So what of the prices?

Well, the first option is to price them low, to make them a bargain in order to stimulate more interest in Bordeaux. But how low? The problem is that if you price it at 2006, 2007 or even 2008 levels, you risk making all the customers of those vintages very angry indeed. You're essentially saying they paid too much for their wines (which they probably did, but that's another debate) and you're also highlighting the fact that in another superb vintage (2005) you took everyone for all the money they had. So no, I don't think it will be priced low.

On the other hand, the price tag could be set higher than 2005. Assuming that everyone reckons this is the vintage of the decade, that makes sense: it's the best wine of the last 10 years, so it should be the most expensive of the lot. But I don't think this will happen either.

Firstly, no matter how much Bordeaux everyone says they've sold in the past few years, I simply don't believe it. Secondly, with a poor economy, I think this would be a silly move, not least for the message it sends the rest of the world.

Another, albeit slightly tagential, part of the problem here is that, with all the hyperbole heaped on 2005, if 2009 is considered even better, where do the parameters of greatness fall? If 2009 is greater than the great 2005, could 2010 be greater than 2009? Of course it could.

My reckoning is that the Bordelais will market the 2009 vintage at around the same price as 2005 and incite the notion that this is a great, bargain vintage. This seems to be the only thing they can really do while (a) not devaluing any previous wines and (b) appearing to offer a good deal.

And all it will prove is that, for all those concerned with buying and drinking the stuff, 2001 and 2004 were the best Bordeaux vintages of the last decade...

  • You can download Bill Blatch's highly-detailed Bordeaux 2009 vintage report here - simply right-click on the link and left-click 'save target as' or 'save link as' and you can read it yourself! And please take the time to check out Bill Blatch - he is the Bordeaux insider's insider....

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    At 11 March 2010 05:23 , Anonymous gurnseyboy said...

    In interesting but largely academic musing even for most wine 'buffs'. If the other 90% of the stuff that calls itself Bordeaux tasted even vaguely like the 'super-class' then perhaps this discussion would have more than esoteric value to wine-drinkers as opposed to investors.

    Either the super-class should invent another appellation for itself or the name 'Bordeaux' will continue to be a marketing disaster for the French wine industry.

    At 11 March 2010 11:54 , Anonymous Alain Ingles said...

    Hi Oliver,

    It's ok to say that RP will like it, but first of all he need to change his rating system upgrading the highest grades from 100 to 120, or even 150. And do you know why?

    Because he ran out of points on 2005 vintage!

    Still he can update or change his prefered style (What?! Yes, remember the Garnacha tasting in Rioja Wine Future? Suggestive, no?) so the actual rating system can last a few years more...

    Best regards,


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