Corks, NY tax, fraud, Bordeaux 2008 – sipped and spit

bottle no SPIT: corks in Champagne!
Champagne house Duval-Leroy has announced that they will be replacing the cork with a “revolutionary” metal cap. Full details will be announced next month. The BBC reports that it will “still produce the familiar “pop” and spray beloved of generations of racing drivers on the winner’s podium.” But how will this affect the Japanese corkslinger?

SIPPED: wine as a tax revenue source
New York State will raise the excise tax on wine sold or made in New York from $0.18 a gallon to $0.30 a gallon, effective May 1. This rate increase of roughly two cents a bottle may be too little to pass on to consumers thus may fall to producers or wholesalers. In order to avoid channel stuffing, there will be a “floor tax” levy imposed on warehouse inventory as of May 1. So will there be mega sales in NY wine stores between now and then to draw down said inventory? [NYT]

SIPPED: fraud
Fraudsters posing as buyers for British wine retailers have bilked French producers out of an apparently large amount of wine. Sad. [Decanter]

SIPPED, surprisingly: Bordeaux 2008
If in 2008 grapes were, in the words of Jancis Robinson, “swollen with summer rain,” vineyards are “ravaged by mildew and threatened by rot,” would that make for a good vintage in Bordeaux? Despite all odds, Robinson in the FT and Elin McCoy on Bloomberg attest to finding some surprisingly good wines. McCoy asks the money question: “But dropping prices dramatically in a good vintage? It’s not in the Bordelais DNA.” But some have gotten the message as she quotes Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, owner Bruno Borie: “We have to go back to basics, go back to the consumer, instead of the speculators.” Subsequently, Decanter reports several releases down 20 – 40% from last year’s prices. What will happen ultimately to the weak and expensive 2007 vintage? A caution against buying wine as futures…

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6 Responses to “Corks, NY tax, fraud, Bordeaux 2008 – sipped and spit”


  1. Dr. V, I am on the not nearly enough camp re. Bordeaux ’08. Twenty to forty percent? So we’re still at roughly three times futures prices for ’01, or ’02? Sounds pretty terrible to me, especially considering the worldwide economic climate. Should have been a bigger cut, IMO.


  2. Michael,

    I agree. Prices needed to be down to 2002 or lower. The problem is that from where the futures are coming out they are trying to provide a floor for future price increases. What if 2009 is not as good as 2008 and the economy still stinks, what do they do?

    For me even if pricing was more to my liking, after everything I’d have a hard time buying based on critics reviews as I really don’t trust their ability to be unbiased, especially after tasting through the 2006 vintage at the UGC. Prices and quality are totally out of whack.

    Now I see write-ups comparing 2008 to a “combination of 2004 and 2006.” What does that mean. I tasted both 2004 and 2006 at the UGC and found much to like about 2004 as a whole with a more “clasicaly” styled wine and I found 2006 to be filled with harsh, bitter, unripe tannins and fruit as a generalization. So what the heck does a combination of 2004/2006 mean? I don’t know anyone who went to Bordeaux this time and therefore would have to rely on this type of info if I went after things outside of chateau that I trust year in year out.

    Even so except for a few wines I’d expect these wines to be released in 2 years at the same price a the futures release. So unless there is something special you want I see no reason to buy.

    The Bordelaise did themselves a big disservice with pricing of 2006/2007 after the run up for 2005. Some can hold out. They lost me and I was a buyer who would buy certain wines every year in good vintages and so so as I believe good winemakers do a good job with the material unless it’s an utter disaster. This however would require reasonable pricing constantly and consistently. I really hope that the 2008 campaign is a bust and forces prices even lower. Certain chateau will sell out because the lower prices are being seen as a bargain like 1st growth at $200/bottle.


  3. If any mega sales are to happen in NY you should be seeing them soon, there’s only 11 days until May 1st.


  4. Dr V-

    I am new to the wine business and a new lover of bordeaux. I have been passionate about wine for a 6 years now and from what I understand the chateaux have been upset at seeing the prices for their wine sky rocket after en primeur with the negociants/brokers/retailers making 100%+ margin over en primeur prices. It seems only natural to me for the chateaux to be upset. As a result of this I feel that the chateaux have stoppped caring about who is actually buying their wines to consume. I guess it will always be a struggle because unfortunatley there are enough rich people out there that are willing to pay anything for the 1st and 2nd growths just to have the wine regardless of how good the vintage. I don’t know when hard working(not wealthy), bordeaux lovers will ever be able to afford a chance to buy a bottle or two of top claret again?

    cheers!

    Kevin


  5. Leoville Barton in off vintages for $30. That’s a good metric!


  6. [...] last regional holdout (ex-Portugal) from the assault of screwcaps, now has The Maestro. Although we mentioned it previously, details are now out: The new closure, which hides a crown cap (think: beer) under a plastic cover [...]


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