Tis the season to pre-buy Bordeaux. The chateaux have decided to price their wine lower on the whole, with Mouton and Margaux reducing prices by about 30% from the 2011 vintage this week. That’s generally prudent since the vintage is considered of lesser quality and it’s against the backdrop of a soft economy.
Yet perhaps the most notable item about the en primeur pricing so far is that the prices have been released before the Wine Advocate scores (due out any day) have been published. It could signal an end of an era–one US trade buyer told me that the chateau were consciously trying to break away from having prices intertwined with the Wine Advocate scores. But it also could be that some other properties are trying to get a jump on what may be bad news. Which explanation do you favor? Either way, it will be interesting to see what happens to the price of those that have been released after the Wine Advocate scores are released tomorrow.
Bucking the trend of lowering prices, two right bank producers, Pavie and Angélus, have raised their prices by 30%. Both the properties were promoted to “Grand Cru Classé A” in the reclassifcation of St. Emilion wines last year. Apparently, there have been crickets for these wines as James Molesworth tweeted “And I’m hearing after their prices increases Pavie and Angélus are moving about as much of their ’12s as Latour did… #getit?”
Chateau Latour stopped selling their wines as futures last year.
Wine writers and members of the wine trade descended on Bordeaux this week for tasting samples of the 2012 vintage, which was a difficult vintage. Even though the malolactic fermentations have barely finished and the final blends are nowhere near completed, the Bordelais pre-sell each vintage (en primeur) two years before it is actually released.
The events set off a clusterschnook on Twitter about whether en primeurs are simply marketing at this point. Guy Woodward, former editor of Decanter, expressed his pleasure at not having to attend the “increasingly futile” and predictable events for the first time in a decade. He described the process thusly: “Critics taste unfinished wines (non-blind) earlier than ever but only one verdict counts; producers feign humility & refuse to discuss price…Don’t doubt most critics’ good intentions, but is now primarily a marketing exercise.”
Howard Goldberg’s tweet sparked the longest and possibly most productive wine thread to ever appear on Twitter: “Britain’s wine-writing Establishment is again plunging headlong into en priemur to play willing handmaiden marketing advisor to chateaus.” Read more…
Pierre Lurton’s iPhone rang while he was talking to a bunch of journalists yesterday in New York City. He stopped and looked at it, and dismissed it saying, “It’s not important. But I had to make sure it wasn’t Bernard Arnault!”
It’s not every winemaker who checks to see if it is France’s richest person on the line. But so it is with Lurton, who Arnault (head of LVMH) tapped in 1991 to manage Chateau Cheval Blanc and again in 2004 to take the reins at Chateau d’Yquem. That estate, maker of the famous nobly rotten Sauternes, was what Lurton was in town to discuss.
Chateau d’Yquem is not a one-trick pony. Read more…
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
In Burgundy, La Paulée de Meursault has been the most-celebrated BYOB dinner for ages. In the past decade+, La Paulée de NYC/SF has taken the idea to the US. Then there was the Rieslingfeier. Now: Burdigala.
Next Friday in NYC, Bordeaux has made its own moment to focus on the wines of the region with the first ever La Paulée-style events called “Burdigala.” Louis Kressman and Eric Dubourg, both in the win trade in New York but originally from Bordeaux, have organized the event with Justine Tesseron whose family owns Chateau Pontet-Canet. Several chateau representatives will be in town including Jean-Guillaume Prats of Cos d’Estournel, Veronique Saunders of Haut-Bailly, Emmanuel Cruse of Chateau d’Issan, Thomas Duroux of Chateau Palmer, Alfred Tesseron, of Pontet-Canet and Pierre Lurton of Chateau d’Yquem. (full list here)
At a walk-around tasting in the afternoon, the producers will pour three of their wines, including the 2010s. Then there’s a black tie dinner at St. Bart’s church with the producers, food by Alain Ducasse, and top sommeliers pouring BYOB and ex-cellar selections. While it’s pricey ($1,000 for both events; $250 and $850 à la carte), the organizers say that event is a non-profit and that “all proceeds will be donated to wine scholarship.”
Paul Pontallier is a curious, open, and humble guy. All the more so since he is he managing director and winemaker at Chateau Margaux, where he has been for 30 years, crafting the sublime yet supremely expensive wines.
Pontallier was in New York City last week and he brought suitcase full of treats Read more…
I had a lot of fun a couple of weeks ago observing a bunch of business school students engage in competitive drinking. No, it wasn’t on-campus–it was the US qualifying round of the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup at the French Consulate on Fifth Avenue.
I post a gallery of photos below but my story is over on wine-searcher. Click through to find out who will represent the USA at Chateau Lafite this summer. One thing that struck me is how into wine the grad students were, with many having been in some aspect of the wine industry or thinking about giving up a career in finance to pursue the fruits of the vine more fully. It was a photo finish that evening: A cluster of teams finished very close. Read more…
A Russian businessman bought a fixer-upper chateau dating from the 18th Century among the vines of Bordeaux. He ordered some renovations, went out of town, and returned to find the entire chateau a pile of rubble.
Reports vary on the size of the fixer-upper, but the rental site for the chateau said you could have a couple hundred friends for a seated dinner.
Builders had been instructed to remove one of the outbuildings but instead razed the whole place.
Owner Dmitry Stroskin vows to rebuild the structure as it was before. He has already ordered one and a half million euros of stone from a local mason. And probably popped a few Advil.
Here’s a question that we have addressed over the years on this blog: what’s the best, most responsible way to teach kids about wine? We’ve talke about an American approach that treats wine like a drug and an Italian approach that has kids singing songs and drawing pictures of Chianti fiaschi.
You’d think that wine would part of everyday education in France since the country boasts a high per capita consumption rate and we’ve all seen that picture of the kid with a bottle of wine under each arm. But, in fact, the French education system has, along with much of French bureaucratic attitude toward wine, had a shift for the puritanical in the past couple of decades.
So it is terrific to see the Bordeaux wine trade council is offering classes about wine “heritage” to kids aged 6 – 10. It’s optional, and the piece on decanter.com notes that they won’t be pitching it to schools, so it is a far cry from being a mandatory class. But let’s hope some schools do partake; learning about making wine seems like a great idea in a wine-making region/country. And what kid doesn’t love a tractor ride?