Classed growth Bordeaux 2009 wine in India? Don’t bet on it!

For several weeks now the wine world has been abuzz with daily breaking news about Bordeaux en primeur prices. ‘En Primeur’ is basically a means of purchasing wines before they have been bottled and released to the market. In other words, it is analogous (though not exactly similar) to futures trading in commodities. The leading exchange for fine wine is the London International Vintners Exchange (Liv-ex).

The main story this year has been that 2009 was declared to be an extraordinary vintage for Bordeaux by leading wine experts including Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson. What followed is a stratospheric rise in Bordeaux en primeur prices to levels that have never been seen before in history. This article from Jancis Robinson provides and interesting perspective on the en primeur market this year. Interestingly, though the bulk of the Bordeaux 2009 en primeur buyers have been UK merchants, speculative interest in China is said to be a major driver of the prices.

Here is a sample of some of the prices (Source: Decanter.com):

Chateau Price per bottle (en primeur) +/- 2008 Prices
Cheval Blanc €700 133%
Cos d’ Estournel €210 233%
Haut Brion €600 300%
Mouton Rothschild €550 358%

Click here to see all the latest prices available on Decanter.com

How these prices hold up once the wines are release on to the market is yet to be seen. Already there have been reports that interest in the Bordeaux 2009 vintage is not very strong in the US. The high prices have also drawn harsh criticism – including from the tremendously influential Robert Parker. Using Twitter, he has warned that “the Bordelais are indeed killing the golden goose. the ridiculous and painfully slow release of prices for the 2009s is both…….stupid and arrogant..moreover, expect sticker shock…dumb and dumber”.

How this affects the consumption of Bordeaux wines in India is hard to tell. The availability of classed growth Bordeaux wines in India is already very limited. Brindco has a few classed growth wines in their portfolio and other importers have a smattering of other Bordeaux chateaus in theirs.  Due to high customs duties and importer/retailer/hotelier margins, one already has to be a millionaire in India to enjoy the best Bordeaux wines. The 2010 en primeur campaign may well put these wines out of the reach of even millionaires!

About Gaurav Anand

Certified Sommelier Gaurav Anand is an India based wine writer, consultant, educator and founder of Wine Forays. He earned his Sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and holds the WSET Advanced certification in Wines & Spirits. Above all, he is a wine lover on a full-time mission to taste and discover the best wines in the world.
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