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Is the fine wine market ready for Bordeaux En Primeur 2015?

31st March 2016


Things have been unusually quiet in the run up to the Bordeaux 2015 En Primeur tastings, due to be held next week, probably because previous campaigns have not always been a success.

But there is hope for the En Primeur market yet – that is, as long as prices are sensibly allocated to vintage that has already been the victim of much media hype.  

 

A “good-to-great” vintage wine

As Liv-ex reports in the recently-distributed price guide for Liv-ex members, the 2015 vintage is predicted to be a hit. Initial feedback says it will fall somewhere between the good vintages of 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014 and the great vintages of 2005, 2000 and 2010.

Gavin Quinney, Bordeaux wine producer and writer, claims that the ‘Bordeaux Rule of Five’ remains intact for the 2015 wines – every vintage ending in five or zero since 1985 has been excellent and this one might be too.

Rainfall in April, May and July was lower than it was for the great vintages while in August it was much higher, but rainfall in June mirrors that of the excellent wines. Weather was also much warmer, favouring early-ripening grapes with more developed depth of flavour.

Quinney says that the wines may not be as good as the 2000, 2005 and 2010 vintages but are “destined to be approachable sooner”. Also, rainfall varied considerably from one region to another, suggesting that quality could be inconsistent between wines and making the tastings next week particularly interesting to report.

 

Putting a price on fine wine

The En Primeur boat has been sailing less smoothly since the Asia-led boom, and initial high prices have meant disappearing margins and a loss for the final consumer. This in turn has resulted in a pile up of unsold stock, and a few Chateaux pulling out of the En Primeur system altogether.

It’s not all bad news – the 2012s were priced sensibly and have been doing very well, as Capital Vintners reported a couple of weeks ago. Chateau Angelus, which released a special edition gold-imprinted black bottle in 2012 to celebrate its elevation to Grand Cru Classe A, has reported that it has sold all the 2012 wines it released En Primeur. Petit Mouton, Calon Segur and Clerc Milon have also been consistently good En Primeur buys.

However, considering the huge competition from emerging wine regions such as California, Burgundy and Italy, the only way the Bordelais will be able to claw their way back to good fortune is to price the 2015 attractively against comparable wines in the secondary market.

Let’s hope they grab the opportunity by the horns! Watch this space for updates.

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