Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.


Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

While Bordeaux's First Growths keep the world guessing as to opening prices for the much-hyped 2003 vintage, a mystery of a different kind surrounds Chteau Pavie, the controversial Grard Perse-owned St-Emilion premier grand cru class, which appears (deceptively) to have come out' twice. At risk, say Bordeaux ngociants and UK merchants alike, is the success of the en primeur campaign as a whole, as customers lose interest, and the reputation of one of its most independent and provocative producers. The Parker scores, for which the leading chteaux normally wait, have been published for almost a month. (The 2002 campaign last year, when Parker did not visit Bordeaux at the normal time, was effectively over in a fortnight.) Bordeaux insiders are genuinely puzzled by the delay, one ngociant offering on 1 June the excuse that it was raining and that the weather was hardly conducive. One rumour is that the Firsts cannot agree an opening price (at which they would all offer their first tranche), with those generally reckoned to have been more successful, namely Latour and Margaux, pressing for a higher price than Haut-Brion and Mouton-Rothschild would wish. As Simon Staples, Bordeaux buyer for Berry Bros & Rudd, points out, none of the Firsts would want to be seen to be cheaper' than any of the others. The speculation is that the Firsts may leave the ngociants at e125 a bottle (the price to the UK trade), making the final UK price close to 1,500 a case under bond. It is still unclear whether those who are waiting for the Firsts would then attempt to raise their prices in a similar way. But Jean-Guillaume Prats of Cos d'Estournel, one of the most highly rated wines of the vintage, has already announced that he will not release before the Firsts, and he is thought to be considering a price of e70-80 a bottle ex-ngoce. Most participants are equally perplexed by the offer of Pavie to La Place, at e89 a bottle ex-ngoce late on Friday 28 May - long after most ngociants had left for the long weekend. Several leading merchants in the UK, including Berry Bros & Rudd, had already been offered large quantities of the wine by little-known traders in the UK, Germany and Switzerland at e98 a bottle three weeks previously. Perse subsequently faxed several ngociants, categorically denying that he had offered the wine directly. He had already offered another of his properties, Monbousquet, through La Place but is now attaching it as a requirement for the purchase of Pavie on a case-for-case basis. Ngociants are also imposing this on UK shippers, though their response is varied. While Bordeaux Index is making the same requirement (Pavie at 850, Monbousquet at 270), Berry Bros & Rudd and Charles Taylor are offering the wines independently (at 996 and 198, and 950 and 270 respectively). Staples said that Berry Bros & Rudd and other leading en primeur merchants had bought long' on Pavie and that sales were going well (170 cases already having been sold over the opening weekend). But he added that the uptake from the UK had been far lower than from the rest of the world (60% going to Asia, 30% to the US and only 10% to the UK) and that it was likely to be a bit flash in the pan'. If you don't sell it in the first few weeks,' he warned, you'll never sell it again.'