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Published:  23 July, 2008

2001 Bordeaux prices are likely to be considerably lower than those set for the 2000 vintage, now that Robert Parker has added his voice to the chorus calling for substantial reductions. In The Wine Advocate, 24 April, Parker declared that for red wines it is a good, sometimes very good, yet irregular vintage', with wines that are generally more concentrated than the 1999s, but with higher levels of austere tannin'. I am hoping,' he wrote, that the chteaux will break precedent with the immediate past and price their wines before The Wine Advocate is released. Given my reviews, they would be smart to do so.' Parker discounts two of the most common reasons for buying en primeur - a great vintage and investment value - and suggests that the only reasons this year will be the desire to secure stocks of wines in short supply, or to specify bottle sizes. Ren Gabriel, one of the world's biggest Bordeaux buyers, for Mvenpick, and wine writer for Weinwisser, has written an open letter, dated 20 April, to his Bordeaux friends', calling for prices to be set substantially below those for the 1999s. Unless prices are attractive for all concerned,' he warns, the whole wine world will be seized by a lethargy on a scale never seen before'. Most of the UK's major en primeur buyers, including Alun Griffiths MW, Adam Brett-Smith, David Roberts MW, Stephen Browett, Roy Richards and Sebastian Payne MW, have also addressed a letter to Bordeaux courtiers and ngociants, saying that it is make or break time for the sale of Bordeaux en primeur A repeat of the 1997 disaster will finish off en primeur for good.' The few chteaux which did declare prices pre-Parker do not suggest that other such warnings have had much effect. Producers of sweet wines are asking substantially more than last year, though these are generally reckoned to be the most successful wines of the vintage - better than 2000 and on a par with 1988, 1989 and 1990. Among the reds, many have set prices only slightly lower than those for 2000. An honourable exception is Christian Mouiex, who held his prices for 2000 at the 1999 level, and his 2001s are 3-8% lower than those. Although most chteaux owners will now be waiting to see what others do, there will be pressure to release before Vinexpo in Japan four weeks from now.