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Published:  23 July, 2008

Although prices for the 2001 Bordeaux vintage have dropped, they have not fallen enough, say many Bordeaux watchers, and many Bordeaux chteau owners still fail to grasp the seriousness of the situation. David Roberts MW, head buyer at Lay & Wheeler, says that despite the early reductions and generally good' quality of the wines, 2001 will be a very difficult vintage to sell'. He expects that Lay & Wheeler will offer only 40-50% of the properties sold last year. Most of the one hundred or so chteaux that have so far declared have taken as a base the en primeur price for the 1995-96 or 1999 vintages (the prices are, in effect, fairly similar). For many this means a price around 10% lower than that for the 2000 vintage - though, as Roberts emphasises, 2000 is not a fair base. It's not really relevant to say that prices should be coming down X% on 2000, as increases then ranged from 0-90%.' Chteau Gruaud-Larose (a St-Julien Second Growth), which raised its price by a modest 10% for the 2000, has lowered its price 20% for the 2001, giving badly needed confidence to the market. The price spread in the UK, however (195- 225 per case EXC), suggests that merchants hoping for a margin over 10% will find it more difficult to sell. It remains to be seen whether the example set by Gruaud-Larose (and Mouiex) will be followed by other leading names. The price for Chteau Quinault L'Enclos (a St-Emilion Grand Cru) has actually increased by 10%, though it was among the few not to rise last year. The decision is understood to have been made before the favourable Parker score (92-94) published two weeks ago, though it will be interesting to see whether the other Alain Raynaud and Grard Perse properties follow it upwards. They also fared well in The Wine Advocate, but have found much less favour among other influential critics, such as Jancis Robinson MW. Sweet wines, the stars of the vintage, are reported to be selling well, at prices that are considerably higher than last year. These are, however, generally believed to be merited.