EN PRIMEURS 2014 – WILL PRICING STRATEGY ENGAGE THE MARKET?

With the sensational endurance test of the 2014 En Primeurs campaign behind us, the highlights of which are featured in the Vin-X blogs on 1st and 2nd April 2015, we now have to talk about vintage quality and prices.

In terms of determining quality, at this earliest stage where the market can get a key indication of the future, 2014 will probably reach the level of a very classical, good Bordeaux vintage which could be compared to 2001, 2004 or older vintages such as 1998 or 1995. I personally love these vintages because they all offer a real reflection of the complexity of the Bordeaux terroirs and the skill of the region’s great wine-makers.

The early views of professional critics and market commentators are consistent with ours in terms of quality and notably we are aware that this is the first En Primeurs campaign without Robert Parker. The view of the Bordelais is that the market will of course go on without him and that the chateaux will need to define themselves more precisely, i.e. they will have to be clearer about what makes their wines stand out in a region rich with choice. The role of the negociants will become even more relevant, when selling these wines in the global market without Parker’s palate driving price.

Given the vintage quality is unilaterally accepted to be good, the critical factor will be price. Reading the warnings coming from the UK market through the established merchants, it seems that price will define this vintage. The challenge is that technically Bordeaux cannot undervalue a better vintage than last year’s and leave the trade long on 2013 without casualties.

The Bordeaux view is that London, and all the key markets need the region’s global brands, whatever merchants say about alternatives from Burgundy and California. Will BBR be satisfied with a £6M 2014 campaign instead of their usual £20M? Of course not. As all the market protagonists, including the Bordeaux chateaux, negociants and global merchants have to sell the wines, they have to play their part in creating demand. The chateaux have delivered on quality in 2014, it is now up to the courtiers and negociants to determine the price point to engage the market This dynamic could define the initial success of the 2014 vintage and we will keep you informed as prices are published in the coming weeks.