“La Place de Bordeaux” sounds like a coffee-table strewn square in the capital of Aquitaine, but is in fact the highly efficient, global distribution hub for the majority of the top investment wines in the world. We look at how it is shaping the fine wine market in 2021.
First established in the 17th Century, La Place de Bordeaux is a tiered network comprising the Chateaux (or wine estates), their Courtiers and the Negociants. Each Chateau will have an appointed Courtier – a term adopted by the original aristocratic owners of the Chateaux – who will transact with the Negociants on behalf of the Chateau. The Courtier’s key role is to represent the Chateau and to be fully appraised of global market conditions and factors that may influence demand and price and the success of a sales campaign.
The Courtier, through relationships within the community of approximately 400 negociants, will attempt to gage demand and advise the Chateau on the pricing strategy for their vintage release onto the market. The benefit of this key role is that the Courtier is able to establish a broader understanding of the market for the Chateau’s wine and has the flexibility to reflect a wider spectrum of influences on price.
A great example of this was witnessed with the release of the 2019 Bordeaux vintage En Primeurs, where the role of the Courtiers and Negociants should not be underestimated in the success of that campaign. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in June 2020, the 2019 Bordeaux vintage wines were released at a discount up to 30% for some Chateaux, resulting in one of the fastest sold and the most successful campaigns in the 21st Century to date.
The Negociants are responsible for the global distribution management of the wine once the release price and their allocation has been agreed, and because of this, the Bordeaux Chateaux do not need extensive sales teams themselves. The Negociants have established their own sales channels to merchants who cater for millions of consumers around the world, to ensure the limited volumes of fine wine traded through La Place is distributed as broadly as possible.
Collectively, this system is La Place de Bordeaux and with an audit trail on the process from Chateau to the Negociant’s merchant customer, wines are easily traced, and provenance understood. This is an important factor for the value of investment wines.
Relatively unchanged since inception, apart from the technical developments for administration, La Place is a fast and efficient means for the Bordeaux Chateaux to sell their wines and typically some of the key Bordeaux En Primeur allocations have sold within hours of release.
La Place in 2021 is not just about Bordeaux. Some of the New World’s top wine estates are now launching their investment wines to the market via the Old World’s network. Notably, this started with Napa wines that were partnered with Bordeaux First Growths. Opus One, which was made in partnership with Chateau Mouton Rothschild, was the first to be released via La Place in 2004. The increased global demand for the top Napa wines and Italy’s Super Tuscans has seen a growing number of vintages now being released via La Place.
In Autumn 2021, La Place has just shifted focus from the Bordeaux 2020 En Primeurs to the latest offers from the Americas and Italy, with Opus One 2018 one of the first to hit the international market and the announcement that Penfolds are going to commence using La Place de Bordeaux for their vintage releases.
For more information on the current investment wine opportunities speak to a member of our team on 0203 384 2262 and get your free copy of our Bordeaux 2020 En Primeur Report for this year’s campaign review.