Irreparable damage done to Bordeaux

A short but interesting article about BDX prices from yesterday.

Speaking to db, Corney & Barrow MD Adam Brett-Smith said of 2011 Left Bank Bordeaux, “Unless they do something of unbelievable drama there is going to be no interest at all.”

Referring to Bordeaux pricing of the 2010 vintage, he added, “As so often in Bordeaux, they pushed it too far, so there has been a correction.”…

he added that the top châteaux had lost “the loyal bread and butter customer”.

(if this was already posted, sorry didn’t see it)

Right on the cusp of the official 2009 vintage roll-out.

We’ve heard it all before.
Numerous times.

And, of course, we are not referring to Bordeaux here, but the great growths (less than 5% of production!).

I’m in my fifties and the market has only crashed once in my lifetime, in the mid seventies.
True, many people - such as myself - are now priced out of the market. But there ARE customers for those wines.
Some people think that the Chinese market is all smoke and mirrors. But they’re buying. As are rich people everywhere.

Yes, it’s sad that these wines have become out of reach for many of us. But that’s no reason for a fox and grapes approach to a changing market.

The title of this post reminds me of Mark Twain’s famous quip that news of his death had been greatly exaggerated…
Even if the premise were correct, the Bordelais would simply end up lowering their prices.
There is a mystique to the great wines such that they will always be in demand.

Best regards,
Alex R.

The real problem is that for a whole new generation of aficionados Bordeaux is no longer the pinnacle. This will reverberate for years.

the title came from the article, not me. But Berry Brothers & Rudd (BB&R) this year only took about 1/2 their normal pre-arrival allocation of BDX and publicly stated the reason was pricing had just gotten to be too much. BB&R and Corney & Barrow are two very large and prominent wine stores in the UK. If they are cutting their buying of the top houses or are talking bad of BDX it is never a good sign.

And part of the article is about how BDX has alienated and lost their traditional customer. So what happens when BDX isn’t trendy anymore in a couple key places and you’ve lost your traditional customer, that’s going to be the real question?

Exactly! They’ve now alienated their traditional customer, raised prices so high only a small handful of people can afford it, and over-hype almost every vintage. Not a great business model for the future.


What you have said has been said of BDX many, many times in the past and they have always managed to work through it without getting their heads caved in. They have lost me too and it saddens me, but I agree with Alex. They have a market. If things get tough and they drop price enough a lot of us would jump back in. Meanwhile, I will keep enjoying my favorite CdPs, Barolo/Barbaresco, Chianti, Brunello and assorted other regions.

By the way, we are putting the '77 Taylor and Fonseca head to head on Friday night. Should be fun!


This is a great statement and very true. It’s really a shame…

Yes it has, but what still remains to be seen is what will happen if the key market, who’s fueling high prices, no longer thinks BDX is trendy and prices have nowhere to go but down significantly? Will people come back in large numbers, or will it be too little too late as people have moved on and found other wines?

Since I don’t know, has BDX ever seen such huge price increases in such a short amount of time in the past?

we are putting the '77 Taylor and Fonseca head to head on Friday nigh

Nice! I hope both show their best, cause if they do it will be one helluva tasting.


That Berry Bros. & Rudd have far fewer orders does indeed imply that the English market for recent vintages is weak. But the demand for fine Bordeaux is global…

Let me make an analogy. I love cigars. If the US embargo were ever lifted, demand from the States would unquestionably drive prices up through the roof. Like many consumers, I would smoke Cuban cigars far less often and find substitute products.
The Cubans would undoubtedly have few qualms about turning their backs on their traditional customers and well-established markets.
Money talks, and it’s just a question of economics.

We are talking about a particular kind of luxury product - and status sympbol.
I might add that the darling Burgundy estates have hardly been restrained in their pricing of late…


You wrote: “The real problem is that for a whole new generation of aficionados Bordeaux is no longer the pinnacle”

Ah, if you are speaking quality and not pricing here, I would defend the reputation of Bordeaux to my dying breath [cheers.gif]
Where shall we hold our duel - your place or mine? :wink:

No one else can compete with Bordeaux in the fine wine category. Please let me explain what I mean by that. OK, obviously, this is a question of taste. And other regions have made great strides :slight_smile:. But Bordeaux features much greater reliablity than Burgundy, for instance, and the great wines are produced in relatively large volumes. Of course, some geeks are into Barolo or California Cabernet and even Rhone wines, but internationally Bordeaux is the standard for red wine - one that some people understandably feel they must rip into for one frustration or another, but it is still there, on its pedestal.

Best regards,
Alex R.

There’s a lot of things I’d like that aren’t really accessible; Ferrari, 75’ nordhaven sport fisher, 1st class international travel, etc.

But those are things I’ve never had, but if you did have access and then it’s taken away, I can understand the disappointment and frustration.


I agree entirely with you.

I’m defending the quality of Bordeaux tooth and nail, not the commercial practices.

Best regards,
Alex R.


Berry bros has become a global company and has a good presence in hong kong/Asia. Perhaps you are a bit biased, but Bordeaux sales have slowed significantly at auction and prices have been coming down. For instance, the going price of 08 lafite has been cut in half. Obviously demand for Bordeaux is not going to disappear, but prices are undergoing a serious correction.

The fact that berry bros isn’t purchasing as much is vey telling. They probably expect to have access to discounted wine down the road.

I would agree BDX is still considered a pinnacle, but as Eric pointed out, what happens when the older traditional generation of buyers stops buying or dies off and the younger generation who’ve grown up drinking other things and who don’t think it’s the pinnacle continues to buy things other than BDX?

Really BDX is considered one of the pinnacles because years ago there wasn’t many top quality alternatives. Now with so many countries making top tier wines in decent quantities, at affordable prices, and which are attracting new wine collectors and drinkers will no doubt have an effect on BDX’s future reputation. Unless, that is, BDX does something drastic to attract younger customers and be able to keep them as loyal customers.

I’ll use myself as an example. I’m still young (I like to think so anyways), buy lots of wine, and have a long road of wine buying and drinking ahead of me (Lord willing). I now could care less about buying BDX, simply as it’s way out of my price range for the top houses now. But do I really care, nope. I can buy top quality wines from other countries with scores the same or higher than BDX gets and I pay a fraction of the price. So why would I want to deal with or buy from a region that I’ve seen as nothing but greedy when I can get wines just as good or better for less? I, as a younger wine buyer, have grown up not being highly exposed to BDX due to costs. And when I see how they simply jack up prices for no good reason other than greed, I really have no reason to ever go back to them. I’m sure I’m not alone in that thinking.

Speaking as a former Bdx “bread and butter consumer”, I am priced out and have not bought a bottle of Bdx in years. Shame, I like Bdx, but my money is better spent elsewhere.

David [drinkers.gif]

Me too…



Speaking of Lafite as a benchmark for the price of Bordeaux is as absurd as speaking about Romanée Conti for the price of Burgundy…
In fact, please look at the figures. Exports of Bordeaux have never been better!

I agree with most of what you wrote except the part where you say you can get just as good for less [wow.gif] .

Best regards,
Alex R.

blahblah Same ol’ same ol’… In short snapshots the pricing curve looks choppy, over the long haul it’s a lot smoother - up and to the right. Perhaps a little correction IS coming, it didn’t kill 'em last time, or the time before that, or the time before that… Who knows, maybe this one is the silver bullet. Except for a few favorites I bowed out after 2005. It doesn’t appear they’ve missed me much.

I agree. For me, when I want Bordeaux, there really is nothing comparable

Drank a lot of Bordeaux when younger in NYC, drink less now for all the reasons listed. There will always be rich, even new rich 20-40 years from now who may not know Bordeaux but who will want to buy the best. Somebody will tell them about Bordeaux and Bordeaux will be there for them.

I hit lotto I’d be a HB guy, Blanc and Rouge, again the very next day!