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Important - FWD Co. opt out of 2014 Bordeaux en-primeur campaign

13 April 2015|Wine Tasting

Bordeaux en-primeur 2014 campaign - we're out!

Hi from Jeff,

I wish to make the announcement that Fine Wine Delivery Co. have made the decision not to offer Bordeaux en-primeur from the 2014 vintage to our customers. Reports are that it is a solid vintage, likely a drinkers vintage rather than a collectors. And on the back of falling secondary market prices internationally one would ask the question as to whether there is any value in buying Bordeaux en-primeur anymore. The en-primeur system (pay ahead now while still in barrel at the Chateaux and receive your finished wine in 2-years) enabled participants the opportunity to:

1. Save circa 25% on eventual market price when the finished wine was released to market 2-years later.

2. Ensure buyers were able to secure wines that were very hard to get hold of that traditionally would appreciate and have investment value.

However the Bordelaise pushed the prices too high on the back of the two stellar 2009 & 2010 vintages and also on the back of seemingly insatiable demand from the China mainland. Subsequently the 2011, 2012, and 2013 vintages varied between poor to average in quality, yet the prices have remained much higher than they should have, which has substantially reduced interest in en-primeur buying from traditional markets (UK - USA - Europe - Australia - NZ et al). Coupled with this were the introduction of tough austerity measures and laws against gifting within China mainland introduced circa 2012, which saw the previously hyper-inflated Chinese demand almost come to a standstill overnight.

The tasting halls at the 2013 Bordeaux en-primeur campaign last year were extremely poorly attended and despite below average vintage reports and modest ratings from International wine critics the prices were still way too high for the appetite of traditional market buyers. I suspect the Negotiant's cellars are overflowing with 2013 vintage along with substantial stocks of 2012 and 2011.

In a recent article the World's No.1 wine critic Robert Parker proffered the following views on buying Bordeaux en-primeur:

"I think that the en primeurs market - except in a great, great vintage - is largely moribund, it is largely dead, for now," continuing, he said, "Bordeaux has to have a reckoning soon about their pricing." Explaining his comments, he said that classed growth chateaux owners had set release prices so high that there was no longer an advantage in buying the wine before it is bottled.

Conversely, according to Nicolas Glumineau, general manager for Roederer's Bordeaux estates; 2014 Bordeaux is a "great", "miracle" vintage that is close in style and quality to the exceptional 2010s. However the list of solid, but far from "miracle" or "exceptional" ratings released by noted critic James Suckling that popped in my inbox today suggests otherwise… they rather point to a marginally above average quality vintage.

In summary we are concerned that there could well be substantial price reductions post the current 2014 vintage en-primeur campaign if it does not fire. FWD Co. do not want to put our customers at risk of buying en-primeur (paying 2-years ahead) with the possibility the same wines might end up being offered at lower prices at a later juncture.

We will monitor the offers as they are presented to us by the various negotiant's and if there is a perceptible movement upwards in ratings from trusted and long-time critics of Bordeaux coupled with significant and realistic price reductions then we may choose to run a limited campaign around wines that fit the bill. In the interim we will regrettably not be running a proper campaign and have made the decision early to enable customers who still wish to purchase en-primeur the opportunity to examine offers from other NZ retail providers of Bordeaux en-primeur.

With the outstanding 2013 & 2014 vintages in NZ plus 2012 & 2013 in Australia red wine lovers would do well to shop closer to home where the quality is assured and the prices are both fair and widely accessible.

Cheers, Jeff