Bordeaux 2017 vintage, limited but good
The Bordeaux 2017 vintage reserves some surprises to the wineries: limited grapes, excellent ratings but maybe a decrease in prices
For Bordeaux 2017 the en-primeur sales, 9-12 April, show an avalanche of excellent ratings regarding the main Bordeaux chateaux. But after a serious decrease in production because of the frost last year, the 2017 harvest is requested at lower prices by the great négociants who buy wines from the harvest from wineries to put them on the market in 3 or more years time.
I have just been to Bordeaux and I have seen the vineyards just pruned. The vines that were damaged by the frost were well evident and I am sure that they will produce scarce grapes in 2018 too. A situation that worries greatly the wineries where the cellars contain less barriques than usual.
At Millésima, where I went to present my wines that have just been inserted in their portfolio, I met the CEO Fabrice Bernard. He is one of the BIG buyers at the en-primeur auctions because Millésima is famous worldwide for having in its catalogue bottles from the greatest Bordeaux chateaux, that have been held in only two cellars:
the one of origin and his. Bernard’s words have a certain value in the market and he declared to Wine Searcher “I’m expecting prices to come down by 20 to 25 percent” .
The decrease in price reflects the French system of handling the petite vendange – the less perfect vintages. They decrease the price while we, in Brunello, decrease the quantity. In Tuscany we increase the production of Rosso di Montalcino and leave only the best to the flagship wine. The result is a greater fluctuation in volumes of Brunello but a better consistency in the price and maybe even in the quality.
It is not easy to say which is the best system ut what is certain is that in Bordeaux for the 2017 vintage, the decrease in quantity has ney been sufficient to avoid the decrease in price. At a first gance this seems impossibile because the 2017 wines are good and the excellent ratings from JancisRobinson.com and Robert Parker demonstrate this, plus the market is going well. The best reviews given by the great wine critics regard Château Lafite, Ausone, Haut-Brion, Cheval Blanc, Mouton Rothschild, Lafleur, Château Latour, Château Margaux, Vieux Château Certan and Petrus.
But the Chinese buyers do not love buying en-primeur, they prefer waiting until the wine is in bottle, while American operators buy only the best vintages. So after excellent vintages like 2016, 2015 and a good 2014, the most recent vintage has little commercial space and consequently will have to reduce its prices. In truth there are some who have increased their prices, Sauternes from Chateau Guiraud has been sold at + 4% with respect to last year and Yquem has obtained the best ratings from WineAdvocate-RobertParker.