What this is really about is the nature of Bordeaux en primeur and the existential questions the 2015 campaign poses. JPS and SdB are incidental to this (I get to post a nice photo).
Are the Bordelais moutons (sic) or lemmings? Globally, see the post from Liv-Ex below, the 2015 has been another commercial flop and another wasted opportunity. Or has it?
Despite suffering three mediocre vintages and then a tepid 2014 campaign, and after an encouraging start the major players of Bordeaux have largely priced themselves out of the market. Now, either they are congenitally dim-witted (it is a rather inbred, incestuous world down there on the Quai des Chartrons) or they just don’t care. When Chateau Latour declared they were no longer offering their wines en primeur many suspected the death knell of this annual bunfight (Decanter interview with Fréderic Engerer here). It may well have come to pass.
Many chateaux this year have have allowed themselves generous, avaricious price hikes and small allocations to the market. Sell short now, better to sell long (and higher) later.
I suspect the good years were so good that the classed growths can now sit out the lean years on a soft bed of laurels. After all, why give away good margin, when you can keep it for yourself when the wines are ready to be shipped, or later?
So the answer to the existential question of en primeur, is that surely now en primeur no longer exists. There is a cosmetic nod to tradition, but however incestuous and inbred they may be, 400 years of making and trading fine wine has shown the Bordelais the route to Eldorado.
En primeur is dead, and you are just going to have to pay le max. And pity the poor négoçiants, in the vainglorious traditions of old, in the lean years they are left holding the baby in the hope of better things to come. For now they are just holding stock.
From Liv-Ex’s (Liv-ex.com) market update 16th June 2016:-
The 2015 En Primeur campaign has entered its final leg this week with the First Growths announcing their release prices. It has been a long and drawn out campaign that has been met with a mixed response. There has been a dozen or so wines that have sold through on account of their quality or the relative value they offer. But the general feeling seems to be one of an opportunity missed. 2015 is doubtless a very good vintage, but high release prices have deterred many collectors from investing in it…
…As international demand has waned, negociant stocks have increased. Between 2012 and 2014, negociant stocks increased by 40% from 218 days to 305 days. This situation may have improved with the recent uptick in Bordeaux activity, but with the chateaux also holding back increasing levels of stock, Bordeaux inventories as a whole have been rising.
High release prices and the tendency to hold back stock has left many market participants now questioning the role of En Primeur. As Hugo Rose MW put it: “With no intention of selling a large part of the crop during the En Primeur process, price setting has become driven by vanity as much as commercial reality.” It is certainly unfair to say all wines have been badly priced this campaign, but with sentiment surrounding En Primeur challenging, this campaign has raised yet more questions on the benefits purchasing Bordeaux futures.