A dash of realism coming to 2008 Bordeaux auctions

Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:20am EDT
 
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By Claude Canellas

BORDEAUX (Reuters Life!) - The caves of Bordeaux are a beehive of activity this week as the wine trade presents and auctions the "primeurs" first samples of the 2008 harvest to its customers as wine prices come back to earth.

Over the past three years the price of the Bordeaux Grand Crus has only risen and the Bordeaux traders -- specialized middlemen between the vintners and wine buyers -- would like to see a decline this year.

The 'primeurs' are a specialty for Bordeaux and only involve the big names. Buyers from all around the world and professional tasters and critics will taste the new wines and can order them in advance for delivery in a year's time after the wine has spent a bit more time aging.

During the week, the prices of the 2008 harvest of the greatest names of the world's best-known wine growing area will be set -- creating the upper echelon of the global wine price structure for buyers ranging from Russian billionaires to supermarket shoppers in Britain.

This year some 150 'Chateaux' out of 10,000 wine growers in the Gironde area around Bordeaux, will participate and the challenges are big.

"We need appealing prices for the 2008 millesime," said Francois Leveque, president of the wine brokers' body of Bordeaux, Gironde and South-West.

"Since the leap in prices in 2005, with a exceptional harvest and in a context of euphoria, the prices of 2006 and 2007 were overvalued. But the speculative bubble has burst and we now need to be pragmatic," he told Reuters.

FIVE THOUSAND VISITORS   Continued...

 
<p>Glasses and bottles of Chateau Belcier red wine (Saint Emilion label) are seen in a testing room in Saint Emilion, southwestern France, November 6, 2007. The caves of Bordeaux are a beehive of activity this week as the wine trade presents and auctions the "primeurs" first samples of the 2008 harvest to its customers as wine prices come back to earth. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>