Why Big Red Diary?

random ruminations…

The Market
During the last couple of weeks in November, and against a backdrop of falling markets, credit crunches and daily announcements of more ‘job cuts’, I canvassed opinion from a number of well-known merchants in the UK. Pretty consistently they told me that from steady sales throughout the year, the middle of October saw the bottom fall out of their ‘fine wine’ sales – as much as a 90% drop! Given my summary of the 2007 vintage, one of them even asked me how they were supposed to sell those wines ‘en-primeur'(?), particularly as one of his ‘name’ producers has increased the prices of his top wines by as much as 40% due to seeing his neighbours’ bottles at that level! I still maintain that, nice as they are, the 2007 reds are not worth any premium over their counterparts from 2005-2006 – where you have the choice of course! I shall anyway be buying, and I’m quite sure that if you taste them, you will be buying too.

Coming back to the ego-driven pricing mentioned above; short-term that producer won’t notice, merchants will still buy for their offers, the difference is that there is no guarantee that the grand crus be oversold (or even sold) like in recent years. Actually, the grand crus are sold in such relatively small quantities that they will not make or break any merchant’s sales – but pricing of villages wines will.

Elevage and Reviews
I think I alluded to a trend on my Vintage Viewpoint page: Is the early onset of ‘tightening’ wines perhaps influenced in part by the more common reductive way of elevage and lack of racking? More important from a buyer’s perspective, could be the effect on the wines as reviewed in barrel. It’s not just that the wines are sometimes (more and more often actually) reductive during the traditional November review period and, hence, more difficult to gauge, it’s about when they are bottled too. Many producers planned to bottle their 2006’s quite early (i.e. before Christmas) to, as they say, ‘retain freshness’, but many cellars saw the phenomenon of wines putting on weight/density and delayed bottling as a consequence. For those that eventually bottled in March-June I think the wines are substantially different to those that were reviewed in November.

I might not have thought too much about it, if it wasn’t that the 2007’s seem to behaving in a similar fashion – one domaine I tasted at in September had more profound wines at the end of November. Who knows, this time next year (from bottled wines) I may well be upgrading my thoughts of the 2007 vintage…

Until next year…

2 responses to “random ruminations…”

  1. Josh

    Yes but as your merchant friends have stated, the bottom just fell out of the market. Ego driven pricing only holds so long as the stock and real estate markets held up. Burgundy is falling into the same trap that Bordeaux has fallen into and has priced itself out of the market for most.

    That sort of inflection point is not immediately obvious but over the coming years as young wine drinkers come into prime earning power, they will eschew wines they don’t know in favor of higher end labels from wines and regions that they do.

  2. Wild Biill


    As previous reader mentioned a crash seems eminent. The financial crises in the States may be worse than anyone knows. The excuse to protect consumers, to bail out large corporate lenders selling people something they can’t afford, much like many wine salesmen, to my thinking is ruinous. So I expect to find many older wines at auction over the next coming months. Hope you continue to review older as well as current release bottles. We’re having a quiet Christmas, Jesse said Elizabeth Lockesleigh called from Athens, she’s off to Dubai to enter a horse (Hopefully).

    The rest of us were going to have a small Roast Beef and crack a few Beaunes. Later on might try a Potel Nuits Paget from ’99. Will let you know our not so humble opinion. If Faye and the others force me to listen to old Slade albumns on the new VPI, I think, I’l hide in the study and get back to cataloging all those old snapshots.

    Season Greetins and Merry Xmas


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