The Market

The great burgundy firesale…

By billn on December 11, 2023 #the market

In some places it’s already happened but be prepared for the wider ripple !!

I’ve been expecting it to happen, and it now seems that there’s a chain of events underway that will be difficult to halt, or maybe even to slow down.

Burgundy Wine MarketFor a while now the price of burgundy wines has been so resilient that you would rightly wonder what might be required – in a geopolitical sense – to apply the brakes to this runaway pricing train.

The region like to point out that the average price for their wine is quite low; after I published their most recent key figures, Vice-President of the BIVB, François Labet commented “This is a real blow to those who constantly say that Burgundy is too expensive. More than 70% of Burgundy’s production includes wines costing less than €10 (in French supermarkets). It is true however that a good 10% is more expensive….. but it is a very small part of the whole production.

But life is more complicated than this view – as phrased.

I will not use the names of the traders or producers that have provided the following info, as we have no beef with anyone who tells it like it is – but maybe their colleagues might prefer that this stays, for the longest time, under wraps:

The high-value secondary market
A merchant who has business in this market confides, for a large part of this year the secondary market for ‘high-end’ wines has taken a tumble, there was no immunity even for the blue-chip producers – for instance, Rousseau and DRC – their wines are still selling and are still seen as ‘safe bets‘ but their actual sales prices have been trading at a discount of 30-40% of ‘sticker-prices.’

If that’s the case for blue-chips, what about the much talked about new names? I could use Bizot or Lachaux as examples – an auction contact in ‘Asia’ tells me that those wines are currently unsellable – at least, not with the reserve prices wished by the sellers – and that’s largely because those sellers already bought high!

In the current context of the fine wine market, you can look at it like any other investment; if you bought at release pricing, or invested a few years ago, you can still be very happy with the resale value of your wines – if that’s an important consideration for you. If you bought at or near the peak of pricing – ie in the last 1-2 years and need to convert that investment to hard cash, I believe the appropriate metaphor is – you will be taking a bath!

Outwardly, this is not visible if you scan the price lists of the major sellers of traded fine wine, and that’s because, ‘If we were to update our spreadsheets with the actual prices that have been traded in the last 3-6 months, we may have to write down our whole trading book by close to 50% – which will, of course, affect the valuations of our stocks and so our company too! Currently, our worst nightmare would be a client who came to us needing to urgently ‘liquify’ a large parcel of named wines – they certainly wouldn’t achieve half of what our pricelists indicate – assuming we can even find buyers!

As another contact puts it ‘The people with the money and the interest in these wines still have both but they can smell the blood in the water and seem pretty confident that they will be able to buy all these same wines in the very near future for a much smaller price than today!

Anyone who has listed some of their cellar with traders in the last year will recognise the paucity of transactions…

New wine coming onto the market
I have, for probably too long, been suggesting that a pricing correction is inevitable. I still think there is the possibility of even higher pricing for some sectors of the market where rarity is an important factor – but we have to talk about the bulk of burgundy wine – the 70% that is regional and villages wine.

We, and the region, are more than happy to have seen the delivery of two vintages with volume – 2022 & 2023. To the largest extent, neither of those two vintages are on the market yet but the January – sometimes December – ‘en primeur’ offers (of UK merchants) for the 2022s will be winging their way to your inboxes very soon.

2021 pricing jumped (again!) due to frost and a very low volume. 2022 has returned to a normal volume. So 2022 can be cheaper? Nope!

Whilst some domaines have indicated to me that they will not increase their 2022 prices – or may even reduce them a little – the vast majority of François Labet’s ‘70%’ will be based on the bulk pricing of wine: 2021 was a small volume vintage that followed 2 other small volume vintages (2019 & 2020) so the bulk wine of 2022 came onto the bulk market in the context of almost no stock – so increased in price again as people fought to have something to sell. But there is pushback:

  • Look at the new strategy of Artemis – owners of Château Latour and now Clos de Tart, Eugenie and Bouchard Père et fils; 80% of Bouchard’s production was a handful of, non-domaine, regional cuvées. In 2023 they refocus only on domaine wines – so the equivalent of millions of bottles of ‘Bourgogne’ have been released back into the bulk market – ie there is less bulk demand at the same time that there is more available wine.
  • Other large Beaune ‘maisons’ tell me that they have significantly cut their 2023 purchases on the bulk market, citing that they won’t be able to sell those wines at a profit.
  • Even exporters from the region are telling me that they are very pessimistic for the 2022 campaign to come ‘At village and regional level I haven’t been able to sell wine for 6 months but at the same time, some of our producers are preparing price increases for 2022!
  • One step closer to the consumer a UK importer told me that a well-known producer in the Côte de Beaune made a cuvée of Pouilly-Fuissé for them. In 2021 the price went up 25% – and the merchant understood and accepted – you can’t escape the frost and hail! When they came to talk about 2022 the producer was asking for an additional 30% – so the importer simply walked away.

Did I say that there was no stock? I should have been more precise – low stock in Burgundy.

Despite such a low volume vintage, you can still find plenty of 2021 on store shelves and from merchants in your region. This is an issue with the route to market for wine; the producers may successfully sell all their 2022 wine to agents/intermediaries and cavistes and assume that all is well – but if those wines don’t sell to the end-customers, those same agents/intermediaries and cavistes won’t be nearly so ready to buy any 2023s – so the producers have some period of insulation from the true market.

Here I can make parallels with Bordeaux: When I first moved to Switzerland in 2000, the wineshops were full of the 1997s – a modest yet more expensive vintage than the better received 1996s. The Bordelaise twisted the arms of their customers with the threat that there would be no allocations of the vintage with the magic number ie ‘2000’ if they didn’t also buy plenty of 1997. It was 5-6 years that those wines clogged up the Swiss supply chain – unloved and unsold – before we suddenly saw 50% discounts to move the seemingly unending stocks. Bordeaux soon became the watchword for expensive wine and lost much custom because if it – it was a reputation earned.

Reputations ‘Earned’
Today, the majority of Bordeaux is not that expensive – at least compared with the current pricing expectations of the Burgundians – but 20 years later, their reputation as ‘expensive’ endures – it was a reputation earned. You can also look at what bad Beaujolais Nouveau did to the market for Beaujolais’ best wines – another reputation earned. Is it too late for Burgundy to shake off the reputation for expensive? – have they earned that reputation? If they have, it will also hang around their necks for a generation…

Burgundy Wines – key figures 2023

By billn on November 13, 2023 #the market

2023 Burgundy Wine key figures

I’m not sure if I shared these with you (memory post-60 ;-)) anyway, I always find them fascinating – so just in case it slipped my mind:


2023 Volume!

By billn on November 11, 2023 #the market#vintage 2023

2023 Corton-Charlemagne
2023 Corton-Charlemagne

In Burgundy, 2023 production equalled the record reached in 2018, notably for white wine, while output was expected at a good level in Beaujolais despite some hail storms, it said.
Source: Reuters

Beaune’s Domaine Albert Morot changes hands…

By billn on October 14, 2023 #the market

Domaine Albert Morot

For as long as I can remember – certainly 15 years – whenever anyone asked me ‘who from Beaune makes the best Beaune wine?‘ my answer has been unchanging – Domaine des Croix and Domaine Albert Morot.

Of course these are two different styles of winemaking but they are honest and well made – one shows a bit more oak and the winemaking is a bit more traditional – but both offer a wide range of 1er crus and both have wines that sing after 10 years.

I’d heard the rumours from a friend before this year’s harvest but it was confirmed to me when I visited the domaine to taste their 2022s on Wednesday this week; I was greeted not just by Geoffroy Choppin de Janvry (right) – who I’ve known for about 20 years – but also Pierre-Jean Villa (left) of the Rhône – who you may remember from Decelle-Villa.

Pierre-Jean had quit his partnership with Decelle already a few years back but has returned with a bang as the face of the group that has bought Domaine Albert Morot. They promised me a press release for Thursday when the acquisition would become official – I’m still waiting for that but thought it timely to post this.

Geoffroy did the 2023 harvest but hasn’t been involved in the fermentation of these wines – but will remain at the domaine until the end of January.

Pierre-Jean explained “The plan is; you know it’s a domaine only with 1er cru wines, so we intend to have entry wines too – Bourgognes Rouge and Blanc. Apart from from a couple of wines – at least from 2022 – where we will, as was traditional here, bottle before Christmas – the rest of the wines will get longer elevage with bottling in the Springtime.

I believe that they are already planning updates to their marketing image/labels etcetera and we will see where this leads. I wish luck to all…

When I have their communiqué I will update these details

Things that have been announced but not yet finalised and things that have been finalised but not yet announced :)

By billn on July 18, 2023 #the market

It’s been about a week since the press release was set free into the wild but the Artémis Domaines and Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite have announced that they have entered into exclusive negotiations for the sale of Domaine William Fèvre from the former to the latter. A bit of a coup for the latter and I can’t help but feel a bit of a shame for the former. A shame? Well, it seems that they don’t value Chablis – one of the iconic wines of the world and they already have in their hands one of the greatest Chablis domaines – I’m sure DBRL will be very happy!

And things not yet announced? Well, the vineyard workers will always talk, won’t they?

It seems that my favourite domaine in Monthelie has a new owner – I suppose that the announcement is imminent but it seems that American couple – Mark Nunnelly and Denise Dupré – who, were also owners of Leclerc Briant in Champagne and more recently Domaine Belleville in Mercurey and the Château du Clos de la Commeraine are also the new owners of Domaine Monthelie Douhairet Porcheret.

I’m sure it’s not going to harm the quality of those excellent wines chez MDP – only the price that you might now be expected to pay for them 🙂

New owners of the Château d’Etroyes in Mercurey

By billn on April 26, 2023 #the market

News came out, yesterday, of the acquisition of the Château d’Etroyes by the Bollinger group of Champagne. As you will see, the actual Press Release (here) positions this more as an acquisition by Domaine Chanson of Beaune – who are, of course, Bollinger’s arm in the Côte d’Or.

Despite a production covering more than 50 hectares in the area of Mercurey & Rully, plus producing over 20 different cuvées – it’s a name that I confess to not having stumbled across – except for here – and I have one more!

I expect that this will change over the coming years, as this acquisition more than doubles the surface of vines of Domaine Chanson. I also expect that there are multiple synergies to be unravelled in the coming years.

A patchwork of history of the Château d’Etroyes
Whilst the château and some vineyard ownership dates from around 1720, the existing winery of d’Etroyes was founded in 1930 by François Protheau. Following the death of François in 1955, his son, Maurice, took over and expanded the family holdings – in the 1960s the domaine ran to ‘only’ 35 hectares – it was double that at its peak – though only 50 of those hectares were in the Côte Chalonnaise. After 50 years at the domaine, Maurice passed away in 2005, leaving the winery to his children Michelle, Martine & Philippe. The domaine and château had new owners in 2016 – the Helfrich family – who resold in 2018 before the chateau found its latest owners. There are some additional aspects to this transaction in that François Protheau had also a négociant operation with about 10 hectares of vines which produced Mercurey, Montagny and Rully – I’m unsure if this part of the business/vines is also part of the Chanson-Bollinger transaction, or whether they remain in the portfolio of the Côte d’Or’s François Martenot – i.e. the old Maison Béjot.

offer of the day – marc morey 2021

By billn on March 21, 2023 #the market

From my local, Swiss merchant. In the brackets, you will find the prices of the 2020s & 2019s from the previous two years and — indicates ‘not offered.’

Domaine Marc Morey 2021:
Saint-Aubin Charmois 1er Cru 2021 75cl 52.00 (49.00, 48.00)* (Swiss Francs)
Chassagne-Montrachet 2021 75cl 64.00 (59.00, 59.00)
Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot 1er Cru 2021 75cl 79.00 (78.00, 72.00)
Chassagne-Montrachet Les Vergers 1er Cru 2021 75cl 79.00 (78.00, 74.00)
Chassagne-Montrachet En Virondot 1er Cru 2021 37.5cl — (46.00, 47.00)
Chassagne-Montrachet En Virondot 1er Cru 2021 75cl 94.00 (88.00, 88.00)
Chassagne-Montrachet En Virondot 1er Cru 2021 150cl — (181.00, —)
Chassagne-Montrachet Caillerets 1er Cru 2021 75cl 99.00 (94.00, 92.00)
Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 2021 75cl 158.00 (139.00, —)

*Prices delivered, but without the 7.7% Swiss purchase tax…

Offer of the day – Domaine de la Comtesse de Chérisey

By billn on March 14, 2023 #the market

One of my favourite white wine domaines of the last couple of years – but a harder one to pin down as they no-longer show their wines before bottling and also commercialise the wines with some delay – hence, here we have a mix of 2018s plus an occasional 2017.

The prices are in Swiss francs* including the Swiss 7.7% purchase tax – delivery is extra:

Offer – Domaine de la Comtesse de Chérisey

2018 Meursault La Genelotte Monopole 1er Cru 75cl 122.00*
2018 Meursault La Genelotte Monopole 1er Cru 150cl 254.00
2017 Meursault La Genelotte Monopole 1er Cru 150cl 223.00

2018 Puligny-Montrachet, Les Chalumeaux 1er Cru 75cl 122.00

2018 Puligny-Montrachet, Hameau de Blagny 1er Cru 75cl 122.00
2018 Puligny-Montrachet, Hameau de Blagny 1er Cru 150cl 254.00

2017 Blagny La Genelotte Monopole 1er Cru (Rouge) 150cl 223.00

100-150 Swiss Francs (it’s about the same in Euro) does seem to be about the going rate for very good white 1ers from Chassagne to Meursault. I’m old enough(!) to remember when they were under €40 and were drunk with much more regularity. The red is very expensive for a Blagny – even a 1er cru – but given such low yields in this vintage, it clearly remains more of a cost-centre than a profit-centre!

offer of the day – comte georges de vogüé 2021

By billn on March 12, 2023 #the market

Or, at least in part 2021 – there are only 2 wines offered – and whilst the price of the Musigny may have softened, the villages has always been an expensive thing – I last bought the 2012 and that was €100 a bottle. These wines were offered by my usual Swiss merchant.

The first price is for 2021, the subsequent prices in brackets are of the formula (2019, 2018, 2017) and — means ‘not offered.’ I’ve not seen any prices for 2020.


2021 Chambolle-Musigny 75cl 225.00 (—, —, 149.00) *Swiss francs
2021 Bonnes-Mares 75cl — (625.00, —, 489.00
2021 Bonnes-Mares 150cl — (—, —, 998.00)
2021 Musigny Vieilles Vignes 75cl 898.00 (998.00, 898.00, 699.00)
2021 Musigny Vieilles Vignes 150cl — (—, —, 1,418.00)

*7.7% Swiss purchase tax to be added, but these are delivered prices.

Burgundy Report

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