The Market

Fire! Fire! Fire! (prices…)

By billn on October 23, 2021 #the market#travels in burgundy 2021

Autumn fire in Maranges - the colour of Autumn
Fire in Maranges – the colour of Autumn, yesterday…

It was inevitable, I suppose, but the bare facts are:
2017 – a good volume of wine in both colours
2018 – another good volume – even more-so the whites
2019 – short in whites and less than average for reds too
2020 – okay for whites but short for reds again
2021 – a catastrophe in white and very short (on average) in reds too

I remember the first time I saw prices of €10k for barrels of Corton-Charlemagne and was shocked – well you can think more in the region of at least €40k today.

But the fanning of the fires in the 1er crus of Meursault and Puligny are to be expected – the 2021 yields often 10-25% of a normal year here – currently at least 30% higher bulk prices are being asked and people are still very much testing the elasticity of those prices. I think they will increase by a lot more when you take the example of Bourgogne (red!) Côte d’Or into consideration; last year it was under €1k for the barrel, this year because 2021 will be significantly short (though not as dramatically as in the whites!) the prices quickly hit €1.5k and now people are offering €2.2K – about €7.60 just for the juice without accounting for time, labour, bottles, labels, corks and capsules, wax if you must, distribution costs and local margins and so on. That’s how short the bulk market looks right now and there’s no rule to say it can’t go higher.

Obviously, the people making Bourgogne Côte d’Or with merchanted grapes/wine don’t have a cat in hell’s chance of (more than) doubling the price of their bottles – so some fingers may get burnt – I do remember one vintage where a major seller was losing money on every single bottle of Petit Chablis that they sold. Likewise, it’s unlikely that the (majority of) white 1er crus will be able to sustain 30-50% prices increases at their end customers – but this elasticity has yet to be fully tested. I do think that the price-elasticity of the grand crus will take this in their stride – certainly for the better-known producers.

We will be watching!

Burgundy 2021 – the facts and figures…

By billn on October 08, 2021 #the market

key facts and figures Burgundy 2021I’ve had this for a couple of months, so it’s remiss of me not to have already posted it.

So here (the image, right, is also linked) are the key facts and figures of slightly greater Burgundy as released by the BIVB in July of this year.

I say slightly greater because there’s no Beaujolais included, which I consider being a key part Greater Burgundy – I hope you enjoy as much as I do – I’m always fascinated by such details and comparisons!

offer of the day – Jacques Prieur 2019

By billn on October 01, 2021 #the market

From my local Swiss merchant. The first price is for 2019, then in the brackets, from previous years for comparison, the second and third prices are for 2018 and 2017, — means ‘not offered…’

Vins blancs
Bourgogne Chardonnay 75cl 28.00 (—, —) *Swiss Francs
Meursault-Santenots 1er Cru 75cl 74.00 (—, —)
PULIGNY-MONTRACHET Les Combettes 1er Cru 75cl 89.00, (89.00, 89.00)
MEURSAULT Perrières 1er Cru 75cl 155.00, (149.00, 149.00)
CORTON CHARLEMAGNE 75cl 215.00, (229.00, —)
CHEVALIER-MONTRACHET 75cl 415.00, (—, —)

Vins rouges
BEAUNE Grèves 1er Cru 75cl 59.00, (59.00, —)
VOLNAY Santenots 1er Cru 75cl 79.00 (—, —)
VOLNAY Clos des Santenots 1er Cru 75cl 119.00, (118.00, 109.00)
CORTON Bressandes 75cl 139.00, (129.00, 125.00)
CLOS DE VOUGEOT 75cl 145.00, (135.00, 129.00)
CHAMBERTIN 75cl 399.00, (389.00, 389.00)
ECHEZEAUX 75cl 415.00, (399.00, 399.00)
MUSIGNY 75cl 598.00, (598.00, 598.00)

As always, these are delivered prices, but excluding the Swiss purchase tax of 7.7%. Generally, upwards and upwards – and that’s before the lack of 2020 and 2021s begin to exert their price effects…

The Hospices de Beaune together with Sotheby’s

By billn on September 24, 2021 #the market#vintage 2021

Hospivces de Beaune & Sothebys 2021On Tuesday I took 90 minutes out of my harvesting duties to check in on the joint press conference of the Hospices de Beaune and Sotheby’s.

You may recall that last year the 160th wine auction of the Hospices was cancelled at the very last moment. Those running the show has said for days that there was no concern about cancellation but there it was. The sale took place in even more restricted circumstances, later in December, the 13th. I privately heard that Christie’s were pretty unhappy about the whole thing as they had offered to guarantee that the whole thing took place with no issues but online. Perhaps it was a change in the dynamic of the relationship between Christie’s and the management of the Hospices because just 4 months later came the announcement of the tie-up with Sotheby’s. This is a 5-year contract.

That’s enough speculation from me, now for some of the interesting notes from this week’s press event:

Today, the 21st September 2021 is the ‘Auction Day minus 60!

For the 161st auction of the wines of the Hospices de Beaune, Sotheby’s have a new five-year contract following Hospices change from partnering with Christie’s.

Sotheby’s had $98 million in wine sales in 2020 and their first half of 2021 is trending higher – in the direction of 120 million for the year. This is also the year that Sotheby’s begin with french wine sales ie sales in France itself – they previously sold only in New York, London, Hong Kong and occasionally in Geneva – this press event is seemingly the announcement for that strategic move. A much more interesting statistic was that in 2014, Burgundy accounted for 26% of Sotheby’s wine sales – in 2020 this had increased to 50% by value!

And a few notes from Ludivine about the vintage 2021:

The frost wasn’t the first real ‘act’ of the weather in 2021 – that was the heat at the end of March which brought 26-28°C in the vines. This was the cause of the early growth of the vines which exacerbated the effect of the frost at the start of April. This stopped any development of the vegetation for nearly 6 weeks. By the 19-20th of May we could properly see what buds had resisted the frost. The vintage condition waxed and waned between what was best for rot or what was best for oïdium! Fortunately, the flowering came in warm and dry conditions, almost too warm! Pouilly-Fuissé and Volnay-Santenots have been the first picked vineyards on the 17th… I’m destemming 100% – the skins can be fragile and oxidise fast so I’m using plenty of CO2 to protect the unfermented grapes and must. When to start the harvest is usually a compromise between, maturity, cleanliness and the weather – for a number of years these have been comfortable to very comfortable indicators – this year its clearly about the compromises! We are back to our roots!

offer of the day – marc morey 2019

By billn on August 06, 2021 #the market

As always, from my local, Swiss merchant. I don’t find any older prices for comparison.

This is a very good, seemingly often overlooked, producer. I always love the Virondot – and you can’t buy it anywhere else! 🙂

Domaine Marc Morey 2019

Saint-Aubin Charmois 1er Cru 2019 75cl 48.00* (Swiss Francs)
Chassagne-Montrachet 2019 75cl 59.00
Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot 1er Cru 2019 75cl 72.00
Chassagne-Montrachet Les Vergers 1er Cru 2019 75cl 74.00
Chassagne-Montrachet En Virondot 1er Cru 2019 37.5cl 47.00
Chassagne-Montrachet En Virondot 1er Cru 2019 75cl 88.00
Chassagne-Montrachet Caillerets 1er Cru 2019 75cl 92.00

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

Well, it was too quiet today!

By billn on July 28, 2021 #the market#vines for sale

Let me know if you’re shocked at such unsubstantiated drivel in these pages or whether you’d like to see much more 🙂

I’ve been storing up the rumours and other ‘non-announced’ changes for some time, so why not let’s run through a few of them – I can only get in trouble for suggesting such heresies!

The highest category of unconfirmed rumour:
La Grande Rue & La Tâche(Right: La Grande Rue and La Tâche.) I recently visited Domaine Lamarche in Vosne – and what a beautiful range of 2020s Nicole Lamarche has produced!

Only afterwards, discussing my visits with others, was I exposed to the rumours of an imminent €800 million payment by LVMH for the domaine – this seemed to be corroborated by a second source who, according to them, noted that LVMH is currently interviewing for senior winemaking position for the Côte d’Or – assuming they are not looking for the 3rd head of Lambrays in 3 years and that Domaine Eugenié is remaining stable in its 15th year!

But from sources much closer (geographically) to Vosne-Romanée, it seems that maybe the domaine will actually be splitting without the intervention of LVMH’s financial largesse. La Grande Rue to Nicole Lamarche and all the remaining vineyards to Nathalie Lamarche – note that the domaine has labelled all the wines as Nicole Lamarche since 2018. Nathalie doesn’t have an ‘agricultural structure‘ so those who suggest that they are in the know are placing those remaining vines/appellations with Louis-Michel Liger-Belair in a fermage deal – let’s see – but it would be very good timing for his shiny new cuverie!

There remains the subject of the reported €800 million LVMH acquisition – if such a thing exists – which others suggest it still does – but they are now pointing their fingers in the direction of a famously under-performing domaine in Gevrey-Chambertin. Of course, if such sums of cash are to be believed, then it would have to be Gevrey’s biggest owner of grand crus – no?

And the following are not really rumours – there are simply no press-releases.

1. Domaine Bernard Moreau
For me, a doyenne of Chassagne. This domaine has been run for a number of years by the brothers Alex and Benoit Moreau. The split between the two, apparently, has been coming for a long time but with Benoit well underway building his new winery, possibly ready for the upcoming harvest, I’m awaiting some kind of confirmation on the way forward…

2. Domaines Duc de Magenta & Vougeraie
The Duc de Magenta’s choice slice of Chassagne, their 4.57 hectare 1er Cru Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle (Monopole), has been leased to Domaine de la Vougeraie from this 2021 vintage. The Magenta estate was 12 hectares, I’ve not heard that any other parts are on the move. It will be virtually the only wine in Vougeraie’s line-up that’s not certified organic – but they are already underway to start this (3-year) certification process.

offer of the day – louis jadot 2019

By billn on July 13, 2021 #the market

DOMAINE LOUIS JADOT 2019

As always, from my local, Swiss merchant. Maybe I missed it earlier this year but the offer seems later than usual. The 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 offer prices in the brackets to compare, and — means not offered)

LES REDS
Beaune Clos des Ursules Monopole 1er Cru 2019 75cl 59.00* (64.00, 59.00, 59.00, 55.00) (Swiss Francs)
Beaune Clos des Ursules Monopole 1er Cru 2019 150cl 123.00 (133.00, 123.00)

Corton Grèves Grand Cru 2019 75cl 85.00 (85.00, 79.50, 79.50, 79.00)
Corton Grèves Grand Cru 2019 150cl 175.00 (175.00, 164.00)
Corton Pougets Grand Cru 2019 75cl 85.00 (85.00, 79.50, 79.50, 79.00)
Corton Pougets Grand Cru 2019 150cl 175.00 (175.00, 164.00)

Chambolle-Musigny Fuées 1er Cru 2019 75cl 89.00 (89.00, 85.00)
Chambolle-Musigny Baudes 1er Cru 2019 75cl 89.00 (89.00, 85.00)

Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques 1er Cru 2019 75cl 149.00 (155.00, 149.00, 145.00, 138.00)

Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2019 75cl — (149.00, 139.00, 138.00, 128.00)
Echézeaux Grand Cru 2019 75cl — (209.00, 159.00)

Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru 2019 75cl 209.00 (209.00, —, 188.00, 169.00)
Clos Saint Denis Grand Cru 2019 75cl 288.00 (288.00, —, 269.00, 259.00)
Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2019 75cl 328.00 (328.00, —)
Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2019 75cl 349.00 (349.00, 339.00)
Musigny Grand Cru 2019 75cl 798.00 (798.00, 795.00)

LES BLANCS
Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 1er Cru 2019 75cl 85.00 (89.00, 89.00, 89.00, 88.00)
Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2019 75cl 165.00 (158.00, 148.00, 139.50, 119.00)
Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2019 75cl 318.00 (298.00, 285.00)
Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles Grand Cru 2019 75cl 389.00 (376.00, 348.00)
Montrachet Grand Cru 2019 75cl 559.00 (549.00, —, 499.00, 428.00)

*Prices delivered, but without the 7.7% Swiss purchase tax…
Almost a softening here, certainly some restraint!

offer of the day – thibault liger-belair’s 2019s

By billn on July 08, 2021 #the market

Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair 2019 EP/Pre-Arrivals

Prices arrived today from my Swiss merchant. When offered, the prices of the 2018, 2017, 2016 & 2015s (from the same time, previous years) are in brackets for comparison. Still no Beaujolais:

NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES 75 cl La Charmotte 75cl 55.00* (55.00, 52.00, 55.00, 49.50) (Swiss Francs)
NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES Les Belles Croix 75cl 55.00
NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES 1er Les Saint-Georges 75cl 135.00 (125.00, 119.00, 118.00, 109.00)
NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES 1er Les Saint-Georges 150cl 285.00 (260.00, 248.00, 256.00, – )
CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY Aux Beaux Bruns 75cl 75.00
CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY Fouchères 75cl 75.00
VOSNE-ROMANEE Aux Réas 75cl 75.00 (75.00, 69.50, 76.00, 69.50)

CORTON CLOS DU ROI 75cl 159.00 (159.00, 159.00, 159.00, – )
CLOS DE VOUGEOT 75cl 165.00 (165.00, 159.00, 169.50, 158.00)
CHARMES-CHAMBERTIN 75cl 175.00 (175.00, 169.00, – , – )
RICHEBOURG 75cl 445.00 (425.00, 398.00, – , 395.00)
CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE 75cl not offered (189.00, 189.00, 198.00, – )

*As always, these wines are without the 7.7% Swiss purchase tax, but include the cost of delivery…
So, a mixed bag – despite a backdrop of lower yields in 2019 versus 2018 – most of the lower wines remain with consistent pricing. Those more iconic wines of the domaine – it’s no problem to add a little more, eh?

The changing ownership landscape of the Côte d’Or

By billn on June 29, 2021 #the market#warning - opinion!

The waxing and waning of vineyard ownership – or rather the relative size of ownership – has always been the subject of external forces; times of higher demand, times of lower demand, times of disease or simply times of consistently poor weather. Burgundy has never been a stranger to those things…

Outwardly, and from this perspective, things seem little different today to what has happened in previous generations but dig deeper and I’d say that the current situation is different.

My current musings on this were partly prompted by the recently announced sale of the Christian Confuron estate to the Evenstad family of Domaine Serene, to add to their ownership of Domaine de la Crée in Santenay. Actually, I’d been aware of both the sale and the (undisclosed but ballpark) price of €40 million – for under 7 hectares but with grand and 1er cru appellations – for a few weeks after visiting a domaine that had bought grapes from this Confuron estate but was seemingly going to lose their grape contract this year due to the sale – but, hopefully, they will manage to come to some short-term accommodation on that front.

On the positive side for this Confuron acquisition, we have a business that is focused on wine – whether that wine comes from Oregon or Burgundy – we can all appreciate the synergy and, of course, there are domaines in Burgundy that have estates in Oregon too – so all is fair! On the negative side – and negative purely from my gut feeling – is the ever-growing concentration of vineyard land in the hands of a) buyers from outside of Burgundy and b) groups and individuals who are not primarily in the wine business. Some buyers still count wine as an important part of a portfolio of assets whilst others buy due to their ‘interest’ in wine but the essential issue today is the significant geographic change of ownership of the vineyards of Burgundy. Outside of the pre-revolutionary times of the French monarchy/aristocracy and ownership by the church – Burgundian vineyards have never seen such dwindling local ownership.

New ownership still has an important French dimension and at the most exclusive end of the vineyard scale, many hectares are being rolled into the portfolios of some of France’s richest individuals. And do continue to watch this space, a certain domaine in an important Côte de Nuits village has tongues wagging of an imminent €800 million transaction – you heard it here first 😉

Less transparent still, are the organisations that are buying up estates and parcels here and there and paying off the incumbent producers. These organisations have no winemaking so ‘donate’ the vines to important domaines in both the red and white villages of the Côte d’Or, guaranteeing themselves or their ‘club members’ the majority or all of that production – it’s hard to imagine many illustrious names being used as ‘toll manufacturing’ facilities but this is the effective result and you need not feel sorry for the domaines – they are being well recompensed, though don’t expect them to show you the wines when you visit.

Whilst I have uncomfortable feelings about the loss of local ownership of Burgundian vineyards, the inward investment that this has generated and the relative clarity of ownership that we see, clearly has many benefits. The reduction of local ownership of the vines is something that I instinctively feel to be a sub-optimal direction for the region but I feel significantly less positive about the lack of clarity surrounding the growth of the 1er and grand cru ownership and then toll-manufacturing approach – and just occasionally I feel the need to beat out a few words on my keyboard about it!

[Edit:] Posted today (30-June):

Burgundy Report

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