The Market

the jayer millions…

By billn on June 18, 2018 #the market

In full flow…

My pre-sale post.

Henri Jayer, 12 years after his death, remains an iconic winemaker.

It seems a shame then that his life was reduced to mere money yesterday, though it was quite a final payoff for the family, a number of whom were hidden in the Geneva hotel where the sale of (what is said to be) his last bottles took place: 855 bottles and 209 magnums delivering a sales result of 34.5 million swiss francs* (US$ 34.6 million) – the family had anyway drunk most of his remaining Richebourg!
Includes commission.

A place not with the easiest of access, but the hotel was beautifully situated with views over the vines of Canton Genf (Geneva). “The sales room doors will close at 2pm for the auction” said PR Emily Drouhin – seemingly that was more in hope than expectation – at 14h05 the sales room was still only half full, though one thing was clear, the target audience for this sale, or at least the appearance of those that have taken their seats, was predominantly the Orient – maybe 80% so.

As the clock ticked to 14h10, there seemed as many people with bidding paddles keeping cool in the foyer, as had taken their allotted seats – magnums of Vincent Girardin 2012 Corton-Charlemagne helping to soothe their heated palates. I noted one Gil Lempert-Schwarz in the audience, it seems he’s bidding – that’s okay then – I wouldn’t touch anything that he’s selling with a barge-pole!

Eventually, maybe 15 minutes later than scheduled, we get underway with three bottles of 1988 Nuits St.Georges – they sell for 20k** (swiss francs), then a single bottle for 10k, then a dozen 1991s start slowly, they hover around 60k for a long time, before the hammer falls at 75k – modest after the first lots – maybe everyone just wanted to be first! No. 3 bottles of 1996 go for 22k and we are off again.

Can this go on? It’s 1997 Nuits next, a modest vintage for drinking now, but what do I know? 42k! Okay, that was for 6 bottles and it’s only double the high estimate in the catalogue! They went to a bidder in France – Thibaut Marion of Maison Segiun-Manuel fielding one of the phones on behalf of a French entrepreneur – but then a single bottle exits the door for 10k!
**These are all hammer prices, without the auctioneer’s commission of 20% – yes 20%! Plus the wines are stored in bond in Switzerland, so if I bought something I would also have to pay the Swiss tax of 7.7% – other country’s purchase tax varies, but wines returning to France will be charged almost another 20% VAT!

Now it’s time for the first of the premier crus – a single bottle of Nuits Meurgers, a 1976 – 29k. Bids are often in inconsistent increments – 9k, 10k, 11k, 15k – there’s no reason sometimes. The next 3 bottles were knocked down for only 27k – but then people wake up for a magnum of 78 Meurgers – 40k sold to someone in the room. Enthusiasm is easy to spot; “Lot 23 a single bottle of 1986 Nuits Meurgers. Where shall I start – 3,000?” says the auctioneer – “10,000” shouts someone in the room!

An auction is a long process, this auction anyway, with long pauses as bidders are pit against one another. After 3 hours I’ve had enough – and it’s not yet halfway through – but the auctioneer’s same jokes eventually start to grate. The Orient may have had the most representation at the start of the sale, but over two hours in, and not yet at lot number 70, there’s a slow trickle of western faces, clutching large cigars, back-slapping and taking selfies – the audience seems to be evolving – or maybe the vultures are just beginning to circle…

The crux of the matter, of-course, comes later in the sale and three lots will dominate the publicity, but before that was possibly the largest transaction, and it slips through almost unnoticed: Lot 44, 12 bottles of 1995 Vosne-Romanée with a hammer price of 200k, but lots 45-49 are of the same make-up – does the buyer want all six lots? It seems not, as at first as the auctioneer readies himself to move-on to lot 45 – but yes, the buyer will take them all – so 6x 200k – without commission or future taxation – 1.2 million swiss francs, making it the most expensive ‘yes’ of the day!

But the headliners are:

  • Lot 135, 6 magnums Vosne-Romanée 1er Cros-­Parantoux 1999 – 528k*
  • Lot 160, A vertical of 15 magnums Vosne­-Romanée 1er Cros­-Parantoux, 1978-2001 – 1,164k*
  • Lot 212, 1 bottle Richebourg 1986 – 50.4k*

My alternative headliners would be one of his brass wine faucets for 3k, an empty barrel for 6.5k and one of his (still very dirty) wine pipettes for 5.5k. The first and the last I could (almost!) understand – but an empty barrel, devoid of personalisation?

Rest in peace, Henri…

predatory wine retailing?

By billn on June 04, 2018 #the market

It’s a question of ethics, I suppose. And I don’t know all the details – so maybe some of the ethics are fine – but it’s still a tale that leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.

A retailer in the UK is offering, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, cheap Domaine Leflaive under another label – and of-course they can’t actually say Leflaive, but, wink-wink, it’s Leflaive. That’s how their sales-pitch goes. But why would anyone offer relabelled Leflaive for cheap? Well, for a start there are endless reports on the internet of oxidised wine coming from that domaine since the start of the 2000s, and the tacit acceptance of that by the domaine, by recently changing to DIAM seals in order to combat that.

Of-course, if the retailer is standing behind every bottle, and replacing them if faulty – for instance oxidised – then, to my mind, there is at least the basis for a transaction. But even if that is the case, what about bottles found to be oxidised in another 2 years, or 5, or…

Then of-course we have reason to question the ethics of the producer – assuming that the domaine actually knows what the merchant is doing – and, of-course, why they are doing it! The why is important, because historically, wine with a provenance of being sourced direct from a domaine usually has a premium – not comes (wink-wink) at half price – for that reason I think it may not be the domaine at work. I have seen some suggestion that wine may be from a family member, not actually the domaine itself – then we would have to assume the corks still show the original producer’s name – unlike the labels – if not, why the need to change the corks?

It’s a can of worms, no mistake. I’ll leave you to make up your own minds:

Dear XXX
I am very pleased to let you know I have access to parcels of one of the most exciting opportunities we’ve ever seen come out of Burgundy. Grand & 1er Cru whites, made by one of the region’s great domaines, kept in their cellars for years and re-labelled as Joseph Paget earlier this year. We’re not allowed to say who they’re from, but only one producer makes all of these and in terms of White Burgundy, it doesn’t get any better.
The demand among Burgundy collectors across the globe who recognised what this parcel represents was rapid and meant that 75% of the stocks have sold. I am therefore delighted to present what is left; a handful of cases from the Grand Crus of Chevalier, Batard and Bienvenues Batard Montrachet and 1er Crus from Pucelles and (here’s a big potential clue to the origin) Puligny Montrachet Les Clavoillons.
As this parcel is, to our knowledge, a complete one-off once these remaining cases are sold there will never be more. This is all there is and all there ever will be so if you’d like some, now is the time. I am delighted to offer:
[No need to give you the (low) prices – Bill]
Offered subject to final confirmation.
Many thanks,
Kind regards,
XXX | Private Client Account Manager

[Edit: The wines had been recorked and are now ‘generic.’ The domaine were pretty unhappy when they heard about this. They want to underline that it has absolutely nothing to do with them and that they are pretty unhappy with this type of ‘publicity!’]

offer of the day – Christophe Perrot-Minot 2016…

By billn on May 20, 2018 #the market

Relatively – the offers are coming in, thick and fast – that’s two this week! 🙂 Some more 2016s for you:

Morey Saint-Denis La Rue de Vergy 2016 75cl 94.50 (*Swiss Francs)
Gevrey-Chambertin 2016 75cl 94.50
Nuits St-Georges 1er ‘Les Murgers des Cras’ 2016 75cl 100.80
Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles Vignes 2016 75cl 109.80
Vosne-Romanée Vieilles Vignes 2016 75cl 109.80
Vosne-Romanée Les Champs Perdrix Vieilles Vignes 2016 75cl 128.70
Morey Saint-Denis 1er Cru La Riotte Vieilles Vignes 2016 75 cl 163.80
Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts Vieilles Vignes 2016 75cl 193.50
Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru La Richemone “Ultra” Vieilles Vignes 2016 75cl 385.00
Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes 2016 75CL 420.00
Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes 2016 75CL 420.00
Mazoyères-Chambertin Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes 2016 75CL 420.00
Chambertin Clos-de-Bèze Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes 2016 75cl 840.00
Chambertin Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes 2016 75cl 840.00

Now I never said that they were going to be cheap!

*These are delivered prices, but this email offer is discounted – whatever is sold from their catalogue is at a higher price!

offer of the day – Bouchard Père et Fils 2016…

By billn on May 16, 2018 #the market

It’s been a while since I had a BP&F offer – the 2012s – in fact I bought some magnums of the baby Jesus that year. Anyway, some 2016s for you:

Meursault Genevrières 2016 75cl 74.00 (*Swiss Francs)
Meursault Les Perrières 2016 75cl 79.00
Corton-Charlemagne 2016 75cl 149.00
Chevalier-Montrachet 2016 75cl 269.00
Montrachet 2016 75cl 528.00

Volnay Caillerets Ancienne cuvée Carnot 2016 75 cl 68.00
Beaune Grèves Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus 2016 75cl 88.00
Chambertin 2016 75cl 248.00

*As usual, these prices lack 8% Swiss purchase tax, but are otherwise delivered prices.

drc corton-charlemagne… ‘what has gone so wrong, so fast?’

By billn on May 16, 2018 #the market

The quality of the vineyard work and resulting wines of the new team of DRC are assured, as are the open arms of DRC customers wishing to buy these wines, so, initially, I only have a couple of thoughts on this news:

  1. Price. Well, it didn’t take people long did it? In the first minute that the news was posted on the interweb, all the talk was about how the price of Corton-Charlemagne was going to massively increase. But why? There are over 70 hectares of Corton-Charlemagne – 3 hectares is peanuts. The same was said about Corton after the DRC + Florent de Merode agreement, and it never happened. Of-course the DRC Corton is expensive (even from first tier DRC distributors) but a) it remains cheap versus Leroy’s Corton, and b) the wider market pricing for Corton is, seemingly, unaffected since the first DRC wine in 2009. So I don’t see it happening. Of-course Corton-Charlemagne is more sought-after than its red brother and DRC’s Corton-Charlemagne will certainly be expensive, 3-4 times more expensive than Bonneau de Martray were asking, but I’m not expecting the wider market to be significantly affected.
  2. Why? My main thought is ‘What has gone so wrong, so fast?‘ Why can’t (new) Bonneau du Martray sell their own wine? Is this a marketing strategy that just hasn’t worked out – or quite the reverse – the pragmatic result of their review of strategic options? They historically held a lot of wine back, so are, anyway, not used to (attempting) full commercialisation of each vintage – but given a lot of oxidation problems, the stock that they hold has to have questionable value. Of-course this announcement is intriguing but, honestly, it’s a bit of a stain on the history of Bonneau du Martray. That renting out their vines to DRC is financially more attractive, is hardly surprising news, but to actually choose to follow such a business strategy is shocking…

offer of the day – clos de tart

By billn on April 30, 2018 #the market

I never did see an offer for the 2015, but the 2016 is in today:

Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2016 75cl 448.00* Swiss francs
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2016 150cl 926.00
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2016 300cl 2,042.00

And for your reference – the previous offer from the same retailer in 2017:

La Forge de Tart 1er Cru 2007 75cl 148.00
La Forge de Tart 1er Cru 2008 75cl 119.00
La Forge de Tart 1er Cru 2011 75cl 135.00
La Forge de Tart 1er Cru 2014 75cl 169.00

Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2006 75cl 299.50
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2011 75cl 279.00
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2013 75cl 324.00
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2013 150cl 678.00
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2014 75cl 324.00
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2014 150cl 678.00
*Prices are ‘delivered’ but subject to 8% Swiss purchase tax.

Practically plus 50% in 2 vintages! That said, they will probably need more than that if the estate was really sold for (about) 300 million!

henri jayer – the last hurrah?

By billn on April 16, 2018 #events#other sites#the market

Auction catalogue screenshot 12 April 2018

On June 17 2018, there will be an auction of burgundy wines that has very little (recent) equal. It will take place in Geneva under the auspices of Baghera Wines.

Whilst incredulous of a number of lots in this auction house’s first couple of auctions – how could they possibly be legitimate? – the catalogues were certainly sumptuous, fabulous things – keepsakes. The auction in June has, however, a provenance that seems irrefutable:

“855 bottles and 209 magnums! That’s how many bottles there were in Domaine Henri Jayer’s cellar. A handful of people knew of the treasures that were lying dormant at the Domaine, even though many bottles had been opened and shared these past few years. The anecdote about one last Richebourg 1959 opened by the family last Christmas shows how much Henri Jayer’s descendants enjoy tasting their father and grandfather’s wine.”
Baghera Wines

Whilst I like Burgundy Report to be inclusive, indeed egalitarian, sometimes you cannot escape from the rarest of the rare – and today that’s unquestionably Henri Jayer. Domaines Romanée-Conti and Leroy command similar prices, but their supplies are replenished with a new vintage each year – but for the wines of Henri Jayer that’s not the case – and it’s no joke that more wines bearing his label have already been drunk, than he ever produced – and yet ever-more come to the market.

Henri, born in 1922, died in 2006. I never met him, though I have (allegedly) had his wine in my glass twice – once it was an awful, bretty abomination and probably not genuine, the other time it hinted at the sublime and was maybe genuine – both were villages wines of the 1980s, drunk in the early 2000s.

Jayer was the vigneron(ne)s’ vigneron, working his vines for upwards of 60 years and his influence on the region is as strong as that from today’s benchmarks like the aforementioned Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Domaine Leroy – but he took a different path – decrying the use of whole clusters, choosing to destem all his grapes. Even when faced with great wines made with their stems, he remained resolute in his conviction. His wines remain highly sought-after, the problem is that his labels are also the most falsified and fabricated that you could imagine.

History is sometimes told with rose-tinted spectacles; it is said that Jayer was one of the first to reject fertilisers and reduce yields, but he began cultivation in the war years – there were no chemicals available so yields were inevitably low, though it’s true that, later, he never resorted to chemistry even when could – he used only his hands and his horse for his hard labour. And much hard labour was indeed required for his most famous of crus – Vosne-Romanée 1er Cros Parentoux – so small at 1.01 hectares that it is completely ignored in René Engel’s book Vosne-Romanée despite its position on the border of Richebourg and Petits Monts. When Jayer began his work, the whole of this unplanted plot was owned by Madame Noirot-Camuzet. Rented by Jayer, planting, dynamiting and even growing vegetables in the plot, he became not just the largest owner, after the family sold him 0.72 hectares in 1957, he continued to farm the vines retained by the Camuzet family. So Cros Parentoux, for so long bottled only as a villages wine, became for a time his monopole – though it was only in in 1978, that Jayer marketed Cros Parentoux for the first time under his own label.

In 1995, having officially retired, Jayer passed the management of 0.43 hectares of Cros to his nephew, Emmanuel Rouget, but he retained the balance of these vines as he ‘hobby vinified’ until the end of 2001 – from 2002 all of his vines were entrusted to Rouget.

The ‘Cros’ is by a long way the most populous wine in this sale and whilst, at first, it’s amazing that so many bottles remained at the domaine, given my recent experience of moving 800 bottles of my own wine, such a number can fit in a relatively small space, indeed could almost be lost in a, once, functioning cuverie. Once more the catalogue is a wonderful thing and full of detail – where else will you learn and see pictures of Jayer with his trusty horse Pilote and read the commentaries of Aubert de Villaine and Emmanuel Rouget?

We might not be able to afford such bottles, but we can always learn from them

[EDIT]: Here’s the PressRelease-Bagherawines-ENG-20180417

beaujolais exports grow

By billn on March 27, 2018 #the market

For the second year in a row, exports of Beaujolais have grown.

Figures compiled by Business France from French customs data show an increase of 5.7% in volume and 7.8% in value for the year 2017 versus the same in 2016. 40% of the production of Beaujolais is now exported.

Europe accounts for 35% of all exports by volume and 29% by value, growing in 2017 by 11% in volume and 14% in value versus 2016.

The five largest export markets today are, in order: the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom followed by Canada then China + Hong Kong (together) – this is the first year that China/Hong Kong have entered the top 5, having overtaken Belgium to do so. Of these markets, only Japan showed a reduction in sales – but it was an important 7% reduction in the second largest market outside of France, it is because of this reduction that the United States now have pole position.

a new record for the hospices de nuits

By billn on March 12, 2018 #the market

The auction of the Hospices de Nuits:

To quote Le Bien Public – or at least to translate them:

“The sale is over! The record set last year with 1.157 million euros was pulverised. The new record stands at 1.750M €. This record was expected since the number of barrels was much higher than in 2017 (143 vs 90.5)”

It’s worth noting that if the average price per barrel had been the same as last year, then the total would have been higher – €1.83 million. But it’s still a very good result for the charity!

Burgundy Report

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