With well-grounded speculation that 2010 could best even the lauded 2009 vintage, consumers are rightly concerned as to whether prices will again soar. If this should be the case, a great deal many will be priced out of the market altogether.
Having lavished 2009 with all the hyperbole they could muster, it’s perfectly plausible that consumers will begin to show fatigue and disinterest. 2009 came after a succession of generally less-collectable vintages and seemed all the glamorous for it. 2010 has no such advantage, beyond the sheer quality on offer.
Americans are expected to make something of a return this year, whilst the bustling Asian market is set to claim an ever-larger stake of the market. European markets are also recovering steadily. The result is that we might well expect a return of 2009 pricing, or even a strategic move upwards on price on the part of the estates.
Top wines from the top estates have little to fear when it comes to out pricing the market – this is, after all, the domain of the super rich and wily investors. The same is not true for the lower end of the Bordelais food chain:
"Substantial numbers of high frequency and high end consumers are still reducing their purchases of over US$30 wines," said Christian Miller, research director for US market analysts Wine Opinions. "This is especially true of classics such as Napa Valley Cabernet and Bordeaux. Yet, some consumers were returning to those categories."
Shaky ground, in other words, and those estates who pin their prices on the expectation of full market resurgence in the US will be putting themselves at risk.
China is less equivocal, however: Sales by value to China and Hong Kong doubled from 2007 to 2009, and then again from 2009 to 2010. The economy itself grew 10% over the past year, with forecasts abounding that it will outstrip the US in a matter of two decades.
Could it be that Western consumers will be steadily replaced by the new Asian market? "Three years ago, people spoke about China but it wasn’t real," says Guillaume d’Ally of Ch la Dauphine." China was 0% of our business in 2005, now it’s 20%; our third biggest export market."
But before we despair, let’s consider what the Chinese market represents. Generally speaking, the interest is directed at trophy wines, not the $400-00 a case tier (which is a marriage of excellent quality and affordability.)
How the estates will act is not at all clear, but at this point we can predict with some confidence that – below the heady realm of premier estates – there will be good value wines on sale. 2009 may have defied the recession, but it’s unlikely that consumer demand is such that medium-level wines can increase in price without risk to the producers.
And what could be better than picking up some good value cases of wine from what is (if we allow ourselves to put all the guesswork and cynicism aside) simply one of the best vintages of all time?
For more information, see the following: Bordeaux En Primeur 2010 Report | 2010 Bordeaux En Primeur Review | Quotes on En Primeur Bordeaux 2010 Vintage | 2010 Bordeaux En Primeur Quick Overview | Bordeaux 2010 En Primeur: Market Trends and Pricing | En Primeur Ltd Client Services & Benefits | North Rhone 2009 En Primeur Report | Rhone - Wine Region of the Year 2010 | Southern Rhone 2009 En Primeur Report | Wine Investment (Asian Market) | Fine Wine Investment
Click here to see our 2010 Bordeaux En Primeur wine list and pricing.