2010 Bordeaux: The Day After Tomorrow

It is highly likely that all hell will be unleashed tomorrow in the form of 2010 Bordeaux releases. After an unnecessary wait of about a month of twiddling thumbs, playing with calculators, etc, etc, the majority of Bordeaux chateau owners/managers/financial controllers are beginning to realise that (a) their customers are starting to get a little bored and (b) if they want to go on holiday in July they need to sell their wine first. OK: “all hell unleashed” is extreme, but it will be a big day.

So far 2010 Bordeaux has been late in its arrival and has received a mixed reception. It’s a bit like waiting too long for your food at a restaurant – the appetite subsides, and one starts thinking about a cheese and pickle and a beer (and the saving that this would enable). The right dishes though, can get away with being a little late.

Good wine costs money like good food takes time. 2010 Pontet-Canet sold out at £1200 a case because it’s worth it and more. Simple as. Worth it because it will appreciate in price (indeed it already has) and worth it because there is easily a hundred quids’ worth of pleasure in the bottle. This is seriously good wine, from a chateau whose wines can just about match the weaker first growths these days. And it’s half the price of whatever Leoville-Lascases will come out at, and Palmer, and Cos d’Estournel. Bargain.

2010 Beychevelle sold out immediately also, albeit more on account of what is on the bottle as to what is in it. Indeed these wines are so sought after that most merchants will have sold them under the table as opposed to advertising their availability. There is not enough stock available to do so. A similar story is true for Calon-Segur and Leoville-Poyferre, though these wines aren’t as bankable (from an asset point of view) as Pontet or Beychevelle.

There are two ways of judging a wine’s value. The first is simple: how much will someone pay for it? In this respect Pontet-Canet and Beychevelle have clearly priced their 2010s correctly. The second is trickier: it’s about the intrinsic value of what is in the bottle. And that depends on who you are.

Sticking with Pontet. I believe 2010 Pontet-Canet to be worth it and more, because (a) I have seen how it has sold and (b) I have tasted it, and I think it the finest wine they have made. I think it’s actually good value for what it is. I can’t afford it, but I can live with that. I can’t afford a 911 either, but I’ve got over it, almost, and I don’t whine about it.

What does get my goat is twofold: the avarice of the whole shebang (on both sides, producer and consumer), and the whole train of folks condemning what is essentially a market.

Correctly priced wines sell: simple. Incorrectly priced wines don’t. Over the next few days a few Bordeaux chateaux will price their wines too fully, and they will bomb. Hopefully most will get it right, and they will sell – goods will exchange ownership at a price that pleases all, which is what a good and efficient market is all about.

Classed growth claret has become a commodity. This is sad for some, convenient and profitable for others. I’m either on the fence or have a foot in each half. Like many, I’d love it if 2010 Pontet-Canet was £240 a case (as the 2004 was on release) or £500 or so (2005). Indeed I’d fill my boots – which is the point. It’s a market and, with the product itself more of a commodity than ever before, a more efficient one. Supply and demand will touch hands where they do… no one is being forced to buy these wines, you know.