US wine critic finds Bordeaux prices hard to swallow

One of the world's most influential wine critics is alarmed by the high price of Bordeaux wine, saying the region risks hurting itself by focusing so much on the East Asian market.

"Bordeaux is the epicenter of the greatest wines," Robert Parker said in an interview with AFP. "I hate to see the image damaged by the fact people tend to think it's too expensive."

"Bordeaux is focused too much on the wealthy Asian market," Parker said. "Despite the fact that China has so many wealthy people, it's a very dangerous game if they raise prices, because the world economy is very, very fragile."

It would be a "smart move" for top chateaux to sell the 2010 vintage 10 to 20 percent lower than the 2009 vintage, which commanded record prices, he added.

"It would be a very positive sign to the marketplace and to wine consumers," he said by phone. "If they come higher than 2009, we're going to have a big, big crisis."

Maryland-based Parker, 63, founder of the Wine Advocate magazine and website, has been credited - or lambasted, depending on one's point of view - with boosting the prices of Bordeaux's top brands.

"I'm aware by giving an evaluation I have an influence on the positioning pricing in the international market place, but there's nothing I could do about it," he said.

The closely followed wine critic is not the only force driving prices upward, other wine experts say.

"The chateaux care about Robert Parker scores, but they have an eye on the Far East," said Gary Boom, managing director of Bordeaux Index, with offices in Hong Kong and London.

"I was in Bordeaux a couple weeks ago and I told the chateaux then that if the prices go up, the wines will sell, but ownership will get transferred to the Far East," he said.

"They will go exclusively to the Far East. They don't seem to care."

Buyers in China and Hong Kong - now the biggest single market for Bordeaux wine - can be fickle, however.

"If it's a 'Far East' brand like Beychevelle, I will sell everything, but if not, my sales are down," Boom said, referring to Bordeaux labels that are especially well-known in Asia.

Last year, Boom sold 800 cases of wine from a Bordeaux chateau not famous in East Asia, only to sell 80 cases this year against the backdrop of higher prices.

"Parker is ubiquitous, he's massive, but the consumers also follow their wallet," he said.

This time last year, Bordeaux buyers were paying record prices for the 2009 vintage. On Tuesday, 2009 Petrus was selling at 35,000 euros (51,000 dollars) for a case of 12 bottles and Chateau Latour at 13,450 euros per case.

At the more popular end of the market, 2009 Chateau Cantemerle was going for a relatively steep 24 euros per bottle, according to, a website that tracks wine prices around the world.

Many consumers are still suffering from price shock, aggravated in the United States - still the world's number-one wine consumer - by the sagging value of the US dollar.

"Heck, people want to forget the huge increases in 2009," said James Gunter at Glazers, a major US wine distributor.

Many of Glazers' clients invested heavily in 2009 in upcoming vintages, he said. "They have money out for these wines, which will not start to arrive for another four to six months. Most are not in a position to invest more money."

The British market doesn't look much better.

"If prices go up, the UK will not buy," Boom said. "The negociants (wine merchants) will be forced to sit on the stock - and prices will come down. They will lose money. They can lose money on one vintage but not two."

ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before