Bubble bursts for vintage claret

THE SPECULATIVE bubble in prices of the finest young Bordeaux wines - which have doubled and trebled in recent years - appears to have burst.

The 1998 vintage, though generally reckoned to be one of the best for some time, has been selling in the past few days for up to 25 per cent less than the 1997 vintage, which was universally judged to be poor.

The sale of a good wine for less than a bad one goes against all the instincts and traditions of the growers and traders. It amounts to a recognition by the big Bordeaux chateaux that the steep price increases of recent years threaten to ruin the international market for high-quality claret.

"There have been abundant warnings from shippers that prices had to fall this year, however good the 1998 wine might be," one British wine trader said. "The producers have finally seen some sense."

The chateau-cos-d'estournel - the most prestigious claret in the Saint Estephe area of the Medoc - led the way by selling 70 per cent of its 1998 wine at a 25 per cent discount on last year's price. Other high- quality labels have followed suit in the traditional advance sales of "primeur" or raw, still unbottled wines over the past couple of weeks. Cos-d'estournel - one of the worst, speculative offenders - went for the equivalent of pounds 28 a bottle from the chateau last year (perhaps pounds 40 to retail customers). It sold for pounds 21 a bottle this year.

This follows a virtual stand-off in January and February when many wine traders boycotted the advance bidding. Early sales of the 1998 vintage - despite its excellent quality - were less than one third of the normal level.

The drop in chateau prices affects only the highest-quality clarets - pounds 40 to pounds 30 in the shops - which will not be drinkable for another seven years or more. It will have no direct impact on retail prices of more modest bottles of about pounds 10 but it may help to arrest the upward trend in all Bordeaux prices seen in recent years.

Retail prices for the best Bordeaux labels were driven up in the Nineties by a boom in Asian demand, a fashion for claret in America and speculative buying by City traders. Wines were being sold at up to 10 times what the chateau had originally charged.

Four years ago the chateau owners gazed at the profits being made by some shippers and traders, and asked: "Why not us?"

They ramped up the asking price for young Bordeaux (primeur) and, having got away with it one year, did it again, the next and the next.

Last year, partly because of the Asian recession, the market fell flat. Thousands and thousands of cases of the "poor" 1997 vintage remain unsold in wine traders' cellars all over the world. While these stocks remained on their hands, shippers were reluctant to pay a high price for the1998 vintage, however good it might prove to be.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam