|Setting Bordeaux wine prices is a tricky business as Sandrine Bégaud of Chateau Rauzan-Segla explained to me over lunch at Chateau Kirwan during the En Primeur week. As business people, wine producers and merchants always want to set higher prices but are mindful of what the market will accept. But in a world where prices determine a Chateau’s reputation, producers want their wines to be priced at least on par with other similar wines.|
The Sommelier India publishers were the only Indian journalists participating in the En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux last week. This is the second in a series of posts discussing the week.
The process begins during En Primeur week itself when the Chateau owners get first hand feedback on the quality of the vintage from the négociants and wine critics tasting their wines. Judgments are passed on the vintage and the strength of specific wines in each Bordeaux appellation. Bordeaux wine makers then play a cat and mouse game until lesser-known vineyards start announcing their prices. First and second growth Chateaux wait for third, fourth and fifth growth ones to announce their prices before deciding what prices to set themselves. They’re always watching how their immediate neighbors and competitors are pricing their wines. Only then do the leading wine producers start announcing their own prices.
But that isn’t all. The producers put only a small percentage of their total production onto the market at that price. Depending upon how well the wine futures sell, they release another lot at a slightly higher price a few months later and so on. Prices aren’t announced during the En Primeur week itself but within a month of it. Some producers wait for Robert Parker’s ratings to price their wines.