Bordeaux 2014 can sell if price is right, says ASC chief

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Chinese buyers have shown interest in Bordeaux 2014 en primeur wines, but pricing is crucial, according to the chief executive of ASC Fine Wines, John Watkins.

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Several big names have released their 2014 wines in the past two weeks, but the overall feeling among merchants outside of Bordeaux was that this year’s en primeur campaign has struggled for momentum.

Some wines have sold well so far on the international market as a whole, such as Mouton Rothschild and Lynch Bages, which released at 240 euros per bottle ex-Bordeaux* and 60 euros respectively – even though this represented price rises of 11% and 20% versus 2013.

In China, where many consumers were reported to have avoided wines from the difficult 2013 vintage, the 2014 campaign has seen some selective purchases, according to ASC’s John Watkins.

‘China now has evolved to the same level as other mature markets,’ he said. ‘Producers need to leave some meat on the bone for the distributors and end consumers in exchange for paying now for delivery in two to three years. So far this year, the producers that are honouring this golden rule are attracting interest from our clients.’

He added, 'Those who increased prices this year over last year, despite the currency factor, are attracting little-to-no interest for their wines.'

Several merchants around the world have argued that Bordeaux chateaux and negociants need to win back consumers’ trust following three vintages of relatively weak en primeur campaigns.

According to a report by Liv-ex, anyone who has bought Bordeaux in the last five years would lose money on their purchase if they tried to sell the wines today.

Nick Martin, of the Wine Owners trading platform, which launched a Hong Kong division last year, said that ‘the ultimate focus must be on the consumer’.

Offering advice to consumers, he said: ‘Is there sufficient discount versus other vintages in the market to make it worthwhile to buy unfinished wine so early?’

*Ex-Bordeaux is the price of the wine when it is sold by Bordeaux negociants to merchants around the world.

(Additional report by Jane Anson)

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