Tuesday, April 7, 2009

En Primeur 2008: Angelus Blinks

Seemingly like Pontius Pilate washing the wine stains off his hands, Chateau Angelus wasted no time to be the first to release the 2008 primeur price of its prominent grand vin, slashing it by 40% from 2007, thereby consigning the fate of the yet-to-be-delivered, somewhat mediocre 2007 wine to a dead market.

Is the price reduction significant enough to stir buyer interest? Some merchants are calling for a downright price collapse of at least 50% to be even interested in looking. Knowing these merchants much of that may prove to be grandstanding if the scores are right (more on this). But with the Angelus move the chateaux now seem likely to abandon price support for their 2007s.

Meanwhile, the other dynamic is the critics, after venting much anger at 2005, 2006, and 2007 prices, seem to have softened for the 2008. Surprisingly, the en primeur tasting last week has generated very favorable scores, particularly of famous wines. First growths and other top classed growths have rated in the mid to high 90s. Check out Wine Spectator, Decanter, Jancis Robinson, and the Wine Journal at erobertparker.com.

Only the big guy still has to weigh in. And knowing how Parker tends to support the underdog he may just show his love on the 2008s. But, and this is a big but, provided declared prices follow the Angelus trend. I don’t think we’ll see a 50% discount from 2007 prices—the Bordelais would rather sell their first-born. But 30%-40% should be de rigueur to move Parker, hence the market towards a favorable direction.

I skipped both the 2006 and 2007 en primeur, but I’ll be watching the 2009 campaign for potential buys in 2008s. If prices for the top growths do drop by 40%, say putting Latour at $250ish, then there may be a buying opportunity.

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