Saint-Emilion and Bordeaux '11, '12 Wines Are Helping Win Back Non-Chinese Consumers

The 2011 and 2012 wines from Saint-Emilion and the Bordeaux region are a “link to the consumer” in terms of accessibility after prices soared for the previous two years amid Chinese demand, Chateau Chauvin owner Sylvie Cazes said.

Chauvin 2012 is priced at 178 pounds ($271) a case at London merchant Fine+Rare and the 2011s at 186 pounds, compared with 213 pounds for the 2010 and 239 pounds for the 2009. The 2011 and 2012 wines from Saint-Emilion were on show in London last week at a tasting organized by growers from the region.

Chinese demand helped drive Bordeaux prices to a peak in 2011 before a crackdown on corruption and gift-giving in China prompted a 40 percent drop in the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index over the following three years. Prices have started to stabilize and the index scored its first back-to-back monthly gains in December and January since March 2013.

“I think it was very important that we had vintages like ’11 and ’12 because, after two great vintages in a row, I’m not sure the market could have adapted,” Cazes said in an interview at the London tasting Feb. 3. “’11 and ’12 are really nice wines and it can be a good link to the consumer.”

“They won’t have to wait for years for these wines and also they can appreciate getting these wines at a regular price,” she said. Cazes is also a former president of the growers’ association Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux and her family owns Pauillac estate Chateau Lynch Bages.

‘Classical’ Vintages

Laurence Brun, managing director at Chateau Dassault, said the 2011 and 2012 vintages marked a return to “normal and very classical” vintages after the exceptional wines of the previous two years. “We are back to what we expect for Bordeaux wines,” she said at the same tasting.

For Emmanuel de Saint Salvy at Chateau Bellefont-Belcier, “they are not great vintages like the ones we had in 2009 and 2010, but they are vintages in which we can show our skills.”

He said in an interview that the two vintages “required a lot of work in the vineyard” and yields were low, particularly in 2012.

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