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Vinexpo blog: Bordeaux and en primeur rock

Published:  22 June, 2011

Harpers news editor Gemma McKenna blogs on the lively scenes in Bordeaux from Vinexpo

Bordeaux is rocking. There's no doubt about that. Not only is the town besieged by the wine trade, but last night, for its annual summer music festival on the solstice, it came alive to the sound of live music on every street corner. Rave, guitar, or Nirvana cover bands, you name it, they had it.

The en primeur tasting at Vinexpo had a similar feel - of bring under siege. It was jammed to the rafters with curious journalists, while buyers checked up on their purchases and considered what they might go for when the final round of prices is released - probably next week.

This has been the longest campaign in history, and I think it's taken its toll. Chatting to some of the top chateaux yesterday, it is clear that even some of them are concerned about how the campaign has progressed. David Ornon of Smith Haut Lafitte didn't seem too happy about Liv-Ex listing a price increase for the chateau of 50%, when it actually went up from 52€ in 2009 to 64€, not the 77€ reported. I reckon there would have been some pretty peeved exchanges on the back of that one.

Meanwhile Lilian Barton Sartorius of Leoville Barton said she didn't think prices should have gone up so much this year. She said it becomes difficult for people to "keep up" when you have two expensive vintages in a row. Jean-Michel Laporte, director of Chateau La Conseillante, says in all likelihood it will release its prices at the end of next week. While admitting it was very late in the day, he said he felt it was better for his distributors to have more time rather than rushing prices out with everyone else. Last week around 35 prices were rushed out in one day.

So things get curiouser and curiouser with the 2010 campaign. People seem to be getting a touch fed-up with it all - Jancis Robinson in Harpers last week, a lot of UK merchants and yesterday negociant Yvon Mau told Harpers editor Richard Siddle it was frustrated by the campaign. But producers will hardly be bothered, because as long as there's demand for their wines at these top prices, I don't think they'll be changing anything anytime soon.