Strong August sales – Olympics or no Olympics
While the latest industry reports from the CBI show lower than usual August trading figures in London, wine sales at FINE+RARE have bucked the trend with a significant increase on the equivalent period last year, suggesting that the fine wine market remains buoyant despite concerns in the wider economy.
Bordeaux sales remain sluggish, especially at the very top end
The market’s focus has shifted significantly since this time last year. In August 2011, Bordeaux represented almost 60% of sales revenue while this year the region’s share dropped to 47%. Within this, trade has been concentrated at lower price points. In August 2011, 30% of cases were sold at over £1000 a case; this year, only 25% were above that benchmark. With prices for most recent vintages of first growths down at least 20% on this time last year, buyers of big ticket items continue to be wary and sellers need to offer at sharp prices to attract interest.
Italy and Spain step into the breach
Interest in regions outside France has been strong. Sales of Italian wine are up over 50% and sales of Spanish wine up over 25%, with customers increasingly recognising the value that other European regions can offer.
Demand for Burgundy continues to be strong
Fuelled by an excellent but very small 2010 en primeur vintage earlier this year, increased Asian interest and ongoing limited supply, demand for Burgundy continues to be strong, with sales up for the year to date and 60% up compared to August last year.
What the critics are saying
In the Wine Advocate, Robert Parker tastes a vertical of La Mission Haut Brion, giving an extra point to 2005 and 2008, while Antonio Galloni looks at 2010 white Burgundy and both 2011 and 2010 Chablis. Neal Martin reports on Rioja, finding a divide between modern and traditional styles and also tastes verticals of Pingus and Vega Sicilia.
James Suckling finds some excellent wines from 2009 both in Bolgheri and in Chianti.
Jancis Robinson compares Bordeaux 2011 and 2008, takes a first look at Rhone 2011 with Chapoutier’s Selections Parcellaires and reports on the anxiety amongst Burgundians about the sale of Ch de Gevrey Chambertin to a Chinese businessman for 8 million euros.
In the wine regions
Burgundy was hit by a third hailstorm in August, following on from early severe storms in July which have reduced yields dramatically and indicate further supply pressures to come.
Warm August weather in Bordeaux has helped improve a damp early season and producers are hoping it will continue up to harvest.
The Rhone has fared better than either of the above, with fine weather for much of the summer. Leading Rhone critic John Livingstone-Learmonth has suggested that if *"France** is to have a viticultural champion in 2012, then it could well be the Rhone on current evidence."
Elsewhere in Europe, harvest is likely to be earlier than in France, and has indeed already started in some Spanish regions such as Priorat. In Italy, notably hot dry conditions make a smaller 2011 vintage look likely with yields in Tuscany potentially 10% down according to a key producer in the region.
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