Wines Then and Now: Part 3

Old World big boys: Burgundy and Bordeaux

Some relative bargains still remain. I think the Pousse d’Or wines are better than they were in the past and Jadot still sells their wines for very fair prices, but more and more, wines are simply selling for sums of money that have more to do with their rarity than their intrinsic quality, not that this is a new development. I don’t begrudge the sellers, nor the buyers in these transactions, and wish I had some money lying around to pick some of those $200 bottles of Mugneret Gibourg Echezeaux which looks to be a great deal. I only bring all of this up to help myself, and perhaps a few readers along the way, better understand what is going on with the world of fine wine. 
I’ve been fortunate to be a player on this field for more than two decades, albeit in a very very minor role. I find the interconnections between market segments fascinating, and sometime a little scary. I’ve bought many wines that I can no longer afford, some that I no longer like, and have always been fortunate to find wines to replace those that I’ve lost, but understanding why, and how wines move from one price level to another has always been a bit of a mystery. Perhaps it is now less of a mystery, and with the predictions I’ve made here it will be fascinating to discover in the years that come whether I was right, or just another cog in the wine industry blowing smoke out of his ass.

prev 1 2 3 4

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: davidboyer
    208575 26

    Hi Gregory,

    You may recall that prices for Bordeaux really began to go up sharply in 2000, which I believe was, in part, due to the massive efforts of the marketing machine: critics, the wine press, and the press in general. Add to this, the growing consumer demand for finer wine, due to better informed consumers created by the universal adoption of internet technology. People could, at their leisure, go to a site like Snooth and learn more about wine rather than engage in the traditional methods of learning by studying to become a sommelier or employing other courses of formal education. So demand began building along with more access to information.

    2003 was another ‘great’ vintage in Bordeaux and the Bordelaise naturally took advantage of their great luck with Mother Nature that year, producing very good wines from a very hot (ripe) vintage and raising prices again to meet rising demand. By 2005 US pockets were full of cash relative to today’s economy, and buyers were lined up for yet another spectacular vintage and they had the money to pay for it.

    By '06 and '07 auction prices for fine wine on the secondary market had gone absolutely wild so I suppose it only seems fair that the châteaux should be entitled to a bit of the windfall too. To wit, at its peak a bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild 1982 was suddenly selling for $10,000 or more. It’s release price was somewhere around $41. That’s insane! Prices are headed down to a more reasonable level these days as China turns its desire for drinkable luxury goods to Burgundy.

    Before the next ‘greatest vintage ever’ of 2009 everything had changed and the bubble burst (in 2007 and 2008) leaving millions jobless, with plummeting real estate prices, and a globally depressed economy. Americans all but abandoned Bordeaux, some by choice, others with no choice but ‘trading down’ was how retail survived, quite well I might add. Wine consumption was increasing year over year in the US. However, despite the problematic economy Bordeaux simply followed the money and although US sales were off, China was rising as surely as the sun rises each day. With China being so remarkably liquid, there seemed to be no end to rising Bordeaux prices. In 2010, also being touted as the next ‘greatest vintage ever’, prices rose yet again. Having barrel tasted '10 in Bordeaux France the following year, I can say that this is NOT an over-hyped vintage, nor is 2009.

    This how we got to where we are today. As China continues to discover Burgundy, the same thing will continue happen with those great wines until such time as China’s bubble bursts, which is inevitable. There is no possibility of sustaining such staggering economic growth in any country, even China, and eventually the wine world will have to follow the money again to whatever emerging economy is looking for prestige. We have historically seen wine sales growth tied in to the nation de jour like Japan, the Middle East, and now China but none stay at the top, unfortunately including the US.

    This a fine example of capitalism, supply and demand principles, and the boom and bust cycles related to this economic theory, as it exists today. Nations chasing trophy wines will always contribute to high prices. And trophy wines are indeed something to be respected and cherished but for the right reasons: they are remarkable examples of what fine wine is about, they are very rare, or both.

    Best regards,

    David Boyer

    Jan 31, 2013 at 5:14 PM

  • Snooth User: Cadmo
    518452 31

    Hi Gregory,
    Where I can get today's price for old wine? Thanks, Ricardo

    Feb 01, 2013 at 7:53 AM

  • Snooth User: Tiakittie
    1041141 85

    Good Morning Gregory!! Thanks for the articles! As someone who only recently began collecting (in the last 4 years), it's interesting to see how the pricing has changed!! I would be curious to watch those lesser regions such as Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Chile (and even Canada, though pricing is already pushing boundaries here on those stellar vintages!) and see how their prices track over the next 10 years as wine lovers move to product that fits their budgets. If the classic laws of supply and demand hold, at some point down the road we could all be back to drinking Gallo!!! ;)


    Feb 01, 2013 at 11:25 AM

  • Snooth User: Martin E
    249368 16


    It's a great summary. I agree with all your statement. I think it is important for the French producers to not only focus on the race for new markets and higher prices, but also ensure that their relationships with traditional long-term customers in UK, Germany, US, etc. are not damaged. People may turn in-mass to wines from other regions, while (as history shows) fashion in the emerging markets can change very rapidly. Anyway, I hope to see a slowdown in Bordeaux price increase in the future. Can't say this about Burgundy; may be it's time to look for great Pinot from Oregon instead...

    Feb 02, 2013 at 5:50 PM

  • Snooth User: davidboyer
    208575 26

    Hi Martin,

    Thanks for your kind words. You are absolutely right: the notion of pushing aside tried and true clientele for the current mad rush is not a sound long-term business strategy. I wrote about the dangers of Bordeaux chasing newly emerging countries in 2010 (in reference to China) and if you look at what Americans are NOT buying, I would say that your assertions have already come to be.

    Alas, Americans have not been buying en primeur since 2005 and it shows, but they clearly haven't stopped drinking. As you said, they found something else and it does seem to be mostly west coast domestic wines. Bordeaux is much less accessible than it used to be for certain.

    As for Oregon Pinot? It's very good but of course it's not Burgundy.

    Best wishes,

    David Boyer

    Feb 02, 2013 at 8:16 PM

Add a Comment

Search Articles

Best Wine Deals

See More Deals »

Daily Wine WisdomMore Wine Tips

Snooth Media Network