Sylvie Cazes, director of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, has admitted that prices for the Bordeaux 2011 vintage will have to come down to a reasonable level. “Prices must come down, but it’s a case of what’s reasonable – we’re looking at 10-15%”, she told the drinks business at the château’s en primeur tasting last week.
“Our 2010 prices were up 10% on 2009, so there’s no question we have to come down as 2011 isn’t as spectacular a vintage,” Cazes (above) added, emphasising that she wants a quick campaign this year, and for prices to be released in time for Vinexpo Hong Kong at the end of May. Despite being in the shadow of 2009 and 2010, Cazes is confident about the quality of Pichon 2011: “It has good acidity, wonderful freshness, good structure and depth,” Cazes said, admitting that the secret to success in 2011 was avoiding over-extraction.
She compared the vintage to both 2001 and 2008, describing it as softer than the former and more concentrated than the latter. “Sorting was vital to success – we had our team picking berry by berry,” she said. As to whether the Asian market was losing interest in Bordeaux, Cazes is unconvinced: “People say the Chinese are moving on to Burgundy and the Rhône but we’re expecting a swarm of visitors in the next two weeks. “They’ve latched onto the fact that primeurs runs for three weeks and are visiting either side of the main week,” she said.
In Sauternes, Pierre Lurton (right), director of Château d’Yquem, revealed the superb quality of 2011 Yquem was the “big surprise” of the vintage. The abnormal weather conditions in 2011, including a rainy August, lead to a rare burst of noble rot creating fully botrytised grapes. “Our 2011 Yquem is better than both 2009 and 2010. The wines have 145g of residual sugar but retain amazing freshness and balance,” he said, comparing the vintage to both 2001 and 2005, and describing the wines as having “the purity of a diamond.”
In terms of pricing for the reds, including Château Cheval Blanc, which he also runs, Lurton agrees that they must come down. “2011 is not the same story as 2009 and 2010 – a different positioning is needed. The Bordelais should lower their prices by at least 20-30%,” he admitted.