Friday, June 15, 2012

Bordeaux 2011 Futures and Wine Laws

The Future of Futures For those of us in the Lower Mainland who read-up on the Bordeaux en primeur reviews and ratings each Spring and love deciding which wines to gamble on, change is coming. Vancouver boutique wine shop, Marquis Wine Cellars, has chosen to suspend its yearly futures campaign indefinitely leaving a gap in the local market for Bordeaux collectors. For Marquis the futures campaigns were too much of a gamble for a small business to take with too much capital locked up in the uncertainty provided by the BCLDB's practice of price setting based on the current demand for the wines during their annual Bordeaux release - a full two years after the futures campaign.

As I documented with my comparison of 2008 Bordeaux Futures VS BCLDB Prices, sometimes the consumer wins and sometimes the consumer loses - but too frequently, Marquis would be left vulnerable with little-to-no margins on wines the BCLDB decided to discount. A risk they have decided to pass on for the foreseeable future.

Alas, BC Bordeaux lovers are left without a local purveyor of en primeur futures and can either wait for the official BCLDB release over two years later or contact a local private shop as the wines are received. Or is there another option?

Bill C-311
An interesting development for BC wine lovers is the passing of Bill C-311 by the Senate this past week which allows for a yet undetermined amount of wine to be shipped across Provincial borders for personal consumption. How much wine is still unclear and whether or not the Provincial Liquor Boards won't try and regulate the Bill to death remains to be seen. However, should these issues be cleared up and the Bill be allowed to be enacted with its full spirit of the law intact, which includes online patronage, it should open the door for BC Bordeaux lovers to look East to Alberta to satisfy their en primeur cravings.

Calgary stores like Willow Park Wines and Spirits have a great online presence and expansive futures campaigns that may fill the void left by Marquis Cellars' decision to bow out of the Bordeaux betting game. Willow Park doesn't have to compete with a Provincial government body willing to change the rules of the game on a whim. They can set their en primeur prices as they see fit and stay in control of the margins needed to remain a profitable business... the nerve!

You can follow the progress of the passage of Bill C-311 via Mark Hicken's website.

Vintage 2011
With the reports of the 2011 vintage now heavily circulated and the en primeur prices set, the current consensus is that 2011 will be a consumer-friendly vintage with many prices half what they were for the much lauded 2010 vintage yet with mostly positive comments on quality. Market-wise, the vintage reminds me of the 2008 campaign when prices were slashed after the perceived price-gouging of 2006 and 2007 despite the higher scores awarded to the 2008 wines.

For the Bordeaux lover that was priced-out of the 2009 and 2010 vintages, 2011 will enable a return to that vertical of Ponet-Canet that you'd been building loyally until prices went crazy. Investment opportunity may be down as few may seek out 2011's for their cellar in ten years time, but folks who plan on eventually drinking everything in their cellar should be happy with the ageability and quality of the vintage. Thoughtful selections will be rewarded with patient cellaring.

Best Bets:
  • Ch Branaire-Ducru, St. Julien
  • Ch Calon-Segur, St. Estephe
  • Ch de Fieuzel Blanc, Pessac-Leognan
  • Ch Doisy-Daene, Barsac
  • Ch Pavie-Macquin, St. Emilion
  • Ch Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
  • Vieux Chateau certan, Pomerol
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

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