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Bordeaux at a crossroads

There’s no doubt about it: Bordeaux is and will remain one of the world’s most splendid wine-producing regions. However, over its area of around 120,000 hectares, a two-class society has emerged: a small cluster of prestigious estates producing wines that can sell at virtually any price. And a large majority of unknown producers who struggle to cover their costs and are obliged to sell their bottles at giveaway prices.
Yet in recent months, a fierce wind has been blowing, even towards the elite. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, business was dismal as a consequence of punitive customs duties in the USA, unrest in Hong Kong and the uncertainties relating to Brexit. And this spring, the traditional “en primeur” tastings were cancelled. The virus put a stop to travel and wine tastings. Meanwhile, Bordeaux traders came up with a few ideas, such as sending samples of 2019 vintages to specialist retailers and journalists, and holding local tastings in large cities such as Zurich. As a consequence of the precarious economic outlook in many countries, prices for this year’s vintage had to be reduced by between 20% and 30%. This offers attractive purchasing opportunities, although the “en primeur” business has hardly been worthwhile for consumers over the last few years. In most cases, the wines eventually ended up on the market at the same prices.
Prospects remain uncertain. Bordeaux producers’ storehouses should already be well stocked with bottles from previous years. Less well-praised vintages such as 2017 will probably be difficult to sell, while more expensive wines from 2018 will no longer be as easy to sell due to the price reductions for the excellent 2019 vintage. But if you keep your eyes peeled, you can always find Bordeaux wines at fantastic value for money. The Château Cormeil-Figeac from St. Emilion is one such example. Mondovino was able to secure the 2016 vintage exclusively for the rare wines product range. The exquisite Grand Cru is full-bodied and rich and can be aged for ten or more years without any problem (see And it is proof that Bordeaux has lost none of its appeal despite all of the difficulties.