It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything on here, and for that I apologize. It’s been a busy few weeks for me recently. I graduated business school, visited a friend in Rhode Island with Kelli and began a new job shortly thereafter. However, my mind has still been on wine, and I hope to begin sharing as much as I can once again.
Let’s jump right back into it and talk about futures. If you’re French, you’ll hear it as “en primeur.” Perhaps the most talked about time of year in the wine world is when the Bordeaux futures prices are released. This yearly Bordeaux tasting/reviewing/marketing/sales madness has been going on for a couple of weeks now.
So what is “futures” you ask? Purchasing futures is a way to secure wine before it is released in stores. You’ll find this happens for other regions of the world like Napa Cabernets, but with a reduced fervor. In the case of Bordeaux 2009 futures, these wines are still aging in barrels in France.
These prices are not-so-coincidentally released after the issue of their review scores from major wine critics, such as Robert Parker. And why not wait for the score? If my wine scores a 99/100, I’d bump up the price too. The higher the score, the higher the demand for your wine.
This year, the hype-machine is in full effect once again. The 2005 vintage of wines – hailed as one of the best Bordeaux vintages of all time – is being tested now by the 2009 vintage. Check out The Wall Street Journal’s blog on it here. These wines are selling at record prices, some more than 200% higher than last year’s cost.
The world-famous wine critic, Robert Parker had very harsh words for the way the French are handling the marketing and sales this year in a recent series of Tweets saying, “The Bordelais are indeed killing the golden goose. The ridiculous and painfully slow release of prices for the 2009s is both stupid and arrogant…moreover, expect sticker shock…dumb and dumber.” While the prices are sky-high and the Bordelais are getting more “arrogant” by the vintage, markets like Hong Kong are still demanding so much wine that many do not see an end to these prices any time soon.
The reason one may be interested in buying these futures is two-fold. First, as an investment. Generally speaking, the futures sold today are significantly less expensive than when the actual bottles hit the market. Many turn around and sell their allotment – either immediately or years down the road – at a premium. Second, to save money. If you know you enjoy Bordeaux wines, why not buy them now to save money?
The catch, of course, is that you must pay today for a bottle that will arrive two years from now. Also, there’s always a risk, as with any investment, that the wines will drop in price by the time they arrive in bottles. However, I cannot think of a time – nor do I remember reading of a time – when this has happened, aside from many, many years (perhaps decades) ago.
Interested in purchasing? MacArthur Beverages, an extremely well known purveyor of wines in the Washington D.C. area, has a listing of Bordeaux futures here. The high rollers you’ll see are Cheateaux Mission Haut Brion ($799), Haut Brion ($999) and Margeaux ($899), among others. Yes, these prices are PER BOTTLE. Might I recommend Chateaux Cantemerle ($35), Cantenac Brown ($55), Haut Bergey ($33), and Godeau ($28) as great values? If you’re looking to spend a bit more, Cheateau Smith Haut Lafitte ($95) is by far the best you can do under a C note and perhaps holds the best price-to-score ratio of any wine available this year.
If you do make a purchase, throw an extra bottle or two in there for me. I’ll track you down in 2012.