Bordeaux 2006: Hard Work, Hard Sell

The 2006 harvest in Bordeaux will require a significant drop in prices.

The 2006 harvest has not been easy, and selling it will require a significant drop in prices.

Winemakers in Bordeaux are breathing sighs of relief now that the 2006 harvest is finally in, and vinifying in concrete, metal or wooden vats.

"It's been a difficult harvest, because of the rain and warm weather causing rot, mildew and odium fungus," said a winemaker in St Emilion who did not wish to be named.

"July was one of the warmest since 1950, August was one of the coldest for 20 years. It¹s been crazy," he said. "The first half of September was sunny, then it rained, and because of the rot some risked harvesting too early. Others waited and then had to do lots of sorting. We had three times the number of sorting tables this year," said the source.

The Bordeaux Wine Council (Conseil Interprofessionnel du vin de Bordeaux) put it more tactfully, saying in its vintage report, that "painstaking work in vineyards and cellars, together with winegrowers' technical expertise, made it possible to surmount difficulties encountered during the vintage."

The CIVB says 2006 has produced classic wines with good aging potential, however many in Bordeaux fear 2006 will


The 2006 harvest. Photo credit: Bordeaux Wine Council.

be of uneven quality.

Bordeaux wine merchants (negoçiants) were in some ways already prepared for a hard sell in 2006, given locally accepted wisdom that the Americans and Robert Parker never buy, or give good marks, two years in a row.

"Selling 2006 will be difficult," said Jean-Christophe Mau, winemaker and negoçiant. "The Bordelais will have to be reasonable with prices, but I doubt they will be reasonable enough. To sell prices will have to be lower than 2004," he said. Given that the average price increase for the 2005 vintage, on 2004, was put at 59% by Bordeaux negociants, 2006 prices would need to come down by 60% plus on 2005.

Mau added that the superb 2005 vintage had only disguised Bordeaux's current over production problems, not solved them.

Sophie Kevany is a journalist based in Bordeaux, covering the wine industry. She lived and worked in Ireland, Norway and South Africa, prior to moving to Bordeaux.

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