A leading Bordeaux négociant has announced it will no longer sell Château Latour.
Millésima has said it will turn down any allocation of Latour that it is offered in the future, starting with the 1995 vintage, according to French magazine Terre de Vins. The wine merchant also stated it would refuse to sell the 2005 vintage of the estate's second wine, Forts de Latour, released by the château this week.
First-growth Château Latour announced in April 2012 that it would pull out of Bordeaux’s en primeur system from the 2012 vintage. The region’s process of selling wine as futures through négociants like Millésima is a long-held tradition in Bordeaux, and Terre de Vins claimed Millésima’s move was retribution for Latour’s decision to boycott the futures market.
The founder of Millésima, Patrick Bernard, told the magazine: “95 percent of our sales are en primeurs. All our best clients are en primeur buyers.” He said that everybody should respect the system, which worked well.
Négociants like Millésima act as middlemen between the châteaux and retailers, typically earning 12 to 15 percent on most cases sold. The en primeur system has become a vital source of income for many merchants, brokers and châteaux.
“What Latour did last year was madness. Our decision [not to sell their wines] seemed necessary to us,” Bernard added.
When Latour announced it would be pulling out of the en primeur system, the estate’s director, Frédéric Engerer, said he wanted the commercial life of the wine to coincide better with the life of the wine. He argued that his wines were too often drunk early because consumers increasingly demanded wines that were ready to drink.
Bernard does not believe many others will follow Millésima’s lead. However, it raises a question: if there were a widespread boycott of Latour’s wines by fellow Bordeaux négociants, would it force the estate to reconsider its position?