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Burgundy Lovers Buying Up Back Vintages

Burgundy Lovers Buying Up Back Vintages
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It's back to the future for Burgundy drinkers, as they cope with recent short vintages by buying up older ones.

Burgundy lovers have been looking to the past to fill up their cellars with the expectation they won’t be able to get their hands on much wine from the 2012 and 2013 small vintages.

In the midst of London’s Burgundy tasting bonanza, when half of the Côte d’Or turns up in the U.K.’s capital to proffer their latest wares, the fine wine exchange Liv-ex has reported that demand for back vintages – particularly 2011 – has risen significantly in recent months.

Justin Gibbs, co-founder of Liv-ex told Wine-Searcher that there was increased demand for "second-tier" Burgundy in 2013, "as collectors began to roll out of the big, and every expensive, names," such as DRC and Henri Jayer. Increased demand from Asia also propelled prices upwards.

"Add to this the realization that 2012 allocations would be well down due to reduced yields and that 2013 had been battered by Mother Nature and the market looked to stock up elsewhere," said Gibbs. "2011, the most readily available and broadly admired vintage  – 2009s and 2010s now long gone – was thus in the firing line."

For example, one of the month’s major movers on the exchange, Méo Camuzet’s 2011 Vosne Romanée Les Chaumes, has risen more than 12 percent in value. Many wines from Méo Camuzet have seen solid rises over the past six months as well as other top domaines including Marquis d’Angerville.

Gibbs added: “Some merchants will miss out on an allocation for the 2012 and 2013s and they’re mindful that they need to have something to offer customers. Offering a different vintage – and the 2011 is good as well as the most recently physical – is better than nothing.”

At the coal face, fine wine merchants are seeing increased interest in back vintages but it’s not just the 2011 vintage. Both Berry Bros & Rudd and Corney & Barrow report that most of their Burgundy customers stocked up on 2011s during last year’s campaign, leading to limited availability of the vintage.

Matthew Tipping, fine wine sales manager at Berry's, told Wine-Searcher: “We’ve seen a gradual trend of people saying 'I’m going to buy some ‘12s but I might not get exactly what I’m after and they are definitely looking at back vintages' [such as] 2008 – there’s a little bit of stock around and it is a very good vintage. Some wines from 08 are starting to drink a little better now and when any 05s come through, they are snapped up instantly.”

Meanwhile, Will Hargrove, head of fine wine at Corney & Barrow revealed they had seen interest going even further back in time. “Customers are certainly looking back at the perceived great vintages [such as] 1999, 2002, 2005, 2009 & 2010, because they fear they will be almost impossible to find in the future at the current prices," he said. "2000, 2001 and 2006 are [also] seen as savvy buys.”

When it comes to prices, merchants are reporting a rise of anywhere from 5 to 30 percent depending on a producer's crop size. Tipping claimed the price hikes are understandable for those who lost as much as 70 percent of their crop. "It’s fair to say the price increases are not down to the growers trying to profiteer. It’s definitely down to them trying to balance the books."

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  • Comments

    Jordane Andrieu wrote:
    16-Jan-2014 at 21:00:05 (GMT)

    It would be a big mistake to miss the vintage 2011. Maybe not the finest and most complex vintage like 2010, but certainly a very pleasant wine combining a ripe fruit without being over powerful or jammy and a nice acidity that give a certain righteousness that misses the 2009. Probably a very easy vintage to sell, commercially wise.

  • J. Kowalsky wrote:
    16-Jan-2014 at 19:23:32 (GMT)

    I have been in the Burgundy industry for over 25 years and given that I have tasted virtually every vintage since 91 from barrel, I can attest to the fact that 2011 shows great potential (similar to a riper and more forward 2001) The wines are decadent,rich ,ripe, and have a wonderful transparency. I have no idea what wines one would have been tasting if they tasted pyrazines in 2011 Burgundy as the presence of pyrazines is rather uncommon in Burgundy (especially in a clean vintage with fully ripe phenols like 2011) unlike New Zealand, where pyrazines in Sauvignon Blanc are quite common and not always unpleasant. Being a substantial buyer, and retailer of Burgundy I agree that the 2012 prices and tiny allocations I am receiving are quite insane so far and 2013 will be even worse. There has been enormous movement in our 08-11 inventory the past month or two. Most of this renewed interest comes from people realizing just how delicious the 08's and 11's are, but no doubt also because I am warning them of what prices and allocations will be on 2012's and 2013 being "up in the air" . Again this is similar to 2001, people had loaded up on 1999's, avoided the delicious 2000's, and then while the 01's were being made, they heard about "the great" 02 vintage and skipped 01 as well. Once prices came out on 02's and demand made allocations small across the board (remember this is when France cut our allocations of 02's for not buying their wines due to ridiculous American backlash of French products for not supporting the War in Iraq)people reverted back to the 01's and many 00's and found them to actually be superb wines. I sold every bottle of 00 and 01 I had at the time. Anyhow, I suggest that people rethink their buying as there are some tremendous wines still in the market including '08, '11, and if you look carefully, some stunning 09's and 10's. The pricing on 12's will bring tears to most peoples eyes, or possibly completely turn a few of them off of Burgundy forever and they will start drinking Oregon Pinot ( what a scary thought ).

  • Terry Kay wrote:
    16-Jan-2014 at 15:23:09 (GMT)

    2011 is much too young to comment on ...

  • henryd1 wrote:
    16-Jan-2014 at 11:57:13 (GMT)

    The problem is that almost all the 2011s I've had so far have been rather unpleasant (pyrazines?)- I wouldn't got any where near them. And yet people are willing to pay as much for them as they did for the 09s and 10s! I'd buy any remaining 08s, 09s, and 10s you can get your hands on, ignore the 11s, and then wait and see what's available of the 12s.

  • AF wrote:
    16-Jan-2014 at 10:17:06 (GMT)

    I hardly think livex is a reliable source for data concerning Burgundy buying trends!

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