Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sour Grapes?

French winemakers are befuddled (what else is new):

Strange weather we're having, said winemakers in Bordeaux this week. The 2007 grape harvest has started and never, not in the last 15 years, not in 20 years, not in 35 years, has anyone seen anything like it.

Wine expert Denis Dubourdieu, a professor at Bordeaux's main university and consultant to a number of chateaux, says it's the first time in his 35-year career he has seen vines flower so early in the year, and grapes ripen so late.

"We have never been in a situation like this," he said. "It could be good. We don't know. Could it be global warming, who knows? It could be Nicolas Sarkozy [the new French president]. There is no explanation. It could be simply the irregularities of an Atlantic climate."

The problems, mainly, relate to the weather.

But, not all the problems are weather related:

"The euro is killing us," [Californian wine merchant, Jeffrey] Davies said. "The payments for the 2006 wines (which are pre-sold as futures prior to bottling) are due this month, and I'm concerned some US clients may cancel their orders," he said, adding that currently selling anywhere outside of the eurozone was going to be an added problem for Bordeaux wines.

"There is still a fair amount of the 2005 vintage which has not been sold to the end user, but it might go in the OND period - October, November, December - which is when 60 percent of wine is sold in the US," he said. Otherwise, he fears, there could be a bottleneck with the 2006's, which would be compounded by the 2007's.

Asked how much he thought prices should go down for the 2007 vintage Davies said, the more the merrier. "Let's get this stuff out of here and get people drinking it, not collecting it."
"Bordeaux is producing some of the best wines in the world, but we need to get back to parity with the dollar in terms of pricing and make it more accessible," he said.

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