The Stout Report: One Year Later – Bordeaux

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All it took was for the Prime Minister of China to say “stop using government money for luxurious dinners and wine.”

Bordeaux First Growths are finding it harder to sell in China.

I was in a recent discussion with another master sommelier that is in the retail business about the future of Bordeaux in the retail market in the United States. He sells what he gets and it is not all Big Names. The wine we were drinking during dinner was a bottle of fifth growth, Lynch Moussas 2009  Pauillac. The wine had been purchase at retail by Doug Frost MS, MW for $35 a bottle.

The wine was a good, classic left bank leather cedar and tobacco Bordeaux. The kind you dream of in blind tastings. What was amazing to me during our dinner and conversation was the lack of knowledge that retailers and sommelier around the country know about Bordeaux. Not our group at dinner, but wine programs in general around the country.

Poor little chateau  La Conseillante and Troplong Mondot,   Ask someone you know who loves wine and see if they know where those wine comes from. Should be a no brainer for a Bordeaux drinker right?  Not for many young wine professional and sommeliers out there.

Why is there a disconnect with people on the none Classified Bordeaux in terms of recognition?  

Have American wine drinkers lost interest in Bordeaux or has Bordeaux lost interests in the states?  Has Bordeaux shifted its sales strategy to only the Far East?  

I just read an article on that very subject written last week in the Wine Spectator by Suzanne Mustacich.   It confirms what I thought was going on after my last trip to Bordeaux.


There were fewer Asian buyers at the UGC (Union of Grand Cru) tasting and a sense of push back on the lofty prices of the first growths. The new Chinese government has made it clear that extravagance is frowned upon. Many of the super seconds will be happy with this new turn of events. They are the ones who had the common sense and encourage to start backing off pricing after the incredible back to back vintages of 2009 and 2010.

Is the United States looking better in the eyes of the Bordeaux merchants?

They never gave up on us. The dollar was in the tank and the euro was strong. The Asia market added increased pressure on the situation at a time of recession. Bordeaux sells in the world markets, not just England the USA. The argument is have they kept prices higher than a normal adjustment after lighter vintages of 2011 and 2012.

The recession and the rise of the second Asia wine crazy country haven’t helped Americans in their Bordeaux wine purchases.  Japan is still a major purchaser of Bordeaux and also had a strong presence at the UGC tastings.

Understanding it all:

I think we are settling in for the long haul. It seems that people on both sides of the Pacific still want Bordeaux and will buy just about anything with Bordeaux on the label.

Bravo Cotes de Bordeaux, who are in the process of rolling out their new labels featuring Bordeaux prominently on the front label.  I think you guys got it right. Put Bordeaux on the label and it will sell. Send some to us…

The Lucky 61 along with those classic St Emilion and Pomerol producers that have etched a notch in our wine memory are still in demand. Of the 70 million cases of Bordeaux produced each year, only about 2% are those Big names. Where does the rest of it go? It goes to my palate, because it’s all I can afford.

The Unsung Heroes of Medoc :

Chateau Larose Trintaudon, Haut Medoc and Chateau Greysac ,Medoc

These are good size Chateau that make affordable wines year in and year out. There are no giant price swings like you see in the best vintages. These guys, are consistently good and offer reasonable prices, at $20 or under on the shelf. These are the two best known and are widely available. I have tasted these wines for the past twenty years and fined them to be reliable and delicious.

Other Non – “Medoc”  Bordeaux  

Chateau St Sulplice Bordeaux  and Chateau Bonnet Blanc and Rouge

These are Bordeaux wines I drink on a regular basis….. It has been one year later. Now, what is it going to take to get these wines out there and in the glass of your local wine bar, café , bistro , or with the young sommeliers and  on the shelves of retailers?


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