A year ago it was hard to fathom how Bordeaux wineries would conduct a futures campaign, selling their latest vintage as a global pandemic raged. But they managed to pull it off. Now they have launched the campaign for 2020 futures, and while conditions in many of their leading markets have improved, it is hardly a typical year.
American wine lovers and merchants are curious to see if top châteaus will repeat last year's pause on big price increases. With the global economy so uncertain, most wineries kept price increases fairly small. A strong dollar also helped. Many of the best-known wines sold well.
The economy is still uncertain, but there are signs that the next six months will bring strong economic growth as vaccinations accelerate and restrictions ease. People with money are looking to spend. Will that convince Bordeaux vintners that they can resume the big price increases seen in past years?
And there's a big catch for U.S. buyers: The dollar is weaker against the euro this year, meaning châteaus could release futures at the exact same price, but Americans will pay more. The bright side? The government has paused tariffs on French wines, removing a big extra cost.
Cheval-Blanc made a splash last week, kicking off the campaign. Typically one of the last estates to release futures, it was the first big name to hit the market. The 2020 was released at €380 per bottle, ex-négociant, up 2.7 percent on the 2019. It’s being offered by top U.S. retailers at an average price of $575, or $6,900 per case, an increase of 16 percent on the 2019. While it's not cheap, it's more than 30 percent cheaper than the current market price of both the 2015 and 2016 vintages.