Subskription 2011
Letzte Einträge - Bordeaux Subskription 2011
Donnerstag, 04.10.2008 - Vintage-Interview (4): Alexandre Thienpont
Die zusammenhängende Weinbergsfläche von Vieux Chateau Certan liegt wie auch Pétrus, L`Evangile oder La Conseillante auf der Hochterrasse, dem schönsten und besten Teil im Zentrum des Plateaus von Pomerol. In vielen der zurückliegenden Jahre zählte der Wein von Vieux Château Certan unabhängig von der jeweiligen Qualität des Jahrgangs bei den Primeur-Verkostungen immer wieder zu den besten Weinen des Jahrgangs. Diese Kontinuität zahlte sich auch 2006 und 2007 bei den Subskriptionen. Verantwortlich für die Vinifizierung ist seit über 20 Jahren Alexandre Thienpont, dessen Familie das Weingut seit 1924 gehört.

We sold the entire crop in one day

Q How did the primeurs campaign go?
A The start to the 2007 primeurs campaign was slow, very quiet and nobody seemed to want to stick their neck out. The first few tentative deals that were done were at lower prices than 2006 which suggested that business was a bit tough.

Q How did you hit on your opening price at VCC?
A We had brought out the 05 at 80 euros, which was 5 euros higher than the 06. Personally, I was really annoyed about how low we had come out for the 06, because in my opinion the VCC 06 is even better than the 05. But that’s another story.

Anyway, as I was just saying, the atmosphere was extremely gloomy at the beginning of the 07 primeurs campaign, and expectations on the Bordeaux market of a significant drop in price were high, especially bearing in mind the dollar-euro exchange rate. It was mentioned that, given the difference in the exchange rate, if prices were dropped by 26% we could then come out for American importers at the same price levels as for 06.

To make matters worse, we were getting feedback from the American market that the US was not even interested in buying the 2007, and that in most people’s opinion over there, they would be able to get hold of the 07s in 3 years’ time at the same prices as now.

So what was I to do about the 07 price? It’s no secret that here at VCC we have a board of shareholders that expect me to sell all the wine I make here every year. I’m more or less forced to find a price level during the primeurs that will enable me to sell the whole vintage. Now as I said, a drop of 26% would not be enough, if I was going to make the 07 price more attractive than the 06. (Meanwhile, other Bordeaux growths were coming out at just 5 to 7% lower.)

Brokers were calling me, urging me to come out quickly and set an example with a substantial drop. “OK” I joked, “I’ll come down by a third if you like.”

“That’s exactly what you should do!” they replied, “come out on Monday and take the market by surprise!” I think they believed that those early price drops of around only 7% were not helping the situation in any way, and that perhaps a growth with the reputation of VCC, if it made a substantial gesture, would set a much better tone and would encourage others to follow suit.

Q And that’s what you did. What was the exact price?
A 50 euros. We sold the entire crop in one day. It was so successful that one or two of the shareholders were starting to wonder if I’d sold it too cheap! I even heard some detractors suggest that it was quite normal for us to come down so much because VCC 06 had been overpriced and didn’t sell well. That’s completely false, the whole 06 crop had sold very quickly too.

Q So did this magnanimous gesture succeed in setting the tone for all the other top growths?
A Not really. Many continued to come down by only 6,7 or 8 per cent. But what I know, and this is on good authority, is that the majority of the top growths have not sold the totality of their crops. So I’m completely satisfied with my decision to come down by so much. It shows respect to our customers, and I think it’s a fair price for this vintage.

Q Do you know if importers in the American market finally decided to buy any of your VCC 07?
A Members of my family, as well as a Bordeaux merchant, have told me that some VCC 07 has indeed been sold in the US, but it wasn’t very easy.

Q Let’s look forward to the next vintage. What can you say at this stage about the 08?
A I can already say that the crop will be small.

Q It’s looking like a late harvest, isn’t it?
A Only slightly late. We’re behind schedule and in a similar situation to the 2002 or 2000. The picking will almost certainly be at the end of September/beginning of October. Remember 2000, which was a very fine vintage: we had a downy mildew attack in that vintage in the same period as this year. We have lost a bit of the 2008 crop due to that mildew, but less than what we would have got rid of during the crop thinning in August. We would always prefer not to have any mildew, but in the past we have made some excellent vintages in spite of mildew attacks, and 08 could well be another example.

Q But coulure and millerandage have also taken their toll, too, haven’t they?
A That’s true. The important thing in 08 was to go carefully through the vineyard, adjusting the crop load on a vine-by-vine basis. Bunches affected by millerandage were removed. Those vines that flowered evenly and well were favoured. Crop thinning was carried out where necessary. But it was important to assess each single vine Inevitably though, we will be 30% down in volume. We will be hoping that what is left of the crop will be of excellent quality. The big mistake would have been to leave vines with excess bunches to compensate for the loss.

Q Are the losses more in the Merlot?
A No, it’s also in the Cabernet. All the varieties have been affected.

Q Are there parallels then between the 07 and 08 growing seasons?
A Well, the 08 spring was catastrophic. July was very good and so better than in 07. The end of August was wet, but if we have fine weather up to the harvest, we can look forward to good results.
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