Even as Chateau Lafite leads a surge for Bordeaux vintners in Asia, US retail prices for the same wines have skidded below wholesale cost as a major importer dumps stocks worth tens of millions of dollars.
US importer Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines (DC&E), a subsidiary of the British drinks giant Diageo, has abandoned Bordeaux wine after 35 years, aggressively liquidating its warehouse stock on an already shaky market.
Speaking to AFP, a source within DC&E, who asked to remain anonymous, blamed "enormous stocks" of unsold Bordeaux for their exodus. "It's all about making money. The margins are getting thinner each year and Americans are trading down."
DC&E's turbulent withdrawal, which has heated up in recent weeks, is having a "huge impact on the market," Chris Adams, chief executive of Manhattan retailer Sherry Lehmann, told AFP.
For many years, DC&E was the largest US buyer of Bordeaux, and amassed a colossal cellar. Now famous labels such as Lafite, Haut Brion and Lynch Bages are being offered to American retailers at discounts of up to 50 percent.
"I have 5.5 million dollars' worth of First Growths in my warehouse that I cannot sell, because I'll be 50 percent more expensive than Chateau & Estate," said Guillaume Touton, owner of Monsieur Touton Selection, the New York importer with annual sales of over 100 million dollars.
Look for eye-popping pre-Christmas bargains!