In Wine Market, a Bubble Has Burst

Futures sales in trouble after years of spiraling prices
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2009 8:08 AM CDT
Many leading wine buyers are staying away from this week's primeur tastings in Bordeaux in protest at overpricing by top chateaux.   (©atl10trader)
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(Newser) – The most serious wine collectors buy their bottles "en primeur"—paying vineyards for futures of wines that haven't been produced yet. Futures prices for wine had spiraled higher and higher in recent years, even for inferior vintages, as a new class of big spenders moved into the market. But many buyers are staying away from this week's tastings of the 2008 vintages in Bordeaux, writes the New York Times, as a protest at unreasonably high prices.

Merchants say that the vineyards refuse to accept that current market conditions mean prices for bottles must come down, while producers, especially smaller ones, say they can't afford to slash prices. Some of the region's top chateaux will cut prices by 15% from last year's en primeur, but one leading wine merchant said that "cutting the price by 50% to 60% is the only way it’s going to work." (Read more France stories.)