120 wines still have to be released to date as futures: Its proof that it is complicated for a manager, owner, to set a price that balances the clients needs, the client’s customers, the status of the brand, competition, not to mention ego and competitive spirit. While 95% of Bordeaux probably sell for less than 5 Euros retail, the most famous wines set their prices based on their feelings, a balance between supply and demand, hard to understand for the uninitiated. In addition, even professionals have a hard time understanding our system in Bordeaux, a mix of serious industry, haute-couture crafts, and a bit poker players by nature, often liars.
The release price is the inherited social status from the 1855 classification, even the 1955 here in Saint Emilion. The client doesn’t care, but for the wine it is a great challenge which, each year establishes or re-establishes the value of the brand.
A great part of Valandraud’s notoriety is due to the release price which, from 1991 to 2004 was more, or equal, to 1st growths classified in 1855 (with no high notes from the Wine Spectator or the Wine Advocate).
Since then, Valandraud cannot play the same game in regards to prices, first growths becoming more and more cult wines, icons seldom questioned, and indisputable for the best. Clients are rarely consulted, even though, in the end, they are the determining factor.
I have no doubt that for Lafite Rothschild, the Chinese client will play a bigger role in setting the release price than Bordeaux wholesalers !