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Going up and down

The Bordeaux wine crisis and the increasingly high end of the market

Construction machinery ripping up vines in the Bordeaux Supérieur production area

More and more often, the customers who take part in our tasting tour in Saint Emilion, during the friendly discussions between enthusiasts that we usually have, ask me what's happening in Saint Emilion about the crisis in Bordeaux wine.

Some seem worried, others ironically comment on the situation, and as everyone has their own worries, they don't worry about those of others.

Now universally recognised, the crisis in the full-bodied red wine of Bordeaux (and therefore in part of Saint-Émilion) is surprising and raises questions: where does it come from, why and who is affected by it?

Having worked with a number of Châteaux in Bordeaux Supérieur and Saint Emilion, when I talk to customers I express my opinion, far from considering myself a wine guru and perhaps not even an expert; I see myself more as a sincere enthusiast.

I think we need to be a bit more objective in considering the factors: firstly, young consumers prefer to drink beer, often craft beer, rather than wine.

I don't like to think that fashion influences taste but, unfortunately, it's more common to see pints of beer on bar and restaurant tables than glasses of red wine, even in Saint Emilion.

Secondly, beer prices are generally lower than a bottle of wine, in which case I'm mainly referring to domestic consumption.

Thirdly, the structured, full-bodied wines of the Bordeaux region have fallen out of fashion, with consumers preferring more acidic, fresh wines, mainly from varieties grown in Beaujolais, the Loire, Champagne and Burgundy.

As with any article, the consequence is that the prices of the latter continue to rise (especially for Burgundies), while the price of Bordeaux Supérieur sold to the cooperative cellar, which happens if the producer is unable to sell his own bottle or in the absence of special agreements with the négociants, hit 80 centimes a litre in 2023, and even less!

I can assure you that this price does not cover production costs, even for a particularly thrifty and careful producer.

And what has become of Saint-Émilion's 'premier grands crus classés' Group A and Group B, i.e. the 14 producers (out of more than 800) who topped the official 2022 classification?

Well, like all luxury goods, their prices have continued to rise, despite the general trend; whether we're talking about yachts, cars, villas, watches or other goods, luxury knows no crisis!

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions, limiting myself to raising my glass with a good Château Coutet Bio (€30 a bottle and often among the top-ranked wines in blind tastings) to the health of those who can afford far more famous and expensive bottles but, above all, to the health of those 'happy few' mentioned by Stendhal who don't let themselves be influenced by fashion and drink what they like best..... salute!

If you're over 18, love wine and want to make the most of the beautiful summer sunshine, why not take part in a wonderful excursion that will end with a delicious tasting of Saint Emilion wine? Come and visit us soon - summer is a great time to visit the vineyards!


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