Liv-ex interviews recap: Bordeaux

(Left to right: Veronique Sanders, Bernard Magrez, Michel Rolland)

Last week, we published an interview recap with some of the leading critics in the wine trade. Today’s post looks at our most recent interviews with a selection of influential figures in Bordeaux: Michel Rolland, Veronique Sanders and Bernard Magrez. In this recap, they share their views on Robert Parker’s influence, Bordeaux prices and the role of Liv-ex.

In 2016, we interviewed Bordeaux-based winemaker and consultant Michel Rolland, who has made wine in 21 different countries and experienced over 40 harvests. On the topic of Robert Parker’s influence, Rolland commented that Parker was the only critic “who has managed to build a commercial consensus behind him”, and that “no-one can have the same influence” again. However, Rolland also suggested that Parker’s “intellectual hegemony” was not necessarily a good thing.

Veronique Sanders, General Manager of Chateau Haut Bailly, saw Parker’s impact as positive because he “pushed all of [them] to make better wine”. According to Sanders, the role of the critic is changing. She recognised “the new generation” and said that “if you are loved by the 20 most significant critics, it’s as important as being loved by one huge critic”.

Bernard Magrez, owner of Pape Clement, La Tour Carnet, Fombrauge and Haut-Peygraguey, noted that Parker’s scores had contributed to their wine sales in 2010. When discussing wine criticism, Magrez admitted that “100-point scores today are not the same as they were from Robert Parker”. He further explained that nowadays “merchants look at the average score of the top five” major critics rather than just one.

Opinions on Bordeaux were also manifold. For Rolland, fine wine investment in Bordeaux remains a sure bet. Still, he admitted that winemakers in the region possess “some sort of arrogance” when it comes to pricing their wines. He acknowledged that Bordeaux got distracted with its market orientation back in 2009 and 2010, as it focused heavily on China and ignored some of the more traditional markets like the UK and USA.

Magrez also said that “the error of some in Bordeaux is to believe that prices can keep going up; it happened with very great wines due to demand from China, but it won’t happen again”. On determining a “reasonable price”, he added that they tend to listen to the brokers in Bordeaux and the top ten traders”, as well as consult with a sales team to find out what their customers will accept. For him, a decent price is “the price that the customer is willing to pay”.

He further recognised the role of Liv-ex in pricing their wines: “We follow Liv-ex prices constantly. I position my wines according to last trade […] The negociants look at Liv-ex to try and sell at the relevant price. I also follow the studies – blogs and research.”

Sanders was a fan of Liv-ex too. She commented: “I read everything. It has excellent analysis, and it gives us the opportunity to stand back and look at what is happening. We’re always busy and with Liv-ex we can really gain perspective on the market.”

All interviews from this article:

To read last week’s interview recap, click here.