Friday, September 23, 2016

How Does the Negociant System in Bordeaux Work? Tour and Tasting at Millésima - Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France

Picture: Touring Millésima in Bordeaux City

Led by Annette Schiller, the Bordeaux Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours took place from September 6 to 15, 2016. The group comprised 14 wine lovers from the United States and Switzerland, including Annette and Christian Schiller. I already provided an overview of the tour. See the list of postings at the end of the article. This posting focuses on our first event: Visit and Tasting at Millésima.

See: Bordeaux Wine Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France

Following a welcome coffee and introduction to the Bordeaux wine region at Hotel La Tour Intendance in the afternoon of September 6, 2016, we took a short bus ride to our first event: Tour and Tasting at Millésima in Bordeaux City. At the storage facility of Millésima at the outskirts of Bordeaux City, where over two million bottles of top Bordeaux wines are stored and waiting to be shipped, we were introduced to the system how the top producers of premium Bordeaux wines sell their wine to their customers all over the world and had our first tasting, a wine and cheese pairing.

Manuela Picot was our host.

Picture: At Millésima in Bordeaux City

Place de Bordeaux and En Primeur

The way the top producers of Bordeaux sell their wines to their customers all around the world differs strikingly from the way their colleagues in other countries or even in Bordeaux do.

Wine maker Doug Fabbioli from Fabbioli Cellars in Virginia, for example, sells the wine he produces during the course of the year to the consumers who show up at his winery and by the wine directly from him. Wine maker Ernst Loosen from Dr. Loosen in the Mosel Valley in Germany, whose wines are available all over the world, works, I assume, with wholesalers in Germany as well as with importers from all over the world, who buy the wine from him during the course of the year. The wines of both Doug Fabbioli and Ernst Loosen are sold after the wines have been bottled and are ready to be consumed.

Picture: The Quai de Chartons (Painting at Millesima in Bordeaux City)

The way the system works for the premium Bordeaux wines is different. And it is unique in the world. The wines are sold well before they are bottled (en primeur system) and the wines are sold and distributed to the world through negociants (Place de Bordeaux).

Buying Bordeaux wines en primeur is like buying commodity futures, with cash laid down now for later delivery of something that does not yet exist as a finished product. The futures reach the consumer through a series of phases.

Today, there are 400 négociants on the Place de Bordeaux, and most labels are purchased by an average of 40. Each chateau works with a different number of negociants. Some properties work with 5 different negociants, others work with over 100.

I provided an overview of the system here: Bordeaux - En Primeur, Negociants, Courtiers, the Quai de Chartons and the Place de Bordeaux – A Short Introduction. Go there for more information.


Pictures: At Millésima in Bordeaux City

Wine and Cheese Tasting

Following the tour through the vast storage rooms we sat down for a wine tasting paired with cheese. We tasted 4 entirely different wines: white, red right bank, red left bank and sweet.

Pictures: Tasting at Millésima in Bordeaux City

Fugue de Nenin 2004, Pomerol, paired with Gouda


Fleur Peyrabon 2006 Pauillac Cru Bourgeois, paired with Sheep Cheese


Chateau Olivier 2012 Graves Pessac Leognan, Grand Cru Classe, paired with Chevre


Chateau de Liot 1997 Sauternes, paired with Roquefort


Postings on the Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France (Posted and Forthcoming)

Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France

Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

Bordeaux Wines and their Classifications: The Basics

Bordeaux - En Primeur, Negociants, Courtiers, the Quai de Chartons and the Place de Bordeaux – A Short Introduction

Tour and Tasting at Millésima (Wine Merchant) in Bordeaux City

Tour and Tasting at Domaine de Chevalier, Graves

Dinner with a View: At Restaurant L’Estacade in Bordeaux City

Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Bordeaux City, France

Schiller's Favorite Seafood Places in Bordeaux City, France

Saint Emilion Wines and their Classification, Bordeaux, France

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in St. Emilion, France

The Wine Empire of the von Neipperg Family in France, Bulgaria and Germany 

Tour and Tasting at Château Canon La Gaffelière, Saint-Emilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé

Tour and Wine Lunch at Château Beauséjour, Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, with Owner and Winemaker Gérard Dupuy

Tour and Tasting at Château de Figeac, Saint-Emilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé

Tour and Tasting at Château Beauregard, Pomerol

Tour at Château Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol, with Dany Rolland

Wine Lunch at Château Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol, with Dany Rolland

Tasting were it all Started: At the "Garage" of Jean-Luc Thunevin, Owner and Winermaker of Château Valandraud, Premier Grand Cru Classé since 2012

Tour and Tasting at Château de Fargues, Sauternes, with Prince Eudes d’Orléans

Wine Pairing Lunch at the 1-star Michelin Restaurant Claude Darozze, with Marie-Hélène Lévêque, Owner of Châteaux Chantegrive

Tour of Château de Chantegrive, Appellation Grave

Tour and Tasting at Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé.

Wine Pairing Lunch at the 2-star Michelin Restaurant La Grande Vigne (at Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte)

Tour of the new Musee du Vin in Bordeaux City

Seafood lunch at Pinasse Cafe in Cap Ferret

Tour of the Earl Ostrea Chanca Oyster Farm and Oyster Tasting in Grand-Piquey, with Oyster Farmer Ralph Doerfler

The 5 Premiers Grands Crus Chateaux en 1855 of Bordeaux, France

What is a Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois? France

Tourt and tasting at Château Palmer, Margaux, 3ième Grand Cru Classé

Tour and Tasting at Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Pauillac, 2ième Grand Cru Classé

Wine Lunch at Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Pauillac, 2ième Grand Cru Classé

Tour and Tasting at Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ième Grand Cru Classé, with Owner Michel Tesseron

At the Invitation of Owner Michel Tesseron: Private Dinner at Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ième Grand Cru Classé

Tour and Tasting at Château Sociando Mallet, Appellation Haut-Médoc

How a Barrel is Made: Visit of the Cooperage Berger & Fils in Vertheuil

Lunch were the Locals eat: At Le Peyrat in Saint-Estèphe in Saint Estephe

Tour and Tasting at Château Léoville Poyferré, Saint-Julien, 2ième Grand Cru Classé, with Anne Cuvelier

Tour and Tasting at Château Margaux, Appellation Margaux, 1ière Grand Cru Classé

Tour and Tasting at Château Kirwan, Appellation Margaux, 3ième Grand Cru Classé, with Owner Nathalie Schyler

Picnic Lunch at Château Kirwan, Appellation Margaux, 3ième Grand Cru Classé, with Owner Nathalie Schyler

Tour and Wine Dinner at Château Haut-Bailly, Graves, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé, with Daina Paulin




Thursday, September 22, 2016

At the VDP Autumn Wine Auction at Eberbach Abbey in the Rheingau, 2016, Germany

Picture: Wilhelm Weil, Owner of Weingut Robert Weil and President of the VDP.Rheingau, Opening the 2016 Autumn Auction of the VDP.Rheingau at Kloster Eberbach

The traditional wine auctions of the German premium wine producers in the Mosel, Rheingau and Nahe regions take place in March and at the end of September. This year, I had the opportunity to participate in the September wine auction in the Rheingau.

Most of the photos are mine. But I also took some photos from the facebook accounts of Weingut Allendorf, Weinkaiser and Martin Zwick.

4 Wine Auctions

Four wine auctions are held every year in Germany, where the premier German wine producers auction off some of the best young wines, as well as some older wines. Three of the four auctions are arranged by the regional associations of the Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter (VDP).

These auctions differ from wine auctions on the second-hand market held by auction houses, where collectible wines are sold by private or corporate owners, since it is "first hand" wines that are sold. The wines of the newest vintage predominate, supplemented by a limited number of rarities.

Picture: 4 Auctions

The 4 auctions that are held annually are:

March: The annual auction of the Hessische Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach.

Late September, on three consecutive days, the auctions of the VDP regional associations of the Mosel, Rheingau and Nahe:

Friday: VDP.Mosel at the IAT Plaza Hotel Trier

Saturday: VDP.Rheingau at Kloster Eberbach

Sunday: VDP.Nahe at the Römerhalle ("Roman Hall") in Bad Kreuznach

Often, young wines achieve new world records at these auctions. In 2000, for example, a 1999 Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese from the Rheingau estate Weingut Robert Weil fetched DM 6,235 per bottle, while in 2001, a 750-ml bottle of 1994 Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese from Weingut Egon Müller-Scharzhof of Wiltingen on the Saar topped that record with DM 9,228.

The absolute record was set in 1987, when one bottle of 1735 Johannisberger Riesling from Weingut Schloss Schönborn fetched DM 53,000 (ca. Euro 26,000). The winning bid was placed by a German-Canadian businessman.

Auction Procedures

All auctions include a morning pre-tasting of all wines – except for rarities and single-bottle lots. During the actual auction itself, these wines are poured again and can be sampled before the auctioneer begins the bidding (wet wine auction).

The exact auction procedures vary somewhat between the different regional auctions, but have several things in common. The wines put up for auction must be approved by a tasting panel before being admitted to the auction. After that, a calling price is decided upon after a tasting by commissioners.

Pictures: 2 of the 10 Commissioners at the VDP.Rheingau Auction: Selbach and Allendorf

The wine makers do not sell their wines to the individual participants of the auction, but rather to approved commissioners, who act as intermediaries and cast the actual bids at the auction. These number about 10 per auction. The commissioners collect bids from the interested buyers before and during the auction. In most cases, a wine lot will be divided among several commissioners, with one of them as lead buyer. Commissioners charge around five percent of the auction price for their services.

The September 2016 VDP.Rheingau Auction at Kloster Eberbach

The morning pre-tasting started at 10:00 am, which Annette Schiller and I had to skip unfortunately. We arrived around noon for a hearty lunch – a soup – with VDP wines.

Pictures: Chatting with Participating Winemakers: Mark P. Barth (Wein- und Sektgut Barth), Dieter Greiner (Staatsweingut Kloster Eberbach), Urban Kaufmann (Weingut Hans Lang - Urban Kaufmann), Peter Seyffardt (Weingut Diefenhardt), Frederik zu Knyphausen (Weingut Baron Knyphausen), Stefan Doktor (Schloss Johannisberg), Peter Winter (Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung)

The auction started at 1:00 pm and ended at 5:00 pm. 36 lots were auctioned off, that means, on average it took 6 minutes for each wine and 1 hour for 9 wines. Except for a few, all wines were also poured. You had plenty of time to evaluate the wine. While we were tasting, the auctioneer Dr. Leo Gros would ask the winemaker to join him on the stage, he would say a few words about the wine and the winemaker and then end with a funny story or something like that.

Pictures: At the VDP 2016 Autumn Wine Auction at Eberbach Abbey in the Rheingau

Then, the bidding would begin. Initially, the commissioners would remain in their seat, but when it would get towards the final price they would get up and assemble around the Dr. Leo Gros and talk to each other and sometimes also to the winemaker. I am not exactly sure what was happening then.

Pictures: Winemakers on the Stage: Mark P. Barth (Wein- und Sektgut Barth), Peter Seyffardt (Weingut Diefenhardt), Fred Prinz (Weingut Prinz), Peter Winter (Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung), Desiree Freifrau zu Knyphausen (Weingut August Eser), Frederik zu Knyphausen (Weingut Baron Knyphausen)

The 2015 Weingut Fritz Allendorf Winkeler Riesling trocken „Goethewein aus dem Brentanohaus“ was one of the highlights of the Rheingau auction. This was the largest and most expensive bottle of the Rheingau auction. It was a Balthazar (12 liter) and went for Euro 1450 plus commission and VAT. The bottle was bought by a Chinese Riesling lover.

Pictures: Ulrich Allendorf and his „Goethewein aus dem Brentanohaus“ in a Balthasar

The September 2016 VDP.Mosel Auction in Trier

The 2016 VDP.Mosel auction in Trier was led by Max von Kunow, winemaker and owner, Weingut von Hövel. The brand-new VDP President of the VDP.Mosel, Carl von Schubert, Weingut Maximin Grünhaus, opened the auction.

Pictures: 2016 VDP.Mosel Auction in Trier

At the Mosel auction, a 2015 Weingut Egon Müller Scharzhofberg Riesling Kabinett was sold for Euro 160 plus commission and VAT per bottle. The lot comprised a “Fuder” of 1000 bottles.

Pictures: 2015 Weingut Egon Müller Scharzhofberg Riesling Kabinett

The September 2016 VDP.Nahe Auction in Bad Kreuznach

Leo Gros led the 2016 VDP.Nahe auction in Bad Kreuznach. Most of the wines auctioned off were from the Nahe Valley, but there were also wines from Rheinhessen, Pfalz and the Ahr Valley.

Picture. 2016 VDP.Nahe Auction in Trier

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