La Place de Bordeaux is a wine marketplace, not an actual physical building. It was originally established because the storage of wine was difficult in Bordeaux. Other than in Saint Emilion, where there are caves dating back to Roman times, it was impossible to dig deep cellars, particularly in the Médoc region, where the majority of Bordeaux’s famous fine wines come from.
The system of selling the wine ‘En Primeur’ or as futures developed where the châteaux sold the latest vintage ahead of its maturation. This enabled them to ship the wine out as soon as it was bottled, often in the November of the following year. At any given point, therefore, they only needed to be storing two vintages of wine.
A Traditional System for a Modern Market
Because the wine was sold and traded before it was finished, a complex system developed. The châteaux sold to ‘courtiers’, often family friends or even relatives. The courtiers were the only people who dealt with the producers, and they took a small percentage without handling the wine itself. They then sold to Négociants or brokers. Occasionally these brokers would sell to the end consumer, but more likely to importers, wholesalers, and retailers.
Gradually, this system has become unnecessary. But rooted in tradition and family ties, it remains the way the majority of the wine is sold. Some châteaux, such as Chateau Latour in Pauillac, have built large underground storage using modern technology. They now elect to store the wine until it is ready to drink, or certainly much older, and then sell it directly on the wider market. Many have copied this model, often using both La Place and their own storage, releasing much less of the wine when it is young. Some small chateaux, especially those of Pomerol and Saint Emilion, never used La Place at all. Famous names like Pétrus have a waiting list of customers for the wine and need no middlemen to sell it for them.
As a result, La Place itself has also evolved. In addition to the regular En Primeur campaign in the late spring and early summer of each year, there are now many releases in the autumn, starting in September. This includes the older wines of some of the Bordeaux châteaux, such as Latour, and also those who have traditionally released after more ageing such as Sauternes’ Château d’Yquem.
Vindome is in La Place (de Bordeaux)!
At Vindome, we have already secured stocks of the new release Château Latour 2011. It is a relatively early drinking vintage of more grace than usual for the blockbuster Latour style and gathered very high scores from the critics.
Other wines have also joined La Place from elsewhere in France, particularly Champagne, Italy – especially Tuscany, Spain, Germany, and the New World. These wines have in common that they are considered the best of the producers’ output and the very best examples of their kind.
What’s coming next?
They are all young wines, and there is often a connection to Bordeaux, such as Tuscany’s Caiarossa (owned by the same family as Margaux’s Château Giscours), Domaine de Baronarques, an estate in Limoux owned by Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the family owners of Mouton-Rothschild. Pym Rae is a Napa Valley estate owned by Alfred Tesseron of Château Pontet-Canet in Pauillac. Cheval des
Andes is the Argentinian wine from Château Cheval Blanc, also released on La Place de Bordeaux.
Classic producers taking part include Tuscany’s Antinori and Bibi Graetz, Catena Zapata and Zuccardi from Argentina, and the top cuvees from Telmo Rodriguez and CVNE in Rioja.
From Antinori, we bought parcels of Solaia 2020, a Sangiovese-based SuperTuscan that always delivers the best quality for the grape from the Bolgheri region, and Masseto 2020, a 100-point masterpiece single vineyard Merlot to rival Pétrus.
New for September 2023 is the arrival of La Place of South Africa’s Vin de Constance from Klein Constantia and the top single vineyard wine from Markus Molitor’s Domaine Serrig in the Mosel Valley in Germany. Icon wines Chapellet Cabernet Sauvignon and Favia, both from the Napa Valley, are some of the over 140 wines now joining La Place.
Rest assured that Vindome is monitoring all these releases, and we will bring you the best of them when the price is competitive and the quality is right. Make sure you download the Vindome app to ensure you receive the latest updates!