La Place de Bordeaux Explained
La Place is a historic network of merchants and collectors which has been in operation for more than 800 years. Originally intended to sell only the wines from Bordeaux, since 1998 the marketplace has evolved to include some of the most prestigious wines from around the world. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this year’s new releases.
This historic marketplace is a complex distribution system made up of over 300 négociants, or wine distributors, who sell the wines produced in Bordeaux to merchants around the world – such as Cru Wine – who then offer the wine to consumers. This system has been in place for centuries, providing an established and effective route to the global market for various chateaux and producers. Négociants distribute the wine as fairly and as globally as possible and with only a set number of producers, provenance is more easily traced.
These elements make La Place a quick and efficient way for distributing wine to consumers, so it’s no surprise that the system is no longer restricted to the top wines of Bordeaux. The majority of Bordeaux wines will be sold through La Place in the spring during En Primeur, but in September we get a wave of exciting releases with new vintages of top wines from the likes of Napa, Chile, Argentina and plenty of Italy’s Super Tuscans, along with second releases of some of the top Bordeaux mature vintages.
The first non-Bordeaux wine to be sold through La Place was Almaviva, the brainchild of the late Philippine de Rothschild of Château Mouton-Rothschild and Concho y Toro, who placed the 1996 vintage of their Chilean wine project on La Place in 1998. Following in their footsteps, in 2004, Opus One, Mouton Rothschild’s Californian collaboration with Mondavi moved to distribute exclusively via La Place.
At first this wasn’t an easy sell for Bordeaux négociants, with the bold and powerful wines of the New World unable to compete with the appeal of wines with Old World pedigree. However, in recent years we’ve seen the rise of elegant and sophisticated New World iconic wines, which are now competing with the best on the fine wine stage. This shift, along with consistent high scores and acclaim from international wine critics has created a global audience vying to add these bottles to their collections.
Whilst the origins of La Place may seem antiquated, this ancient distribution system is the most efficient way to give fine wine producers access to a global audience of consumers and in turn, allowing wine enthusiasts around the world an opportunity to access the globe’s most sought-after names.