Does Storytelling Affect the Price of Bordeaux Wines?
A study was recently published in the journal of Wine Economics and Policy that queried if storytelling added value to Bordeaux wines. Specifically, the aim was to understand if the type of stories told by 132 chateaux members of the Union des Grands Crus provided insight into the brand positioning of each vintage, and if the type of stories told had an effect on price level.
Unlike wine that one may buy in a retail store or off the shelf in a supermarket, Bordeaux wines are considered some of the finest. They are also viewed as an investment not to be consumed but sold on the market later, for what investors hope will be a healthy profit. In 2009 and 2010, the price of Bordeaux wines soared due to increased demand from China, but with the uncertain global economy, prices have since “settled” (Latour recently offered its grand vin at £4,950 per case).
The authors of the paper, Mora and Livet, argue that the “the price increase [of Bordeaux wines] is not explained by the objective value of these products but rather their symbolic position and image evoked of a world of luxury”. Emphasis on strong histories, limited production, and the sensuality of unique smell and tastes create a “halo” effect that drives prices and gives the wines their air of exclusivity. Authenticity, conveyed by stories of history and family; quality, inferred to by narratives of technical process; and descriptions of geography and emotive language are used to appeal to the curiosity of the public, dreams of potential investors and technical interests of wine experts. Bordeaux is not merely a vintage of fine wine. It’s the past and present bottled for the future.