As en primeur prices for Bordeaux’s least expensive labels begin to emerge speculation is mounting on the cost of the top wines.
Prices are widely expected to be higher than 2005 due to anticipated demand from China and predicted high Parker scores exacerbated by lower production levels among some of the first growths.
“This is the first en primeur campaign to really excite the fast-growing Chinese market,” said Gary Boom, managing director of Bordeaux Index.
He estimates that the fine wine merchant will sell £25 million worth of Bordeaux throughout the en primeur campaign, including £7m to the Chinese market.
“We expect significant interest from the Far East, in addition to unprecedented levels of investment from our more traditional en primeur markets,” he said.
As for Parker, the widely reported ripeness of the 2009 vintage is likely to appeal to his palate while low production levels among some leading labels will ensure restricted supply.
Although ideal weather conditions tend to produce high yields, such as in 2005, this was not true for 2009.
In particular, Latour and Margaux have reported yields of around 35 hl/ha, compared to a normal yield for a Médoc first growth of 43 hl/ha.
This has meant Latour has made less than 9,000 cases and Margaux 11,000 cases, compared to an average of 14,000 cases.
For this reason one can expect extremely high release prices from these two châteaux at least.
On the other hand, Lafite has produced a more normal 20,000 cases.
High release prices may of course arouse increased interest in older and scarcer vintages, which will appear relatively inexpensive.
In terms of the timing of release prices, Jean-Guillaume Prats of Cos d’Estournel expects the campaign to be “frantic and late” for the top wines, as they wait for someone else to go first. He even suggested that we might have to wait until mid- to late June.
Patrick Schmitt, 15.04.10