Latour leads Liv-ex’s new classification

2nd April, 2013 by Rupert Millar

Bordeaux first growth Latour has topped Liv-ex’s bi-annual classification of the Left Bank.

Latour Bottle shot copyIn an exercise that Liv-ex last carried out in 2011, the former number one, Lafite, has been usurped by its fellow Pauillac estate thanks to the average price per case.

Just as in 1855, Liv-ex graded the wines by price – based on an average from the current five vintages, in this instance 2007 – 2011.

Similarly, there are five price brackets, with “first growths” bracketed at £2,600 a case and above; “second growths” at £700-£2,599; “third growths” £450-£699; “fourth growths” from £320-£449 and “fifth growths” £250-£319.

Although Liv-ex noted on its blog that since 2011 there had been a shift in the market, there have been few major risers and fallers in and out of the top 20 – though there has been a lot of re-shuffling.

The top six of 2011, the first growths and La Mission Haut Brion, remain the same with only Lafite changing places with Latour at first and second, with respective case prices of £6,760 and £7,060.

Palmer remains at number seven but Cos d’Estournel has risen above Léoville Las Cases with an average of £1,413 to the latter’s £1,346.

Montrose (£1,125) has jumped from 14th to 11th place, usurping Duhart Milon (£695), which has plummeted to 19th – not apparently buoyed by its Rothschild association.

Newly 12th place Pontet Canet (£987 and a star of recent vintages from 2009 – 2011) has jumped from 16th place, closely followed by Pichon Baron (£971) up to 13th from 17th.

The only true riser has been Smith Haut Lafitte, which (probably on the back of a solid 100 points from Robert Parker for its 2009) has leapt from 26th to 18th place with an average of £708 a case.

In doing so it, naturally, supplanted the one major casualty of 2011’s top 20, Beychevelle, which dropped to 23rd with an average of £564 a case.

Interestingly, although not included in the main chart, when the second wines of the top estates are compared, they prove remarkably similar in performance – although Carruades de Lafite with a £1,760 average is still ahead of Forts de Latour’s £1,549.

Latour has been grabbing the headlines recently, most notably with its re-release of the 1995 and Forts 2005 in place of en primeurs. However, the premium the château placed on the wine due to its guaranteed provenance was branded as “too high” by several merchants.

Nonetheless, its last en primeur offering of 2011 sold well in what was a moribund campaign. Lafite has been slowing down of late due to rising prices but with the slump there have been glimmers of life more recently as “off” vintages continue to find buyers – as Liv-ex also noted recently.

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