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Saturday 20 December 2014

Latour releases 2004 to ‘deathly silence’

20th March, 2014 by Rupert Millar

Château Latour has re-released its 2004 vintage and 2006 Forts de Latour with respective premiums of 23% and 6% – and the market has greeted it with “deathly silence”.

chateau latourThe 2004 was released two days ago at €400 a bottle and the 2006 Forts at €140 a bottle, which Liv-ex said was equivalent to £4,015 and £1,405 per 12 bottle case at trade prices.

Depending on allocations, some merchants are apparently offering the ‘04 for £4,300 a case, a 23% premium on the current Liv-ex market price of £3,500.

Likewise, the ’06 Forts is available for £1,400 rather than £1,495, a case if buying stock already on the market.

Latour pulled out of the en primeur campaign in 2012 saying in future it would only release wines when it considered them “ready”.

The first release of 1995 Latour and 2005 Forts was marginally successful although many merchants said that the premium was “too high” to attract much interest.

A follow up release of 2007 Forts came out without such a premium.

Nonetheless, the problem which bedevilled the first release is evidently back with Liv-ex director, Anthony Maxwell, telling the drinks business, that with stock on the market, stored in bond since being bought en primeur, the release had met with little to no reaction – “deathly silence”.

“It’s been muted,” he said, “we’ve seen no activity, no bids, no offers.”

Last week it was noted by Liv-ex that there is now no real difference in price between older and younger vintages – older ones not commanding the premium one might expect, which is a blow to Latour’s plans although it is no doubt awaiting the day it can release wines onto the market which have not yet been released at all.

It wasn’t all doom: Will Hargrove, head of fine wine at Corney & Barrow, told db that the merchant had made more sales than expected, with a fairly even split between Latour and Forts, but that overall it had been a “pretty lukewarm response”.

One aspect of the re-release which had piqued some interest he said was the opportunity to buy some larger formats, both Latour and Forts being available in magnums, double magnums, imperials and Jeroboams.

Alongside a wider market slump, Hargrove also opined that the relative youth of a Latour vintage like 2004 was also putting buyers off.

“The idea’s fine,” he said, “but the wines need to be a bit nearer drinking. 2004 is a good vintage but Latour is known as being the most classic of the classics and ’04 at 10 years old is at the very beginning of its drinking window.

“Fifteen percent is a bit too much premium for a wine just starting to drink.”

Nevertheless, he said it was a “good idea” of the estate to make the date of its re-releases an annual fixture and if the market turned for the better could easily see demand rise for perfect provenance wines from the very best vintages with more bottle age.

“If they re-released 2000 with 15 years bottle age in a hot market then there’s sense in that,” he said.

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