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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Bordeaux 2013: has Ausone got it right?

29th April, 2014 by Rupert Millar

Ausone released the price for its 2013 vintage yesterday afternoon at the same level as Cheval Blanc, it should be the more attractive offer – but is it?

AusoneEtAt €300 per bottle ex-négociant and 17% below its 2008 release price, Ausone is the same price as fellow Saint Emilion grand cru classé A, Cheval Blanc, and should be the obvious choice between the two.

As was pointed out by the drinks business yesterday and later by Liv-ex on its blog, despite releasing at the same price as the 2008 vintage Cheval Blanc still has six cheaper back vintages including the 2008 which has declined dramatically in price as wines from the Right Bank property have been unable to maintain values since 2006.

So ignore Cheval Blanc and buy Ausone? It is more attractive and is just about the cheapest on the market with a case costing just over £3,000.

On the other hand, as Liv-ex pointed out, the 2013 has the property’s lowest score (91) since 1997.

Countering that again, that’s not Robert Parker’s score. Parker hasn’t scored the 2013s yet and won’t until August. Will his score raise the profile of the wine, even of the vintage?

It’s possible that some of the better wines pointed out by the international trade so far will get reasonable scores and as prices are unlikely to have gone upwards between now and August, 90 or 92 points from Parker might cause a minor tremor on the otherwise flat-lining interest chart.

It just all seems very unlikely.

Saint Julien super second, Léoville Las Cases, has presented buyers with one of the better deals of the campaign so far cutting 7% to €79 p/b, the same as its 2008 price.

Its back vintages are largely over £900 p/cs so at roughly £895 p/cs the 2013 is one of the cheaper Las Cases on the market and one of the most highly-rated wines of the vintage.

Just to rain on its parade, the 2012 with marginally better scores is £856 p/cs.

It’s tempting to snort with derision at Pape Clément’s 0.4% reduction, a whole subtraction of €0.20 cents from the 2012 price of €50.

Why even bother with such a measly “cut” if that’s the extent of it? Well it does make the 2013 23% cheaper than the 2008 was at release.

So Pape Clément has given buyers a super deal? Not especially, the 2012 has slumped from £550 p/cs to £498 and other back vintages are softening so the 2013 may be cheaper than some but it’s hardly enough to make one leap to the phones in a buying frenzy.

With the campaign speedily nearing an end the sonorous intonation of many a merchant keeps springing to mind with each new disappointing set of releases - “still no compelling reason to buy”.

All this campaign can hope for now is a quick death.

One Response to “Bordeaux 2013: has Ausone got it right?”

  1. Steve Webb says:

    I’m afraid both Ausone and Cheval Blanc were two of the most disappointing red wines I tasted in 2013 out of a pretty poor selection across the vintage. Ausone’s old Merlot vines, which normally provide its heart, completely failed and Cheval Blanc’s Cabernet Francs, again a crucial part of their blend, didn’t fare much better. I find it hard to bear that Cheval Blanc decided to release the vintage given the LVMH decision last year not to make an Yquem.

    Speaking of Sauternes – they represent the best quality by far in the vintage and the best value by a country mile.

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