Merchant survey: Lafite 2016 is wine of the vintage

8th May, 2017 by Rupert Millar

Lafite has been declared the wine of the 2016 vintage by the trade in Liv-ex’s annual survey in what is also slated to be a successful campaign.

Every year Liv-ex polls its global members to get their impressions and thoughts on the latest Bordeaux vintage and how the campaign will pan out.

The salient points from this year’s survey are that:

  • Lafite is the wine of the vintage
  • For the seventh year in a row Grand-Puy-Lacoste topped the chart for value for money
  • The vintage was rated 95.9 overall
  • Almost half of all merchants are expecting more demand for the 2015s, despite the fact that…
  • Prices are expected to be higher by an average of 8.1% than last year thanks to the current strength of the euro


Wines and the vintage

Lafite takes over from fellow first Château Margaux this year, in a list heavily weighted towards the Left Bank, which has seven wines ranked as the ‘best’, including all the first growths as well as Saint Estèphe heavyweights Montrose and Cos d’Estournel.

The second growth is making a quiet name for itself this campaign. Released at the start of this month with no change to its 2015 price (although the exchange rate made it more expensive anyway), the wine was then given a 100-point potential by Neal Martin in The Wine Advocate and is now touted as one of the wines of the vintage by the international trade. Early buyers may be well pleased already.

That said, it may be an obvious choice but Lafite appeared as the number one pick in almost 20% of all responses and as either the first or second pick in almost 50% of replies.

Considering the first growths alone, respondents put 2016 a the third best behind 2010 and 2009 – but above 2005 and 2015.

In terms of what are expected to be the ‘best value wines (that is to say wines expected to release at less than £500 a case), Pauillac fifth growth GPL led the pack for the seventh consecutive year – it should be noted however that it hasn’t always then released at the hoped for price.

A grand total of 96 wines were mentioned in the best value category but stalwarts that appeared most frequently included: Calon Ségur, Angludet, Beychevelle, Langoa Barton and Branaire Ducru.

A further 126 wines were listed as disappointments, from across the Right and Left Banks, as in most reports on the vintage however, the weakest wines were ones made with young vines and Merlot on light soils which are both more likely to have suffered the most from the hot summer conditions.

The vintage was rated 95.9 overall (using the Parker 100-point model), just behind the 2009 and 2010 which were both rated 96 but comfortably above the 2015 (94.6), 2014 (92) and 2008 (91).

That said, respondents broadly said that the vintage was not like any other they’d tasted but others compared it favourably to the 2010, 2009 and 2005 vintages.


The campaign

Considering the up-coming campaign (which has technically begun though is yet to really get underway in a meaningful sense), the broad consensus is that demand for the wines will be more than last year or at least about the same.

In fact, nearly 50% of members (49.2%) thought demand would be more than last year, while a further 37.7% thought it would be the same.

A not insubstantial proportion (9.8%) thought demand might be slightly less than for the 2015s and 3.3% expected significantly lower demand.

Given a ‘shopping basket’ of 10 wines ranging from Mouton Rothschild, to Cheval Blanc, Pichon Lalande, Montrose and Talbot, respondents were asked to predict the release price of each ex-négociant and the average cost of the basket altogether suggested prices would 8.13% higher than the same wines were in 2015.

However, this is significantly lower than last year when rises of 38% were predicted.


READ MORE: Merchants’ opinions on Bordeaux 2016

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