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Good value, late-released Léoville Las Cases 2002 meets with positive response

ACTIVITY in January was subdued, with both the Burgundy and Rhône 2003 campaigns failing to spark interest in anything more than a handful of wines in the secondary market.

Trade through the Exchange was flat on December.  The market continued to be dogged by a weak US dollar (despite its 3% rally in the month).

Stock held by the leading UK merchants rose 7% – only the second monthly rise in a year. January saw no new reviews of note from the critics, but speculation is already mounting with regard to Parker’s update on Bordeaux 2002 and 2003.

He spent a week in Bordeaux last month reviewing both vintages. Rumours (and they are only rumours) suggest that there will be a reiteration of the quality of the best from 2003, while his verdict on 2002 may be a little lukewarm. 

This may explain the timing of the release of the 2002 wines from the Jean-Hubert Delon stable which includes Léoville Las Cases, Nenin, Clos Marquis and Potensac.

Delon didn’t offer his wines en primeur in 2002, so this was the first offer of the wines on the market.  Due to favourable pricing the Léoville Las Cases offer was fairly well received.

As the table shows (top right), the 2002 looks good value against other vintages of Léoville Las Cases.  This is best illustrated using our POP (price to points) ratio, which divides the market price of the wine by the score to give a loose measure of value (ie the lower the POP the better the value).

To give each point more weight and reflect the fact that wines with less than 80 points have little value in the secondary market, we calculate POP by converting Parker’s 100-point scale into 20 points (this is calculated by subtracting 80 points from the score).

Adjustments possible

It is possible, should the rumours prove correct, that the standing of the 2002 and 2003 might be adjusted once Parker publishes his review, but currently the 2002 (RP 94-97) gets a marginally better score than the 2003 (RP 94-96), yet trades at half the price! Indeed,  Léoville Las Cases 2002 was one of the wines of the vintage and was only outscored by Latour (RP 95-98), which trades at £1,300 per case.

Another strange anomaly is the fact that the 2000 trades on a higher POP than any vintage since the 1982.  The 1986, for example, gets a similar score, but is cheaper than the 2000, despite being ready to drink and having 14 extra years in bottle.

Are recent vintages overpriced or is it simply that the back vintages are undervalued?

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