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Valued Vintages

With Eighties vintages dwindling, 1995 and 1996 are fast becoming the best options for high-quality drinking stock

Activity in June was dominated by the Bordeaux 2004 campaign. While not a patch on the frenzy that surrounded the launch of the 2003 vintage, turnover on the exchange still recorded its most active month of the year so far, with volumes up 46% on May. Stock held by the leading UK merchants was up by 2.2% on the month. The Liv-ex 100 rose a further 0.2%.

In the last few pieces we have focused on how expensive young Bordeaux has become in recent years, so where does the value lie? Our analysis suggests that of the investment-grade vintages, 1986, 1995 and 1996 are where most of the value lies. Indeed, this month we have screened almost 500 Bordeaux wines, taking 25 of the top names from 19 vintages between 1982 and 2004 (excluding 1984, 1987, 1991 and 1992). We have then compared the latest Livex price and Parker score to ascertain which wines stand out on our “fair value” analysis. This has unearthed some interesting anomalies.

In our table (above right) we highlight 15 wines, which stand out as being particularly good value. Cheval Blanc 1986, for example, trades at below its average price across all vintages, despite nearly 20 years of bottle age. By contrast, Cheval Blanc 2003, which gets just 89 points, is offered at £1,695! Many of the middle and top-end wines from 1995 and 1996 also stand out. Latour 1996, which gets 99 points, for example, trades close to the average price of Latour, despite enjoying a much higher than average score. On paper this is a better wine than both the 2000 and 2003, which trade at close to £3,000!

We are not the first to tip 1995 and 1996, which have looked cheap for a while, but these wines are now coming of age, particularly at the middle end. Indeed, supply of the best Eighties stock is now getting so tight that 1995 and 1996 is the only option for drinkers (or merchants) looking for highquality drinking stocks. For this reason, we think the timing is right to be acquiring these wines. Similarly, many of the 1986s also look good, but finding good quantity at the right price is difficult. Pick them up where you can.

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