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Biggest rises of Bordeaux ‘14

Over 60% of Bordeaux châteaux posted price rises in the 2014 campaign, some higher than others but increases didn’t necessarily mean bad value.

It was a campaign that failed to thrill overall (unlike the lead image) and, once again, the argument boiled to down to price and relative value. Sometimes price rises could be argued away with a nod to the wine’s quality, sometimes the only recourse was a shake of the head.

As Jane Anson has pointed out, 19% of the châteaux offered a price drop on their 2013 releases – the most significant perhaps being Duhart Milon which went down 12.5% – 17% kept the same price as last year and 64% went up by some degree – 36% of them more expensive than the current prices of their 2008s.

As Liv-ex has noted, the campaign was around 5% more expensive than merchants were expecting and with margins on successive campaigns growing smaller and smaller, the debate has now shifted to how merchants are going to approach en primeurs in the future. The system really does feel under pressure now and is very likely finished or almost finished in its current incarnation at least.

The wines listed here posted the biggest price increases during the campaign but it is not to say they were necessarily badly priced – some estates posted smaller price increases but are arguably even worse value.

The subject of “value” weighs heavy on en primeur discussions and although a 25% discount to the current price of back vintages such as 2008 was been singled out as especially plush, sheer appeal clearly plays an important part as well; with some wines which, on paper, don’t look like spectacular deals nonetheless striking a chord – La Mission Haut-Brion a case in point.

All the wines here are also more than €30 a bottle.

Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Lynch Bages, Ducru Beaucaillou – 20%

A grouping of four, top estates to begin with that all came out up 20% on their 2013 prices. The Saint Emilion pairing of Ausone and Cheval Blanc appeared late in the campaign and both released at the same price ex-négociant – €360 p/b.

This is probably less of a problem for Ausone but Cheval Blanc has struggled to hold its value since LVMH decided to “re-position” both it and Yquem a few years ago.

Ducru Beaucaillou was also a late release and its price will no doubt have been disappointing for some. Flying fifth Lynch Bages by contrast seemed to go well at €60 p/b.

La Mission Haut-Brion – 20.8%

Released at €145 p/b, this is a wine that at first glance shouldn’t have worked but some merchants the drinks business spoke to said it had sold quite well.

Léoville Las Cases – 21.5%

A weighty wine and a weighty €96 p/b as well. Will Hargrove of Corney & Barrow has it down as his “sleeper of the vintage”.

Domaine de Chevalier, Pichon Baron – 22%

Two different wines, two different prices. Martin described the former as “quintessential”, the latter as having “remarkable precision.” Both have the same score and the same increase on their 2013 release prices.

Buy according to taste and budget.

Grand Puy Lacoste – 23%

Voted the wine most likely to be “best value” by Liv-ex’s merchants in its annual survey, at €38.50 p/b it was more expensive than many thought it might be but is still under £500 a case.

L’Eglise Clinet – 24%

At €132 p/b and stacking up reasonably well against other back vintages this might have done well although it hasn’t been mentioned much in db’s conversations with merchants; Canon has.

Figeac – 25%

Out in mid-May with a flurry of Right Bank releases such as Clos Fourtet and La Conseillante, Figeac’s €60 p/b price looked quite tempting, particularly as the similarly scored 2005 is currently 65% more expensive.

Again though, not much mention of it from merchants.

Montrose – 54%

A whopping increase which, down the line, will probably make Montrose one of the most divisive wines of the campaign when it comes to price. The wine is universally held to be brilliant and a price increase was expected. But whereas the trade thought €62 p/b would be fair, the estate clearly thought €88.8 was much more in line with the quality of the wine.

As Joss Fowler of Fine & Rare said, if it lives up to its considerable potential then, indeed, the price can be justified. Hargrove would have preferred a price starting with a “6” or a “7” and doubted he would sell very much.

Released at £850 a case the current bid on Liv-ex is for £700.

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