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Bordeaux 2014: only Montrose left

The end of the 2014 campaign is in sight after a flurry of late releases and only Montrose remains unreleased among the big-name estates.

The tail-end of last week saw the release of Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Ducru Beaucaillou and the second tranches of Lafite and Pontet Canet, hot on the heels of Vieux Chateau Certan.

The two Saint Emilion grand cru classé “A”s both came out at €360 per bottle ex-négociant which represented a rise of 20% on their 2013 prices.

Ausone received good scores – 93-95 from Neal Martin, 98 from Jean-Marc Quarin – but there are back vintages in the market with similar or even better scores that are available for a small premium or slightly less.

Cheval Blanc meanwhile, a wine that has a history of struggling to hold its value, has more of a problem when prices of back vintages are taken into account though it did get a better score from Martin (95-97) and all the cheaper vintages have inferior scores to the 2014 – again the question boils down to what appeals to buyers more.

Saint Julien estate Ducru Beaucaillou released at €79.20 p/b, also up 20% on its 2013 price. At £750 a case it is cheaper than all back vintages with similar scores (95-97) but it discount to vintages such as 2006 and 2008 is around 8-10% rather than the 25% usually singled out as the rebate most likely to succeed.

The second tranches of Lafite and Pontet-Canet created two different narratives. Lafite’s tranche “shenanigans” have grated with many merchants this campaign.

The first tranche offered a bottle price of €285 but it was expected that the average price – once the second had been released – would be €335 p/b, the same as the 2012 release price and in-line with the other first growths which have all fallen back on their 2012 release prices this campaign.

In fact, Lafite released its second tranche at €335 p/b which creates an average price of €310 p/b and £2,900-£3,000 p/cs.

Only the 2013 is cheaper and with a Martin score of 94-96 from Martin the 2014 has, by far and away, the best score since its 2010.

It may not be cheap but the “price works” opined Liv-ex’s James Miles.

Rather more difficult to fathom was Pontet-Canet’s second tranche. The first had already released at the “ambitious” price of €66 p/b, a 10% increase on the 2013 release. Yet the second tranche came out 18.2% more expensive than the first.

As Liv-ex pointed out: “If the same increase were applied to the international merchant price, it would inflate from £648 for the first tranche to £766 per 12×75 for the second. Of course, it won’t. The reality is that the first tranche is still widely available across the globe. Indeed some are offering it at £620.”

So why more expensive? An question to which, more than likely, clear answers will not be readily forthcoming.

Meanwhile, the campaign is winding down and only Montrose is left to release. Will the campaign go out on a high?

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