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The irresistible rise of Haut-Brion?

After being touted as perhaps the best value first growth on the strength of its points and prices two years ago, is Haut-Brion finally moving into the limelight?

It is a well-recorded fact that Lafite’s former premium versus its fellow firsts (driven by a rapacious Asian market) has been falling steadily since 2011 (now down 47% overall), and the gap has narrowed from a peak of 130% four years ago to just 35% last month and with signs it will yet slide further.

As Liv-ex relates though, Lafite’s recent dominance is not backed up by historical pedigree. Haut-Brion was the leading estate in the early 20th century and the booming US market with a thirst for Margaux in the late 1990s did as much to boost that particular property as China did for Lafite.

“Are we beginning to see another shift?” asked Liv-ex.

Certainly Haut-Brion and Mouton Rothschild have profited the most from Lafite’s slump with the Pessac estate climbing the furthest – 7.7% – from June 2014 to August of this year.

As was pointed out in October 2013 and is still true today, of all the first growths Haut-Brion has the cheapest average case price between 2003 and 2012 (£3,421) and yet it has the highest average Robert Parker score of 96.4 along with Latour – which also has the highest average case price (£4,997). By way of further example, the 2010 from Latour and Haut-Brion both have 100 Parker points but the former has a market price of £8,600 and the latter £5,600.

Haut-Brion’s 2005 was one of just 12 wines recently up-graded to 100-points by Parker and its 2012 scooped the best marks in the “nose of Maryland’s” in-bottle scores for the 2012s this summer as well with 98-points.

Using its “points over price” (POP) ratio, Liv-ex has shown that of the 10 first growth wines “appearing to offer best value”, half are from Haut-Brion, four from Margaux and one from Mouton. On the basis that the lower the POP score the “better” the value, Haut-Brion’s 2012, 2008, 2006, 2011 and 2003 vintages all score lower than 200 (as do the 2012s from Margaux and Mouton), while, to give some sort of perspective, the 100-point 2010 Latour mentioned above has a POP of 430.

Looking at the 2003-2012 vintages between June 2014 and August 2015, one can see that only the 2011 has declined – down 5.9% from a mid-price of £2,550 to £2,400.

The biggest riser – buoyed no doubt by Parker’s 100-point benediction – is the 2005 which has climbed 25.4% to a mid-price of £5,150. The next biggest climber has been the 2008 – rising 9.6% – followed by the similarly recently elevated 2012, up 6.6% over the course of the last year.

The rest of the risers can be seen right.

Although many might ask where Lafite is going to be next year, perhaps more might tax themselves with the question: “What about Haut-Brion?”

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