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Château Latour release polarises opinion

The ex-château release of 2000 Latour and 2009 Forts de Latour have been welcomed by some buyers and ignored by others, merchants have said.

Latour DovecoteReleased earlier this week, the two wines both carried a 10%-20% premium in price to the same wines from Latour already on the market.

The 2000 grand vin was released to négociants at €770 per bottle which equates to £7,250 per case of 12. Offered by UK merchants at around £8,100, this represents a 12.5% premium over the current secondary market value of £7,200.

Likewise, the second wine, Forts de Latour, is being offered at around £1,560 per dozen, a rather more substantial 20.9% above the market price of £1,290.

Covering news of the pre-release announcement recently, the drinks business noted that while buyers may be keen to get their hands on such highly-rated vintages as 2000 and 2009, it would very much be price dependent.

Unlike last year’s launch of the 2003 which was hailed as “punchy”, the latest tranche has reverted to the old pattern of muted praise mixed with disinterest.

Johnny Goedhuis, chairman of Goedhuis, told db: “We had hoped the prices would be a bit closer to current market value, however experience has taught us to expect a premium for Latour’s ex-chateau releases.

“The price has polarised opinion – for a good number clients the provenance has merited the premium and they have snapped up multiple cases, however certain regular purchasers of wine at this level have shown less enthusiasm.”

The news from Corney & Barrow was broadly similar, fine wine director Will Hargrove saying the premiums were not “totally crazy” but that nonetheless there had been a “muted response”.

“There also seems to be relatively equal sales across the two,” he added. “I’d expect a few people to come back and buy tomorrow but it hasn’t been a stampeded.”

The claim a premium is justified due to the ‘perfect’ provenance of these wines is often rubbished on the grounds that wines stored in Octavian or LCB after being bought en primeur are equally ‘perfect’ in provenance and condition.

Yet, as Renaissance Vintners’ Joss Fowler, points out there is something to be said for it.

“On the one hand it’s easy to say that it’s a chunky premium on UK stock, which it is, but it is perfect, and can be proved as such. Latour’s 2000 is fairly easy to come by and, no doubt, there are cases in the UK that haven’t moved since they were shipped, but how much of the wine that is on the market today is unmoved, untouched, etc?”

In an age where provenance concerns and fears of counterfeits in the market for old and expensive wine are very prominent, even if they cost a little more, the latest ex-cellar stocks from Latour do carry absolute guarantees of their authenticity – each one sealed with a Prooftag among other safeguards.

It may not seem like it now but further down the line buyers of these ex-cellar wines could be sitting very pretty indeed.

As the latest release of the 2000 vintage was the “totality” of the estate’s remaining stocks, Berry Bros & Rudd’s buying director, Max Lalondrelle, commented: “I still believe that in the long term it will prove to be a wise buy for collectors.”

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