Merchant survey: Margaux ‘wine of the vintage’

Merchants taking part in Liv-ex’s annual en primeur survey have declared Château Margaux to be the ‘wine of the vintage’ in 2015, but the first growths in general have been called a “mixed bag”.

Chateau Margaux 2_Credit Saison d Or Mathieu AngladaEvery year before the campaign gets underway, Liv-ex sends a survey to its 440 international members asking them a series of questions about the latest Bordeaux vintage.

The overall impressions with regards the 2015 vintage are that first growth Margaux is the year’s top wine; for the sixth year in a row Grand Puy Lacoste was expected to be the best value wine, the average price was predicted to be 18% more expensive than in 2014 and, surprisingly, almost three quarters of merchants said they were expecting more demand this year than there had been for the ‘14s.

With price being no barrier, two thirds of merchants put Margaux as their top wine of the vintage and 40% were fans of Haut-Brion, while Cheval Blanc was ranked third favourite.

Many critics and commentators have already noted that the 2015 Margaux is a fitting tribute to the late technical director, Paul Pontallier, who sadly passed away this Easter.

Evenly split between Left and Right Bank wines, with the exception of one (Lafite) all of the wines were from Margaux, Pessac-Léognan, St Emilion or Pomerol, which were generally considered to be the best-performing communes in 2015.

The top 10 were:

  • Margaux
  • Haut-Brion
  • Cheval Blanc
  • Petrus
  • Vieux Château Certan
  • Ausone
  • Lafleur
  • Palmer
  • La Mission Haut-Brion
  • Lafite

Despite much praise being given to the vintage’s high points, there has also been a lot of discussion on its lows and, generally, the consensus is it is not a ‘great’ vintage.

There was a wide variety of opinion on the ‘worst’ wines of the vintage with Lafite being the one wine to appear on both the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ lists. Ultimately however, with 112 different wines listed in this category the data was too disparate to compile a list said Liv-ex.

Nonetheless, the fact that 112 different wines were listed as ‘disappointments’ should be a clear sign of the vintage’s less than homogenous character and further evidence that it is not uniformly ‘great’.

In terms of its similarity to other vintages, over a third of respondents said the 2015s were “too varied” to make any firm comparison, although there were others who said it was reminiscent of 2005 or 2001 in places. As Liv-ex said, those with “longer memories made comparisons to the 1985”.

Using the 100-point Robert Parker model, the 2015 was awarded an average 94 points overall – which puts it above the averages merchants gave for the 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages and just below those they gave for 2009 and 2010.

In considering the quality of the first growths alone, the 2015 was ranked below the 2010, 2005, and 2009 vintages, with some merchants calling the 2015 firsts a “mixed bag”.

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