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Bordeaux 2015: after Pontet – le déluge

The floodgates have opened this morning with a rush of, reasonably big, châteaux adding their names to the list of en primeur releases.

Having said only yesterday (18 May) that the week had been looking a little dull and listless so far, Pontet-Canet’s release late in the afternoon appears to have spurred others into action.

So far this morning the releases include: Branaire Ducru, Lascombes, Lagrange St Julien, Léoville Barton and Climens – and their second wines. There are also some other wines released late in the day yesterday, notably Croix de Beaucaillou (from the cellars of Ducru-Beaucaillou but is/isn’t the second wine) and Lalande-Borie (likewise from the Ducru family stable).

Prices (and their increases on 2014 prices), per bottle and ex-négociant are:

  • Branaire Ducru – €37.2, +26.5% on 2014 (€29.4); possibly quite a good price, Neal Martin gave the 2014 the same grade (90-92) and it’s currently £100 cheaper. Otherwise, all cheaper vintages have lesser scores and the 2015 release is cheaper than the (slightly) more expensive 2009 and 2010 (which have better scores).
  • Lagrange – €28.8, +20% on 2014 (€24); has a better Martin score than its 2014 at least, 2015 is 90-92 while 2014 was given 87-89.
  • Lascombes – €50.4, +20% on 2014 (€42); has a marginally inferior score of 89-91 to its Wine Advocate 2013 rating of 90-93 (oh dear).
  • Léoville Barton – €54, +22.7% on 2014 (€44); Martin’s score of 94-96 is a step up from the 2014’s 92-94. Goedhuis’ chief executive, Tom Stopford-Sackville, told the drinks business it was, “a great wine, better than the 2009, and possibly as good as the 2010. The 2010 is trading at £800/case so £580/case seems a fair price for this quality in what is a great year for Léoville Barton.”
  • Climens – €48.5, +10.7% on 2014 (€43.8); somewhat improved score on the 2014, the former 96-98, the latter 94-96.

Corney & Barrow’s Will Hargrove told db the prices, “all make some sense without being bargains.”

BI’s Giles Cooper added (referring to Pontet-Canet and Léoville Barton): “There are no ‘bargains’ but in both cases the price just fits into the top of the quality/value spread – meaning we are finding buyers.

“In the case of these two wines, they are very close if not equal to 2009 and 2010 in quality and in comparison the price for 2015 looks good. Pontet Canet has sold out and Barton is going well.”

Hargrove also mentioned that Ponet-Canet had sold out but with the caveat that allocations had been very small.

Despite being quite quiet until now, there have been some ‘good value’ wines released this week. Cooper said: “There are bargains to be had though – by that I mean high-performing wines, which might not be big names, at very good prices.

“Of course all of Denis Durantou’s ‘satellite’ wines are pretty fantastic, and alongside we have things like Quinault L’Enclos which, in the absence of Petit Cheval 2015, is as close as many will get to Cheval Blanc – and it’s a really excellent wine for the money.”

Although merchants may be glad to have wines to ‘get their teeth into’ at last – Cooper said: “Primeur is actually happening – which is enjoyable and brings the buzz back. We’ve missed it!”

Nonetheless, what’s out now is no doubt quite enough for one day and there’ll be hopes it doesn’t turn into another “Super Tuesday” akin to Tuesday 15 May 2012.

The name refers to a day during the 2011 campaign when 43 wines were released almost simultaneously and the system effectively broke down as merchants were swamped, unable to offer the majority of wines available to them.

Berry Bros & Rudd’s fine wine buying director told db at the time that his team had focused on just two, leaving 41 labels idle – “so there was a lot of missed turnover”.

Luckily, it looks for now as though the initial slew has calmed somewhat.

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