Bordeaux 2016: prices creeping ever upwards

Château Pape Clément has released its red and white wines this morning, both with price increases on its 2015s as asking prices begin to creep upwards.

The Pessac-Léognan estate’s red wine is being offered by négociants for €66 per bottle, a 12% rise on the €58.8 the 2015 was offered at, while the white wine was released at €108 p/b ex-négoce, a 15.4% price hike.

The wines are being offered in London for around £790 and £1,200 a dozen respectively.

The red wine has received some solid scores from critics and has a 95-97-point spread courtesy of The Wine Advocate, with Neal Martin calling it very much in the “classic style” the estate has been pursuing over the last few vintages.

Making the case for Pape Clément, it should be noted (as Liv-ex has) that it is at a “significant” discount to the 2005, 2009 and 2010 vintages and may in fact end up with a better score than the 95-point rated ’09 (TWA score).

On the other hand, it has the same score as the 2015 and 2011, which are both marginally cheaper, and the higher-rated 2012 is cheaper too. Both the 2011 and 2012 received high praise from Robert Parker in his reports on both of those vintages.

The price of the white wine may be somewhat ambitious. Described as “excellent” by Martin who rated it 92-94 (the same as the 2015), it’s potentially quite a steep price for a white wine in what is generally considered to be a poor vintage for the style; though some producers like Pape Clément will undoubtedly have pulled through.

The prices of the releases have been creeping up of late. After a raft of Sauternes came out with no increases on their 2015 wines (in fact Rieussec joined them last week) and then Cos d’Estournel did likewise, there was some hope that any price rises would be somewhat restrained.

Armailhac added a 12% increase, which was quite high, but the wine is very well rated, clearly one of the best the estate has produced and at €32 a bottle, or £396 a case, there seemed to be some acceptance of this – at least from merchants.

As ever, at a certain price point (usually at or below £30 a bottle) there is always some wriggle room on price increases despite exchange rate woes etc.

Higher up, however, the price increases become harder to justify. Alter Ego de Palmer and Clerc Milon came out last week, the former up 11% and the latter 17% – the biggest increase so far.

The Rothschild produced wine was pegged as a potential ‘best value’ wine if it came out below £500 a case. In the event however at £575 that doesn’t look too likely (Corney & Barrow described it as “neither compelling or excessive” in its offer which doesn’t bode well).

Now with Pape Clément upping its asking price there’s perhaps a feeling that the tone of the campaign and its potential is changing.

It’s not that merchants will fail to sell any of these wines, it’s just they may sell far less of them than they might have otherwise.


Last week’s releases included:

Riesussec – €42 p/b, 0% on 2015
Cantemerle – €22.2 p/b, 12.1% up on 2015

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