Bordeaux 2016: no games from Mouton

Mouton Rothschild has released its stable of wines this morning and unlike fellow firsts and other estates has released in one tranche and at the same volume as last year.

The Pauillac first growth released at the same price as Haut-Brion did on Tuesday, €420 a bottle ex-négociant (up 9.4%) and like Haut-Brion in one tranche.

A key difference however is that while the Pessac first growth cut volumes 20% on last year’s release, Mouton has at least kept volumes steady; which sadly is a rare enough occurrence now as to make it comment worthy.

Both Haut-Brion and Mouton though have been rather better-handled releases than Lafite, which released at a price many considered sensible but with a first tranche with 50% less stock than last year. To avoid being lumbered with an overpriced, near unsellable and bigger second tranche, it is largely still in the hands of the négoce who are waiting for said second tranche in order to average out the price.

It should be noted though that Mouton is still set on reducing the amounts it releases en primeur, as the chairman of the Supervisory Board of Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, told the drinks business last year, maybe it has just gauged the current mood a little better than others.

The price is something of a statement of intent. Normally Lafite sets a price for itself at a premium to the other firsts and in recent years Haut-Brion has taken a position below it but above Mouton and Margaux, which normally match each other euro for euro.

This year however, Mouton has clearly looked at its scores and decided it’s at least the equal of Haut-Brion.

Neal Martin at The Wine Advocate gave Haut-Brion a 97-99 rating but Mouton received a 98-100 (its best WA score since 2010), the critic saying it was a wine, “that will rivet you to the spot” and that a second tasting confirmed it is a, “magnificent wine.”

Envy the artist that gets to design the label he concluded.

Scores from other critics have been similar: 100 from James Suckling, 18.5+ from Jancis Robinson MW (just below the 19 she gave Haut-Brion however), 95-98+ from Antonio Galloni. It was also voted the second best wine of the vintage (behind Lafite) by Liv-ex’s global members.

At the same price as Haut-Brion ex-merchant – around £4,980 a case – it’s a punchy opener but below the market prices for the 2009 and 2010. Liv-ex has judged it to be ‘fair value’ if prices are correlated with recent WA scores.

The 2015, which was rated 97-99 by Martin is quite a lot cheaper as well (by 12%), although as is often pointed out, back vintages such as the ‘15s among the first growths are not in great supply in the market and as the 2016 is, potentially, a ‘better’ Mouton it will almost certainly fly.

Also out at the grand vin’s side was second wine Petit Mouton. At €132 p/b ex-négoce, this label has the dubious honour of the biggest price rise of the campaign so far, 32.4% over the 2015.

The ‘fair value’ graph for Troplong Mondot

It’s potentially a bit of a tall order for merchants but it’s score from Martin is marginally better in 2016 compared to 2015 and the label has shown its has serious chops on the secondary market and is capable of some proper appreciation. It may sway some to its corner at least and the data from Liv-ex shows that even at that price (£1,600 a dozen) it is the cheapest Petit Mouton since 2005 bar the 2012 (which has an inferior score anyway).

One question now of course is what price will Château Margaux release at? As mentioned above, normally it advances in lockstep with Mouton.

In 2016, however, it was widely noted that Margaux as a commune did not quite match the magnificent heights it achieved in 2015 when Château Margaux was named wine of the vintage. In 2016 it still got 97-99 from Martin who said there was just a hair’s breadth of difference between the two vintages. But it’s maybe just lacking the praise enjoyed by Lafite, Mouton and Haut-Brion across the rest of the critical scores. It probably will release at €420 p/b and will sell but one can’t sense the enthusiasm from merchants will be quite the same.

Finally, also out today was Troplong-Mondot. Clearly an excellent wine with lots of upper 90s points across the critical board but at €102 p/b (up 23.2%) its quality still doesn’t seem to justify its price was the opinion over at Wine Lister, and the feeling was the same at Liv-ex where the fair value indicator showed it wildly out of whack with the bell curve (right). There are simply too many back vintages with equal or better scores that are the same price or at a significant discount. To white: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.

One Response to “Bordeaux 2016: no games from Mouton”

  1. Charles says:

    These prices are in La La land for most people so it is all somewhat academic! One day, perhaps, even the wealthy will question if these wines are worth these inflated prices, until then I hope they enjoy them rather than trade them repeatedly like stocks and shares.

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