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Top 5 biggest price increases of Bordeaux 2016

The latest en primeur campaign is now firmly in the rearview mirror, with merchants counting up the costs and gains of nearly two and a half months of what has been an intriguing campaign.

A full report will appear online at the drinks business this week but some pricing analysis from Liv-ex has also been released.

After a cautiously optimistic start where some big names such as Cos d’Estournel and Montrose chose not to raise their prices on last year (although Montrose then released a pitiful amount of stock), true to form prices then began to rise as the campaign went on.

This matter was compounded by the weak exchange rate between the pound and the euro which meant that a wine could be released with an ex-négociant price of (for argument’s sake) +20% versus the 2015 release and in London that wine would then be around 30% more expensive than it had been last year.

Price rises and Bordeaux are now so commonplace that eyes must invariably roll every time a new wine is released but, to their credit, while there were a few hefty increases ex-château, very few big name wines this year increased their prices by more than 20%, still fewer by more than 25%.

This is in contrast to the 2015 campaign where, as Liv-ex points out, “increases of 40-50% by the middle of June were normal”. Vieux Château Certan’s release of 28% was quite high for this campaign but last year it would have been normal.

On the following pages we quickly run through those labels that on paper had the biggest price hikes of the campaign.

It doesn’t mean they were the ‘worst’ priced or offered the least value – not always anyway – as there were many estates that put up their prices by smaller margins and, arguably, were less compelling buys – but purely in terms of headline numbers, these five were the biggest increases.

Léoville Las Cases – 30%

An asking price of €180 a bottle ex-négoce so £2,100 a case, the release of the highly rated Saint Julien was “somewhat unexpected” by the UK trade.

Neal Martin gave the wine a provisional score of 98-100, with Liv-ex’s James Miles noting that if, at a future tasting, the Wine Advocate critic were to give it a coveted 100 then its price might make sense.

Volumes however were small, down 40% on what was released to the trade last year. If it hits that 100-point target then of course interest and prices may go up especially of there’s an ex-cellar release and those who bought en primeur will be happy.

If it doesn’t and prices decline then the château is going to have quite a lot of stock on its hands that buyers won’t want at the prices it will surely be asking for.

We shall see.

Petit Mouton – 32.4%

Another wine that, at first glance, might have been tough for the market to swallow at €132 a bottle and which, on 1 June, was the biggest price increase of the campaign.

Nonetheless, the second wine of Mouton Rothschild has shown some serious chops on the secondary market in recent years and nearly all its back vintages (bar the 2012) have appreciated since release which meant the 2016 didn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

Scores were good too.

La Conseillante – 32.7%

This Saint Emilion property picked up strong critical scores but its ex-négociant price of over 32% also made it the most expensive release of the last decade and 52% more expensive in sterling terms than the 2015 had been when it came out.

The thing that really undermines the 2016 Conseillante is that it might end up with a 96-point score from the WA, exactly the same as its 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015 and yet be more expensive than all of them – nearly 50% more than the current price of the 2012.

Pontet-Canet – 44%

Probably the most egregious increase of the campaign came from Pauillac fifth growth, Pontet-Canet.

Released on 9 June amid a raft of fairly uninspiring prices, Pontet-Canet still managed to stand out at €108 a bottle or £1,370 a case, which was 72% more than the opening price of the 2015.

It score from Martin of 95-97 was very good though not spectacular, scores from James Suckling of 98-99 and an 18 from Jancis Robinson MW were also very good; is it though a wine that is 40% better than its 94-96 point 2015? Or 50% better than its 2008 which was also rated 95-97?

Figeac – 47%

Again, a critically acclaimed wine that received its best-ever WA score for its 2016 (a 98-100 point spread from Martin) and which might, possibly, therefore, come to justify its “ambitious” pricing.

Volumes were not decreased too much on last year – around 15% – the wine was still under £2,000 a case and, as Liv-ex mentioned, it is a brand “on the move”.


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