Bordeaux 2017: Lynch on the money

Pauillac flying fifth Château Lynch Bages has breathed some life and faint confidence back into the en primeur campaign with a well-received release.

Lynch Bages was released yesterday (22 May) at €75 a bottle ex-négocient, almost 22% down on the price of its 2016 wine (€96).

At around £885 a case it is not at a huge discount to the 2015, though it is comfortably below the 2009, 2010 and (crucially) 2016 and as a wine in this vintage it has its admirers.

Speaking to various merchants the consensus is the wine has flown out of the door.

Tom Stopford Sackville, chief executive at Goedhuis, told the drinks business that while the price was perhaps slightly “in the edge”, the merchant had sold through “95%” of its allocation and would likely sell out by today.

Over at Farr Vintners, chairman Stephen Browett had previously told db that too many releases so far this campaign had remained unimpressive and customers were largely unmoved, making the release of Lynch Bages a rare bright spark.

He said: “We were hoping for a price that was significantly down on 2016 and down also on 2015 and that’s what we got.

“Ideally we’d have liked to be selling it at the same price as the current market price of the 2014 but at only 5% higher, we have to be pleased with that.

“For one of the wines of the vintage (in our opinion) to finally be released at a proper reduction on 2016 is very good news and one would hope that other proprietors will follow this lead.

“After a very disappointing start to the campaign with hardly any customer interest, we’ve already sold more Lynch than all the other previous releases put together.”

Elsewhere, merchants reported that the strong branding and sensible pricing of Beychevelle had it made it another strong seller last week though there was disappointment that some of the wines from the Rothschild stables such as Clerc Milon, Armhailac and L’Evangile weren’t more competitive with L’Evangile in particular coming in for some flak after keeping its price exactly the same as its 2016 (€180 p/b), despite its critical reception being no way near as good.

Stopford-Sackville mentioned that he thought a lot of wine wasn’t “moving through the pipeline” and it would be no surprise to learn if L’Evangile was among those labels getting stuck at La Place.

There have been a smattering of releases today including Lagrange, Lascombes, Moulin St Georges, Grand Puy Ducasse, Beau Séjour Becot and Carbonnieux.

A few merchants said they’d offer a few though not many boast either cuts or scores that make them truly enticing.

The campaign seems destined to shamble on therefore. Many seem convinced now that, bar a surprise or two this week, most of the big names will not be putting out their releases until after Vinexpo Hong Kong at the end of this month.

Will Hargrove at Corney & Barrow said he thought it was, “fairly likely Monday 4 June will be ‘floodgates time’. Hopefully not too savagely but that week to two weeks will be the crux of the campaign.”

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