Bordeaux 2017: Pape Clément leads release splurge

Pape Clément and Langoa Barton have lead a late week slew of releases ahead of the long weekends on both sides of the Channel.

After a relatively quiet week with few big name releases, St Julien estate Langoa Barton caused a few ripples with its release this morning, followed by a somewhat bigger splash from Graves cru classé Pape Clément with its white and red. Braniare-Ducru was also released yesterday (2 May).

Langoa Barton came out at €31 a bottle ex-négoce, 15% down on the 2016 and therefore 7% down in sterling terms meaning it is being offered in London for around £390-400 a case.

The wine has picked up solid scores from various critics, usually in the 90-94 point category and is variously described as a “textbook” St Julien – a good, typical wine in a sometimes challenging year.

Arguably, however, the 2014 with a 92-94 from Neal Martin (as opposed to the 90-92 he rated the 2017) at just over £300 a case might be slightly more tempting. The 2006, with a Martin score of 91, is also the same price as today’s release.

Then to Pape Clément. The red was released at €61.20/b which is a reduction of 7% on the 2016 while the white was reduced 10% from €108 (2016) to €97.20 (2017).

The red wine has broadly better scores than the Langoa Barton, think more 93-96 but it didn’t please everyone, with Julia Harding MW giving it 16.5 and Rebecca Gibb MW plumping for a rather lowly 84.

At around £760 a case, is it a bit of a tall order? It’s at the same sort of price level as the better-scored (by Martin) 2016 but slightly below the 2015.

The 2014 with a 93-95 spread is cheaper at a shade over £600 a case but the 2017 is, on average, in the lower-priced bracket when compared with previous releases from the estate.

Furthermore, Wine Lister reports volumes are down a “whopping” 60%, largely due to frost and Liv-ex ranks it as ‘fair value’ according to its metrics so loyal followers of the brand may get on board but it’s appeal couldn’t be said to be endless.

The white on the other hand is perhaps a slightly different proposition. Largely unheralded in any vintage, the whites of 2017 perhaps warrant a little more slack than some of their red counterparts. The Pape Clément white is being offered at £1,200 a case. It has better ratings than several previous vintages and arguably is not badly priced for what it is but will it sell?

Another reasonably big name out yesterday was another St Julien property, Branaire Ducru.

Similar in price to Langoa Barton, Branaire Ducru reduced its 2017 price by 15.2% to €33.6/b ex-négoce meaning it is being offered for around £411/cs.

Like Langoa it has a solid if not especially remarkable set of scores around the 91-93 mark, which is somewhat better than many back vintages.

Marquis d’Alesme (€26.40/b) and Malartic-Lagravière (€32.40) were also released today.

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