Bordeaux 2017: Keep Carmes and carry on

There’s no stopping the releases now as Cos d’Estournel, Pichon Baron, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Carmes de Haut-Brion and others announce their prices but are they as tempting as yesterday’s bundle?

Is it ‘good value’ any longer?

There was a frisson of excitement around the trade yesterday (6 June) with the well-judged (and received) releases from Canon, Rauzan-Segla and Calon Ségur.

The releases out today represent some serious Left and Right Bank names and with very favourable views to match.

These are the headline releases from the afternoon of 6 June to morning of 7 June:

Pichon Baron – €96 per bottle, down 16% on the 2016 (£1, 176 per case, SIB)

Clos Fourtet – €72 p/b, down 13% (£880 p/cs)

Cos d’Estournel – €108 p/b, down 10% (£1,308 p/cs)

Grand-Puy-Lacoste – €52.8 p/b, down 12% (£648 p/cs)

Carmes Haut-Brion – €54 p/b, down 4.3% (£672 p/cs)

Pavie Macquin – €51.6 p/b, down 12.2% (£720 p/cs)

Larcis Ducasse – €48 p/b, down 9% (£588 p/cs)

Smith Haut-Lafitte (rouge) – €67.2 p/b, down 13% (£825 p/cs)

The price of the Grand-Puy-Lacoste was announced late on the afternoon of 6 June in the warm afterglow of the Canon and Calon releases.

Voted the wine Liv-ex’s global members hoped would prove the ‘best value’ for the eighth year in a row, at £648 a dozen it is well-over the £500 upper limit that ‘best value’ implies.

The price is somewhat toppy too when compared to some back vintages. The 2015 and 2014 with ratings of 95 from Neal Martin are both cheaper, the 2015 is under £600 a case currently and the 2014 under £500.

The market will decide whether the 2017 warrants its price but the sentiment on social media around its release was that ‘GPL’ has gone beyond its days of being a ‘no-brainer’ en primeur.

Pichon Comtesse caused a stir earlier this week with its release and its baronial neighbour across the road will have done likewise with its release though possibly not quite to the same tune.

Jeb Dunnuck thinks its a wine that will, “compete with the very best in 2017”, while Julia Harding MW thought it “very fine” and “surprisingly juicy on the finish”.

It’s a punchy price, Baron tends to be, but it’s below the 2016 (though not by a huge amount) and as Wine Lister notes the 2015 might look “attractive by comparison” given its superior score and the fact it’s currently at something of a discount to the ’17’s opening gambit.

It’s a wine with a strong following and will undoubtedly find buyers but probably won’t fly.

Saint Estèphe as a commune is on a roll at the moment with its top estates producing some cracking wines and as with Calon there have been some very favourable reviews for the 2017 Cos.

Martin called it “very classy” and in the more elegant, “sophisticated style” the estate has been pursuing for the past few years. Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW over at The Wine Advocate was even more effusive calling it “truly profound” and giving it a 97-100 point spread.

In terms of pricing it’s a fine line, Liv-ex suggests it’s above what it would consider ‘fair value’ and there’s no arguing that the quite brilliant 2014 – a storming vintage for the AOC – with 96 points from Martin is at a substantial discount of 25% to the 2017.

The smart money might go that way – unless you happen to agree with Perotti-Brown that it’s a potential 100-pointer…

Most of the other releases today likewise look a little toppy but the one wine that might stand out from the pack is Carmes de Haut-Brion.

“Positively stellar,” thought Antonio Galloni, “gorgeous, don’t miss it!”

Very much a “brand on the move” said Liv-ex the 2017 is at a substantial 40% discount to the current price of the 2016, below the 2015 and while a touch above the 2014 it has a better critical appraisal to back that up.

The 2012 might be a vintage to consider for those seeking something physical with a bit of a discount but, by and large, this is a release with something to recommend it.

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