Latour release: getting it right

The re-release of the 2008 grand vin of Latour seems to have gone down well with fine wine merchants and their customers, the prospect of a solid vintage of ex-cellar stock with a reasonable premium proving a tempting offer.

Released on 20 March alongside the 2013 vintage of second label Les Forts de Latour, the 2008 was released at £5,100 a case representing an 11% premium on the price of stock already in the secondary market according to Liv-ex.

According to Liv-ex’s analysis that price positions it “slightly above its implied fair value”.

That, however, is if you take Robert Parker’s 2011 score of 95+ as your measuring point but, as argued by the drinks business recently, if you take Neal Martin’s score of 96 awarded last year as your yardstick then the re-release looks pretty much bang on the money.

Analytics aside, as Liv-ex also points out, buyers are not necessarily put off by premiums of ex-château stock.

Given the provenance and (at least implied) quality considerations and the fact it gives buyers the chance to buy for the first time or restock certain vintages a sensible premium in line with the market is usually readily accepted.

So far with its series of ex-cellar releases, Latour has come unstuck with the premium it has tried to charge, with last year’s release of the 2006 largely flopping as it came with a 16% premium over the in-market value.

As Tom Jenkins, Bordeaux buyer at Justerini & Brooks, told db: “At 8% premium over market, ex-château releases tend to work. Over 15% they tend to fail. They seem to have got it right this time.”

This view was echoed by other merchants too but it’s important to note that this is not a gangbusters sort of release that will generate millions. Will Hargrove of Corney & Barrow predicted his team selling a, “measured amount”. Still, better than nothing at all.

On the other hand, while customers may have been keen to pick up some library stock of a first growth from a good ‘drinking year’, the same cannot quite be said of the 2013 Forts.

Last year when the 2012 vintage of the second label was released for the first time it gathered rather more interest than the re-release of the 2006 grand vin.

Unfortunately, it has not apparently proved the case this time around.

Released at £1,650 per dozen it is the ‘cheapest’ vintage of the last decade on the market (a good thing generally) but it also has one of the lowest scores as well – worse in fact than the 2007.

This again is certainly drinking stock but faced with the choice between a solid claret or an affordable but so-so second label, the market seems to have made its choice – at least in London though Farr Vintners’ director Stephen Browett noted it may do better in “brand focused” Asia.

One for the completists only.

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