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Bordeaux en primeur: Léoville-Las-Cases releases at 40% reduction

The first test for this year’s Bordeaux en primeur campaign has arrived – and so far, the signs are good, as Léoville-Las-Cases has released its 2023 vintage with a whopping 40% reduction on last year’s release price. Is this a mark of things to come, or will it be more like Pontet-Canet’s more muted 27% reduction?

Leoville Las Cases Gate

The estate in Saint Julien, has released the 2023 vintage at €138 per bottle ex-négociant – a marked step down from the 2022 release of €230 per bottle, being offered to the international trade at £1,662 per case of 12, which, as Liv-ex notes, falls exactly on its ‘Fair Value line’.

The wine impressed critics, scoring 96-98 from db’s Colin Hay, a shade above the 95-97 points awarded by Neal Martin, but below Jane Anson’s 98 points. Anson called it “structured and powerful”, while Hay said it was “calm, authoritative and composed”, if “a little introspective”.

Meanwhile, Clos du Marquis, also from Saint Julien, has also released this morning, with a 36% reduction on the 2022 price, at €38.40 per bottle ex-négociant – down from €60 per bottle for the 2022 release – or £462 per case. The wine went down well with critics, with Jane Anson awarding it 94 points, and William Kelly 91-93 points.

As well as falling below last year’s score, the pricing of this year’s vintage Las Cases is more in line with the estate’s previous year’s pricing, after a leap of 36% on the 2021 vintage. However as Liv-ex points out, it is still a higher price than many of previous vintages which have similar scores. It points to the 2020, for example, which is 15.6% cheaper than today’s release, or the 2028 and 2014, while the 94-point scoring (Neal Martin) 2016 vintage – although marginally higher priced, at £475 per case of 12, has been able to benefit from several years in bottle.

Updated: Château Pontet-Canet was another key early release this morning (30 April), but this time the reception has been slightly less favourable by some of the merchants that db spoke to. The 2023 has been released at €66 per bottle ex-négociant – which is 26.7% down on the 2022 opening price, with the international trade offer standing at £790 per case of 12, down 26.9% on the 2022’s opener of £1,080 a case. But given that critics have debated whether 35% will be enough to ‘save’ this year’s en primeur campaign, there does seem to be a bit of disappointment over this figure.

According to Liv-ex, it was one of the platform’s most traded wines by number of trades in 2023 – and the 2014, 2017 and 2020 vintages are already offering better value than this new release.

The 2023 vintage slightly divided the critics, with Jane Anson and Lisa Perrott-Brown giving it 96-98 and 97-99 respectively, while Neal Martin was less enamoured, with a barrel score of 93-95 and Colin Hay plumping for a score somewhere in the middle.

Next up will be Chateau Lafite on Thursdays and that should start to firm up ideas of where things are heading.


Colin Hay’s tasting notes

  • Léoville-Las-Cases (Saint Julien; 86% Cabernet Sauvignon; 10% Cabernet Franc; 4% Merlot; a final yield of 43 hl/ha; IPT 72; 6.6% press wine; 13.1% alcohol; the first vintage to be vinified in the new cellar). Deep, dark, classic, cedar-enrobed excellence. Exquisite. Enticing. A little introspective but that allows the seductive cedar to soar first, then the black cherries and damsons and then the berry fruits. Violet and iris, even a little lily. Very floral. Thyme and rosemary. So succulent. Sumptuous. Glossy but with no make-up at all. The oak perfectly integrated. Gracious. Wonderful refinement with exquisite tannins, a gentle natural sweetness and great sapidity. This is like biting into a fresh ripe cherry and then popping a blueberry or two with the grape skin and black currant freshness of the Cabernet Franc lifting this further. I love the fruit profile. I love the wine. A brilliant shape and form in the mouth and a dignified evolution over the palate. Radiant and yet so calm, authoritative and composed. Maybe not the most powerful, but there is power and it’s beautifully handled. 96-98.


  • Pontet Canet (Pauillac; 52% Cabernet Sauvignon; 39% Merlot; 6% Cabernet Franc; 3% Petit Verdot; 50% new oak, 35% in concrete amphoras, the rest in oak of 1 year; the longest ever harvest here, with 250 pickers harvesting over 34 days). Gracious, plump, though a little closed at first. Bramble and blueberry, a little graphite. Cool and quite intimate at first. But, with air this becomes intensely saline with liquorice notes very prominent. The greater use of spherical cuves has helped to keep the extraction as soft as possible, reinforcing the quality of the mid-palate. Glossily textured and silky in the mouth, with quite a broad frame (in contrast, say, to Grand-Puy Lacoste, visited just before). Quite a lot of still unresolved tannin on the finish and, in the context of the vintage, a bolder and fuller, richer wine than in recent years. A pleasingly luminous core. 20 years of biodynamic wine-making gives this a natural energy. 94-96.


Updated to include the release of Pontet Canet

Read more:

A guide to Bordeaux 2023 in ten questions

Bordeaux 2023 vintage report part I: quality and quantity together, for once

Bordeaux vintage report part 2: a vintage of reactivity, vigilance and surveillance

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