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2014 Bordeaux Moving – If the Price is Right

Well-priced wines from Bordeaux’s 2014 vintage are making a splash, but merchants are ignoring some big-name wines whose prices are a turn-off for buyers.

Heavyweight châteaux Haut-Brion and Cos d’Estournel, as well as the highly respected Tertre Rôteboeuf released their en primeur wines on Tuesday, following last week’s releases of Angelus, Palmer, Lynch-Bages and others.

The campaign so far has been one of “fits and starts”, Corney & Barrow’s Will Hargrove told Wine Searcher, but “the idea that this should be the best campaign since 2010 might still happen”.

Hargrove was boosted by the release of three wines from the Mitjavile stable in Saint-Émilion – Francois Mitjavile’s Tertre Rôteboeuf, Roc des Cambes, and L’Aurage, which is owned by his son Louis – but was less enthusiastic about last week’s releases, particularly Palmer and Angelus.

“The Mitjavile wines are slightly down in price and are going well, which is great, but Palmer and Angelus [prices] are pretty ambitious.”

The first Right Bank release, Angelus is €180 ($202) per bottle ex-negociant, up 9 percent on 2013; Margaux third growth Palmer shows a similar rise, up 7 percent at €160 ($179). Hargrove said they would not be offering the latter: “We really liked the wine but just don’t feel we would be doing our customers a favor at that price level.”

London merchant Bordeaux Index’s Giles Cooper agreed. “The main market for Angelus is Asia, and there’s not much activity there. We’ve sold more Palmer, but we’re not talking large volumes.”

Greg Sherwood at another London merchant, Handford Wines, said he was seeing a lot of interest in mid-price Cru Bourgeois and good-value second wines.

“People are tired of the expensive icons. They look at Palmer at £1500 ($2279) a case and think you could buy a hell of a lot of Brunello or Rhône for that.”

The most excitement was generated by the early release of first growth Château Mouton Rothschild, which Corneys has sold out of, along with much-respected Pauillac fifth growth Lynch-Bages.

Haut-Brion (€240 or $269 per bottle ex-negociant) and Saint-Estèphe’s Cos d’Estournel (€84.50 or $95) have been greeted with less enthusiasm.

The trading platform Liv-ex notes that the Pessac-Léognan first growth “is the second-cheapest vintage on the market, though only marginally; the 2006 and 2008 have higher scores and are available at just a small premium on the 2014 release price.”

This led Liv-ex managing director James Miles to tweet pithily: “Too much value in back vintages for this to work. #shame.”

Reactions may be lukewarm, but the en primeur campaign as a whole still has life. There are some wonderful wines out there, Cooper said, and there is momentum.

“It may sound terrible that our best-case scenario is the relative indifference of clients,” he told Wine Searcher, “but the one thing we feared was that prices would be so high that people would feel they were being taken advantage of. This has not happened – customers are not getting angry as they were in previous years, and that’s what ripped the energy and momentum out of it before.”

There are still “significant releases” such as Pichon Lalande, Léoville-Las Cases, Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Domaine de Chevalier to come, he said, and if they’re at the right price then the momentum will continue…

Wednesday, 06-May-2015

Adam Lechmere

Wine Searcher

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