Many of the big names have released Bordeaux 2016 en primeur wines in the past few days, amid a growing focus on the proportion of wine that estates are keeping back in the cellar.

TAGS:
  • Margaux, Haut-Brion, Mouton, Cheval Blanc and Léoville Barton all release Bordeaux 2016 en primeur wines

  • Prices rise and focus turns to amount of wine released

  • Small estates complain that they can’t get their voice heard

It is the busiest period of Bordeaux 2016 releases after a week that has seen négociants on Bordeaux’s Place de Bordeaux offering big-name releases from dozens of châteaux.

Price rises have also become a feature of the campaign, despite concerns over exchange rates and a generally uncertain political and economic climate.

Read analysis below and click on the wine names to see Decanter’s score and tasting note



This morning (6 June) saw Château Léoville Barton out at €63.60 ex-Bordeaux, a rise of just over 17% on its 2015 price, and Château Haut Marbuzet 2016 at €30 ex-Bordeaux, a rise of 20%.

Léoville Barton was a strong performer in 2016, scoring 96 points with Decanter, and it appeared to sell quickly with some UK merchants reporting low stocks on their websites. Farr Vintners was selling a case of 12 bottles for £750, and Berry Bros & Rudd a case of six bottles for £372, both in bond.

Château Margaux, Château Haut-Brion and Château Mouton Rothschild have all released at €420 per bottle bottle ex-négociant (up around 9% in euro terms, being offered at £5,184 per case of 12 bottles on UK market).

Château Cheval Blanc also showed its hand, at €552 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, a rise of just 2.2% on the 2015 price but 50% higher than 2014. It is being offered on the UK market at £6,400 per case of 12.

Petit Mouton 2016 has a 32% rise in euro terms to €135 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, or £1,644 per case in the UK. And Pavillon Rouge 2016, Margaux’s second wine, has just been released on Tuesday 6 June at €114 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, a rise of 11.7% of 2015.

Questions asked over amount released 

Release quantities are increasingly occupying minds, amid speculation about how much production châteaux are holding back.

This could have an impact on the rationale for buying a wine that is still in barrel and will not be released in-bottle for two years.

Mouton broke a little with the pack by also offering the same volume to the market as last year, and was very well received because of it.

Haut-Brion offered also in one tranche, but with a 20% cut in volume versus 2015.

Nick Martin, of the Wine Owners trading exchange, told Decanter.com, ‘Mouton has released the same quantity as 2015 but in a more abundant year, so keeping more back as a proportion, and that’s on the back of en primeur release reductions in 2014/2015.

‘If it turns out to be in another 1986 or 2000, you’ll be quids in. If not, you’d be better off buying 2010.

But, he added, ‘The answer to that question isn’t likely for at another two years, and for UK buyers that’s plenty of time for the currency exchange to effect secondary market prices.’

He said, ‘Generally supply is clearly being even more tightly controlled this year as producers throttle back their en primeur releases. The reductions are all the more notable for the 20% increase in juice. Some names such as Calon-Ségur have been almost impossible for buyers to find.’

More recent releases: Canon 2016 a ‘target for collectors’?

Other recent releases include Château Giscours 2016 at €44 ex-Bordeaux, up 23.3% on 2015 in France, which goes 35%+ in sterling.

Château Canon 2016 is being offered at £880 per case of 12 in UK market, which at €72 per bottle ex-Bordeaux is 20% up on the 2015 price – but it was being sold significantly below the current market price for 2015.

‘The 2016 is available at around a 50% discount to its older sibling [the 2015], making it a likely target for collectors,’ said Liv-ex analysts.

Château Rauzan Ségla 2016 has been released at €60 per bottle ex-negociant, an 18.8% increase on the 2015 price and is being offered at £732 per case in UK.

Château Grand Puy Lacoste 2016 has been released at €60 per bottle ex-negociant, up 25% on the 2015 or £735 in UK.

Other names include Château Lafon Rochet 2016 at €33.6 ex-Bordeaux, a rise of 19.6% in euro terms or £408 per case of 12 in the UK. Château Cantenac Brown 2016 is at €39 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, on offer at £474.

‘So far the clear winners have been Cos d’Estournel 2016 and Beychevelle 2016,’ said Martin. Several merchants have agreed with this assessment in previous reporting by Decanter.com.

‘Both showed a crystal clear advantage to buying early,’ Martin said.

Smaller estates becoming disillusioned

Smaller producers selling en primeur have said that, as usual, the price rises are squeezing them out of the system.

One St Estèphe producer, who didn’t want to be named, told Decanter.com, ‘Negociants’ budgets are more limited than ever because banks are not lending large amounts, and it means budgets are concentrated on the big names who are asking higher and higher prices.

‘En primeur is an increasingly difficult segment to be part of for the rest of us.’

Editing and extra reporting by Chris Mercer

More articles on the Bordeaux 2016 en primeur campaign: