The Right Bank seems to have bucked a downward price trend seen across Bordeaux since 2011 - and only arrested in recent months - but it’s not quite that straightforward, explains Ella Lister.
Investment analysis: Will St-Emilion prices hold up?
While Right Bank prices have been relatively stable over the past few years, there are some superstars and some serial underperformers – notably in St-Emilion (see Chart 3).
Clos Fourtet prices have appreciated by 39% since the wider Bordeaux crash, largely thanks to US critic Robert Parker scoring the 2009 a perfect 100 points, which sparked a new interest in the cru, spreading to other vintages. Angélus and Pavie have profited greatly from their 2012 elevation to premier grand cru classé A (1GCCA), the topechelon of the St-Emilion classification, gaining 32% and 21% respectively.
Figeac made more modest gains of 11%, having missed out on promotion,which Decanter’s consultant editorSteven Spurrier declares to be ‘both regrettable and unreasonable’. He praises the cru as having ‘the best terroir and the best record over time’. Figeac looks a steal next to its loftier neighbours, averaging about £65 per bottle over the past 10 vintages. This is compared to £150 for Pavie and £175 for Angélus, themselves well under half the price of their longer-standing 1GCCA counterparts, Ausone and Cheval Blanc.
But will the rapid price rises of the newly promoted St-Emilion crus mean they suffer further down the line? The two original 1GCCA wines have fallen steeply since June 2011 (see Chart 3). Pierre Lurton, MD of Cheval Blanc, sees this as ‘a normal phenomenon, showing that Asian demand has come back down to a more mature and healthy level, for Cheval Blanc along with the other first growths’.
Gary Boom, MD of Bordeaux Index, contends that Cheval Blanc has been ‘completely overpriced’ in recent vintages. Davis concurs, but wagers that the cru ‘will at some point come back again’. Lurton says that ‘in the coming years we are heading towards more reasonable prices’. Meanwhile, Hew Blair, chairman of Justerini & Brooks, believes ‘a correction was inevitable’ as the prices of both Ausone and Cheval Blanc had previously risen ‘too fast and too much’.
Also disappointing has been Lafleur, which Blair dubs ‘the secret Pomerol’. He intends to do all he can to change this, Justerini & Brooks having secured the joint UK agency rights to the brand, alongside Armit. The aim is to ‘promote and expose it to top wine lovers’.