Bordeaux 2015 en primeur sales beat last year's campaign for UK merchants but didn't come close to matching the golden era of 2009, says a review by Liv-ex.

A very good Bordeaux 2015 vintage, if a little patchy across appellations, did inspire stronger demand among wine lovers, Liv-ex said in a new report. Sales easily beat 2014 for UK merchants.

But, sales among Liv-ex members surveyed were on average only 25% of those achieved for the 2009 vintage campaign, held in spring 2010.

‘If we have learnt anything during the 2015 campaign, it is that those halcyon days are unlikely to return any time soon,’ Liv-ex said.

The UK is commonly seen as a bellwether of international sentiment for Bordeaux en primeur; although there has been speculation about this changing following Britain’s EU referendum result.

‘The new normal’

Bordeaux 2015 represents ‘the new normal’ for en primeur, Liv-ex added.

This involves ongoing, relatively high prices, more stock being held back from the market and a greater focus on second and third wines among the biggest châteaux, according to Liv-ex.

Vintage quality also continues to affect consumer demand, Liv-ex said.

However, strong scores for many Bordeaux 2015 wines, including from Decanter’s quartet of expert tasters, has left a sense that the ensuing futures campaign ‘didn’t fulful its potential in the international market’, Liv-ex said.

A weak sterling currency against the euro didn’t do any favours to this year’s campaign – instantly adding around 10% to the price of wines for sterling buyers.

Release prices caused some consternation, according to Liv-ex. Its chart below shows how prices went up as the campaign progressed, in part reflecting that several high profile estates waited to release wines.

Bordeaux 2015 sales, en primeur prices

Bordeaux 2015 ex-château release prices as the campaign progressed. Source: Liv-ex

‘Viewed in the context of the last 10 years, ex-château prices recovered to the highest levels since 2010 on average and were just ahead of 2005 levels, the third highest of all time.’

Longer-term, a strategy of holding back stock has contributed to the maintenance of relatively high release prices, Liv-ex said.

Decanter’s Bordeaux-based contributing editor, Jane Anson, wrote recently about the tactic of holding Bordeaux stock back during the 2015 en primeur campaign.

Some observers, such as consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, argue that a focus on high prices is relevant only to a handful of top Bordeaux estates.

Others, such as Decanter consultant editor Steven Spurrier, have stressed that good vintages like 2015 often provide value and deals much further down the Bordeaux château hierarchy.

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