The first of the Bordeaux first growths has released its 2005 price – 250% more expensive than 2004 – and merchants expect the rest to announce prices today, Wednesday.

Chateau Haut Brion announced a bottle price of €240 last week (€2880 or around £2000 per case) releasing a portion of its total stocks by giving its customers just under half of their last year’s allocation. Last year Haut Brion released at €96.

Merchants have not put the wine on sale as they are waiting to find out what their total allocation will be – as well as the final price after all tranches are released.

With all the top properties’ second wines now released, and the first tranche from Haut Brion, London merchants are now bracing themselves for the release of the other four top wines – Chateaux Margaux, Lafite-Rothschild, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild.

And they are going to be expensive – almost certainly more than the 300% markup decanter.com predicted in February.

‘If they are less than £3000 a case then I will be pleasantly surprised,’ one prominent London dealer said.

It is likely to be up to two weeks before the public has access to prices. Merchants do not announce any first growths for sale until all have released all their tranches – a process that may take at least 10 days.

Depending on the perceived quality of the vintage, top chateaux release wine to the market in batches or ‘tranches’, upping the price between each tranche.

There may be a couple of days or less between tranches, and in a highly-valued year like 2005 there will be at least four tranches.

Written by Adam Lechmere