Château Haut Brion has released the most expensive wine en primeur so far - with its Haut Brion Blanc on offer for £2,800 per case in the UK.
Haut Brion Rouge – the chateau’s great wine – was released at €125 per bottle. This was the most expensive release price of the first growths, which all came out at €100-€110 per bottle.
Haut Brion Rouge is now on the UK market for £1,830 per case. Lafite, which came out at a lower price, is now on the market for £1,900.
La Mission Haut Brion will set buyers back £1,300 per case. Chateau Palmer also came out higher than expected and is selling now for about £1,020.
‘Haut Brion will probably get away with this price,’ Tom Jenkins at Justerini & Brooks told decanter.com, ‘but Palmer’s seems to have been dictated by ego, and it has bombed in the UK. I can’t imagine any merchants getting stuck in when you can buy Lynch Bages or Pichon Comtesse for a fraction of the price.’
Jenkins believes this will send a message to châteaux that have not yet released that they will have to be competitive.
‘The campaign will focus on better value wine. There are plenty of buying opportunities out there, and the châteaux shouldn’t forget that,’ he said.
Alex Marton, director of fine wine for Bibendum, criticised the way some merchants have been running their campaign in the UK.
‘When Lynch Bages came out, lots of merchants were trying to discount and undercut each other, offering it at well below the recommended release price,’ he said.
‘They were either selling at a loss, or had received a very big discount from négociants in Bordeaux. This makes it very hard for the rest of us who are playing by the rules. At one point, we weren’t going to even offer Lynch Bages because it was impossible to sell.’
Simon Quinn at Bordeaux Wine Investments was more upbeat.
‘We have seen some merchants slashing margins, which is a shame because it can kill the whole the campaign,’ he said.
‘But we’ve been able to welcome back some clients who haven’t been around for a long time. People are buying to drink these wines, and we’ve seen a lot of activity around the well-priced wines.’
Written by Jane Anson