Chateau Cheval Blanc 2008, on sale at around £3,500, is trying to take itself into the super-league, UK merchants say.
The St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe A released at the beginning of this week and is now on sale for between £3,200 and £3,600 a case.
This is considerably more than the First Growths, the most expensive of which, Lafite Rothschild, is now selling just above the £2000 mark. The other top wines retail for between £1,000 and £1,500 a case.
In addition, this is after the first growths have been on the market for a month. Cheval Blanc released at double the price of the top wines.
Some UK merchants accept that Cheval Blanc and its sister property Yquem, both managed by Pierre Lurton and owned by luxury group LVMH, are now luxury products on a par with Rolex and Chanel.
‘As such, quality of vintage is almost immaterial,’ one senior source told decanter.com.
Sam Gleave at Bordeaux Index – which has sold ‘35-50 cases’ – took issue with this. ‘It’s not overpriced. It’s got 97 points from Parker and Cheval Blanc with 97 points is a £3,500 wine. It represents great value for money.’
Others disagreed. ‘It is dramatically overpriced,’ Paul Marus, associate director of broking at Corney and Barrow. ‘It has become a regular occurrence for Lurton properties to price highly.’
Marus said he had sold 6 cases. He argued that Cheval was pricing itself higher than the first growths to reinforce its luxury image. ‘It’s of first growth quality – why not price at the level of the first growths?’
At Berry Bros, wine director Simon Staples agreed, suggesting that Cheval Blanc was trying to position itself in the ‘uber-league’ of right-bank properties that sit above the first growths in terms of price.
‘They are trying to associate with Ausone [around £6000 a case] and Petrus [price not yet released].
‘But the market sets the price. We have only sold 7 cases in Hong Kong and not one in the UK. It is beyond daft.’
Staples added that the Cheval price was an anomaly and stressed this year’s en primeur campaign had been ‘phenomenally successful – we sold double what we did last year.’
Chateau Cheval Blanc was unavailable for comment.
Written by Adam Lechmere