The last two first growths have released their wines to market – at a record-breaking €350 per bottle.

Chateaux Margaux and Latour will join their other blue-blood neighbours on the shelf for more than £4000 a case. This are the most expensive prices for Bordeaux at en primeur.

The 2005 vintage has been talked about since the grapes were queuing up to be crushed – and the prices reflect the obsessive levels of interest around the world.

That interest has not always been positive. Robert Parker stoked the fury of his accolytes when he referred on his bulletin board to the ‘pride, provincial jealousies, and greed’ that led properties to create ‘the illusion of shortages’.

The sentiment has been echoed in dozens of letters received by Decanter.

Patrick Bernard, managing director of negociants Millesima, who expects to sell Margaux and Latour for around €530 per bottle, lamented the high prices but accepted they were the result of market forces.

He told decanter.com, ‘a lot of people in France and western Europe would like to buy but won’t be able to. Our best clients can’t buy. When they ring we say we can’t do anything.’

It is impossible to get an exact figure but it is understood the majority of the top 2005s will go out of Europe, to the US and the Far East – especially to the new millionaires of China.

Russia is also expected to buy 2005 but not in the same quantities – ‘the Russians do not buy futures,’ one negociant said.

Chateau Margaux general director Paul Pontallier told decanter.com, ‘the market decides the price. If we had released at a lower price the wine would have gone to London and then been sold on at its real market value. Our choice is limited.’

As to the prices making the wine unavailable to all but the most wealthy businessmen, many outside Europe, Pontallier agreed this may happen.

‘That could be the case – but it may have been the case anyway. I don’t need to tell you anything about the workings of the free market economy.’

He also said that Margaux would be releasing ‘one single tranche’ this year, with a limited amount released at an unspecified date later in they year.

  • Internet-based wine search engine Wine-searcher.com has found a 95% increase in prices. The average price per case is £493, a 95% increase from the 2004 vintage at £252. In the US the average price per case is US$965, up 82% from 2004 at $531.

    The biggest increase so far recorded is Larcis Ducasse at 337% with the average case for 2005 priced at £699 compared to £160 for 2004.

    Prices for the first growths are up by an average of 300%, as predicted by decanter.com in February of this year.

    Written by Adam Lechmere