Lynch Bages, Angelus and La Lagune were among the Bordeaux 2014 wines getting interest from consumers ahead of the May Day holiday, according to merchants.
As Bordeaux takes a break for the first of its traditional round of May bank holidays, there was cautious optimism that the en primeur campaign is finding a momentum – even though many top chateaux continued to hold fire on Bordeaux 2014 releases.
As expected, most merchants report that there is a split emerging between those estates offering genuine reasons for buying at this early stage, and those who have priced too highly and therefore are finding little response.
The other key movement this week has been on the 2012 vintage, which is seeing an upswing in sales of the now-bottled wines due to the release yesterday of Robert Parker’s in-bottle scores.
Decanter.com has already reported on success for Mouton Rothschild, but Lynch Bages was threatening to eclipse the first growth by the end of the week. Lynch Bages was released at 60 euros ex-Bordeaux, 20% up on last year but 30% cheaper than the 2004, 2006 and 2008 vintages.
‘We have sold more than 3,000 six-bottle cases Lynch Bages and have a lot of unfulfilled request,’ Max Lalondrelle, fine wine buying director at Berry Bros & Rudd, told Decanter.com. ‘The Lynch Bages was allocated quite tightly with most customers getting only six bottles.’
‘We sold every case we could get,’ added Giles Cooper, of Bordeaux Index.
Smaller classifieds, such as La Lagune, have also sold through, according to merchants. La Lagune, which topped the Haut-Medoc rankings in Decanter’s Bordeaux 2014 ratings, was released at 28.8 euros ex-Bordeaux, having not released in 2013. The 2014 en primeur wine was 17% cheaper than 2012, and down 20% on 2011.
On the Right Bank, Angelus - at 180 euros ex-Bordeaux – has sold ‘steadily’ with some merchants, although others said UK buyers were lukewarm. ‘We have sold a small amount of Angelus as it is more of an Asian brand these days and UK customers are finding it difficult to buy at that price,’ said Lalondrelle. ‘That said, we sold 246 bottles versus 66 last year.’
Paul Hammond, of UK merchant IG Wines, told Decanter.com, ‘Angelus has been selling steadily in the UK and as we hear from négociants, very well in the French domestic market with supermarkets showing raised interest.’
Hammond said the weak euro was helping consumers beyond the eurozone to get a deal. ‘The 2014 campaign is gaining momentum, thanks largely due to the strength of US, UK, Hong Kong and Chinese currencies against the euro and the willingness of some chateaux to incentivise buyers.’
Lynch Bages was a good example of an estate offering good incentives, he said. ‘Lynch is known for pricing well on release and performing well from barrel to bottle. For example, the average bottle price from 2004 to 2013 is £67.50, or £810 per case of 12; the 2014 release is a 30% reduction on this, thus providing an incentive to buy and hold en primeur. In fact, from the release price to the current market price, Lynch Bages has returned an average of 36% since 2004.’
Elsewhere, Palmer - which was well liked by critics – has been received with less enthusiasm, with Liv-ex reporting that the €160 ex-Bordeaux price made it more expensive than the back vintages of 2004, 2006 and 2008.
Nick Palmer, of trading platform Wine Owners, said, ‘The 2004 was the wine of the vintage, and is 20% cheaper than the 2014. No amount of biodynamics can surely compensate for a premium to superb mature vintages?’
But, Lalondrelle said Palmer had done ‘rather well’ for Berry Bros, despite being released on the same day as Lynch Bages.
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux and Chris Mercer