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‘Brilliant’ Château Margaux 2020 released en primeur

Early signs suggest strong demand for Château Margaux 2020, rated ‘Left Bank wine of the vintage’ by Decanter’s Jane Anson, and the first growth has led a flurry of big-name releases in the Bordeaux en primeur campaign this morning (22 June).

Château Margaux 2020 was released en primeur this morning (22 June) at €432 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, translating to a UK merchant price of £5,196 per 12-bottle case in bond, according to Liv-ex.

Liv-ex said that puts Margaux 2020 slightly below its current market price for Margaux 2019 (98 points, Anson), even though the 2020’s ex-Bordeaux price was up by around 30% on the equivalent 2019 release price last year. 

‘The new release looks good value among current physical vintages,’ it said.

Matthew O’Connell, head of investment at merchant Bordeaux Index, said careful allocations of the Margaux 2020 release were likely given it is ‘clearly one of the wines of the vintage and with a more balanced price than many of the other releases’.

UK merchant Fine & Rare was offering Margaux 2020 on a ‘request an allocation’ basis early this morning, with Farr Vintners operating a ‘waiting list’ for the wine. 

Thomas Parker, buyer at Farr, told Decanter, ‘At the moment we are trying to secure as much stock as possible to allocate our pre-orders. At that point we would offer to wish-listers, and if we have any over we will offer for general sale.’

Jane Anson gave 99 points to Margaux 2020 after tasting it en primeur, naming it in her verdict on Bordeaux 2020 as her ‘Left Bank wine of the vintage’. 

‘A brilliant Margaux,’ Anson said in her tasting note.

You get the concentration of the vintage in an entirely positive light, with a suave softness to the tannins that makes it stand head and shoulders above many others.’

Analyst group Wine Lister said of the Margaux 2020 release, ‘Though there is not much wiggle room in pricing relative to recent back vintages, high praise from all critics in 2020 should encourage Bordeaux en primeur buyers to take up their allocation of this first growth if they’re lucky enough to have one.’

Decanter Premium exclusive: Bordeaux 2020 releases and prices

Margaux is only the second of the first growths to release in this year’s Bordeaux en primeur campaign, following a debut for Château Lafite Rothschild 2020 on 11 June.

Will Hargrove, head of fine wine at Corney & Barrow, said shortly after that release that the ‘Lafite stable sold well’, although the en primeur campaign overall had been more of a ‘mixed bag’.

Price watch: Palmer, Léoville-Las-Cases, Smith Haut Lafitte 2020 also released

Recent days have seen more big-name releases, and Margaux has been joined this morning by a number of other top estates on the Left Bank, in particular.

There is now a clear trend for price rises versus the 2019 releases during last year’s delayed en primeur campaign, but 2020 wines must also be weighed against current market prices, availability of back-vintages and ratings, too.

Palmer 2020 released with price jump vs 2019

Château Palmer 2020 was released at €240 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, which is a 49% jump on the corresponding 2019 vintage release price but equal with the 2018 release, according to Liv-ex.

Anson rated Palmer 2020 at 97 points, praising its balance of intensity and elegance. The texture is ‘velvety and seductive with softly-grained tannins’, she said.

The Margaux third growth’s 2020 wine was being sold by UK merchants at £2,880 per 12-bottle case in bond, making it more expensive than the current price for 2019 (98 points) but cheaper than the 100-point 2018 vintage, Liv-ex figures showed.

At Bordeaux Index, O’Connell said of the release, ‘While the price is up very significantly on 2019, [Palmer] does have particularly interesting market momentum at the moment and we are interested in how this release will sell and also trade subsequently.’

Wine Lister said that, alongside critical praise, ‘virtually no 2019 remains available’ and that the 2018 vintage was trading ‘at double the wine’s usual average across all vintages’, leading it to suggest that 2020 ‘could work among fans of the estate’.

Smith Haut Lafitte 2020 ‘sold well’

Another top name also out this morning was Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2020 red, rated 97 points by Jane Anson, who described the wine as ‘delivering a masterclass in restrained Pessac-Léognan glamour’.

Liv-ex said the wine was being offered at £1,152 per 12 bottles in bond. On an ex-Bordeaux basis, it said the wine was released at €96 per bottle, up 48% on the equivalent release price for the 2019 wine.

Commenting prior to the Palmer release, Liv-ex said, ‘This is the biggest price increase during this en primeur campaign so far. However, some critic scores suggest this price still offers fair value.’

Smith Haut Lafitte has said its 2020 vintage will be bottled with a special gold and black label design; the vintage marks estate owners Florence and Daniel Cathiard’s 30th harvest, and 2020 has also achieved strong scores. 

O’Connell said the wine sold well, driven by its high scores. 

Léoville-Las-Cases 2020 released

Léoville-Las-Cases 2020 was being offered by UK-based merchants at £2,376 (12x 75cl in bond). On an ex-Bordeaux basis, Liv-ex said it was released at €148 per bottle, up 43.5% on the equivalent 2019 release price.

‘The new release looks fully priced in the context of the estate’s recent back vintages,’ said Liv-ex.

Anson rated the 2020 wine at 96 points, praising its subtle intensity and classic St-Julien character as ‘an excellent example of what Las Cases can deliver’. She added, however, ‘You are going to need a lot of patience for this vintage to reach its drinking window.’

There was anticipation that more top names, and possibly more first growths, could release their 2020 wines this week.

Updated 22 June at 12:20pm UK time with new comments from merchants and release information on Palmer and Léoville-Las-Cases.

Read more Bordeaux 2020 en primeur articles

Lafite Rothschild 2020 release: ‘This should soar’

Cos d’Estournel and La Fleur-Pétrus make 2020 debuts

Canon 2020 released with ‘100-point potential’

All Bordeaux 2020 articles and reviews

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