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Did Cos d’Estournel set tone with 2016 release?

Cos d'Estournel has surprised the market by releasing its Bordeaux 2016 wine early and has been credited by some insiders for not markedly increasing its price against the 2015 wine.

Château Cos d’Estournel 2016, given 97 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson, has been released en primeur to merchants outside of Bordeaux at the same price as its 2015 wine – even though this year’s effort is rated more highly.

Cos 2016 was released earlier than expected and priced at 120 euros ex-Bordeaux and trade insiders told Decanter.com that they hoped the St-Estèphe estate would set the tone for the coming en primeur campaign.

However, Liv-ex analysis showed that only the Cos 2005, 2009 and 2010 vintages were priced more highly than the 2016 en primeur wine at current rates on its trading platform.

See all Bordeaux 2016 wines rated by Decanter

Bordeaux 2016 is highly rated, especially in northern Médoc, but there is little appetite among non-Bordeaux merchants for steep price rises across the board
following a number of futures campaigns in recent years that have either been a hard sell for merchants or seen end-consumers lose money between the en primeur and in-bottle release on some wines.

A weaker pound sterling versus 12 months ago means that the Cos 2016 wine is effectively 10% more expensive than the 2015 for UK buyers, although it is expected to be slightly cheaper than last year’s vintage for US buyers, according to Liv-ex analysis.

For example, in the UK this week, several merchants were offering six bottles of Cos 2016 for around £700 in bond. That makes it slightly more than the 2015 at current prices, with the 2014 cheaper still.

Anson wrote in her vintage analysis that the 2016 and 2014 wines in Médoc would be interesting to compare on price – both of which she rated above the 2015 wines on the whole for the Médoc appellations.

She said of the Cos d’Estournel 2016 barrel sample, ‘This is one of the best Cos d’Estournels that I can remember trying at this early stage, it really does have every hair standing up on end.’

In the US, Wine.com was this week selling Cos 2014 at $119.99 per bottle in bond, and still en primeur, while the 2016 was available for $159.99 and 2015 at $169.99.

K&L Wines had a similar pattern. A bottle of Cos 2014 was available for $129.99 in bond, with the 2016 available for $149.99.

During en primeur tasting week, it was generally expected that prices would rise for the Bordeaux 2016 campaign, especially in Médoc, given the standard of the vintage.

Another senior Bordeaux source said that he believed prices could rise by up to 20% in some cases. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming weeks.

However, no one wants to kill off a nascent Bordeaux recovery in the fine wine market. And there was some awareness of the geopolitical uncertainty engulfing
major buying markets, albeit the concern about this in Bordeaux itself appears to remain relatively muted.

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