As Chateau Margaux joins the other 1855 First Growths by releasing its 2014 at 240 euros ex-Bordeaux, the campaign has struggled to maintain the early momentum given by Mouton Rothschild and Lynch Bages.
There has been a predominantly subdued reaction to releases for Bordeaux 2014 wines in the last week, with many chateaux raising prices on 2013.
Chateau Lagrange was relatively well received at 24 euros ex-Bordeaux, up 5% on last year and the same as 2012. Chateau Langoa Barton also was seen as reasonable value at 29 euros ex-Bordeaux just 1.8% up on last year and well priced according to back vintages.
And Chateau L’Eglise Clinet, which showed one of the biggest rises with 24.5% to 132 euros per bottle (up from 106 euros) also proved to be one of the rare wines with such a strong following that it sold through rapidly.
Less successful was Chateau Gruaud Larose in St Julien, that came out at 39.50 euros, up 18% on the price for the last two vintages (33.60 euros) and more expensive than most of its available back vintages.
Pichon Baron came out at an equally-ambitious 66 euros ex-Bordeaux, a big rise of 22% on 2013 (54 euros). Other chateaux that saw steady but not explosive sales included Chateau Climens, released at 43.80 euros per bottle, up 13.5% on last year (38.6 euros), Chateau d’Issan 30 euros ex-Bordeaux (up 13%) and Chateau Giscours at 27.60 euros (+10%).
Joss Fowler, of Fine & Rare, said that Haut Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, which came out at the start of last week, both sold well, but the other key sellers were at the value end – Capbern Gasqueton, Retout Blanc and Sénéjac.
‘There is clearly an appetite for Bordeaux,’ Fowler told Decanter.com. ‘But, customers are much more savvy as to what everything is worth these days. Over the past few years Bordeaux has alienated their client base in the UK. This vintage is an opportunity to re-engage. Drinkers want Bordeaux in their cellars. They want to fall back in love with Bordeaux.
‘The players who are engaging will be getting their wine into cellars and onto tables. Those that aren’t engaging (and we know who they are) will, I think, ultimately lose out. Think of the chateaux that are getting it wrong: when was the last time you saw a bottle of their wine on a table?’
Peter Mesrobian, of Flickinger Wines in Chicago, echoed this sentiment. ‘In general, our approach has been very selective, offering out specific chateaux that strike us as true value, rather than doing a broad-based campaign. The producers we’ve sold successfully have a price for the 2014 that’s 10-20% lower than the price of the 2012s, and much less than the 2010s. For us, a 10% discount to a comparable quality 2012 is fair value; a 20% discount or more starts looking like really good value.’
Several experts, such as Nick Martin at trading platform Wine Owners, have repeatedly argued that prices must be weighed against an estate’s cheapest physical vintages on the market.
Liv-ex said last week that it had so far seen limited trading in the secondary market for Bordeaux 2014 wines. It suggested a threshold had emerged; those few wines available for 25% less than the 2008 and 2006 vintages were selling well in the secondary market, it said.
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux