Bordeaux 2018 arrives in a delicate market, says Liv-ex

All eyes will be on quality as hundreds of tasters descend on the Bordeaux 2018 en primeur week, but there is also extra pressure to get pricing right in a ‘keenly poised’ market, says a new Liv-ex report.

In its annual preview of Bordeaux en primeur season, Liv-ex analysts noted the building excitement around some of the Bordeaux 2018 barrel samples.

While quality assessments in the coming en primeur tasting week will have an important say in the vintage’s early lifetime and should not be pre-judged, Liv-ex analysts said that a range of colliding factors mean that pricing for Bordeaux 2018 futures will have to be handled in a particularly delicate fashion.

Tasters are unlikely to escape the growing surrealism of Brexit in the en primeur tasting rooms, and a potential impact in the subsequent campaign should naturally be considered, said Liv-ex.

Currency would likely be something to watch in this context, it said.

‘A strong sterling could benefit the UK market – one of the biggest en primeur buyers – and contribute to a successful, well-sold campaign,’ it said.

‘While sterling devaluation could mean diminishing UK appetite, it could stimulate Bordeaux trade driven by euro and dollar-based buyers in the secondary market and impact sterling-denominated indices.’

Such uncertainty also comes at a time when many Bordeaux lovers and merchants will already have well-stocked cellars, at least figuratively speaking, following the strong 2015 and 2016 vintages, said Liv-ex.

Looking at the wider context, its analysts also highlighted that Bordeaux must now share the fine wine stage with a greater number of wines from other regions.

Bordeaux’s share of trades on the Liv-ex platform fell to 59% in 2018, compared to 96% back in 2010.

bordeaux market

Shares of Bordeaux trades on the Liv-ex platform versus other regions. Credit: Liv-ex.

‘Bordeaux’s decline is a consequence of the fine wine market becoming broader and deeper,’ said Liv-ex, re-emphasising a trend that market watchers have been tracking for several years now.

The platform’s analysts also noted that a central rationale for buying Bordeaux en primeur wines – principally that they will be cheaper in barrel than in bottle – has also diminished.

‘In just over half of the campaigns since 2005, wines have been cheaper at physical release (delivery) than at en primeur.’ It said 2012, 2014 and 2015 were notable exceptions among recent campaigns.

However, several merchants will also be of the opinion that a 2018 vintage of sufficient quality will sell – at least at the top-end – if priced effectively.


Jane Anson’s full Bordeaux 2018 report, including scores and tasting notes, will be available to Decanter Premium subscribers later this month.