Bordeaux 2018 releases: Palmer goes big on small supply

One of the best rated Bordeaux 2018 wines, Château Palmer, has entered the en primeur campaign with a significant price increase versus last year and less wine than normal.

Palmer 2018 was released at €240 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up 25% on the opening price for 2017 and putting it back at the level of its 2016 release, according to Liv-ex data.

It follows a trend for price increases in the Bordeaux 2018 en primeur campaign, but Palmer’s circumstances have been widely described as atypical in the vintage.

Decanter’s Jane Anson said Palmer 2018 was one of the wines of the vintage, scoring it 99 points and describing it as ‘an exceptional wine that will clearly be discussed and enjoyed for years to come’.

For prospective buyers, a helpful comparison could be with the highly rated 2016 vintage, which Anson scored 98 after re-tasting in-bottle recently.


‘Perhaps the unusual context of this 2018 Palmer will carry this audacious price,’ said Wine Lister in its initial analysis today (10 May).

Unprecedented mildew attacks cut 2018 yields at biodynamically-farmed Palmer to 11 hectolitres per hectare, compared to an average 37hl/ha across the Margaux appellation, before a ‘hot, dry, restorative summer’ helped surviving fruit to kick-on.

Palmer has released more than its customary 50% of stock, but there was still 30% less wine available en primeur than normal, said Wine Lister.

Anson also warned prospective buyers that there will be no Alter Ego.

A closer look at Palmer 2018 pricing

Currency appeared to be affecting relative pricing of Palmer 2018 versus 2016. Millesima USA was selling six bottles of Palmer 2018 in bond for $2,016, with the same amount of 2016 priced at $2,340.

In the UK, Farr Vintners had a 12-bottle case of Palmer 2018 listed at £2,890 in bond, with the 2016 vintage at £2,750. BI Fine Wine & Spirits was selling six magnums of the 2018 to registered buyers for £2,902, with the 2016 available in the same format via its LiveTrade platform for £2,900.

A BI spokesperson said that Palmer 2018 had sold well so far. ‘Collectors will always come knocking for the best things, especially when they are going to have increasing rarity value in the future,’ he told

Also released

Other releases to emerge late this week included La Croix de Beaucaillou, at €33.6 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by 12% on 2017, according to Liv-ex.

Lafon-Rochet and Gloria 2018 were also released, at €31.20 and €28.80 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by 4% and 12% respectively on 2017, according to Wine Lister.

Read Jane Anson’s full Bordeaux 2018 verdict

Update 09/05: Pape Clément enters the campaign

Château Pape Clément 2018 red wine has been released at €66 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by nearly 8% on its equivalent 2017 release and back to the price of its 2016 primeur offer, according to Liv-ex data.

Jane Anson rated Pape Clément 2018 at 95 points in her Bordeaux 2018 primeur review, equal to her recent in-bottle rating for the Pessac-Léognan classified estate’s 2016 vintage. She praised the careful extraction and fleshy fruit of the 2018.

Millesima was offering six bottles of the 2018 for £397.20 in bond, while it was selling the same amount of 2016 for £700, including sales tax and duty.

Berry Bros & Rudd was selling six-bottle cases of both the 2018 and 2016 for £396 in bond. It was also selling the 2015 vintage, rated 94 points by Anson, at £420 in bond for six bottles.

Pape Clément white wine was also released this week, at €98.40 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by around 1% on 2017.

Château d’Armailhac 2018 was released at €34.80 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by 11.5% on 2017 and slightly ahead of the 2016 release price, which was €32.40, according to Liv-ex, which said the trade was offering 12 bottles of the wine for around £420 in bond.

Jane Anson rated the 2018 wine at 94 points, one ahead of the 2016 and 2015. She said it was one of the most concentrated d’Armailhacs of recent decades, primarily due to the heat of the vintage, but also ‘one of the best, with clear personality and power’.

For comparison, Berry Bros was selling d’Armailhac 2015 on its BBX platform for £260 per six-bottle case in bond, while Farr Vintners had the 2018 and 2016 vintages available at the same price.

Ex-Bordeaux prices sourced from Liv-ex unless otherwise stated. 

Read Jane Anson’s full Bordeaux 2018 verdict

Update 7 May: Price hikes for Calon Ségur and Carmes Haut-Brion

Châteaux Calon Ségur and Carmes Haut-Brion have both issued statements of intent with significant price increases for their 2018 en primeur releases.

Calon Ségur 2018 was released at €70 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, which is 20% higher than the 2017 release.

That is a record release price for the St-Estèphe estate, according to Liv-ex, but analysts at Wine Lister said the 2018 price was far enough below the highly rated Calon 2016 vintage as to be a ‘no brainer’ for prospective buyers.

Farr Vintners appeared to have sold out of initial Calon Ségur 2018 stocks in the UK by Tuesday morning (7 may), while Millesima was selling six bottles for £474 in bond. For comparison, Farr’s was selling 12 bottles of the 2016 wine for £1,080 in bond.

Bordeaux 2018 has been widely praised on the Left Bank, but a key dividing line between it and the lauded 2016 crop could be the perceived classicism of the latter.

Decanter’s Jane Anson gave Calon Ségur 2018 96 points and praised it as a ‘stunning wine’, but she added that, if pushed to choose, she would rather cellar the 2016 vintage ‘because it’s more in character for what is one of my favourite properties in the [St-Estèphe] appellation’.

Further south, Carmes Haut-Brion 2018 was released en primeur at €69 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by around 28% on 2017, according to Liv-ex. The 2016 vintage was released en primeur at €56.40.

‘The march of Carmes Haut-Brion continues in 2018,’ said Anson in her review of the wine, giving it 98 points.

Again, the price hike appeared steep but still kept the 2018 vintage at a significant discount to 2016, which has been widely viewed as the other recent Left Bank vintage of comparable quality – albeit 2015 comes close to rivalling these years for some estates in Pessac-Léognan and Margaux.

Millesima was offering six bottles of Carmes Haut-Brion 2018 at £414 in bond, while Berry Bros & Rudd listed six bottles of the 2016 vintage at £800 in bond, for example.

Wine Lister said of the Carmes Haut-Brion release, ‘Along with Beychevelle and Calon-Ségur, it is therefore one of the few Bordeaux crus that can afford to increase on last year’s release price and still have a 2018 that makes sense.’

Beychevelle 2018 was released this week at €60 ex-Bordeaux. ‘At this price, it is the second cheapest Beychevelle vintage currently in the market,’ said Liv-ex.

The St-Julien wine is known to have a strong following among Asia-based buyers. Anson said that the fourth growth estate has ‘raised its game over the last few years’, giving its 2018 vintage 94 points.

Other releases so far this week include Haut-Batailley, at €44.40, up by nearly 6% on its initial 2017 primeur price, and Malartic Lagravière, at €34.80, up by just over 7% on 2017.

Ex-Bordeaux prices sourced from Liv-ex unless otherwise stated.

Update 2 May 2019: Lafleur shows confidence with price rise

Château Lafleur 2018 has been described as ‘a steal’ by one analyst, despite again increasing its en primeur release price, while fellow Pomerol estates Clinet and Gazin have also entered the campaign.

Château Lafleur 2018, rated 98 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson, was being offered at the equivalent of £5,800 for a 12-bottle case in bond. That’s an 8.6% increase on the en primeur release of its 2017 first wine, said Liv-ex today (2 May).

Strict allocations mean that merchants often sell the vaunted Pomerol estate’s wines in smaller quantities; in the UK, Justerini & Brooks was offering three bottles of the 2018 for £1,450, for example.

‘An absolute steal’

Early Bordeaux 2018 releases have seen most estates increasing their en primeur prices versus the 2017 vintage, with St-Emilion’s Angélus being the most high-profile exception to date.

Lafleur’s pound sterling release price has risen by varying degrees in each of the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 vintages.

Yet, value is relative and the estate has a strong recent track record of improving on its release price.

Ratings and price analysis group Wine Lister said of Lafleur 2018, ‘This is an absolute steal and you should buy it if you can.’

Its reasoning was that 2018 has critical acclaim and is still around half the current market price of the Château’s 2016 first wine, albeit Anson recently handed Lafleur 2016 the full 100 points after tasting it in-bottle.

Farr Vintners was this week selling Lafleur 2016 for £10,800 per case in bond, and the highly rated 2015 vintage at £12,000, for example.

Liv-ex said that Lafleur 2014 might be an option for those looking at back vintages. In early March 2019, the trading platform said the ‘14 was trading at £4,908 per 12-bottle case, which was still up by 41% on its release price.

Gazin and Clinet released

Pomerol estates Gazin and Clinet also both entered the en primeur campaign today (2 May).

Clinet 2018, highly praised by Anson at 97 points, was released at €65 ex-Bordeaux, up by 14.5% on the 2017 release but down by around the same margin on the 2016. Liv-ex said that the estate has released 15% less wine en primeur this year.

Gazin 2018, at 92 points, was released at €62.40 ex-Bordeaux, up 8.3% on 2017, which drew caution from some quarters.

‘At the same price or higher than the two recent high-quality vintages (2016 and 2015), which are available to buy in the market, it is hard to understand the value of buying 2018 en primeur,’ said Wine Lister.

Update 30 April 2019: Demand there is price is right

Batailley and Haut-Bages Libéral, two fifth growths of Pauillac, both released their 2018 wines on Tuesday morning (30 April).

UK merchants were selling 12 bottles of Batailley 2018 for £408 in bond, 3.8% up on 2017. Haut-Bages Libéral was released at €29.70 ex-Bordeaux and was being sold at around £366 for 12 bottles in the UK. That’s up around 9% on the 2017 sterling price and 7.6% on an ex-Bordeaux basis, according to Liv-ex.

Both of those estates followed Langoa Barton and Branaire-Ducru in St-Julien, released in the last few days at €36 and €38.40 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, which means rises of 14.3% and 16% versus 2017 respectively, according to Liv-ex.

In quality terms, the best 2018 wines have drawn comparisons with the highly rated 2016 vintage on the Left Bank and the 2015 vintage on the Right Bank.

Some merchants believe that demand will be strong for the very best wines of 2018, if the price is palatable.

‘What’s clear is that the strength of reporting from the region, from both critics and merchants, has generated excitement and a no little demand,’ Giles Cooper, of BI Fine Wine & Spirits, told

‘A number of clients have given us quite serious mandates for positions on the right wines, should the prices be in the right areas, so we are looking forward to the top cru classé [estates] starting to release.’

However, while the best 2018 wines are top drawer, this is a vintage that struggles for consistency across all regions, according to Decanter’s Jane Anson in her en primeur verdict.

That makes it ever-more important to look at individual estates’ scores and also to consider the historical pricing strategies of those châteaux.

A key question among market observers is the extent to which consumers remain enthused about the en primeur system, both in terms of its economic rationale and in the context of an expanded secondary market that offers in-bottle vintages ready for delivery.

Batailley 2018 received strong praise from Jane Anson, but she also compared the wine in style to the highly rated 2009, which was available for around £50 per bottle at retail in the UK.

On the Left Bank, a key tension could emerge between the 2018 and 2016 vintages, with Anson noting that the latter may be more in-keeping with typicity in the major Médoc appellations; for all that she also praised the rich, approachable qualities of the best 2018s.

In terms of price, Liv-ex said that Branaire-Ducru and Langoa Barton 2016 were available at a discount to the 2018 vintage in sterling currency.

Farr Vintners was this week selling Branaire-Ducru 2018 at £462 in bond per 12 bottles, and a small number of cases of the 2016 at £450, for example.

Other estates that have released their Bordeaux 2018 wines so far include Suduiraut in Sauternes, at €40 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 12.2% on 2017, and Coutet in Barsac, at €30 ex-Bordeaux, up 8.7% on 2017. Sociando Mallet 2018 was released at €24 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by 11.1% on 2017.

Ex-Bordeaux prices sourced from Liv-ex. 

Search all Bordeaux 2018 wine ratings

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