Bordeaux 2018 releases: Lafite and Cheval Blanc enter campaign

Château Lafite Rothschild has become the final Left Bank first growth to emerge, with Cheval Blanc, Figeac and La Conseillante also launching on the Right Bank in what has been a hectic few days of releases for the Bordeaux 2018 en primeur campaign.

Lafite Rothschild 2018, rated at 98-100 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson, making it one of the wines of the Bordeaux 2018 vintage, has been released en primeur at €480 per bottle ex-Bordeaux.

That matches the current market price of the lauded 2016 vintage, which was released at €455 ex-Bordeaux. The 2015 came out at €420 and the 2014 was down at €288, according to Liv-ex data.

UK merchants were offering 12 bottles of Lafite 2018 for £6,000 in bond, making it more expensive than the other first growths from this vintage.

But it wasn’t the most expensive release of the last 24 hours; that honour went to Ausone and Cheval Blanc, as discussed below.

Analysis group Wine Lister struck a confident tone on Lafite. ‘With volume down 30%, it’s a sure buy,’ it said, highlighting that the price puts ’18 below current market prices for the lauded vintages of 2016, 2010 and 2009 wines, albeit those are in-bottle.

As Liv-ex noted, the 2018 release also highlights the journey that Lafite – and the fine wine market in general – has been on in the last decade.

Consider that the 2010 vintage was originally released by UK merchants at £12,000 per 12-bottle case in bond, according to Liv-ex data. In the US, Millesima said at the time that 2010 was still $100 cheaper than market prices for 2009.

Most fine wine collectors know what happened next. Economists would call it a period of correction for the fine wine market in general, which also coincided with a run of less acclaimed Bordeaux vintages.

Cheval Blanc, Figeac and La Conseillante 

High-profile Right Bank estates Cheval Blanc, Figeac and La Conseillante also entered the campaign on Friday (14 June).

Anson gave Cheval Blanc 2018 98-100 points, in a St-Emilion vintage that she said was, in general, up there with the strongly rated 2015 crop of wines.

Early analysis suggested the 2018 was priced in roughly the same area as market prices for 2015, in sterling terms. Availability and allocations, again, could make a difference.

Fine & Rare was selling Cheval Blanc 2018 for £3,294 per six bottles in bond. Its website was offering one bottle of the similarly rated 2015 vintage, sourced from the market, at £503 in bond.

Farr Vintners was selling Cheval Blanc 2018 for £6,588 for 12 bottles in bond. Berry Bros & Rudd had three magnums of the 2015 wine for £3,320 via its BBX trading platform.

Both Figeac 2018 and La Conseillante 2018, rated 98 and 97 points by Anson respectively, were noted for their bold pricing.

Wine Lister said that both estates had had released at record prices. For Figeac, it said, ‘It is the final step in a repositioning exercise that has been carried out over the last five years on the back of a very real step up in quality. As a result, this may carry.’

On an ex-Bordeaux basis, Figeac 2018 came out at €174 per bottle, up by 45% on 2017, and priced in the UK at £2,172 per 12-bottle case in bond.

La Conseillante 2018 emerged at €162 per bottle, up 35% on 2017, and was offered by UK merchants at just above £2,000 per 12 bottles in bond.


Update 13/06: Ausone launches with ‘solid’ offer

Right Bank estates Ausone, L’Evangile and L’Eglise Clinet have become the latest top names to release in a big week for the Bordeaux 2018 en primeur campaign that has also seen Mouton Rothschild, Margaux, Haut-Brion and Pavie.

Ausone 2018, rated 98 by Decanter’s Jane Anson, has been released at €565 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, translating to a UK price of £7,000 per 12-bottle case in bond.

The ex-Bordeaux price was nearly 18% higher than 2017, but in between the release prices for the highly rated 2016 and 2015 wines, which were at €588 and €540 ex-Bordeaux respectively.

The St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé A estate was praised by Liv-ex for its ‘solid’ offer.

Liv-ex analysts were recently critical of some releases in the Bordeaux 2018 campaign, arguing that ‘near record-breaking prices’ have pushed some buyers to look at alternative options, including in-bottle vintages and even other regions entirely.

Analysis group Wine Lister said of Ausone’s release price, ‘It will likely come onto the market around 10-15% below the…2016 and 2015 vintages, which is a healthy enough “discount” for the wine to work en primeur, especially given its low volumes.’

Other wines released today included L’Evangile in Pomerol, at €180 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, which is equal to its 2017 and 2016 release prices.

L’Evangile 2018 drew 97 points from Anson, who also noted that it was among several estates with relatively small production in this vintage.

It was being offered at around £2,250, according to Liv-ex.

Wine Lister said it was more expensive than all vintages since 2009, although roughly the same as 2016 and 2017, but it noted a 60% drop in production versus last year.

L’Eglise Clinet 2018, also rated at 97 points by Anson, was also released on Thursday (13 June), at €210 ex-Bordeaux, up by more than 20% on 2017. The 2016 was released at €225 with the 2015 released at €180.

Allocations came into play with small volumes on offer. Fine & Rare was selling six bottles for £1,308 on a ‘request allocation’ basis.


Update 12/06: Mouton Rothschild, Haut-Brion and Pavie all out

Châteaux Mouton Rothschild, Haut-Brion and Pavie have all launched their 2018 wines within hours of each other in the biggest day of the en primeur campaign so far.

Mouton Rothschild 2018, rated 98 to 100 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson*, who praised its ‘incredible persistency and density of flavour’, emerged as arguably the pick of the bunch in early analysis of the latest Bordeaux 2018 en primeur releases.

It was released at €408 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up 17% on last year but down versus a release price of €420 for the similarly rated Mouton 2016 first wine, according to Liv-ex data.

UK merchants offered Mouton 2018 at around £5,112 per 12-bottle case in bond, making it cheaper than the physical 2016.

That’s if you can get hold of the wine, however. Lower-than-usual production and high ratings were expected to yield strict allocations for the 2018 vintage; in such circumstances, previous buyers are generally given priority.

Analysis group Wine Lister predicted that the wine would sell and said its founder members have previously voted Mouton Rothschild as their ‘most consistently selling Bordeaux brand’.

Fine & Rare was offering six bottles of Mouton 2018 for £2,556 in bond but on a ‘request allocation’ basis. BI Wine & Spirits listed the wine as sold out on its website.

Giles Cooper, of BI, told Decanter.com, ‘Margaux [yesterday] was an instant hit. We could have sold four times the amount, and we already have a pretty decent allocation. This morning’s Mouton was much the same story.’

For wider context, Farr Vintners, which had the ’18 for £5,112 per 12 bottles, was also selling the highly regarded Mouton 2010 at £5,800 for 12 bottles. Berry Bros & Rudd had a 12-bottle case of the 2005 vintage on its BBX trading platform at £5,300 in bond.

Haut-Brion

Fellow first growth Haut-Brion also released its red, first wine on Wednesday morning, at the same ex-Bordeaux price as Mouton, which also translated to £5,112 per 12 bottles in bond. It also released its strongly rated 2016 vintage at €420, according to Liv-ex data.

Anson rated Haut-Brion 2018 at 98 points, although recently gave the 2016 vintage the full 100 points after tasting it after bottling.

Again, Liv-ex analysts said that ‘relatively tight allocations will benefit the release’.

However, there appeared to be less initial buzz over the ’18 release versus Mouton.

Wine Lister said, ‘Its release price, in-line with the two first growths that have come before it, puts it onto the market above the current price of all recent vintages apart from 2009 and 2010. As a result, it may not move as quickly as its fellow firsts.’

Pavie

Sandwiched between those two, and following Margaux yesterday lunchtime, was Château Pavie, which was released at €282 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up 2% on 2017, and being offered at £3,504 per case of 12 bottles in bond. The 2016 was released at €294, with the 2015 at €252, according to Liv-ex data.

Anson rated Pavie 2018 at 96 points, praising the restraint in a powerful vintage.

This matches the 2015 score, but Anson recently awarded 97 points to Pavie 2016, describing it as a ‘thrilling surprise’ in a vintage generally seen as less good than 2015.

Pavie emerged several weeks after fellow St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé A estate Angélus released to widespread praise.

Initial applause was more muted for Pavie, it seemed. ‘The wine is more expensive than most other vintages available in the market,’ said Liv-ex. Wine Lister said that 2018 was the most expensive Pavie on the market since the 2005 vintage.

*Anson doesn’t award the full 100 points at en primeur, preferring to reserve this rating for the in-bottle tastings of the vintage that normally take place around two years after harvest.


Update 11/06: Margaux enters the campaign

Château Margaux has entered the Bordeaux 2018 en primeur campaign below current market prices for 2016 and 2015, in sterling terms.

Margaux 2018, rated 98 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson, has been released en primeur at €408 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, according to analysis group Wine Lister.

That is down on a release price of €420 for the highly rated 2016 vintage, but higher than the €384 release price for the also-lauded 2015 vintage, based on Liv-ex data. The 2017 vintage was released at €348.

In the market, the 2018 came in cheaper than current prices for both 2016 and 2015; the latter having seen demand soar following both strong in-bottle reviews and news that it would be released in a commemorative bottle to mark the work of the late Paul Pontallier.

Wine Lister said today (11 June), ‘The new vintage comes onto the market just below the current price of the 2016, and well below the iconic 2015, which will help the market absorb this price.’

It added that the estate released 20% less wine than last year.

In initial trading in the UK, Farr Vintners was selling 12 bottles of Margaux 2018 in bond for £5,112, with the 2016 vintage priced at £5,400. The 2015 had sold out on its website.

Fine & Rare was offering six bottles of Margaux 2018 at £2,556.

Margaux’s second wine, Pavillon Rouge, was also released, at a record €144 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, with Pavillon Blanc at and €156.


Read Jane Anson’s full Bordeaux 2018 verdict


Update 06/06: Montrose adds to price rises

Montrose 2018, rated 97 points and highly regarded as a potential ‘great’ by Decanter’s Jane Anson, was released at €126.40 per bottle ex-Bordeaux.

That marks a 31% rise on the 2017 vintage release price and is also higher than the en primeur price of the highly rated 2016, which came out at €102 and, according to Liv-ex data, has subsequently increased in price 18%.

Several high profile, Left Bank estates have released their Bordeaux 2018 wines close to the market price of the 2016 vintage this week, as reported below on this page. Both years have received strong ratings, albeit with slightly differing characteristics.

Analysts at Liv-ex said yesterday (5 June) that Montrose 2016 was available at an 8% discount to 2018 for buyers in sterling currency, adding that merchants were selling 2018 at around £1,560 per 12-bottle case in bond.

In the US, JJ Buckley was selling the 2016 for $149.94 per bottle in bond and the 2018 for $174.94.

An important difference at Montrose in 2018 was that yields were down significantly, at 24 hectolitres per hectare, which means less ‘first wine’ to go around.

Some merchant sites appeared to have sold out of initial Montrose 2018 allocations quickly. Farr Vintners listed Montrose 2018 as sold out, while BI Wines & Spirits showed no quantities of the wine available by the morning of 6 June.

Also released yesterday was Château Quintus 2018, the eighth vintage under the banner of Haut-Brion owner Domaine Clarence Dillon, at €96 per bottle ex-Bordeaux.

‘This is very St-Emilion in its luxury and silkiness, with a beautiful texture,’ said Anson, rating Quintus 2018 at 94 points.

However, physical vintages like 2015 – a highly rated year on the Right Bank – were cheaper. ‘Today’s release is coming to market above all other vintages currently available ,’ said Liv-ex.


Read Jane Anson’s full Bordeaux 2018 verdict


Update 05/06: Cos d’Estournel goes bold on price 

More big names have entered the Bordeaux 2018 en primeur campaign, with Cos d’Estournel, Haut-Bailly, Pichon Baron and La Mission Haut-Brion all released within a few hours.

Cos d’Estournel raised a few eyebrows after it was released on 4 June (Tuesday) at €144 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, putting it at around £888 for six bottles in bond. Liv-ex said that was a 33% rise on 2017 and 19% above consensus expectations among its members.

‘This is released at around the current market price of 2016, below only 2009 and 2010,’ said analysis group Wine Lister. ‘The wine’s scores and renown may carry it through.’

Fine & Rare said in a note that it expected allocations to come into play for the Cos ’18, due to anticipated high demand.

Pricing of top Left Bank estates in the Bordeaux 2018 primeur campaign so far has further emphasised comparison with the 2016 vintage, which also received high ratings.

Jane Anson rated Cos d’Estournel 2018 at 97 points in-barrel, having recently awarded the same score to the St-Estèphe second growth’s 2016 vintage when re-tasted after bottling.

But, Anson said Cos 2018 was ‘a wine that you would be thrilled to own’ and that it had potential to go up in score at the in-bottle tasting in around 18 months from now.

Currency may also play a role in buying decisions. Liv-ex said Cos 2016 was available at a slight discount to 2018 in sterling terms. However, in the US, K&L was selling the 2018 at $199.99 per bottle and the 2016 at $229.99.

Other big names have come thick and fast this week.

La Mission Haut-Brion 2018 was released this morning (5 June) at €252 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, which was up by 5% on 2017 but below release prices of €336 and €300 for the Pessac-Léognan estate’s 2016 and 2015 vintages respectively.

Jane Anson rated the wine highly, giving it 97 points, although highlighted that it may not age for the same length of time as some of the more structured wines of the vintage; such as Haut-Bailly, rated at 98 points by Anson, who talked up its potential for ageing.

Haut-Bailly 2018 was released this week at €84 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, the same release price as 2016 and up nearly 17% on last year’s wine.

Pichon Baron 2018, rated 97 points by Anson, has also been released in the last 24 hours. It was priced at €114 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by nearly 19% on the 2017 but again level with the 2016 release.


Update 05/06: ‘Ambitious’ pricing for Léoville Las Cases and Ducru-Beaucaillou

Château Léoville Las Cases 2018, a wine given a 98-point score by Jane Anson, has been released with an ex-Bordeaux price of €180 per bottle.

That’s 25% up on the 2017 release price, and flat compared to 2016, with Liv-ex noting that the wine is being offered by the international trade at £2,172 per 12-bottle case.

Anson said it was ‘pretty much impossible to find fault’ with Las Cases 2018, the last release before the St-Julien property undergoes a three-year cellar renovation, while Wine Lister said that, with such a positive critical reception, ‘it is perhaps one of the few 2018s that can get away with such an ambitious release price’.

Another St-Julien wine, Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2018, has been released ex-Bordeaux at €139 per bottle, representing a 16% price increase on 2017 and 2% up on 2016.

The wine earned a 97-point score from Anson, who described it as ‘extremely complex … tight and holds on with an initial austerity’.

Wine Lister pointed out that the 2018 was priced above all other recent vintages, with only 2009 and 2010 more expensive. Pitching the wine above the higher-scoring 2016, it added, ‘seems ambitious’.

Pichon Comtesse 2018’s release price of €132 per bottle is fully 47% above the Pauillac property’s 2017 release price – and 10% above 2016 – but the wine has earned widespread praise from critics.

Awarding it 99 points, Anson said: ‘This has to be up there with one of the most seductive Comtesses on record.’

Liv-ex highlighted the potentially attractive pricing of alternative vintages, such as 2015 or 2014, but Wine Lister said: ‘With a price around the same level of 2016’s market price, the brand may just carry this release through.’

Moving to Graves, Pessac-Léognan property Château Smith Haut Lafitte’s 2018 red wine has an ex-Bordeaux price of €79.20 per bottle, 18% up on 2017 and 3% above 2016, with volumes substantially reduced by 45% on 2017.

The price pitches the 2018 above all other recent vintages, barring 2009 and 2010, which Wine Lister reckons makes the 2015 and 2016 vintages ‘better buys by comparison’.

The wine has divided critics, with Anson among the positive voices, rating it at 98 points and praising it as a ‘highly impressive wine with an amazing texture’.

Meanwhile, Smith Haut Lafitte’s 2018 white wine was released at €82.80 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, 3% above the 2017 release price and 15% up on 2016.

Pomerol property Château La Violette has released its 2018 at €210 ex-Bordeaux, representing a 17% premium to both 2017 and 2016. Wine Lister noted that, with pricing below 2015 and well below 2009 and 2010, there was a ‘potential upside to buying now’.

Written by Richard Woodard.


Read Jane Anson’s full Bordeaux 2018 verdict


Update: 30/05: Lynch-Bages gets strong backing

Château Lynch-Bages 2018, rated 97 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson and described as ‘hugely impressive’, was released en primeur at €90 ex-Bordeaux on Wednesday (29 May).

That’s 20% up on the 2017 release price but down slightly versus the 2016 release at €96.

Liv-ex said that the 2018 was around 5% cheaper than the 2016 in sterling terms. Anson recently rated the 2016 at 96 points.

Wine Lister highlighted that, when set against the similarly-rated 2016, there was effectively ‘no en primeur discount’ being offered on the 2018 vintage. However, it said there were thin stocks of the ’16 in Bordeaux.

Supply and a loyal fanbase appeared to play a significant role in early trading. Farr Vintners listed the 2018 vintage as ‘sold out’ within 24 hours of release, for example.

Lynch-Bages yields in 2018 were 38 hectolitres per hectare and Fine & Rare said in a note to clients that the estate had released 30% less wine en primeur than last year. It said the wine was ‘guaranteed to sell out’ on its platform.

Early analysis suggested a more marked difference in price between 2018 and 2016 in US dollar terms.

For example, Millesima USA was offering six bottles of Lynch-Bages 2018 in bond for $726, while the 2016 was $990. At K&L, one bottle of the ’18 was $129.99, with the ’16 at $169.99.

It remains to be seen whether Lynch-Bages 2018 will move much in price between now and becoming physical.

In sterling terms, Liv-ex data shows that Lynch-Bages 2016 was down by 1% in price from release to the end of April 2019.

However, there is a long way to go for both the ’18 and the ’16. Anson described the ’18 as one of her favourite vintages from the Pauillac estate and said it will age ‘extremely well’.

Other releases

Also released on Wednesday 29 May were Canon-la-Gaffelière, Giscours and Beauséjour Duffau.

Anson rated Beauséjour Duffau 2018 at 99 points, making it one of her top wines of the vintage. It was released at €90 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up by 19% on 2017 but placing it below market prices for the 2015 vintage, which was highly rated on the Right Bank, in particular.

Giscours in Margaux, rated 95 points by Anson, was released at €44.40 ex-Bordeaux, up by 7% on 2017, and was again in the same price arena as the 2016 vintage.

Canon-la-Gaffelière in St-Emilion was released at €62.40, up by 13% on 2017. ‘Other vintages that look attractive, and are currently slightly cheaper, include the physical 2015 and 2016,’ said Liv-ex.

Update 28/05: Troplong Mondot praised for ‘smart’ price

St-Emilion’s Château Troplong Mondot was arguably the early pick of the latest Bordeaux 2018 primeur releases this week, with Léoville Poyferré, d’Issan and Lascombes also releasing on Tuesday morning.

Troplong Mondot 2018 entered the Bordeaux en primeur fray this morning (28 May) by releasing at €74.40 per bottle ex-Bordeaux.

That translated to around £459 per six bottles in bond in the UK trade, with a rating of 97 points from Decanter’s Jane Anson.

Troplong’s price marked a 3% rise versus 2017 but compared well with release prices for the highly rated 2016 and 2015 vintages, which were initially offered at €102 and €82.80 per bottle ex-Bordeaux respectively, according to Liv-ex data.

Analysis group Wine Lister said, ‘This looks like one of the most reasonable releases of the campaign so far.’

It said, ‘At £76.50 per bottle the 2018 comes onto the market comfortably below the 2016 (a full 37% under 2016’s current market price), and slightly below the 2015 vintage.’

Several UK merchants were pushing the wine strongly on Tuesday morning (28 May) and some reported pleasing early results.

‘The price is pretty smart for such an impressive wine which has a great heritage,’ said Giles Cooper, of BI Fine Wine & Spirits.

‘I think there’s goodwill towards Troplong and people will be very pleased to see it operating back at its best.’

A key change at the St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé B estate in the last couple of years has been towards a fresher style under the direction of Aymeric de Gironde, alongside the arrival of a new owner – French insurance group Scor.

Eyebrows were raised when the Château started picking grapes on 7 September last year, but Anson praised the ‘brilliant’ blend of concentration and minerality in the 2018 wine.

Léoville Poyferré 2018 released

Other releases on 28 May included a debut for St-Julien second growth Léoville Poyferré, which emerged at €66 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, equal to its 2016 release price.

‘It is being offered by the trade for £816 per 12×75, up 22.5% on the 2017 release per case,’ said Liv-ex, which added that buyers might also want to consider 2016 and 2014 vintages.

Anson scored the 2018 wine 97 points and the in-bottle 2016 vintage 98 points.

Wine Lister said buying decisions might come down to stylistic preferences, plus the demand for quicker delivery.

A recurring theme with the 2018 vintage on the Left Bank has been comparison with 2016; both highly rated but with 2016 perhaps veering towards a more classic palate.

Also released was d’Issan in Margaux at €45.60 per bottle ex-Bordeaux. Its price put it slightly ahead of the 2016 on the market in the UK – Farr Vintners had the ’18 at £564 and the ’16 at £530 for 12 bottles in bond. Anson rated the 2018 more highly than 2016, however, awarding the latest vintage 96 points.

Fellow Margaux estate Lascombes, rated 92 by Anson, was released at €54 per bottle ex-Bordeaux.

‘With this price tag, the [Lascombes 2018 price] stands above a number of recent vintages available in the market,’ said Liv-ex.


Read Jane Anson’s full Bordeaux 2018 verdict


Update 24/05: Pontet-Canet 2018 makes market ‘gesture’ with release price 22% lower than 2016

A trio of Bordeaux chateaux have released their en primeur offers today including Château Pontet-Canet, Château Grand Puy Ducasse and Château Phélan Ségur all with lower opening prices than in 2016.

The biodynamic, fifth-growth Pauillac estate has released at €84.00 ex-Bordeaux per bottle, a 5% increase on the 2017 release price and 22% decrease on 2016. It is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended onward selling price of £86.50 (£1,038 per 12x75cl), an increase of 5% on 2017 and decrease of 24% on 2016, according to Wine Lister data.

Like many properties during the growing season, Pontet-Canet suffered from mildew and heat stress with a final yield of 12hl/ha, producing around a third of its usual volume. Decanter’s Jane Anson rated Pontet-Canet 2018 among the best Pauillac 2018 wines tasted en primeur, scoring it 96 points and describing it as ‘clearly impressive’ with a fruit quality that ‘is dark and knitted, with a creamy texture if you give it a minute to settle, an obvious tannic structure and a menthol finish that lets in some juice, bramble and hedgerow pleasures.’

In its analysis today, Wine Lister said: ‘[Pontet-Canet] is an unusual wine that will garner attention and so a price 9% below the 2016 should be enough to sell through.

‘It has made a significant gesture in releasing well below its 2016 release price, under the new sales director David Ornon.’

Château Phélan Ségur 2018 has released at €31.20 ex-Bordeaux, an increase of 5% on 2017 and 4% down on is 2016 opening price. It is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended onward selling price of £35.40 (£424.80 per 12x75cl), a 10% increase on 2017.

Anson scored this wine 94 points describing the 2018 as ‘good quality, as it has consistently been over the past few vintages’ with the wine displaying ‘plenty of concentration…but it’s hidden, latent, reserving its energy for the long haul.’

Also released today was Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse 2018 at €26.40 ex-Bordeaux, a 5% increase from 2017 and 8% down on the 2016 opening price. It is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended onward selling price of £27.20 (£326.40 per 12x75cl), an increase of 5% on 2017 and decrease of 7% on 2016.

With a score of 92 points, Anson said the 2018 ‘is impressive with toasted smoky caramel notes and clear gourmet edging to it’.

Written by Georgie Hindle.


Buying wine en primeur: How to approach it 


Update 10/05: Canon and Rauzan-Ségla 2018 see ‘significant’ price rises

The two properties, owned by luxury fashion house Chanel, have both released their en primeur 2018 prices today (22 May), up 27% and 36% on 2017 respectively.

Château Canon 2018 was released at €84 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, up 27.3% on the opening price for 2017 at €66 and 17% up on the level of its 2016 release. It is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended UK onward selling price of £87 (£1,044 per 12x75cl), an increase of 29% on 2017 and 19% on 2016, according to Liv-ex data.

The Premier Grand Cru Classé B property was among Jane Anson’s top St-Émilion wines, scoring 97 points and described as ‘a wine that carries its finesse with great skill’ and one that ‘just gets better and better’.

Regarding the release, Liv-ex managing director James Miles Tweeted: ‘Canon 2018 is an obvious buy if you can find it’.

Also scoring 97 points and rated as ‘among the wines of the year in Margaux’ by Jane Anson is Château Rauzan-Ségla 2018 which released at €72 per bottle ex-Bordeaux seeing a 36.3% increase on 2017 (€52.80) and 20% on 2016.

The 2018 vintage at Rauzan-Ségla, overseen by managing director Nicolas Audebert, saw vineyards struck by heavy rain and mildew resulting in low yields at 32hl/ha and a blend featuring a higher than usual proportion of Merlot.

Jane Anson describes it as ‘great quality’ with ‘its mix of elegance and confidence matched by perfectly ripe, Cabernet-dominant fruit’. It is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended UK selling price of £75 (£900 per 12x75cl), up 38.8% on 2017 (£648 per case) and 23% on 2016.

‘Canon, Rauzan-Ségla, and Berliquet…have gained so much momentum that they could afford to raise prices significantly and still present value to consumers.

‘These are wines collectors will want to have in their cellar in five years’ time, and if they can get their hands on them now, they should,’ said Wine Lister in its analysis today.

Liv-ex director and co-founder Justin Gibbs said: ‘Both wines [Canon and Rauzan-Ségla] are widely considered brands on the move, yet both have seen their allocations cut back this year – by 20% and 40% respectively.

‘Supply is therefore limited, but demand has not backed down. Canon has been one of the best en primeur purchases in the past three years and has gathered somewhat of a cult following.’ He added: ‘Some merchants are not offering the wines for general release and are instead only giving direct allocations.’

On a wider note, Gibbs continued: ‘More generally, merchants have reported that sales figures for this campaign are running at or just above the 2017 levels, but well below the 2016. It seems that the pricing of the majority of 2018 wines has lacked appeal.’

Also released

Other releases include Château Gruaud-Larose 2018 at €55.20 ex-Bordeaux, an increase of 6.6% on the 2017 opening price of €51.80 and 5% up on the 2016 release price. The wine, which Anson scored 94 points and said ‘will age well without question’ is being offered to the UK trade with a recommended UK selling price of £57 (£684 per 12x75cl), up 12% on the 2017’s release of £615 a case.

In the context of the current market prices for Gruaud-Larose, Liv-ex reports that ‘the 2016 vintage (95 points by Jane Anson) looks particularly attractive as it is 15.3% cheaper’ and those looking for older vintages ‘might want to consider the 2010 which is also available at a small discount.’

Similarly released at a price above the current 2016 level is Château Du Tertre 2018 at €29.40 ex-Bordeaux. It is an increase of 4% up on the 2017 release price and the same as the 2016 opening price with a UK offering of £30.00, up 3% on both the 2017 and 2016 prices.

Earlier this week

A number of other châteaux were released on Wednesday 22 May including Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2018 at €55.00 ex-Bordeaux, up 4.1% on the 2017’s opening price of €52.80 and 8% down on 2016’s of €60.00, and Château Léoville Barton 2018 at €61.80 ex-Bordeaux, an increase off 17% on 2017 and 3% decrease on the 2016 release price.

Anson scored Grand-Puy-Lacoste 95pts, one of the best Pauillac 2018 wines tasted en primeur, describing it as ‘bright and full of juice, prioritising vibrancy over power’. Léoville Barton 2018 was scored at 96pts and described as a wine that ‘is going to age exceptionally well, but there’s a freshness and juiciness to the structure already that suggests it’s going to be great fun to drink along the way’.

Margaux’s Château Kirwan has released at €31.50 ex-Bordeaux, up from €31.00 in 2017 and the same as 2016. Château Talbot in St Julien has released at €42.00 ex-Bordeaux, up from €37.20 in 2017 and also the same as 2016. Pomerol’s Château Beauregard has released at €45.60 ex-Bordeaux, up from €42.00 in 2017 and €46.00 in 2016.

Written by Georgie Hindle.

Update 10/05: 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.

Scarcity

‘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 Decanter.com.

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 Decanter.com.

‘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. 


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