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Collectors’ News: January 2010 issue

Significantly higher levels of trading on the Liv-ex platform in recent months might suggest a broader fine wine recovery beyond Lafite (see p117). So far, much of that activity has focused on the resurgence of the 2000 and 2005 vintages.

But James Miles of Liv-ex believes the 1996s offer the best value. ‘In some cases, the vintage is very highly rated and is about to come into its drinking window.’

Vincenzo Tagliavia, CEO of the wine merchant and investment specialist Bordeaux Connoisseurs has also identified it as offering the best bet for drinkers and investors. ‘On the Left Bank, Latour, Margaux and Lafite all made magnificent wines which all scored 99 or 100 points from Parker.

Yet compared to the 2005s they look extremely underpriced,’ argues Tagliavia. ‘The ’96 Latour has 99 points but is selling for £4,700, whereas the 2005 Latour with a lower 96-point score is trading at £7,700.’

So far, the only wine from the 1996 vintage that has moved significantly in price has been Lafite. ‘It’s well above its previous peak of £7,700, now trading at £8,200,’ says Chris Smith at the Wine Investment Fund.

Nonetheless, there are signs the vintage as a whole is starting to gather momentum.

In August, Mouton and Haut-Brion saw activity at under £2,000 a case. Then in September, trading on the Liv-ex platform spread to other top Left Bank wines including Lynch-Bages, Pichon-Lalande, Pichon-Baron, Pontet-Canet and Duhart-Milon.

But it was the 1996 Léoville-LasCases that took centre stage. ‘Strong demand, together with good availability led to a flurry of trades at £1,500 a case – just £200 off its all-time high,’ Miles said. Even 98 Parker points didn’t push its price higher. So the 1996s remain stubbornly good value despite being so hotly tipped. But for how long?

Written by John Stimpfig

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