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Collectors’ News: October 2010 issue

One of the first reactions of the trade following the ultra-high release prices of the 2009s was to laser in on the best value back vintages. For many, that was the not-yet-bottled 2008.

‘There has been a lot of speculative trading by merchants hedging on the 2008s, with a view to reselling the wines once they are physical next year,’ says Richard Brierely of Vanquish Wines.

This was confirmed by trading platform Liv-ex, which recorded a burst of activity surrounding the 2008 clarets over the summer. Much of this was underpinned by the massive pricing differential between the two vintages, with no fewer than 85 châteaux’s 2009s trading at an average 93% premium to their 2008s.

Are the two vintages really that far apart in terms of quality? Not according to Robert Parker. While he scores the 2009 vintage at an average rating of 94.1, the 2008 isn’t that far behind with an average rating of 92.5.

Moreover, some 2008s, such as Châteaux Palmer and Ausone, scored extremely highly in 2008 and are looking very good value in relation to their 2009s. For instance, the 2008 Palmer received a very creditable 95–97 and is trading at around £1,100. That’s less than half the price of the 2009 with a lesser rating of 94-96 points.

Even more anomalous is the 2008 Ausone. It still has a potentially perfect 96–100 score but costs £4,500 less than the 2009 with just 95-97 points.

However, some trade buyers are showing caution with regard to 2008, including Miles Davis of the Fine Wine Fund. ‘There has been a lot of highly speculative activity around the vintage, which does look cheap at face value.

The problem with 2008 is that we think Parker over-scored it, so we are far from sure about quality at this moment in time. We’d rather wait until the wines are in bottle and there’s more critical consensus around the winners and losers.’

Written by John Stimpfig

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