Chateau Angelus – one of the top wines of St Emilion – is the first to release its price on the 2008 vintage, at €50 a bottle.
This is the first wine to be released, a good three weeks earlier than normal. Indeed, in a Vinexpo year it is not unusual for chateaux to wait until the massive trade fair in June before announcing their prices.
This price is 40% lower than 2007, which owner Hubert de Bouard released at €85, and which is now selling for around £95 a bottle on the open market.
It is the same price as the 2004, which de Bouard has repeatedly said is the ‘natural’ en primeur price.
The price of the 08 means that Angelus will be asking customers to buy a better vintage than last year’s, for less.
Over the last week many commentators – includind Jean-Guillaume Prats at Cos d’Estournel – have said this will destroy any market that might exist for the sluggish 07s.
De Bouard is sanguine, stressing that his position has always been that you cannot make one vintage dependent on another.
‘I could set the price of the 2008 to protect those who had bought the 2007, but I would be sure not to sell anything. It may be tough for those who own 07s, but to link the position of two vintages is never a good thing.’
His view is straightforward: you have to bring customers back and for that you need ‘price adaptation. Customers were happy with the price and the quality of the 2004.’
As to whether this will bring the merchants back on board, opinions are divided.
Berry Bros will not be buying any Angelus; they have not bought the St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe since 2005.
‘It’s still ludicrously overpriced. Even at €30 we wouldn’t be interested,’ head wine buyer Simon Staples said.
At Farr Vintners – which refused to go to Bordeaux for the tastings last week – the mood has lightened.
‘I think that this is certainly a step in the right direction and by releasing it at precisely the same price as the 2004 Hubert de Bouard is listening to what we’ve been saying.’
Customers will be able to buy Angelus 2008 at around £725 per case.
Written by Adam Lechmere