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Bordeaux 2009 sales ‘on knife edge’: Liv-ex

Sales of Bordeaux 2009 are ‘balanced on a knife edge’, Liv-ex has warned, though merchants disagree.

The web-based trading platform, on which a case of Lafite 09 was traded last month for £10,000, before the chateau had priced or released the wine, says in its latest market report there is ‘a very real danger Bordeaux has overestimated demand’.

While that will be news to the many wine merchants who remain supremely confidant, Liv-ex bases its comments on concrete activity on its website.

Only 10 of the wines released so far, it says, could be counted as ‘real successes’ in selling through.

These are the wines connected to Mouton and Lafite – Duhart Milon (released at €38, 72% up on last year), Clerc Milon, d’Armailhac – and those with ‘a strong consumer base released at sensible prices (Gruaud Larose, Haut Batailley, Cantemerle etc)’.

Liv-ex concedes that it is far too early to make any judgments as only 5% of the campaign’s probable value has been released.

But with release prices up an average 20% in euro terms (40% in sterling) on 2005, and allocations much smaller than expected, the market is sluggish.

Most important of all is the fact that 12 of the top 20 wines have been released at above the current market price of their respective 2005s.

‘The comparison with the 2000 vintage is equally sobering. Either the 2009s are massively overpriced, or the 2005s and 2000s are currently far too cheap.’

Wine merchants are much more upbeat but some sound notes of caution when pressed.

‘We are having our hands bitten off for the wines,’ Corney & Barrow’s Adam Brett Smith (generally the most cautious of the big London merchants) said.

‘I don’t want Bordeaux to hear this, and it makes those who have been reasonable think they should have pushed it more, but it’s the truth.’

At Fine and Rare, Simon Davies said the market had only just picked up and ‘would need a bit of time to get its head around the new price levels’.

But, he added, the prices of some of the bigger names were making the smaller estates look reasonable. ‘Du Pez (at £20 a bottle) now looks like a bargain.’

Batailley, du Tetre, Tour St Bonnet, d’Armailhac and Gruaud Larose were all selling well, he said, though Pagodes de Cos, the second wine of Cos d’Estournel was ‘selling slowly at that price’.

Nick Pegna of Berry Bros in Hong Kong agreed Pagodes was ‘taking time to get going.’ It costs £35-38, compared to £24-27 for the 2000, 05 or 08.

As to the blue chip wines, the first growths and their right bank siblings, it is expected they will release at the end of this month or early July.

And with a case of Lafite already sold for £10,000, it now looks as if their prices are going to be above decanter.com’s early prediction of €300-350 a bottle rising to €1000 by the end of the summer.

Davies suggested the first growths would follow the trend and release at 2005 prices. ‘When Lafite released their 2005 it was at the then 2000 market price. The 2005 is now selling at a minimum £8000 a case. So watch out.’

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Written by Adam Lechmere, and Jane Anson

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