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Bordeaux first growths release one third down on 03

Bordeaux 1st growths Châteaux Haut-Brion, Margaux and Mouton-Rothschild have released their 2004 prices – all down a third on 2003.

Château Lafite is expected to follow suit next week, with Château Latour, the star of the vintage, aiming higher. Robert Parker gave Latour 96/97 points, and Steven Spurrier described it as ‘triumphantly successful.’

Haut-Brion, Margaux and Mouton-Rothschild are each €80, down 33.33% on 2003.

Despite the reduction the price is still well above the 2002 at €60. ‘The wines are selling but we’re working on a 10% margin rather than our usual 20% and have not had to impose allocations,’ said Steven Browett of London merchant Farr Vintners.

The majority of second growth ‘Super Seconds’ have also slashed prices. Château Cos d’Estournel is down 46% on 2003 at €40.50, Château Ducru-Beaucaillou is down 40% at €33 and Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande down 30% at €35.

But buyers have been slow to react, the prices still considered too high for the present market.

Eight weeks into a drawn-out primeur campaign the message from customers has been clear. They want both quality and a fair price for an eventually drinkable commodity with a sound reputation.

Wines that have sold well include Châteaux Calon-Ségur, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Léoville-Barton, Léoville-Poyferré and Pontet-Canet in the Médoc as well as the second labels Clos du Marquis (the second wine of Château Léoville Las Cases), Les Forts de Latour and Pavillon Rouge de Château Margaux.

L’Eglise-Clinet, La Conseillante and Vieux Château Certan in Pomerol and Pavie Macquin, Quinault l’Enclos and Troplong Mondot in Saint-Emilion are also selling well.

With the Bordeaux trade also waiting for prices from Châteaux Ausone, Cheval Blanc and Léoville Las Cases the 2004 primeur campaign looks to be of modest success.

‘We’ve sold more than I thought we would at the beginning but only about 20 wines have gone really well,’ said Browett.

Written by James Lawther in Bordeaux

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