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Château Lafite Rothschild 2022 released en primeur

Château Lafite Rothschild has been released ahead of other first growths in a Bordeaux 2022 en primeur campaign that has been dividing opinion among merchants.

Lafite Rothschild 2022 was released en primeur this morning at €580 per bottle ex-négociant, which represents a 23.4% increase on the debut price of the Pauillac first growth’s 2021 vintage last year, according to Liv-ex, a global marketplace for the trade.

Lafite 2022 was being offered by the UK trade at £7,140 per case (12x75cl in bond).

Analyst group Wine Lister said of the Lafite release, ‘Following its recent pattern of being the first first [growth] out of the gate, Lafite 2022 enters the market above the [price of] 2021 and 2020 vintages, but below all other comparably-scoring back vintages.’

It said it expected the release to get ‘snapped up’, highlighting brand name, pricing strategy, quality and ‘reduced volumes in 2022’ as all factors playing in Lafite’s favour on the market.

Bordeaux 2022 is shaping up to be a fascinating vintage, with plenty of high scores from critics and the added intrigue of how estates dealt with extremely hot and dry conditions.

Lafite saw its earliest harvest in more than a century, said Decanter’s Georgie Hindle, who gave Lafite Rothschild 2022 98 points after tasting it en primeur. ‘A wonderful example of restraint and delicacy in a year where it was easy to overdo,’ she wrote.

However, there has also been a lot of debate within the trade about pricing levels in the Bordeaux 2022 en primeur campaign so far. A number of estates have pitched their still-in-barrel wines as among the most expensive vintages on the market.

While this has created a degree of consternation among some UK merchants, several of them also note that some top names have still sold through to buyers.

Liv-ex said earlier this week, ‘These price hikes have led to a situation where some individuals are still participating in the campaign, while others simply don’t have the funds to do so.’

Arthur Coggill, at Goedhuis & Co, said that the merchant hasn’t offered some wines, due to prices. Others have found buyers, he said, such as Brane-Cantenac, ‘where they have arguably made their best wine ever, and so the price rise did make sense’.

In the US, meanwhile, Shaun Bishop, CEO of JJ Buckley in California, said he believed Bordeaux 2022 was a vintage that held a lot of appeal to American buyers.

‘People get caught up with the price relative to past vintages,’ he said. ‘2022 will appeal to both old and new world drinkers,’ he said. ‘Plus it will be approachable early and can age. So the vintage uniquely offers more than most previous good vintages.’

He added, ‘If we consider the vintage on its own merit, we realise that the overall value that many 2022 vintage wines are delivering is very high.’

There is buyer demand for top names, he said, although he added that there is an established pattern that en primeur doesn’t work so well for all estates, especially those retailing for under €50-a-bottle.

Retail prices in the US for Bordeaux 2022 wines were around 10% higher than for the 2020 vintage, he noted.

Other big-name releases this morning include Château Montrose 2022, which debuted at €144 per bottle ex-négociant, up 26.3% on last year’s release, according to Liv-ex.

The wine was offered by UK merchants at £1,746 (12x75cl in bond), said Liv-ex. Its data showed the wine was above several recent vintages, but cheaper than the lauded Montrose 2016.

Wine Lister said the volume of wine released was down 40% versus the 2021 vintage en primeur release.

Hindle rated Montrose 2022 at 97 points, writing, ‘This carries the strength of the vintage well, focused and precise with detail and a sense of energy that is so impactful.’

Matthew O’Connell, CEO of the LiveTrade trading platform at Bordeaux Index, said, ‘Both Lafite and Montrose have been released at prices which are neither attractive relative value nor as “out there” as some other prices we have seen this week.’

He added, ‘There will be collector interest in both, but naturally less focus from those with more of a financial leaning.’

O’Connell previously said he believed the campaign overall was more one for collectors than fine wine investors.

On the Right Bank, this morning also saw L’Eglise Clinet released en primeur, while recent days have seen launches for super second star Cos d’Estournel, as well as top names Haut-Bailly, Pontet Canet and Calon Ségur.

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