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New Super Tuscan Solaia and Cheval des Andes wines released

Solaia has a track record of rising in price and LVMH’s Cheval des Andes has produced an ‘excellent’ 2017 vintage, but they enter an autumn release series from the Place de Bordeaux that has drawn a cautious response from buyers so far.

Solaia 2017, recently rated 96 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson, was released via the négociant system at €168 per bottle ex-Bordeaux today (10 September).

In the UK, it was expected to be priced at around the same release price as the 2016 vintage – £2,100 per 12-bottle case.

While some wines in this autumn’s Place de Bordeaux release series have sold well, notably Masseto 2017 (see below), merchants say that buyers have been cautious overall.

A spokesperson for BI Fine Wine & Spirits told Decanter.com that European and Asian buyers were ‘generally seeing the wines as nice-to-haves rather than “must buys”’.

Discounts seen in the Bordeaux 2019 en primeur campaign have not materialised, although some top wines have been launched below current prices for other recent vintages.

Solaia’s track record of price increases following release means that the 2017 will be cheaper than both the highly regarded 2016 and 2015 vintages, shows Liv-ex analysis.

Analyst group Wine Lister said that Solaia 2016 has risen in price by 20% since its release last year. ‘With this in mind, as well as the general following of this cult Tuscan brand, this should find good demand.’

Super Tuscan labels in general have also been enjoying a boom period on the fine wine market.

Bordeaux merchants have also released the 2017 vintage of Argentina’s Cheval des Andes, the joint-venture between Cheval Blanc and LVMH’s Terrazas de los Andes.

This could be one to watch, with Anson describing the wine as ‘excellent’ and rating it at 95 points.

It was released at €48 per bottle ex-Bordeaux. Berry Bros & Rudd, Fine & Rare and Farr Vintners were selling six-bottle cases of the 2017 for £324 in bond.

Wine Lister said, ‘Despite the lack of discount on last year’s release price, the 2017 nonetheless enters the market under current prices of the last three vintages. Given the continued quality improvements, this should do well.’

See also: Tasting 50 world-beating wines set for release on the Place de Bordeaux (Premium)

Update below published on 9 September. Written by Chris Mercer

Latour 2009 re-released as Masseto, Opus One 2017 launch

New cases of Latour 2009, plus the latest vintages of Masseto, Opus One and Château de Beaucastel’s Hommage à Jacques Perrin have all been released as part of a series of launches via the Place de Bordeaux this month.

Extra cases of Château Latour 2009, rated at 99 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson, were released from the first growth’s cellars in Pauillac this week at €860 per bottle ex-Bordeaux.

International merchants were selling the wine for the equivalent of £10,300 per 12-bottle case.

‘[This] release comes at an average 10% premium to existing Latour 2009 stock on the UK market,’ said analyst group Wine Lister.

It’s the first new batch of 2009 since Latour’s initial en primeur release in spring 2010, and the higher price is partly intended to reflect the extra value placed on ‘ex-château’ stocks – considered the gold standard in terms of storage conditions and provenance guarantees.

One alternative for buyers could be Latour 2012, said Liv-ex, which describes itself as the global marketplace for the wine trade. The 2012, rated 97 points by Anson, was released for the first time in May this year and is ‘currently the cheapest [Latour] available on the market’, Liv-ex said.

UK merchants initially sold Latour 2012 for the equivalent of around £4,200 per six bottles in bond.

Masseto 2017 expected to ‘sell out’

There has so far been a mixed reaction to other releases via the Place de Bordeaux, which have encompassed fine wines from around the world.

Gavin Smith, head of fine wine at UK merchant Fine & Rare, told Decanter.com on Tuesday (8 September), ‘With the current economic climate due to the Covid outbreak, we were hoping producers would follow the same path taken by the Bordeaux châteaux during the 2019 en primeur campaign earlier this summer, whose 20-30% price reductions proved very popular and generated real engagement and interest.

‘While there have been some reductions, they have not been enough to generate anything like the same level of excitement.’

But, he added, ‘Having said that, top-scoring wines have seen good uptake and the likes of Masseto remain massively over-subscribed’.

Masseto has a strong reputation on the market and its 2017 was launched at €380 per bottle in bond ex-Bordeaux.

Fewer cases were reported to have been released versus last year and Fine & Rare was selling the wine in three-bottle lots, for £1,450 in bond, citing ‘extremely limited availability’.

Thomas Parker MW, buyer at Farr Vintners, said, ‘We expect Masseto to sell out to regular buyers.’

Wine Lister pointed out that the 2017 vintage was priced ‘17% and 10% below current market prices of the last two vintages – 2016 and 2015 – respectively’.

Decanter’s Jane Anson gave the wine 97 points, saying that it took the extreme heat of the vintage in its stride. She added, ‘This is luscious, [but] think Le Pin rather than Petrus if you are comparing to a Pomerol.’

Opus One 2017

California’s Opus One was released at €215 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 4% on the 2016 release price, said Liv-ex.

UK merchant Berry Bros was selling six-bottle cases of Opus One 2017 for £1,368 in bond, with Farr also offering 12-bottle cases for £2,740. Millesima was offering six bottles with duty and VAT included for £2,270.

It was a difficult vintage in Napa Valley, marked by wildfires towards the end of harvest. However, Opus One had picked more than 90% of its fruit by the time fires became an issue in the region, and Decanter’s Jane Anson described the 2017 as ‘a brilliant Opus’, giving the wine 96 points.

Wine Lister described Opus One as a bellwether of the increasing number of September releases via the Place de Bordeaux.

‘Even if this year’s release provides a smaller discount (-4%) than some may have hoped for in the current economic climate, the historic nature of the vintage, along with Opus One’s status as the strongest US wine brand will no doubt see this sell through.’

At Farr Vintners, Parker said, ‘Opus has gone well, but it hasn’t sold out yet,’ Parker said early on Tuesday afternoon.

Hommage à Jacques Perrin 2018 

Château de Beaucastel’s Hommage à Jacques Perrin 2018 was tipped to do well after being released on Wednesday morning (9 September).

Wine Lister described the 2018 release price as a ‘welcome gesture’ in the current economic climate. On an ex-Bordeaux basis, the wine emerged at €220 per bottle in bond, down 20% and 15% on the 2016 and 2017 release prices respectively, it said.

Rated 97 points by Anson, who tasted it last month, the 2018 was being offered at £675 per three bottles in bond by Fine & Rare, and £2,700 per 12-bottle case in bond by Farr Vintners.

The 2016 vintage, rated the full 100 points by Decanter’s Rhône specialist, Matt Walls, was available for around £3,300 per 12-bottle case in bond at Farr, while Millesima was selling a three-bottle case, duty paid, for £1,330.

‘Flexibility’ needed

Several other wines from around the world have started to emerge via the Place de Bordeaux this week.

Fine & Rare’s Smith said that it was important for producers still building their international reputation to show ‘flexibility’ amid difficult economic conditions.

Those wines ‘will doubtless be rewarded with customer engagement and loyalty further down the line’, he said.

See more coverage of the September 2020 releases

Tasting the releases from Australia, South America and South Africa

Tasting the releases from Italy and France

Tasting the US releases via the Place de Bordeaux

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