Chateau d'Yquem's pricing of its long-awaited 2011 vintage has split opinion among merchants, with some suggesting the bar could have been set lower to generate more interest.
Yquem released its 2011 at EUR250 per 75cl bottle ex-Bordeaux, having kept the wine out of last year’s En Primeur campaign in Bordeaux. It subsequently announced that it would not produce a 2012 vintage.
Critics have declared 2011 an excellent year for Sauternes in general, and for Yquem specifically.
However, Sauternes was labelled a ‘perennial underperformer’ by Liv-ex analysts in September, after seeing the fine wine exchange’s Sauternes 50 index struggle for momentum so far this year. In this context, Yquem’s pricing has raised debate.
‘It’s borderline, but it’s in range,’ said Max Lalondrelle, fine wine buying director at Berry Bros & Rudd. ‘[But], benchmarked against mature vintages of Yquem, it still looks a little bit steep. All they needed to do was go EUR30 less and everybody would have sold tonnes of it.
‘We have sold some, but we have not sold a huge amount,’ he added.
Yquem 2011 is cheaper than current prices for the similar vintages of 2001 and 2007, which range from between GBP300 and GBP600 in the UK market, depending upon merchant and condition.
Separately, decanter.com understands from trade sources that negociants have been under pressure to hold the 2011 price, rather than discount.
Yquem director Pierre Lurton said, ‘we worked very hard to set the right price for the wine, comparing it to the 2001 and 2007 vintage, and setting it well below their current market value’.
Lurton confirmed that 85,000 bottles of Yquem 2011 were produced, and that the present release accounts for ‘well over 50%’ of that production’.
Joss Fowler, director at the Fine and Rare merchant, told decanter.com his firm has ‘sold a reasonable amount’ of the wine, indicating the price is fair.
Both Fowler and Lalondrelle agreed with Lurton that the timing of the 2011 release enabled Yquem to corner the interest of buyers. Bottles could be delivered to consumers from the end of November, which is likely to be about the same same, if not slightly earlier, than bottles of 2011 Sauternes bought during En Primeur season.
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux & Chris Mercer