Bordeaux 2020 wines that sold best were generally those at the top of the hierarchy on both Left and Right Banks, said a new Liv-ex report on the recent en primeur campaign.
A trend for price rises versus the 2019-vintage releases didn’t appear to put buyers off, although Liv-ex still described Bordeaux 2020 as potentially a ‘missed opportunity’ to build on successful Bordeaux 2019 releases.
Total sales of Bordeaux 2020 wines among Liv-ex’s UK member merchants were slightly down on the 2019 and 2018 vintages, and there was more debate about the volume of wine released.
The first growths of Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild, Margaux and Haut-Brion were among the top-selling 2020-vintage wines en primeur, as reported by Liv-ex’s merchant members in the UK.
Cheval Blanc, which released early with a widely praised pricing strategy, was among the best-selling Bordeaux 2020 wines on the Right Bank, as was Ausone, according to Liv-ex data.
Buyers also focused their spending on names considered ‘on the up’, said Liv-ex. They include Figeac and Canon in St-Emilion, Rauzan-Ségla in Margaux and Les Carmes Haut-Brion in Pessac-Léognan.
A number of other estates that are known to have a good UK following also performed well, including Calon Ségur, Lynch-Bages and Léoville Barton.
Matthew O’Connell, head of investment at Bordeaux Index, told Decanter during the campaign, ‘Léoville Barton is always well received and while pricing was at the higher end of what we might have expected, demand has been good.’
Bordeaux 2020: Our verdict on the wines
Commenting mid-way through the campaign – prior to the release of several top Left Bank estates – Shaun Bishop, CEO of US merchant JJ Buckley, named Lafite Rothschild, Cheval Blanc, Angélus and Pavie as seeing the biggest dollar sales up to that point.
As of this week, UK merchant Farr Vintners listed several Bordeaux 2020 red wines as ‘sold out’, including Canon and La Gaffelière in St-Emilion, Lafleur and Trotanoy in Pomerol, Léoville Barton and Beychevelle in St-Julien and first growth Château Margaux.
Yet there was also a feeling that the campaign had the potential to be bigger. While yields were down at some estates, the proportion of grand vin released en primeur was again a talking point.
Liv-ex said, ‘Spiralling prices and restrictions in stock once again put the brakes on trade opportunities, frustrating what could have been a larger campaign by value and volume given that there was demand for wines across the board.’
O’Connell added that, despite strong sales in places, ‘it’s difficult to say that this campaign energised interest in Bordeaux’.
Yet he noted that Bordeaux was already showing renewed energy on the fine wine market. O’Connell said he didn’t see 2020 en primeur pricing being detrimental to this momentum.
Coming soon: A more in-depth en primeur report for Decanter Premium subscribers.