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Atlas Fine Wines EC3V 9DL

2013 Bordeaux Update: Ecoutez et Repetez

by Simon Larkin MW | Apr 24, 2014

As merchants test their creativity in describing tasting experiences at various First Growth Châteaux in almost poetic terms, it is probably the right moment to reinforce our view on Bordeaux 2013. We have had a number of clients contact us for our thoughts as they are concerned that the vintage is being pitched to colleagues, friends and family almost as an investment.
Robert Parker has this week advised that he will not be publishing his notes until August. He has however, made the following comment on the vintage:
“Moreover, who in their right mind is going to buy 2013 Bordeaux futures? I am not going to condemn them without tasting, but it was the worst growing season since 1992.I need not remind Bordeaux enthusiasts, but there are lots and lots of Bordeaux inventory sitting around... while there is very little of the profound 2009s,there is plenty of super expensive and truly great 2010s,some delicious early drinkers in 2011(profiled from bottle in the upcoming issue),the unbottled 2012s,which will also be early drinkers...then there is 2013- potentially the least appealing of the last three years...that's a lot of unsold Bordeaux in a very big bubble it seems to me…”Robert Parker, April 2014.
This week saw the release of Château Lafite-Rothschild 2013. At £3250 per 12 bottles in bond, it is the cheapest in the market and, consequently, it is starting to be ‘punted’ at people. My advice is to leave it well alone. Yes, it is cheaper than 2011 and 2012 and frankly, it had to be. Too many recent vintages of Lafite are trading at an unrealistic premium over the other First Growths – to my mind they have further to fall. Even if the First Growths are released at levels that are lower than previous vintages, you should only be buying if you intend to drink the wine. Even then, I can think of so many more rewarding wines to purchase for drinking with my hard-earned cash. If the 2013 prices were viewed as gifts, would we not see a good secondary market developing on Liv-ex? The highest level Lafite has traded at so far is £3006 which, after commission and trading costs, is around a meagre £50 over cost. In a matter of a couple of days the bid is now below cost (and I should stress that only five dozen bottles have traded). Château Mouton-Rothschild (£2500 per 12 bottles in bond) may have a chance to do a little better following more favourable reviews, but again I am not expecting anything significant and I am sure it is largely being pitched at clients in more distant destinations.
To repeat a few key comments from my initial Bordeaux 2013 Vintage Report; the quality is not there to see prices rise and I expect to see prices soften once the wines are physically available. So many modest recent vintages are stuck in the supply chain in export markets (i.e with merchants) and in Bordeaux (i.e. with Châteaux and négoçiants). Perhaps the 2013s do represent fair value if you intend to drink, but only if your judgement is relative to the erratic market prices for 2011 and 2012, both of which continue to trade below initial release levels.
I hate to think of buyers being suckered into this one. As one critic, Jim Budd, commented on his website, ‘if you are told 2013 is an investment – it’s a scam!’ I agree wholeheartedly with his sentiment. If you think anyone is likely to dabble in 2013 Bordeaux as an investment, please feel free to forward this on or put them directly in touch.
If you are one of the few to have been tempted to buy at this stage – perhaps drawn in by some merchant’s or broker’s marketing spiel –  I would hold off as I do not see these wines disappearing from the market and supply is likely to be plentiful enough in the years to come. At Atlas, we have not offered any 2013 yet and the jury remains out as to whether we actually will. Across the market, we hear stories of low or non existent sales – whether or not merchants are declaring this publicly. Many have only sold a handful of cases in total, but nothing more. Consider the position that many merchants find themselves in: they have pre-existing allocations, which they would ideally like to accept and which they are desperate to sell on. They do not want to buy only to find that they are stuck with unsold stock, but they would like to maintain their place in the queue in order to keep those volumes intact for next year. Given that many merchants are missing a huge volume of En Primeur sales these last three vintages – which they used to bank on year in, year out – the marketing machines are cranking up for the 2013s out of sheer desperation.
Some form of interest may come in for these recent First Growth releases from nascent markets. I would bet that those merchants that are selling 2013s are placing what stocks they can into these overseas markets where there might be less awareness of the quality and a more forgiving, brand-led consumer base.

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London, EC2V 8AU
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