The pace of price increases for the Bordeaux 2016 vintage picked up this month, with Chateau Pavie and Chateau Angelus in Saint Emilion rising 17 percent from 2015 and Chateau Palmer and Chateau Lynch-Bages in the Medoc gaining 14 percent, Liv-ex data shows.
The increases underscore the view of producers and critics at recent tastings that the vintage is potentially the best for six years. August was 5 degrees Celsius hotter and 30 percent sunnier than normal, according to a University of Bordeaux study. The first 13 days of September were the hottest since 1950.
The 2016 vintage follows a volatile decade for Bordeaux, which saw prices peak in 2011 on the back of speculative buying, then slump more than 40 percent in the next five years. Mediocre or poor harvests from 2011 to 2013 were followed by an improved vintage in 2014 and a high-quality crop in 2015. With producers now saying 2016 marks a new high point, buyers point to a risk that higher prices may not reflect underlying demand.
“It’s about a bit of brand positioning,” Simon Larkin, a Master of Wine and managing director of Atlas Fine Wines Ltd. in London, said in a phone interview. “I’d like to see a bit more realism on the agenda. Some of the increases are getting larger.”
The wines, which growers said are comparable in structure with the landmark 2009 and 2010 vintages and may surpass them, are sold forward while still maturing in barrels. U.K.-based buyers face additional costs because of the 12 percent decline in the pound against the euro since the U.K. vote to leave the European Union in June.
What growers and buyers are saying about the 2016 vintage
Pavie and Angelus, close neighbors in Saint Emilion and both promoted to the top rank of Premier Grand Cru Classe ‘A’ in the region’s 2012 classification, each had their wines priced at 294 euros ($329) a bottle from Bordeaux merchants while Palmer was priced at 240 euros and Lynch-Bages at 96 euros, according to Liv-ex data.
Chateau Lafite Rothschild released a first tranche of wine at 455 euros a bottle, up 8 percent from 420 euros in 2015, while the price for its second wine Carruades de Lafite rose 13 percent to 135 euros, according to Liv-ex data. Chateau Gazin in Pomerol boosted its price to 60 euros a bottle from 45.60 euros, a 32 percent increase.
In contrast, two top Saint Estephe estates, Chateau Cos d’Estournel and Chateau Montrose, have kept prices unchanged from 2015 at 120 and 102 euros a bottle respectively, according to Liv-ex. Sweet white wines from the 2016 vintage in Sauternes also have generally been priced at the 2015 level.
The 2016 wines are being priced as growers across Bordeaux are assessing damage to the 2017 crop from frost last month. Smaller growers were generally harder hit than the larger, higher-priced estates.
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