The Wine Market Investment Report - June 2019

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-07-08


The highlight in June for the wine world was clearly the Daily Telegraph event ‘Wine; for profit or pleasure?’. A sell out crowd witnessed excellent talks from four leading experts from the wine world, including two of us from Wine Owners (Miles and Nick). Please contact us for a copy of the presentation.

Otherwise June was again tranquil with trade bobbing along just fine but with no particular surges or dips anywhere. Global stock markets enjoyed a rise after Messrs. Trump and Xi found some accord but this doesn’t seem to have inspired the wine market as yet! Wine stock levels are healthy amongst Asian traders so not even a continuing depressed sterling is bringing about much marginal demand from that corner although most indices are in positive territory in June.

The Bordeaux en primeur campaign came to an end with an almighty whimper. En primeur gets under the skin of the wine trade and all involved spend far too much time talking, writing and moaning about it…yet even so, I shall continue! Within the wine market(s) it has represented very poor relative value for a decade, prices are just too high, yet merchants don’t dare turn their back on this once great provider. It was a great system for all involved, including the man on the street. Now only a very few wines ‘work’ each year (whereby they make sense to the supply chain and the end buyer). And now, to compound the problems of high prices, the Chateaux have decided to retain more and more of their own stock. How this comes to market, when and at what price will fuel debate but based on the evidence of the mighty Chateau Latour, the market may just turn its back. The feeling of stock overhang may easily outweigh the feeling of short supply and it’s not as if the world is going to go thirsty, there will always be alternative choices.

If only our Italian friends came together with a synchronised offering, we could have a proper old school primeur market again. All the market players would have to be involved at the same time, jostling for position, scrapping over every six pack and would still be able to sell at a price that would make everyone happy. The hype that the merchants used to create in Bordeaux primeur markets, that we are still hungover from, could be regenerated. We all miss the hype and the excitement which created such fear amongst the white-faced, panic-stricken collectors and consumers who couldn’t possibly stand even the faintest whiff of FOMO (fear of missing out). 

As it is, Italian releases come to market in no organised way and importers and merchants release when they feel like it. It’s all very Italian really but it does make buying easier. We have been acquiring some 2015 Barolo new releases from Fratelli Alessandria, whose reputation is markedly on the up. Prices are very reasonable for these high scoring wines, ranging from c.£35 per bottle for their basic Barolo (94 Wine Advocate points) to nearer £60 for their top cru, Monvigliero (96+). Outside of the very top group, Luciano Sandrone is another producer worth mentioning - consistently high scores at affordable prices. Their equivalents in quality in either Bordeaux or Burgundy would be far more expensive.

Piedmont is easily our favourite region at the moment, due to the demand/supply equation and the blue chips remain well bid. Whilst Bordeaux and Burgundy remain lacklustre, Champagne and Rhone have attracted some attention. There is no question we would recommend the brilliant 2008 vintage in Champagne and the recently released Sir Winston Churchill looks a good bet with the ’96 being double the price.

Please see the Blog for more articles about the wine investment market.

Also, any enquiries about my Professional Portfolio Management services are most welcome.

Miles Davis

8th July 2019

miles.davis@wineowners.com


The April 2019 Wine Investment Market Report

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-05-13


This time of year in the wine trade is always dominated by the Bordeaux en primeur circus. Please see our 2018 ‘In a nutshell' report here. It’s strange really, as en primeur has not made commercial sense for the legions of the swirling and spitting wine trade, let alone the man on the street, for very nearly a decade. En primeur business has shrivelled like a drought savaged grape over the years and there are only a handful of opportunities each year that really make sense. At the time of writing only a few releases have made sense according to our ‘proto-pricing’ (please see jancisrobinson.com), Branaire Ducru, Duhart Milon and Quinault L’Enclos. Palmer sold out quickly (at 2,880 per 12), partly due its rarity (see blog), but also because they have built their brand so brilliantly under the guidance of Thomas Duroux. As a result, Palmer has a strong en primeur following.

In general, the Chateaux are releasing less than ever this year which makes this game ever more senseless. According to one highly experienced trade legend EP is all about building the client base for merchants and clearly the avalanche of similarly persuasive e-mails work to some extent. Experienced wine players are highly selective in the EP arena and returns in the short to medium term are very far and few between. Real scarcity is where it’s at, if you’re hoping for rising prices, and that doesn’t come from en primeur.


Level Month YTD 1 Year 5 Year 10 Year
WO 150 Index 303 -0.6% -2.0% 6.4% 57.4% 83.3%
WO Champagne 60 Index 462.61 0.9% -1.3% 5.0% 68.4% 154.9%
WO Burgundy 80 Index 691.36 3.7% -2.0% 25.7% 142.1% 233.2%
WO First Growth Index 75 Index 276.71 -0.5% -2.0% 2.6% 45.5% 71.2%
WO Bordeaux 750 Index 340.71 1.0% 1.7% 6.3% 57.5% 100.3%
WO California 85 index 669.86 -0.1% -0.4% 15.4% 106.4% 309.9%
WO Piedmont 60 Index 318.83 -0.3% 0.9% 9.2% 75.6% 126.4%


There were no new themes detected over the month and scarcity is still the biggest driver. Interest in Piedmont is still firm although the monthly movement of the index would suggest otherwise. The same can be said of Burgundy, which is still active but is trading below advertised offer levels, with buyers negotiating harder.

Brexit concerns seem to have been put on hold for now, more through ennui than anything else, which led to some increased activity from U.K. private clients but overall the market trundles along rather than powering up. It’s a time for gentle accumulation on the bid side of the market.

As an aside; several collectors have approached us about reviewing their cellars, mainly to consider what holdings are investment grade and which are not. This has led to most people making the realisation their collections lack structure. The combination of our expertise and the technological support from the platform is proving to be very valuable.


Bordeaux en primeur 2018 release prices

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-04-29


MONDAY 17th JUNE

Some huge scores for Vieux Chateau Certan 2018 this year, including an impressive 18.5 from Julia Harding of JancisRobinson.com. VCC is on a massive roll and there is no disputing the quality - the scores from recent vintages are level pegging with their very much more expensive neighbours, Petrus and Le Pin. Released at £219 per bottle, a 20% premium to our proto-price, the 2018 is 10% cheaper than 2016 but more expensive than the ‘09 (12%) and the same price as the ’10.

We prefer the 2011, mis-judged by Robert Parker in many people’s opinion, and similarly loaded as the ’18 with Cabernet Franc. Julia scores it 18 and Neal Martin 96-8 and at less than £100 a bottle is less than half the price of the ’18 – go figure! See full note here.

99-100 Points - James Suckling

98-100 Points - Wine Enthusiast

97-100 Points - Wine Advocate

98-100 Points - Wine Cellar Insider / Jeff Leve

94-97 Points - Antonio Galloni, Vinous

98-100 Points - Decanter

FRIDAY 14th JUNE

Figeac has been released this morning at £181 per bottle, 46% clear of our proto-price of £124.22. There seems to be no doubt among critics that Figeac has produced one of the best wines in their history. The 2017, which is still languishing at release price, just takes the lead in absolute relative value (see chart), but isn’t really in the same league as the 2018, a vintage which may prove a qualitative milestone for Figeac.

Chateau Figeac 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

Worth noting too that the relative value score is high at 20, and compares extremely favourably to similar quality wines from other St Emilion properties. Pavie, for example released at £292 per bottle, which makes the better scoring Figeac look quite exciting.

97-99 Points - Wine Advocate

18 Points - Julia Harding

96-99 Points - Antonio Galloni, Vinous

98-99 Points - James Suckling

97-99 Points - Jeb Dunnuck

Conseillante has also been released this morning at £168 per bottle, so 60% up on our proto-price of £105. This is 35% above last year’s release price, but there’s a palpable increase in quality, and still looks well-priced in comparison to top-flight Pomerol peers.

La Conseillante 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

96-98+ Points - Wine Advocate

95-98 Points - Antonio Galloni, Vinous

97-98 Points - James Suckling

97-100 Points - Jeb Dunnuck

97 Points - Decanter

Cheval Blanc is also off and running this morning at £549 per bottle, a relatively modest 12% above our proto-price of £490.33.

Given the potential for a top score, it’s arguable that there’s value here, but many buyers would be forgiven for wondering whether back vintages may be the answer, with the 100 point 2005 readily available at around £560 per bottle.

Chateau Cheval Blanc 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

97-99 Points - Wine Advocate

18.5 Points - Julia Harding

97-100 Points - Antonio Galloni, Vinous

98-99 Points - James Suckling

97-100 Points - Jeb Dunnuck


THURSDAY 13th JUNE

Ausone is the first of the big Right Bank releases, coming out this morning at £556 in London, so almost spot on our proto-price of £545. 2017 is still the winner on relative value at the moment, but even though well priced for Ausone it’s unlikely to achieve a perfect score. 2018 might just do that, and if it can be expected to follow the path of the 09s,(£725) 2010’s (£932) and ultimately 2005 (£900) in terms of price, it makes sense to buy on release.

Chateau Ausone 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

Evangile is the second out of the stalls this morning at £180 per bottle against our proto-price of £151.48. 19% north of our proto-price, but one of the few chateaux not to increase prices from their 2017 release.

On relative value, given the high score and relatively reasonable pricing, we think this looks like one to buy if offered.

Chateau L'Evangile 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

Lafite is one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the vintage, with near-universal praise from critics. If this wine doesn’t get Bordeaux lovers hearts' racing, nothing will, says the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perotti-Brown. The question is, does the price engender palpitations of excitement or terror?

£428.32 was the proto price, so the release at £500 from UK merchants is 17% up on that ideal - not too ungenerous in a vintage that’s often been 20-30% over.

Relative value analysis suggests that the 2018 works pretty well. The contender in comparable vintages in 2017, which pushes ahead on absolute value, but probably doesn’t have the potential to be a top scorer, which the 2018 does.

On balance, a buy, if you can get some.

Chateau Lafitte 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

98-100 Points - Wine Advocate

19 Points - Julia Harding

99-100 Points - James Suckling

98-100 Points - Decanter


TUESDAY 11th JUNE

Margaux has been released this morning at £426, around 10% up from our proto-price of £386.41, so less ambitious than many so far.

Relative value analysis makes this look reasonably good, although in absolute terms behind the 2017. The gamble is this being re-scored in the upper limit of the ranges (i.e., 99-100), at which point it would clearly outstrip its rivals on value.

Chateau Margaux 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

94-97 Points - Antonio Galloni, Vinous

97-99 Points - Wine Advocate

96-98+ Points - Jeb Dunnuck

18 Points - Julia Harding

100 points - James Suckling

Pavillon Rouge is released at £149 per bottle, bang on our proto-pricing - at last the Chateaux are listening! It works therefore and the Relative Value Score is attractive too.

Pavillon Rouge 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

94-97 Points - Antonio Galloni, Vinous

97-100 Points - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate

98-100 Points - Jeb Dunnuck

17 Points - Julia Harding

98 - 99 points - James Suckling


Haut Brion joins the advance this morning too, releasing at £426 from London merchants, and like Mouton comes in 12% above our proto-price of £380.15.

Solid scores here, though Antoni Galloni, as for the La Mission, is a dissenter with a (relatively) meagre 93-96.

If we consider this a 99 point average, it pushes ahead of the pack on relative value, but only marginally. Again, a fairly fully priced offering that seems sensibly, if not compellingly, priced.

Chateau Haut-Brion 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

93-96 Points - Antonio Galloni, Vinous

97-99+ Points - Wine Advocate

97-99 Points - Jeb Dunnuck

18 Points - Julia Harding

98-99 points - James Suckling


WEDNESDAY 5th JUNE

Chateau Montrose just out at £130 per bottle, so about 25% above our proto price of £102.63.

It’s a good score, but Montrose has been consistently performing well recently, and the price seems too high here to make it truly compelling. The 96 point 2014 looks like incredible value if you can get a case under £90 per bottle which is easily achievable!

Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners - Market price versus score

This morning sees a release from one of the most consistently outstanding wineries in the world - Chateau La Mission Haut Brion is out at £1,475 per 6 bottles.

There is no doubt one of the most historic sites in Bordeaux is basking in a true renaissance period, producing wines of incredible concentration and richness in recent years.

98-100 Points - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate

97-99 Points - Jeb Dunnuck

97-99 Points - Jeff Leve, Wine Cellar Insider

97 Points - Jane Anson, Decanter

Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners - Market price versus score
Chateau La Mission Haut Brion Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

TUESDAY 4th JUNE

This afternoon’s first highlight is Haut Bailly, which was universally loved by member of the WO team when tasted over the last few months.

In a rare occurrence for this year, this has been released below our predicted proto price, at £87 per bottle v a proto price of £88.95.

The very high score puts this in a league with the 2009 and 2010, both of which it far outstrips on relative value, and makes it one of the most sure buys of the vintage so far.

Haut Bailly 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners


Also released this morning is Pichon Baron 2018, at £117 per bottle, so a good 20% north of our proto-price at £98. Clearly a special wine, and receiving much critical acclaim, and the relative value score is good, though not 2015 and 2014 are ahead and 2017 not far away. On the other hand, the consensus seems to be that this is about the highest scoring Baron since the legendary 1990, which will clinch the deal for many buyers.

Pichon Baron 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners


Cos d’Estournel out this morning at £148 per bottle. Although at a premium of c.22% to the 2016 release it is offered at a significant discount to the ’09 and ’10 vintages – unlike many others!

Cos 2016 is now trading in the secondary market at £150 per bottle, meaning that however great the 2018 is, it shows no discount to the current market of one of the greatest ever wines from Cos d’Estournel. This will be a hot issue however, the relatively understated Galloni stating:

A regal, soaring Saint-Estèphe, the 2018 Cos d'Estournel is also clearly one of the wines of the vintage. On the palate, the 2018 is dark and sumptuous, with striking aromatic presence and silky tannins that wrap around a rich core of exotic fruit. Black cherry, savory herbs, leather, spice and menthol build in the glass in a wine that is both aromatically intense and richly textured. The 2018 has been nothing short of breathtaking on the two occasions I have tasted it so far. Don't miss it.


97-100 Points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Cos dEstournel 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners - RVS
Cos dEstournel 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

MONDAY 3rd JUNE

Ducru Beaucaillou 2018 is out at £144 per bottle versus a proto-price of £114. Another set of top-notch reviews from the critics and a very good relative value score to boot (see attached).

"This is so layered and beautiful with incredible tannin quality. Full-bodied with a caressing texture that reminds me of the finest cashmere. So layered. You want to swallow this. Brings a smile to the face. Wow. So well crafted." 98-99 Points, James Suckling

Pichon Lalande 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners


Pichon Lalande 2018 is released at £138 per bottle, our proto-price is £97.27, so a chunky premium but this is a Chateau on the up, with scores to match (see chart). James Suckling says “A deep and intense young red with blackberries and blueberries, as well as green olives and hints of fresh tobacco. But really black fruit. Full-bodied, tight and integrated with a refreshing and harmonious finish. Just floating on the palate. Great tannin backbone to this. A classic. Another flying carpet." 98-99 Points

Ducru Beaucaillou 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

Leoville Las Cases 2018 is released today at £179 per bottle. It is loved by the critics, a potential 100 pointer according to Perrotti-Brown, Suckling and Dunnuck, but a more conservative 95-8 from Galloni. It’s a fully charged, expansive wine with plenty of power (14.5%), expression and charm. It is, however, marginally more expensive than either ’09 and ’10 but a bit less than ’16….

Leoville Las cases 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

WEDNESDAY 29th MAY

This morning also sees the releases from the von Neipperg stable, including Mondotte, and Canon la Gaffeliere, both well scored, but reasonably fully priced.

Canon la Gaffeliere comes out at £64 per bottle against a proto price of £54, so slightly closer, and much similar to recent vintages in terms of relative value.

Neverthless, the high score makes it relatively good value in comparison to other recent vintages and a definite improvement on the ‘16, with more consistent reviews. On balance, it’s a yes, if you can get a case...

Julia Harding: 16.5

James Suckling: 94 - 95

Wine Advocate: 94 - 96

Canon 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

Mondotte is £171 v. a proto price of £154.13, so not far off the mark. We’re calling this 96 points on average, although no Wine Advocate review available for this wine. At this price, relative value analysis prefers the 2017…

Julia Harding: 16.5

James Suckling: 97 - 98

Mondotte 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners

Lynch Bages 2018 is this morning’s major release, one of the more hotly anticipated wines of the vintage. Pricing looks well above the proto-price threshold of £79.62, with a London merchant price at £92 per bottle.

Neverthless, the high score makes it relatively good value in comparison to other recent vintages and a definite improvement on the ‘16, with more consistent reviews. On balance, it’s a yes, if you can get a case...

Julia Harding: 17

Decanter: 97

James Suckling: 97 - 98

Jeb Dunnuck: 96 - 98

Wine Advocate: 96 - 98

Wine Spectator: 96 - 99

Lynch Bages 2018 Bordeaux en primeur - Wine Owners


TUESDAY 28th MAY

A little closer to our predicted proto-price of £83.81 for Clos Fourtet. the offer from London traders is out at £504 per 6, so pretty much spot on. The property has gone from strength to strength in the last 10 years without pricing itself out of the market.

Relative value indicates we’re doing better than back vintages as the score is considerably better (another 96 average), even though the release is more expensive.

Score: 95-97, Jeb Dunnuck

Score: 94-97, Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Score: 95-97, Wine Advocate

Score: 96-97, James Suckling

Score: 97, Decanter

 
Clos Fourtet 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Relative value score


Our proto-price calculation came in at £61.61 for Leoville Poyferre, so a price from London merchants at £408 is a little north of where we had hoped, but on the other hand the scores are high, averaging to a Wine Owners 96 points, better than anything in our comparable vintage list. In terms of relative value, it’s fine, lagging a little behind 2015, but probably nothing to write home about.

Score: 96-99, Jeb Dunnuck

Score: 94-97, Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Score: 94-96, Wine Advocate

Score: 97-98, James Suckling

Score: 97, Decanter

 
Leoville P 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Relative value score


Our proto-price calculation came in at £82.03, and the ex-Negociant price this morning is around EUR 86.80, so we’re well within the bounds of reasonable pricing. Coupled with some very high scores, and clear desire from the Chateau to reposition themselves as a top player we think, on balance, that it’s a buy.

Score: 94-96, Jeb Dunnuck

Score: 94-97, Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Score: 93-95+, Wine Advocate

Score: 97-98, James Suckling

Score: 97, Decanter

 
troplong 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Relative value score

FRIDAY 24th MAY

Pontet Canet ’18 is released today at £86.50 per bottle. It is a HUGE wine. With a proto price of £84.39 and with a 2/3 reduction in crop thanks to mildew, Pontet Canet could be accused of being generous – not something we’re accustomed to! The relative value score is also strong and the critics are mad about it. Monsieur Tesseron opened conversation when we were there with “clearly this is the best modern day vintage of Pontet Canet”. Buy some if you can.

Score: 96-98, Jeb Dunnuck

Score: 97-99, Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Score: 94-96+, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate


Canon 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Relative value score


The 2018 vintage has probably produced Phelan Segur’s highest ever scores; LP-B 93-5, JS 95-6 and AG 91-4. There is no doubt this is a Chateau on the up, with a new owner and under the beautiful directorship of Veronique Dausse this is one to watch. The Relative Value Score is good, the price is a not too taxing £35.41.


Canon 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Relative value score


THURSDAY 23rd MAY

If you believe in the gospel according to Suckling, one must buy Domaine de Chevalier (rouge) at £65: "Wow. I can’t get over the pureness of fruit in this wine with so much currant, tar and wet-earth character. Flowers, too. So aromatic. Full body, yet pureness and brightness of fruit. Layered. Incredible depth and beauty. 65 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 30 per cent merlot and 5 per cent petit verdot. Greatest ever?" Score: 99-100

Scores from other critics are also very high and it was certainly one of the best wines this taster tasted in the primeur tastings. Is this a break out moment for this famous Domaine? Like the man from Del Monte, the price and the scores say YES!

Score: 94-96+, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate

Score: 94-97, Antonio Galloni

Score: 96-98, Jeb Dunnuck

Domaine de Chevalier 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Relative value score


It’s the big blast – the Canon! One of the most fashionable Chateaux of Bordeaux have released at £87 a bottle, representing a 11.5% premium to our proto price of £78.04. It looks like relative value to recent vintages at current market levels and people will be fighting for allocation. Will it power up from here like the 2015 and ’16? Maybe not that much but it looks good nonetheless. BUY.

Huge points from the major critics:

97-99 Points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate

94-97 Points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous

96-98+ Points, Jeb Dunnuck

98-99 Points, James Suckling

Canon 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Relative value score


Another jewel in the Chanel crown and today as equally as fashionable as Canon, Rauzan Segla is out at £75. There will be equally as much bun fight over allocations for this one as well. The proto price is £63.80, so a premium of 17%, but one which will easily be achieved. Good relative value and with a slightly higher average score than Canon, it is a BUY.


Rauzan Segla 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Relative value score


Gruaud Larose has been released at £55.83 today. Our proto price is £45.31, nearly 19% lower. The wine split the critics with exuberance from Perrotti-Brown (95-7) and Suckling (95-6) and reservation from Julia Harding (JR.com) (16) and 89-92 from Galloni “For my taste, Gruaud is on the edge of being too much”. All vintages since 2010 are available today at less than this release price and 2014-2017 inclusive all have higher relative value scores.

Gruaud Larose 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Relative value score
Gruaud Larose 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Market price versus score


WEDNESDAY 22nd MAY

Leoville Barton is released today at £66.16 per bottle. There is no question the wine is of a very high quality and the Chateau, quite rightly, has a devoted following based on its strong rapport qualité/prix. Our proto price is £58.51. Here is the relative value analysis.

Leoville Barton Bordeaux 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Market price versus score


Julia Harding (Jancisrobinson.com): 16.5

Lisa Perrotti-Brown (Wine Advocate): 94-96

Antonio Galloni (Vinous): 93-96


Also known for its excellent rapport qualité/prix, the popular Grand Puy Lacoste released today at £56 a bottle, a tiny premium to our proto price of £54.15. It is also a tiny premium to today’s market price of their ’09 vintage.

Grand Puy Lacoste Bordeaux 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners

Julia Harding (Jancisrobinson.com): 17.5

Lisa Perrotti-Brown (Wine Advocate): 92-94+

Antonio Galloni (Vinous): 93-96


It’s rapport qualité/prix day from Bordeaux! Chateau Talbot is always commercial and is priced to sell well at en primeur when the vast majority of their wine is released. At £43.16 it looks decent value, especially looking at the Relative Value Score.

Chateau Talbot Bordeaux 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Market price versus score



TUESDAY 21st MAY

At £35 per bottle Lagrange is a little over our proto price of £31.76 but follows a completely barren ’17 - most Chateaux would have been far more demanding price wise. We continue to recommend Lagrange as a good value wine for consumers.


Chateau Lagrange Bordeaux 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Market price versus score

Julia Harding (Jancisrobinson.com): 16.5

Lisa Perrotti-Brown (Wine Advocate): 93-95+

Antonio Galloni (Vinous): 92-95

Buy Lagrange 2018


FRIDAY 10th MAY

Duhart Milon has released at £54.66 per bottle, a very modest 11% premium to our proto-price of £48.46. The Wine Owners team were very impressed by it and many of the critics have asked the question of it being the best Duhart ever. Certainly the Rothschild family have been investing here and it’s bearing good fruit! A ‘modest’ 14% alcohol too! 17.5 (95) from Julia Harding and a lovely note. This is a Chateau on the up.

Lafite’s Technical Director, Eric Kohler commented, 'The Merlot performed very well—Duhart-Milon might just have better terroir for Merlot than Lafite'.

And the Relative Value Analysis screams BUY:

Chateau Duhart Milon Bordeaux 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Market price versus score


Clerc Milon was released at £61.65 per bottle, awarded 93-95 points by Lisa Perrotti-Brown (WA). 

The bio-dynamic, certified organic estate that is Chateau Palmer released their 2018 wine today at £241. Our proto-price was £221.67. Following a heavy dose of mildew and the long hot summer the yield was a miserly 11 hectolitres per hectare, translating into 6,000 cases and no Alter Ego was made at all. This could turn out to be a unicorn wine it’s so rare and deserves to be treated as a special case. It receives amazing and interesting reviews, 18.5 (97) from Julia Harding, 98-100 from Jane Anson, 97-100 from James Molesworth (notoriously tight!) but, by his standards, a paltry 94-5 from James Suckling – I was expecting something in four figures! Like most 2018s, it comes with the usual 2018 caveat that it is strong in alcohol – 14.3%.

Market Price versus Score here:

Chateau Palmer Bordeaux 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Market price versus score


Relative Value Analysis here:

Chateau Palmer Bordeaux 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners - Market price versus score

Other releases include:

Chateau Gloria at £29

Chateau Lafon-Rochet at £32

Chateau Saint Pierre at £42


THURSDAY 9th MAY

Today sees an attractive release price from Bernard Magrez’s Pape Clement (red) at £66.16 ex London merchant. Our ‘proto-price’ is £75.13, so very nearly a 12% discount to that.

There are a wide range of scores for Pape Clement with Julia Harding of Jancis.Robinson.com scoring it 16.5 (converting to 91 on the 100 point scale), whilst Lisa Perotti-Brown of the Wine Advocate awards a much more optimistic 96-98, James Suckiling 98-99 but a more modest 93-96 from Antonio Galloni.

Using a generous 97 points, it’s looks like very good value:

Calon Segur Bordeaux 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners

But at 91 points, it’s a different story:

Calon Segur Bordeaux 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners

Our very own Fabian Cobb really liked the wine and gave it 95 but he’s notoriously mean with his scores. Elegance was his take, so clearly a different experience to that of Julia Harding who wrote a bit “a bit monolithic”.

Pape Clément Blanc was released at £98.66 (London price) - 16.5 from Julia Harding.


TUESDAY 7th MAY

Today's releases included:

Calon Ségur released at £72 per bottle.

A record release price for Calon Ségur at £864 per 12 in the London market. Significantly above our proto-price of £63.57 but the wine was very well received by most critics. The WO house view was a bit too full and sweet to be a masterpiece but undeniably impressive. Its high scores relative to previous vintages leads to an attractive Relative Value Score.

Calon Segur Bordeaux 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners


Pavie Macquin released at £52.7 (£632 per 12), the same as last year. Our proto price is £47.36, so 11% below the release. The RVS below uses a Julia Harding's score of 16.5 (equivalent to 91), significantly lower than some of the other critics, one of which went as high as 97-99. The jury is out.

Pavie Macquin Bordeaux 2018 en primeur - Wine Owners


Beychevelle released at £60 per bottle and Cantemerle out at £20.50.

Carmes Haut Brion was released at £69 per bottle.


THURSDAY 2nd MAY

Lafleur 2018 released at £483 per bottle, 10% above our proto price but it will sell out with Julia Harding’s big score and is still only half the price of the secondary market average of 09, 10, 15 16. The closest thing to a dead cert a wealthy collector can buy this year.

Fair price from Clinet - £64 per bottle. They are pricing 12.5% below current market for 2016 (£73). Just £2 per bottle above our suggested proto price. Are they listening?!

Gazin out - £62 per bottle EST (with negociants as we speak). No price advantage over the chasing pack of back vintages.

They are very pleased with it this year they say, but it doesn’t make sense as an EP buy on this basis, and it didn’t wow us.

Chateau Gazin 2018 en primeur release - Wine Owners


TUESDAY 30th APRIL

Batailley 2018 released at £408 per 12 (London Merchant Price).

Relative Value Score, using a WO aggregated score of 93:

Chateau Batailley Bordeaux 2018 en primeur release - Wine Owners


MONDAY 29th APRIL

Branaire Ducru Bordeaux 2018 en primeur release - Wine Owners

Today saw the release of Branaire Ducru 2018 at £462 per 12 (London merchant price).

A higher release price than the last three vintages and 12.4% higher than last year. Our proto-price was £44.48 per bottle, so at £38.50 it looks interesting. Relative Value Analysis, however, indicates the 2016 being better value, a trend that we think is likely to continue.

Branaire Ducru 2018 en primeur release - Wine Owners


Bordeaux 2018 vintage – the character of the vintage

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-04-08


Given the climatic conditions of the Bordeaux 2018 vintage described in an earlier post here – what impact did this have on the wines produced?

Chateau Beychevelle - Wine Owners
The new chai in Beychevelle which was used for the first time in 2016 and which helped to manage the 2018 vintage.
©Fabian Cobb / Wine Owners

The generic statistics fail to reveal the arduous nature of the vintage for the vine growers and whilst the widespread difficulties left their imprint on the wines the essentially dry and hot summer which lasted through to the autumn brought a phenolic ripeness to the fruit and permitted the chateaux to harvest in conditions almost unseen for decades.

The three main issues in the Bordeaux 2018 vintage:

  • Devastating phenomena such as hail which continued late into the year

  • Mildew – a threat which persisted until early summer

  • Drought-like conditions in the summer and autumn

Hail, as large as tennis balls, arrived in Bordeaux in May. The devastation it wrought on some vineyards was total and some estates will produce no wine from this vintage. Others were luckier although it reduced their crop. Some vines, incredibly, although struck by hail, managed to repair themselves. For one estate this was only the third time in 30 years hail had struck the vineyards – not an easy phenomenon to manage.

Given the persistent rain the mildew was extensive in Bordeaux in 2018. The warm almost tropical weather in June followed by further outbreaks in July brought huge casualties across Bordeaux. This was a year of firsts. Managers had rarely if ever seen such extensive ground rot and one estate in Margaux lost two-thirds of their crop overnight. This reduced the remaining crop to one bunch per vine. A common way for estates to deal with the threat of mildew is to de-leaf the vine permitting air to circulate and dry out the plant. However, the canopy might be needed later (as it turned out) and if this effeuillage was too drastic the consequences would be felt later on. Maintaining a canopy might also help to maintain the freshness and fruit. As it turned out, the second half of the year needed to use the resources (water) of the first part. Without this water it would have been a very different vintage.

Once the anti-cyclone established itself over the region the grapes matured with a richness unseen before. This in itself meant additional care at harvest time. One estate manager commented that the change in conditions from the end of July to when people returned from their holidays in August was ‘spectacular’. Something he ‘had never witnessed in the 25 years or working on the estate’. Not only that but the meteorological forecast was ‘extraordinary’ – and was fulfilled.

Given the replenishment of the water table the remaining harvestable crop was of outstanding quality. Merlot berries were normal size because their growth cycle coincided more with the presence of water in the soil but the Cabernet Sauvignon were small and concentrated – but not ‘cooked’ nor ‘confit’.

Some estates might produce normal or near-normal yields but 20-30% less was common, 50% not uncommon, with some reduced to 10hl/ha - a volume not seen since the 60s.

Judging maturity is probably the most important factor to produce a good wine. Undoubtedly, given the richness of the grapes this was going to be another area of distinction for the various estates – when to harvest? Ironically, some estates decided to harvest early to preserve acidity (one source of freshness). But it’s not clear this was a functional objective. As one technical manager told us, ‘some estates near them were harvesting 10 days earlier than them, when normally they would be harvesting a week later. Clearly, a disparity in vision. When the harvest did come in, there were still summer conditions and, if they could, estates cooled the fruit down before it was processed. Realising the grapes were rich, extraction would need to be managed ‘almost by itself’. Reducing the temperature of fermentation was a more common technique along with less pigeage or remontage, for example, and other techniques often employed to extract more. This helped to preserve the fruit and freshness. Tannins dissolve more in higher alcohol solutions - extracting the polyphenols wasn’t going to be a problem in 2018. Some estates had the highest IPT (Indice de Polyphénols Totaux) of any year on record.

The successful red wines from the Bordeaux 2018 vintage (and there are a lot less of those than expected) are dense, deep coloured almost opaque in cases. The benchmark 2018 nose is red fruit driven with some chocolate and coffee aromas. The pallet is full and round, and the tannins have the potential to be silky. Surprisingly, the wines have maintained a degree of freshness. The wines are structured with unusual body. It is a good year for the dry whites which have preserved good acidity and are perfectly ripe. The sweet whites are concentrated and rich but lack the complexity of really good years due to the late arrival of botrytis – it was simply too dry.

Chateau Figeac - Wine Owners
A model of the new chais currently underway at Chateau Figeac
©Fabian Cobb / Wine Owners


Bordeaux 2018 vintage – ‘les cinqs’ (5 essential conditions for a good vintage)

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-04-08


To compare with the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux visit our post 2016 vintage conditions


Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron – 2eme cru classe
Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron – 2eme cru classe ©Fabian Cobb / Wine Owners


Looking over the weather stats for the Bordeaux 2018 vintage one is struck by several positive features and, unfortunately, a couple which are likely to cause some difficulties for winemakers. There are certain key weather conditions which the vine needs to perform well. Bearing in mind, always, that generic weather data does not focus on an individual terroir and the way it might cope with the weather nor does it reveal winemakers’ attitudes and decisions.

Bordeaux 2018 weather

Bearing in mind the chart above, there are 5 essential conditions for a good vintage:

  1. A calm, warm and relatively dry period in the Spring to permit healthy flowering and

  2. similar conditions for fruit set a little later;

  3. Gradual introduction of dry summer conditions to induce hydric stress no later than veraison (when the grapes change colour)

  4. Warm weather for even maturation with adequately dry (but not too dry) conditions in August and September, and

  5. Optimum harvest conditions in September and October without rain.

Looking at the chart above one can see that many of these conditions appear to have been met except that although cumulative precipitation was beneficial in the first few months, the wet conditions in June and July plus the warm weather encouraged the onset of aggressive mildiou which provided very difficult conditions for many and particularly estates managed on biodynamic principles. It was an unusually sunny and dry summer fulfilling the criteria for a good vintage although a hail storm in late May affected a few properties in the Medoc. The resulting long period of hot and dry conditions might be referred to as a ‘drought’ – it hardly rained at all for 4 months. The year which had started late for vine development reversed itself and it became an ‘early’ vintage – a rare enough occurrence in Bordeaux.


Fabian Cobb


Bordeaux Off the Bat

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-05-30


[Last week, the Wine Owners team tripped along to Lords, to taste a range of top 2017 Bordeaux wines en primeur. Below is a contribution from Artemis, the newest member of the team...]

What could be been better for a mid-May Thursday than a large tasting of Bordeaux Grand Crus at Lords Cricket Ground?!

The tasting included wines from over fifty chateaux, each bringing two vintages: 2017 and one other back vintage. Determined buyers and tasters were able to get around the whole room, while others focused on either the left bank or right bank, or maybe their favourite producers. Here are some great value attention-catchers.

Delicious Fruit

Some wines with very good fruit expression, and also notable for their value, were La Tour de Mons and Meyney. The tasting duos were 2014 & 2017 for La Tour de Mons and for 2015 & 2017 Meyney. These are an absolute recommendation especially if you have now started working on your cellar.

  • La Tour de Mons 2017: £164
  • Meyney 2017: £228
  • La Tour de Mons 2014:  £190
  • Meyney 2015: £295

On the same spectrum at a nearby stand were Lafon Rochet and Cos Labory with their tasting pairs. Both of these wines offer very good fruit and ageing potential, Lafon with a rounder mouthfeel and Labory with a spicier finish.

  • Lafon Rochet 2017: tbc
  • Cos Labory 2017: tbc
  • Lafon Rochet 2014:  £285
  • Cos Labory 2011: £240
Fresher Styles

In the photo here are Chateau Pibran on the tasting table, next to d’Aiguilhe. Both of these will please those who enjoy fresher Bordeaux expressions with texture and minerality. Pibran is handled in the same facilities as Pichon Baron, and can be a nice addition for a diverse wine portfolio.

  • Pibran 2017:    £280
  • d’Aiguilhe 2017: £180
  • Pibran 2014: £225
  • d’Aiguilhe 2014: £150


Similarly, d’Aiguilhe was tasted next to its big brother, Canon La Gaffeliere (Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe B). This Cotes de Bordeaux wine retains freshness and is a very good introduction to the wines of the Von Neipperg vineyards.

White & Sweet Surprises

En Primeur tasting means racing tannins, so a break was required from the full-bodied reds, to explore sweet and dry whites. Dry, old-vine Semillon-dominated, 'S de Suduiraut' from the eponymous chateau offers concentrated flavours, along with substantial freshness and minerality. Luscious Clos Haut-Peyraguey 2014 & 2017 from Bernard Magrez was the perfect way to close the tasting, after a mouth watering duo of Pape Clement Blanc (2006 & 2017).

  • S de Suduiraut 2006:  £230
  • Clos Haut-Peyraguey  2017: £290
  • Clos Haut-Peyraguey 2014: £350



2017 Bordeaux – a collector’s perspective on the vintage

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-05-08


4 things to remember:

    1. An attractive vintage for second wines (if the prices come down and producers avoid ‘repositioning’)

    2. A truly great vintage for dry whites

    3. Finally, a broad-based success in St. Emilion!

    4. Best wines flow like a river…

2017 can’t be summarised at the commune level. There were notable successes everywhere. But those that were successful had a harmonious, infused, flowing texture to the wines.

The best are the antithesis of shouty wines, and if they were clotheshorses they definitely wouldn't wear shoulder pads. These are quieter, understated types that’ll turn around in a decade’s time, smile enigmatically and sotto voce say “I told you so’.

Economics to consider:

With few exceptions, this is not a red vintage where prices are likely to increase over the next 2 years. Several people have referred to 2007 as a modern day 1988. Prices of 1988 stagnated for several years after release. Not because it wasn’t an appreciated vintage at the time, but because it wasn’t a ‘great’ vintage, and got rather overshadowed by the ensuing duo of 1989 and 1990.

There are a few Chateaux which are increasingly sought after and will sell out, and those wines will probably be worth buying at first release. Subject to the all important caveat of price permitting.

For UK buyers, as at May 2018, sterling has sagged, and is close to historic lows against the Euro. In a year or two the picture could look very different depending on the nature of a EU settlement. The currency swing could be 20%. That is a major disincentive for UK buyers to buy 2017s during en primeur.

The same currency concern was of course present through the 2016 campaign, but the difference is that 2016 was evidently an extraordinary vintage from the get-go, and recent re-tastings confirm its potential greatness. The majority of brilliant vintages are expensive at first release, as was 2016.

Most good vintages that follow great ones, where prices don’t fall far enough from the heights of its precursor, suffer price stagnation for a long time: think 2006. In my view 2017 is not too dissimilar to 2006 in its vintage profile, certainly is not obviously better, and has a further parallel with 2006 in that it follows a great vintage (2016).

Target release prices

See our recent analysis of proto-prices – the level that we believe Chateaux will have to come down to in order for 2017 reds to find a market. On average we believe they will need to reduce release prices by -24%. Some wines would theoretically need to come down by as much as -40% whilst others may not need to reduce their release price at all (notably the dry whites).

We recommend you don’t get too fixated on that average figure of -24% but think in terms of a scale of 0% to -40%.

As an example, it’s worth remembering that Vieux Chateau Certan made a great wine in 2011 that vies for greatness with 2009 and 2010, yet a price reduction of -40% for the 2011 release wasn’t enough to stop it falling by another -25% before it recovered and started putting on gains versis its release price.

Admittedly the 2011 coincided with the Bordeaux market crash of 2012-2014, but even so, it’s a reminder of how even seemingly significant price reductions can still be insufficient reason to buy during en primeur.


©Jonathan Reeve / Wine Owners

1. A vintage for second wines

Look at the quality of the second wines this vintage. Chateaux have been upping the ante over the last few years and there are some profoundly satisfying results.

The thing that stood out in respect of these second wines is the refinement of their tannins; something you used to see only in the Grand Vin. It means that many second wines are now worthy competitors to many classified growths.

All of the following merit scores of around 92-93.

Petit Mouton

Red fruited nose, great intensity and aromatics, super lift and energy and a long, vinous finish.

Le Marquis de Calon Ségur

Fresh, and with a tension that leads to a very fruity core of sweet raspberry coulis. There’s a notable purity to the mid palate, medium weight and a charming savoury finish.

Dame de Montrose

Saline nose, touch of cedar, then sweet pastille fruit, an elegant attack, red fruits and ultrafine tannins. A lifted, fresh, well defined finish that ends with a dab of clove oil.

Pavillon Rouge

Liqueur-like nose, great energy in the attack, with a suave mid palate. Superbly classic, dry character and a fine-grained textured feel to the tannins.

Petit Cheval

Pure nose of red fruits and kirsch, perfumed. Silky feel, cloves on the attack, mid weight, sweet mid palate, fine tannins, evidently structured towards the back of the palate, fresh with a touch of game-bird. Very structured finish: old school and impressive, with a tremendous mouth-watering finale.

Clarence de Haut Brion

Deep nose, saline with liquorice and cedar. Real complexity. Bright attack, creamy red and black fruits, and with drive to a medium long finish.


©Jonathan Reeve / Wine Owners


2. A great vintage for dry whites

With greater focus and freshness than 2015, and much greater intensity and drive than 2016; 2017 is one of the most exciting white wine vintages for years.

Bordeaux white may not have the caché of Burgundy, but occasionally a vintage comes along that is an inimitable and compelling expression of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

That perfect expression should show great minerality (or stoniness), floral aromatics (choisya, elderflower, white jasmine) have bright intense citrus character, and may have background hints of soft fruits in the spectrum of peach, passion fruit and guava.

Great Bordeaux whites need to show purity, vibrancy, and length. The tropical fruited expression should be subtle, nuanced; a suggestion rather than an emphatic flavour.

Whilst Bordeaux whites don’t have a secondary market like the reds do, the quantities produced are relatively confidentielles so may not be easy to obtain in the future, or the blue chip examples may appreciate in value within the couple of years or so after the wines are bottled.

Superb whites (at a variety of price points) were made in the vintage at the following properties:

Haut Brion Blanc

Cool nose of stone fruits, pomelos, a dollop of cream. Burgundian in weight with a sense of scale/ broad dimensions. Huge freshness too. Pithy, firm, lemons and blood oranges with simply huge minerality. This wine represents the great heights white Bordeaux can sometimes achieve.

98+

Pavillon Blanc

Saline, creamy nose. Superb breadth and pithiness, spice and a salty, mineral finish that goes on and on.

95

Les Hauts de Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc

100% Sauvignon. In a word, terrific value! Refined nose, a little bit mute - but fair enough at this stage of its evolution. Energetic attack, great freshness and confit lemon mid palate accompanied by high notes of grapefruit.

92

Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc

An expressive nose in contrast, great intensity evident, then grapefruit and pomelos, and a fine line in mouth watering acidity. Bright powerful citrus character. Precise, pithy and long. Weight and intensity on the finish with background notes of guava.

96

Pape Clément Blanc

Grapefruit and pronounced kaffir leaf nose, intense and limey. Gorgeous attack of pomelos, sherbet, pith, candied lemons. Mandarine infuses the mid palate. Superb.

96

Malartic Lagraviere Blanc

Orange blossom nose, wild heather, with a mineral and herby attack (lemon thyme?). Just a hint of underlying sweetness. Harmonious. Confit lemon on the finish.

95

La Louviere Blanc (Good value)

Pithy nose, Seville orange and pomelos. Very good balance and purity on the mid palate, with good restraint, length and an attractive focused finish.

92

Chevalier Blanc

A floral nose; very interesting and a bit different to most other aromas in this vintage. Gorgeous attack of sherbet, mid palate dominated by grapefruit pith, accompanied by super acidity and attractive length.

94

La Tour Martillac Blanc

Grapefruit and kaffir leaves on the nose with a bright really intense attack. Fine mid palate, quite big scaled, but with tons of acidity to back it up. I’d nevertheless have liked a touch more restraint to focus the finish that ends broad. Maybe it just needs to settle down.

91+

Carbonnieux Blanc

Pithy nose, followed by a sherbetty attack. A little less pure in the mid palate than anticipated by the sparkling intro, although the finish is fine and nicely lifted, creating a pleasing finale.

90

 
©Nick Martin / Wine Owners


3. Broad-based success in St Emilion!

Not for some years have there been so few high alcohol monsters produced in St Emilion, and correspondingly so many balanced, attractive wines. St Emilion was a minor revelation.

L’If

Vinous, fruity nose. Dark fruit in the spectrum of mulberries on the attack. Grainy mid palate, fine tannins, crunchy fruit, a dab of clove oil, liquorice, all delivered with persistent, notable freshness.

93

Angelus

Refined nose, very progressive fruit. Really fine tannins underlie a silky texture. And it's drier than usual, not as sweet or as obviously powerful as before, yet still is large-scaled in the best sense of the term – and is all the better (and classier) for it. The first Angelus I have absolutely adored in a very long time.

96

Canon La Gaffeliere

Expressive kirsch nose, touch of pepper, crystalline fresh attack, creamy red fruits, some plushness in the mid-palate, yet without excess sweetness. Nice progression and finish, with good sucrosité throughout.

92+

Soutard (Good value)

Liqueur and peppered nose, svelte texture. Very attractive griottes on the mid palate, super spiced, clove oil. Sappy, mouthwatering, extremely moreish and fresh. Will be great value mid-term drinking and with the zip to peak in 12-15 years.

90% Merlot with the remaining 10% a mix of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Malbec. Yes, Malbec!

93+

Troplong Mondot

Richly perfumed nose, in the aromatic wood spectrum. Very ecclesiastical. Quite big attack with a liqueur-textured quality, cloves coating the mid palate and a bright controlled finish. Fine and exciting to taste.

96

Canon

Sweet fruited nose. Super attack. Great balance, poised, fine grained tannins, and sappy, moreish fruit. Fruit pastille but not in the slightest bit overt, and a silky smooth delivery. It’s almost lush, almost sweet, yet in fact it’s quite firm, with liquorice notes and light spice. Good length. Will be very popular.

95+

Berliquet (good value)

Fruity nose with a touch of pepper. Powerful attack and a subtle mid palate. Flowing fruit and lots of energy with just a hint of firmness towards the back palate, but no dryness. Savoury and liquorice notes are introduced in the finish.

91+

Figeac

Raspberries on the expressive nose, with cedar notes. Liqueur-like texture, and an orange and raspberry infused attack. A vein of dry graphite runs through the fresh, racy, rich mid palate of pastille fruit, ahead of a firm finish. Once again rather lovely, if not delivering the sheer excitement of 2016, or the exuberance of 2015.

95+

©Nick Martin / Wine Owners


4. Harmony and substance.

The nature of the 2017 red vintage is one that wants to express itself without excess: in respect of weight, tannic structure and alcohol.

There is a classically dry character to the red wines. All of which speaks to the Atlantic, maritime pattern of the summer weather, and is also perhaps partly due to the very welcome trend back towards gentler extractions across Bordeaux.

2017 can’t be summarised at the commune level. There were notable successes everywhere. But those that were most successful had a harmonious, infused fruitiness, flowing texture to the wines.

The best are the antithesis of shouty wines, and if they were clotheshorses they wouldn't be seen dead in shoulder pads. These are quieter, understated types that’ll turn around in a decade’s time, smile enigmatically and sotto voce say “I told you so’.

Those that hit the mark included the following, with personal favourites scored excluding any of the wines aforementioned:

Calon-Ségur

97

Montrose

95

Ormes de Pez

91

Cos Labory

90+

Lafite

97

Mouton

97+

Cos d’Estournel

94

Latour

98

Pontet Canet

93

Lynch Bages

93

Grand Puy Lacoste

93

Haut Bages Liberal

93 (Good value)

Pedesclaux

93

Leoville Barton

95

Gruaud Larose

93

Branaire

92

Lagrange

93+

Talbot

92+

Margaux

96

Palmer

96

Rauzan Ségla

93

Cantenac Brown

92

Vieux Chateaux Certan

98

Le Pin

96+

Croix de Gay

93

Rouget

94

Gazin

94

Mission Haut Brion

96

Carmes Haut Brion

94+

Chevalier

93+

Smith Haut Lafitte

94+

Malartic Lagraviere

93

Olivier

93 (Good value)



Bordeaux 2017 - Wine Owners' Proto-prices

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-04-19


Wine Owners created proto-prices (first published in this JancisRobinson.com article) to help consumers identify value among en primeur offers. The prices support consumers when buying en primeur, by providing a consistent baseline from which to make purchasing decisions. Confidence in en primeur has been damaged in recent years, by over-inflated release prices and by fraudsters posing as brokers (always check the data, and always check the broker!), so we saw a clear need for a remedy. Each proto-price is the price at which Wine Owners believes a wine should be released in order to make its en primeur offer attractive and worthwhile for the consumer. 


Wine Owners Bordeaux 2017 en primeur;
©Jonathan Reeve / Wine Owners


Symbiotic EP

En Primeur must be symbiotic to continue thriving; it must benefit both chateau and consumer. Chateau benefits from smoother cash-flow and up-front guaranteed sales. Consumer benefits from a better price – significantly lower than buying two years later at general release. The symbiosis has lost balance slightly in recent years, with release prices rising apparently out of control. We created our proto-prices to help restore some of that balance, by creating informed consumers and collectors. We can't (and shouldn't try to) control the chateaux; they must release their new wine at the price they think best reflects the market, and their position within the market. What we can do, though, is give consumers the data they need to make informed purchasing decisions.


Not If But Which

Proto-prices address each wine individually. The decision is not if to buy wines en primeur, but which ones. If wine X doesn't look like good value, move to wine Y (no, that isn't an encoded hint to buy premier grand cru Sauternes!). And if none of your favourite wines look like good value this year, see below...


Back Vintages to the Future

Proto-prices support en primeur purchasing, and will hopefully help the tradition continue (on a stable path which benefits everyone involved). But if the new vintage of your preferred wine doesn't offer good value this year, adjust your gaze slightly. Caught up in the excitement of buying the new vintage en primeur, many of us forget to check availability and price of back-vintages. The Wine Owners Exchange is brimming with back-vintages you can buy instead. And hopefully, next year, you'll find the 2018 vintage at a more attractive en primeur price (the likelihood of which will significantly increase if enough consumers follow the buying advice in this article).

Proto-prices are based on a combination of solid wine market data and fine-grained knowledge. Last week in Bordeaux, one half of our team tasted tirelessly (well, almost tirelessly) through hundreds of 2017 Bordeaux wines, while at London HQ the other half was busy crunching market data. The combined result of these two efforts is the below table of 2017 proto-prices, featuring the seventy(ish) Bordeaux wines most commonly bought en primeur.

Happy en primeur purchasing, and...let the games begin!


WINE NAME

2017 PROTO-PRICE 2016 EP (IB) btl % CHANGE 17 Vs. 16 V-AVG * Actual release price
Alter Ego de Palmer£46.6£46.600%£53.00£48.75
Angelus£232.05£298.00-22%£238.00 £280
Ausone £423.5 £590.83 -28% £385.00
Beausejour Becot £39.1 £52.00 -25% £34.00 £42
Beausejour Duffau-Lagarrosse £55.58 £85.50 -35% £57.00 £77
Belair-Monange £71.4 £115.83 -38% £51.00 £93
Beychevelle £56.3 £56.30 0% £68.00 £52
Calon-Segur £71.5 £78.30 -9% £65.00 £61.50
Canon £65 £90.80 -28% £50.00 £67.50
Canon La Gaffeliere £44.85 £64.17 -30% £46.00 £54
Cheval Blanc £344.3 £533.30 -35% £313.00
Clerc Milon £49.16 £49.16 0% £52.00 £52
Clinet Pomerol £49.73 £72.00 -31% £51.00 £57.50
Clos Fourtet £60.5 £91.67 -34% £55.00 £73
Conseillante £96 £155.00 -38% £80.00 £123
Cos d'Estournel £79 £110.00 -28% £79.00 £109
de Valandraud £87.75 £129.15 -32% £90.00 £100
Domaine de Chevalier £36.08 £53.50 -33% £37.00 £43
Ducru-Beaucaillou £92 £140.00 -34% £92.00 £124
Duhart-Milon £47.78 £53.30 -10% £49.00 £47
Durfort Vivens £34.65 £40.33 -14% £33.00 £38
Figeac Saint Emilion £113.4 £155.00 -27% £81.00 £123
Gazin £44.85 £60.50 -26% £46.00 £58.75
Grand Puy Lacoste £40 £60.83 -34% £40.00 £54
Gruaud Larose £40.95 £51.67 -21% £42.00 £52
Haut Bailly £52 £87.50 -41% £52.00 £74
Haut-Brion £310.2 £400.00 -22% £282.00 £355
Haut-Brion Blanc £583.33 £583.33 0% £557.00 £615
La Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion £48.4 £63.33 -24% £44.00
La Fleur Petrus £129.68 £165.83 -22% £133.00 £149
La Mission Haut-Brion £184.6 £324.16 -43% £142.00 £245
La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc £451.43 £466.67 -3% £463.00 £490
La Mondotte £126.75 £199.00 -36% £130.00 £119
Lafite Rothschild £398.72 £491.66 -19% £498.40
Lafleur £348.075 £430.00 -19% £357.00 £445
Lagrange £29.25 £35.00 -16% £30.00 £31
L'Aile d'Argent Blanc £54.17 £54.17 0% £53.00 £56
Lascombes £47.78 £56.67 -16% £49.00 £52
Le Petit Mouton Rothschild £133.3 £133.30 0% £171.00 £149
Le Pin £1574.63 £2,083.00 -24% £1,615.00
L'Eglise-Clinet £115.5 £216.67 -47% £105.00
Leoville Barton £48.75 £62.50 -22% £50.00 £54
Leoville Las Cases £113.3 £175.00 -35% £103.00 £148
Leoville Poyferre £49.73 £67.00 -26% £51.00 £55
Les Carruades de Lafite £125 £125.00 0% £215.00 £135
l'Evangile £82.88 £131.67 -37% £85.00 £180
L'If £147.23 £175.00 -16% £151.00
Lynch Bages £74.1 £95.80 -23% £76.00 £74
Malartic-Lagraviere £33.6 £40.00 -16% £28.00 £33.30
Malartic-Lagraviere Blanc £41 £41.00 0% £32.00 £42
Margaux £351.9 £428.60 -18% £306.00 £360
Monbousquet £33.15 £36.67 -10% £34.00 £38
Montrose £72.6 £95.00 -24% £66.00 £98
Mouton Rothschild £334.43 £411.60 -19% £343.00 £360
Palmer Margaux £171.6 £236.60 -27% £156.00 £195.75
Pape Clement £88.73 £129.16 -31% £91.00 £63.30
Pape Clement Blanc £98.33 £98.33 0% £68.00 £100.45
Pavie Macquin £39.98 £58.33 -31% £41.00 £52
Pavie Saint Emilion £194.03 £298.00 -35% £199.00 £280
Pavillon Blanc £145.83 £145.83 0% £150.00 £147
Pavillon Rouge £133.58 £115.00 16% £137.00 £135
Petrus £1642.88 £2,666.00 -38% £1,685.00
Pichon Baron £79.2 £115.60 -31% £72.00 £98
Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande £84.7 £122.50 -31% £77.00 £93
Pontet Canet £68.4 £111.67 -39% £57.00 £82
Quintus £58.5 £95.80 -39% £60.00 £93
Rauzan Segla £46.8 £61.30 -24% £48.00 £54
Smith Haut Lafitte £50 £78.00 -36% £50.00 £69
Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc £73 £73.00 0% £57.00 £83
Troplong Mondot £66 £100.00 -34% £55.00 £72
Trotanoy £119.93 £193.33 -38% £123.00
Vieux Chateau Certan £128.75 £196.67 -35% £103.00
AVERAGE REDUCTION FOR A SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN -23%


* V-AVG: avg current mkt value 04,06,08,12,14



En Primeur - DAY FOUR: A Pine for Sore Eyes

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-04-13


Slightly weary after several busy days of tasting and driving, we were very happy to start today with a blissful treat; Jacques Thienpont hosting us to taste his 2017 Le Pin. Well-tailored and welcoming, Jacques greeted us with his son Georges, and took time to explain a little of the history behind the two wines we were about to taste: L'If and Le Pin. Both wines were stunning, and L'If - one of the newer additions to the Thienpont collection - shows a clear family resemblance to its legendary big brother. (It's upwards price trajectory does, too). What stood out most in both wines (beyond elegant fruit aromas and a cool-silk mouthfeel) were the feather light, super-ripe tannins. When we asked Jacques how he achieved these, he modestly gave all credit to the vineyard, saying “Fiona (Jacques' wife Fiona Morrison MW) can't believe how little I do to the wine”. Whatever the case, we have seen tannins like these at only one other winery (Cheval Blanc) in all of our tastings this week. ‘Extremely svelte, no hint of excess', say Nick's 2017 Le Pin tasting notes.


©Jonathan Reeve / Wine Owners

The Right Wine for the Job

The Le Pin tasting highlighted a really basic wine investment tip - one which may easily be overlooked. In the excitement of buying a super-expensive wine like this, an investor may well neglect to factor how many years the wine will actually last. Expensive wine is not necessarily long-lived wine. The world's most expensive wines cost so much because they're excellent and sought-after, not because they take forever to mature. Jacques estimates that the Le Pin 2017 is a wine to drink within ten to fifteen years. That's great if you can get hold of it en primeur and turn it around within a few years, but that really isn't particularly long in investment terms. At the opposite end of the spectrum are two wines of similar stature: Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau Latour. These two are completely different in style - both from Le Pin and from one another. They are chalk and cheese stylistically, but they are clearly similar in how long-lived they are. The longer the maturation period, the more time there is for speculation and anticipation, and the more time you have to find that well-heeled and motivated buyer.


©Jonathan Reeve / Wine Owners


En Primeur Alive and Kicking

From up-close here in Bordeaux, En Primeur as a buying mechanism (with all its associated practices and processes) seems alive and well. The tasting rooms here are packed and buzzing, all the traditional conversations are happening (again), and tannin-battered tongues are wagging as always. Hopefully this energy will be complemented by sensible release prices in a few weeks' time, and by a decent level of commitment from consumers. And investors...

Watch this space in coming weeks for our thoughts on hot buys, once the producers begin to announce their prices.


En Primeur - DAY THREE: Saint-Julien Delivers

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-04-12


A late return tonight (past midnight) and a long day, waking at 05:00. But there's still gas left in the tank, so to speak. Over the course of the day we gathered thoughts in advance for the below.


Saint-Julien Delivers

JR has been looking for patterns all week - some form of shape around which to build recommendations for wise en primeur purchases. Until this afternoon we failed to find anything solid, but then...Saint-Julien delivered. At the UGC (Union des Grands Crus) Saint-Julien tasting hosted by Chateau Beychevelle at its modern-looking new winery, we noticed a clear consistency in the wines; there wasn't a dud among them. Well, maybe there was one, but we don't need to talk about that as it wasn't really that bad. Either way, this was the first appellation we'd seen where quality was reliably high in these en primeur tastings. Everywhere else had required dedicated tasting to work out what was hot and what was not. So thank you Saint-Julien, and bravo!


Bright Whites

Of course, as soon as this pattern had been spotted, we remembered another that we wanted to talk about yesterday(but ran out of time). It's the incredible purity to the whites this year, all around Bordeaux - not just in Graves where we were today (starting with Haut-Brion, Pape Clement and Smith Haut-Lafitte) but everywhere. Lovely balanced wines great concentration and acidity, and pithy, chalky tannins. Our tasting notes are full of descriptors like kaffir lime leaves, sweet sage, gooseberry, sherbet and candied lemon. Even lemon verbena made it in there. 2017 looks like a really great year for Bordeaux whites.


©Nick Martin / Wine Owners

The Cold Shoulder

Frost - the running theme of conversations all around Bordeaux this week - was as much as issue in Graves as it was in the right bank. The frost pattern here in the Graves seems to have been much more black and white than over in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. For some producers, there is a glittering silver lining to this rather painful situation, in that they adapted to it by significantly changing their blend and have come out smiling. Larrivet Haut-Brion is a gleaming example of this; the team there turned their blend around to use three times the usual amount of Cabernet Franc, and one third the amount of Merlot (which got severely hit by the frost). Les Carmes de Haut Brion is a similar story, and a similar success.

We have been focusing a lot on the frost topic (both here in the blog, and in our conversations with producers), but in fact a key point we'd like to make is that the frost is not something that consumers and investors should really focus on. What really matters, ultimately, is what each of the producers has managed to create. There are no strong patterns that consumers can reliably follow with regard to the frost.


Softly Softly Catchy Monkey

After a morning on the right bank, we returned to the Medoc, to the UGC tasting at Lafon Rochet. There, Basil Tesseron told us that 2017 was a vintage where it was extremely important not to over-extract, not being a super-ripe or sunny vintage. Over-extraction would just lead to mean, green bitter compounds leaching into the wine. This echoed a sentiment raised earlier in the day at Smith Haut-Lafitte, where the team did 4 pigeages per day, but no pumperovers, in order to keep the winemaking relatively gentle. 2017 was a year to be patient for picking and gentle in the winery.

©Jonathan Reeve / Wine Owners

Less (Wine) Does Not Necessarily Mean More (Money)

Despite indications given by some chateaux that smaller harvests will mean higher release prices, we see no justification for this. Traditionally, in vintages which are not 'stellar' -particularly those which followed relatively good vintages (as 2016 was) vintages, prices have tended to drop or remain roughly stable. Even in 2006 prices didn't significantly rise; they stayed roughly the same as 2005 even though the vintage clearly wasn't quite as impressive.

Tomorrow is a final look at the top producers we've not yet visited, all around the region. Lots of driving, between Le Pin, Angelus, La Conseillante, Eglise-Clinet and then back over the river to Latour, Leoville Barton and Palmer. Here's hoping for good driving conditions!



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