Degrees of Perfection – Two great vintages compared

by demetraWO#11:00:41:817


Wine Owners - Smith Haut Lafitte

Comparing the 2009 and 2010 vintages of the overachieving Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte shows how vintage styles can make a huge difference to market value. The massive and opulent 2009, which wins a perfect score from Robert Parker, is by no means a huge qualitative improvement on the slightly lower rated 2010. In fact, as we’ll see, plenty of reviewers prefer the 2010.

The obvious feature of the price comparison below is that the market price of the 2009 with its 100 point rating from Robert Parker has risen by well in excess of 100%, while the 2010, which gained a few points on its initial rating (95-97, rerated to 98+), has remained steady at close to release price.

Comparison graph Smith Haut Lafitte

One point to take away is that a very good re-rating is not enough to take a price higher in the current market unless it is a perfect rating. While this may be disappointing for those who bought 2010 and not 2009, it does mean the 2010 is considerably less expensive to buy now, in what is a relatively low market. Considering Neal Martin, Wine Enthusiast and Jancis Robinson all rate the 2010 higher than the 2009, albeit marginally, it certainly seems the better buy of the two vintages with a market value of £870 against 2009’s £1,487. For a price conscious buyer, the prospect of spending almost double for an extra 2 Parker points might seem hard to swallow, so unless the particular style of the 2009 appeals very strongly, the 2010 feels more like a reasonable price for a wine of that quality.

2009 2010
Robert Parker 100 98+
Neal Martin 94 95
James Suckling 96 95
Jancis Robinson 17.5 18
Wine Enthusiast 94 96
Wine Spectator 96 96
Wine Owners 95 94

How does it look in comparison to other comparable wines? Similar scores in Pessac were achieved by Haut Bailly (98 RP) and La Mission Haut Brion (98+):

Comparison graph Wine Owners LTD

Haut Bailly has put on a similar amount of weight, but is still quite a bit more expensive to buy at around £80 per bottle. Both wines have outperformed the Wine Owners 150 Index, showing an encouraging ability to hold value in a difficult market. Honorary First Growth La Mission Haut-Brion, on the other hand, has behaved just as one would expect of a top flight wine that didn’t quite make the perfect score, slipping steadily downwards to 15% below the ambitious release price. At around £5400 per dozen, it makes the other two look like good finds. Perhaps the most interesting thing to note here, though, is the huge influence that Wine Advocate scores continue to exert on market prices, particularly in Bordeaux. With Parker’s sale of his stake in WA, and the high profile departure of influential critics like Jay Miller and Antonio Galloni, many might like to think that the journals days as a key market influencer are numbered. Commentary abounds about the future of wine criticism, whether the future lies in collaborative reviewing along the model of Cellar Tracker, aggregate scoring, or whether a new super-critic will emerge to take Parker’s place. The numbers, however, tell a different story, and testify strongly to the market’s desire for a reference point. 2010 Smith Haut Lafitte is available on the Fine Wine Exchange at £820 IB

Posted in: Fine wine analysis, Fine wine pricing and valuations,
Tags: fine wine, fine wine analysis, Haut Bailly, la mission haut brion, smith haut lafitte, Wine Owners,

Value, track and trade fine wine

Sign up for a free Wine Owners account or go premium. No commitment. No credit card required. View all subscription plans.

Subscribe to The Collector

Get market insight delivered directly to your mailbox by subscribing to our newsletter.

Our Categories

Processing label...

Sorry, we could not process your request.

Try again Enter manually

Take Snapshot Cancel Cannot see an image?
If you cannot see an image coming up, please check your security settings of your browser. Blocking of the webcam can also be indicated by a red icon in your address bar.
Processing upload...