As expected, the Bordeaux 2009 En Primeur campaign has got off to a sluggish start, with fine wine merchants trying to urge the Bordelais to get off their derrières and release prices. With the exception of last year’s futures campaign for the 2008s, ’twas ever thus over the last decade.
More worrying but, again, not exactly unexpected, is the direction that the prices are taking. Even some of the more modestly-priced wines are substantially more expensive than they were for the last outstanding vintage: 2005. The exchange rate plays a part of course, and buyers with sterling can expect to pay 25% more for the same wine four years on, even assuming no increase in price from the château.
In 2006, I bought Château d’Angludet 2005 en primeur for £155 a case (ex-tax), and Château Batailley 2005 for £175, both from The Wine Society. The 2009 d’Angludet and Batailley, both on a par with their 2005s in my view, are £219 and £265 a case respectively. That’s a rise in sterling terms of over 40% and 50% each – and both these have been touted by the UK trade as good value (relatively, they’d be right). Add to these prices the duty and the VAT (20%?) – around £70/£77 – when they become physical in the UK in 2012 and we’re talking serious cash for a drinker’s, not investor’s, traditionally-styled claret, not forgetting you’ll need to cellar these wines for 7 years plus.
Château Gazin 2009 (pictured left during the harvest), a fine if fairly solid Pomerol that received a rave review from über-critic Robert Parker with 94-96 points, has sold out swiftly for a considerable £540 a case. Looking back, the 94 RP point 2005 (I gave it 92 in bottle) was released at £320, which seemed expensive back then as the 2004 (90 RP points) had been touted at £190 a case a year earlier. Taking out the exchange rate factor, the release price ex-château was 17€ for the 2004, 26€ 2005 and 37.50€ for the 2009. If merchants and punters queue up to buy the 2009s, can we blame the château owners for simply reacting to market demand? As many will tell you, the price is a reflection of the market.
Looks like we’re in for a fun ride when the big guns come out in June.
As a sign of prices to come, Gazin 2009 is the most expensive Gazin of the last decade on the market, and it hasn’t been bottled. See the chart from those clever people at Liv-ex below, and click for more on this here.