Why the Bordeaux 2017 ‘en primeur’ campaign bombed

Now that all the leading Châteaux have released the opening prices, the 2017 en primeur campaign is all but done. Disappointingly though, the year of the frost has ended up as ‘a damp squib’.

There are many good to very good wines at the top end, but a sub-premium vintage won’t sell at premium prices. The châteaux can charge whatever they like, of course, and no one is forced to buy (as far as I know). I agree though with the many UK merchants who reckon that the prices should be viewed alongside the 2014 vintage, as I said last month.

I’d also rather have 3 bottles of 2016 than 4 bottles of 2017 at this level, in most cases. My tables below, showing my en primeur scores for the leading wines from 2017, 2016 and 2014 and the opening and current market prices for each vintage, demonstrate, wine by wine, why the 2017s have failed to sell.

Rupert Millar summed up the campaign in his excellent review for The Drinks Business. “Another missed opportunity, too many overpriced wines gone begging, an utter lack of customer interest, plummeting sales, frustrated merchants and the worst campaign since 2013 – the 2017 primeurs will be swiftly forgotten but their legacy may be longer lasting.”

“In short,” he writes, “the 2017s are going to pass into the primeur history books as another damp squib, a frustrating come down after three campaigns that had done much to restore some faith in the system and demonstrating a complete lack of lessons learned.

Justerini & Brooks’s Bordeaux buyer, Tom Jenkins, said it was clear there was a “complete disconnect” between where Bordeaux wanted to pitch the wines and where consumers had decided they should be pitched.

“Most customers think this is a 14- vintage and should be below the ‘14s… At times it was a car crash campaign. You saw the price and knew it would never work, which is a shame.”

Millar reported that Farr Vintners’ managing director, Stephen Browett, said that apart from the 2013 it’s been “the worst en primeur campaign by volume since 1992,” and while it won’t be the worst by value the final haul will still only be £2-£2.5m.

(By way of comparison, Farr’s en primeur sales of the 2009 vintage, for example, were £63 million.)

“Prices have gone up so much since 2014, a token price drop is nonsense,” said Browett.

“They know they’ve overpriced the wine but are either so aloof they don’t follow the realities of the wine market – or they don’t care.

“It’s such a wasted opportunity because the quality is quite good but it should have been sold around the ‘14 price level.”

The list includes my ‘en primeur’ score out of 100 for all the leading wines in 2017, 2016 and 2014, plus the en primeur prices for all three years, and current market prices of the two earlier vintages. Simply compare the scores and the prices and you’ll see why most 2017s failed to sell. And to re-iterate, I’d also rather have – in many cases – 3 bottles of 2016 than 4 bottles of 2017.

Note that these are for the top 180 wines from Pauillac, St-Julien, St-Estèphe, Margaux, Pessac-Léognan, Pomerol, St-Emilion and Sauternes, which are sold by the châteaux to Bordeaux négociants now (a year before bottling) and then offered to wine merchants around the world, and on to consumers.

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Pauillac

Vintage 2017 2016 2014
EP = En Primeur
Prices by Liv-ex
GQ score EP UK GQ score EP UK Market price GQ score EP UK Market price
Lafite Rothschild 95-97 £4,870 96-99 £6,000 £5,710 95-96 £2,900 £4,900
Latour 95-97 NA 97-100 NA Not released
Mouton Rothschild 94-96 £4,320 97-99 £5,180 £5,071 95-97 £2,340 £3,762
Pichon Baron 94-96 £1,176 96-98 £1,375 £1,249 94-95 £640 £848
Pontet Canet 94-96 £1,013 95-97 £1,370 £1,133 95-96 £648 £700
Pichon Lalande 94-95 £1,116 96-98 £1,420 £1,400 93-95 £625 £846
Les Forts de Latour 93-95 NA 95-96 Not released
Grand Puy Lacoste 92-94 £648 94-96 £735 £629 92-93 £375 £470
Lynch Bages 92-93 £884 96-98 £1,120 £1,160 93-94 £575 £800
Clerc Milon 91-93 £624 92-94 £600 £608 91-92 £324 £660
Petit Mouton 91-92 £1,788 93-95 £1,600 £2,000 92-94 £756 £2,100
Duhart Milon 91-92 £565 93-95 £640 £588 92-93 £425 £495
Batailley 91-92 £393 91-93+ £414 £414 90-91 £250 £340
Haut Batailley 90-92 £495 89-91 NA 90-91 £225 £292
Carruades de Lafite 90-92 £1,650 92-93 £1,600 £2,500 90-92 £920 £2,624
d’Armailhac 90-91 £388 92-93 £390 £422 90-91 £234 £414
Pedesclaux 90-91 £340 91-93 £396 £340 88-90 £235 £282
Haut Bages Libéral 90-91 £288 91-93 £380 £340 90-91 £220 £251
Reserve de la Comtesse 90-91 £360 90-92 £374 £314 89-91 £210 £254
Echo Lynch Bages 89-90 £300 90-93 £340 £339 89-91 £210 £272
Pibran 89-90 £280 90-92 £280 £280 87-88 £185 £199
Grand Puy Ducasse 88-90 £308 90-92 £335 £302 87-90 £215 £249

Saint-Julien

Vintage 2017 2016 2014
EP = En Primeur
Prices by Liv-ex
GQ score EP UK GQ score EP UK Market price GQ score EP UK Market price
Léoville Las Cases 94-96 £1,776 96-98 £2,100 £2,007 93-95 £920 £1,189
Léoville Barton 94-96 £654 95-97 £744 £713 93-95 £430 £547
Ducru Beaucaillou 93-95 £1,488 96-97 £1,704 £1,461 95-97 £750 £1,080
Léoville Poyferré 93-95 £666 95-97 £798 £730 93-95 £430 £525
Clos du Marquis 92-94 £425 93-95 £470 £458 90-92 £295 £288
Langoa Barton 92-94 £390 93-95 £420 £415 92-94 £285 £450
Saint Pierre 91-93 £469 94-95 £560 £545 93-95 £305 £327
Gruaud Larose 91-92 £625 93-94 £620 £608 92-94 £390 £500
Beychevelle 90-92  £650 93-95 £678 £820 91-92 £415 £774
Talbot 90-92  £456 94-95 £490 £472 92-94 £290 £397
Branaire Ducru 90-92 £410 92-95 £465 £415 91-93 £290 £356
La Croix Ducru Beaucaillou 90-92 £372 92-93 £420 £365 92-93 £230 £305
Lagrange 90-91 £370 92-94 £420 £365 91-92 £240 £292
Gloria 89-91 £315 91-92 £360 £314 91-92 £205 £240

Saint-Estèphe

Vintage 2017 2016 2014
EP = En Primeur
Prices by Liv-ex
GQ score EP UK GQ score EP UK Market price GQ score EP UK Market price
Cos d’Estournel 94-95 £1,308 96-98 £1,400 £1,426 94-96 £825 £980
Montrose 93-95 £1,180 97-100 £1,212 £1,400 93-95 £850 £1,000
Calon Ségur 93-94 £738 94-96 £750 £936 92-93 £420 £800
Phelan Ségur 91-92 £360 91-93 £340 £340 88-90 £225 £247
Les Pagodes de Cos 90-92 £360 91-93 £385 £335 90-91 £260 £320
Lafon Rochet 90-91 £408 91-93? £408 £352 90-92 £220 £263
Meyney 90-91 £227 90-92+ £240 £217 89-91 £160 £198
La Dame de Montrose 89-91 £324 93-94 £312 £277 90-91 £210 £248
Cos Labory 89-91 £240 90-92 £310 £277 90-91 £195 £214
Les Ormes de Pez 89-90 £225 90-91+ £250 £240 88-90 £160 £175
Capbern 88-90 £174 89-90+ £170 £156 88-90 £110 £160

Margaux

Vintage 2017 2016 2014
EP = En Primeur
Prices by Liv-ex
GQ score EP UK GQ score EP UK Market price GQ score EP UK Market price
Château Margaux 95-97 £4,320 95-97 £5,180 £5,184 95-96 £2,320 £3,644
Palmer 95-96 £2,350 96-98 £2,880 £2,731 94-96 £1,500 £1,823
Pavillon Rouge Château Margaux 93-94 £1,620 92-94 £1,380 £1,586 92-93 £756 £1,749
Rauzan Ségla 92-94 £638 94-96 £700 £730 93-94 £375 £550
Alter Ego de Palmer 92-93 £585 92-94 £560 £560 91-93 £370 £504
d’Issan 92-93 £515 93-95 £570 £491 91-93 £295 £398
Brane Cantenac 91-93 £630 93-94 £630 £606 91-93 £310 £440
Giscours 90-92 £510 92-93 £540 £466 91-92 £270 £390
Malescot St Exupéry 90-92 £430 93-95 £500 £486 92-93 £290 £375
Kirwan 90-92 £380 91-93 £378 £330 90-91 £240 £282
Marquis d’Alesme 90-92 £324 £340 £340 £345 90-91 £228 £292
Labégorce 90-92 £212 91-92 £240 £245 89-91 £156 £227
Cantenac Brown 90-91 £474 92-93 £474 £409 91-92 £250 £335
Lascombes 89-91 £600 93-94 £650 £604 91-92 £410 £540
Prieuré Lichine 89-91 £330 92-93 £350 £314 90-91 £220 £283
Durfort Vivens 88-90 £460 89-90? £470 £487 90-92 £250 £419
Rauzan Gassies 88-90 £440 90-91 £440 £409 87-89 £245 £415
Marquis de Terme 88-90 £370 90-92+ £360 £327 90-92 £225 £304
Ferrière 88-90 £360 89-91 £350 £348 89-91 £200 £250
du Tertre 88-90 £348 91-92 £348 £308 88-91 £200 £308
Monbrison 88-90 £265 89-91 £280 £261 83-85 £155 £183
Siran 88-90 £228 89-91 £240 £214 87-89 £153 £175
Dauzac 87-89 £365 89-91 £360 £327 88-91 £220 £293

Haut Médoc

Vintage 2017 2016 2014
EP = En Primeur
Prices by Liv-ex
GQ score EP UK GQ score EP UK Market price GQ score EP UK Market price
La Lagune 89-90 £378 93-94 £420 £371 92-93 £280 £352
Sociando Mallet 89-90 £267 91-93 £315 £277 89-90 £175 £204
Cantemerle 88-90 £246 90-91 £258 £233 90-91 £170 £200
La Tour Carnet 87-88 £240 90-92 £300 £239 89-90 £170 £267

Pessac Léognan

Vintage 2017 2016 2014
EP = En Primeur
Prices by Liv-ex
GQ score EP UK GQ score EP UK Market price GQ score EP UK Market price
Haut Brion 95-97 £4,055 94-96 £4,980 £4,818 92-94 £2,320 £3,250
La Mission Haut Brion 95-96 £2,760 93-95 £3,960 £3,832 91-93 £1,420 £1,675
Haut Bailly 94-95 £888 95-96 £996 £980 92-94 £420 £650
Les Carmes Haut Brion 93-94 £672 92-94 £670 £1,160 87-90 £315 £650
Smith Haut Lafitte 93-94 £824 93-95 £920 £883 92-93 £440 £582
Pape Clément 93-94 £760 94-96 £790 £770 92-94 £480 £640
Domaine de Chevalier 93-94 £507 93-94 £648 £554 91-93 £330 £410
Le Clarence de Haut Brion 91-93 £1,200 89-91 £1,200 £1,000 87-89 £530 £1,050
Malartic Lagravière 91-93 £390 92-95 £480 £428 88-91 £255 £314
La Parde de Haut Bailly 91-92 £250 91-93 £260 £250 88-90 £140 £191
La Chapelle de la Mission 90-92 £705 89-91 £770 £692 86-87 £335 £390
Latour Martillac 90-92 £252 90-91 £260 £264 89-91 £180 £210
Olivier 89-90 £250 90-92 £250 £253 87-89 £165 £176
Picque Caillou 88-90 £162 87-88 £157 £138 86-88 £120 £120

Pomerol

Vintage 2017 2016 2014
EP = En Primeur
Prices by Liv-ex
GQ score EP UK GQ score EP UK Market price GQ score EP UK Market price
Petrus 95-97 TBC 97-100 £22,000 £33,256 94-96 £13,620 £23,143
Lafleur 95-97 £5,340 97-99 £5,160 £8,700 95-96 £3,480 £5,600
Le Pin 95-96 £19,000 97-99 £22,200 £29,998 94-96 £10,500 £20,500
L’Eglise Clinet 94-96 £2,064 94-96 £2,740 £2,599 94-96 £1,300 £1,300
Vieux Château Certan 94-96 £2,064 97-99 £2,300 £2,141 94-95 £990 £1,425
La Fleur Petrus 94-95 £1,790 94-96 £1,900 £1,850 93-94 £1,000 £1,454
Trotanoy 93-95 £2,100 94-96 £2,600 £2,230 93-94 £1,440 £1,616
Hosanna 93-94 £1,080 93-95 £1,080 £1,250 93-95 £720 £837
Les Pensées de Lafleur 93-94 £1,440 94-95 £1,102 £1,338 91-93 £720 £1,102
La Conseillante 92-94 £1,476 94-95 £1,860 £1,668 93-95 £640 £830
Vray Croix De Gay 92-94 £560 93-94 £500 £530 91-93 £340 £394
Clinet 92-93 £690 93-95 £864 £846 91-93 £430 £536
L’Evangile 91-93 £2090 94-96 £2,125 £2,026 93-94 £880 £1,020
Gazin 91-93  £710 91-93 £720 £687 89-91 £385 £500
Petit Village 91-93 £650 92-93 £650 £616 88-90 £415 £441
Nenin 91-93 £580 93-95 £590 £519 87-89 £260 £303
La Petite Eglise 91-92+ £330 91-93 £350 £348 90-92 £220 £220
Certan de May 91-92 £950 90-93 £1,060 £880 90-91 £590 £570
Rouget 90-92 £375 90-93 £400 £384 92-93 £235 £252
La Croix de Gay 90-91 £280 91-92 £339 £339 Retaste £185 £239
Latour à Pomerol 89-91 £790 91-93 £850 £704 90-92 £590 £600
Bon Pasteur 89-91 £630 90-92 £620 £636 89-91 £400 £440
Beauregard 89-91 £516 91-92 £564 £561 88-89 £245 £262
Lagrange à Pomerol 89-90 £325 90-91 £345 £396 £271

Saint-Emilion

Vintage 2017 2016 2014
EP = En Primeur
Prices by Liv-ex
GQ score EP UK GQ score EP UK Market price GQ score EP UK Market price
Ausone 95-97 £5,650 96-98 £7,250 £7,764 95-96 £3,430 £5,200
Angelus 94-96 £3,360 96-98 £3,576 £3,304 93-95 £1,700 £2,338
La Mondotte 94-95 £1,450 95-96 £2,250 £2,141 93-95 £1,050 £1,154
Cheval Blanc 93-95 £5,300 96-98+ £6,400 £5,793 95-96 £3,400 £3,677
Pavie 93-95 £3,360 96-98 £3,588 £3,256 94-96 £1,700 £2,068
Figeac 93-95 £1,476 96-97 £1,860 £1,785 93-95 £575 £969
Belair Monange 93-95 £1,180 93-95 £1,200 £1,320 92-94 £790 £790
Le Dôme 93-95 £1,250 94-96 £1,200 £1,233 92-95 £690 £690
Beauséjour Duffau 93-95 £940 94-96 £1,026 £936 93-95 £525 £580
Beau-Séjour Becot 93-94 £500 92-94 £624 £600 89-91 £325 £393
Troplong Mondot 92-95 £864 95-97 £1,200 £1,070 93-95 £590 £604
Canon 92-94 £810 93-94 £875 £1,450 90-91 £375 £640
Chapelle d’Ausone 92-94 £1,650 95-95 £1,700 £1,750 92-94 £1,000 £1,247
Bellevue Mondotte 92-94 £1,296 93-95 £1,350 £1,308 91-92 £950 £1,006
Clos Fourtet 92-94 £882 94-96 £1,010 £869 91-93 £490 £773
La Clotte 92-94 £560 90-93 £570 £530 90-92 £320 £431
Péby Faugères 92-93 £1,170 92-94 £1,460 £1,365 87-89 £645 £693
Canon La Gaffelère 92-93 £650 95-96 £775 £692 93-95 £400 £576
Larcis Ducasse 92-93 £588 94-95 £642 £554 92-94 £350 £410
La Gaffelière 92-93 £570 92-94 £540 £493 89-92 £325 £429
Les Astéries 91-93 £850 92-94 £974 91-93 £591
Le Carré 91-93 £576 91-93 £648 89-91 £430
Vieux Château Mazerat 91-93 £750 92-94 £750 £780 91-93 £490 £600
Pavie Macquin 91-93 £632 94-96 £720 £617 91-93 £400 £461
Le Prieuré 91-93 £383 91-94 £360 £362 90-91 £225 £252
La Tour Figeac 91-92 £442 92-93 £280 £347 90-92 £220 £270
Bellefont Belcier 91-92 £400 92-93 £300 £296 89-90 NA £246
Pavie Decesse 90-93 £1,092 92-94 £1,100 £1,093 90-92 £760 £818
Le Petit Cheval 90-92 NA 92-94 £1,420 £1,365 91-93 £970 £1,250
Quintus 90-92 £1,070 92-94 £1,120 £750 88-90 £650 £660
Fleur Cardinale 90-92 £390 90-92 £316 £314 91-92 £230 £278
Pressac 90-92 £239 90-93 £230 £206 90-91 £150 £190
Grand Mayne 90-91 £308 92-94 £360 £314 88-91 £210 £272
Fonroque 90-91 £270 90-92 £270 £270 88-90? £150 £157
Sansonnet 90-91 £259 91-93 £270 £241 88-90 NA £199
Les Aromes de Pavie 89-91 £888 91-92 £850 £875 86-87 £575 £600
Trottevieille 89-91 £738 91-93 £700 £700 NA £480 £625
La Dominique 89-91 £492 91-92 £500 £440 90-91 £233 £273
Les Grandes Murailles 89-91 £363 90-92 £440 £434 87-89 £278
Faugères 89-91 £320 90-92 £340 £314 89-91 £210 £226
Soutard 89-91 £360 90-91 £370 £405 88-90 £251
Berliquet 89-91 £368 90-91 £320 £312 89-91 £205 £240
Fonplégade 89-91 £280 90-92 £300 £310 89-90 £230 £220
Quinault l’Enclos 89-91 £265 89-91 £286 £249 88-90 £185 £195
Moulin Saint Georges 89-91 £270 89-91 £280 £276 90-92 £185 £220

Dry whites

Vintage 2017 2016 2014
EP = En Primeur
Prices by Liv-ex
GQ score EP UK GQ score EP UK Market price GQ score EP UK Market price
La Mission Haut Brion Blanc 95-97 £5,650 93-95 £5,450 £5,600 94-96 £4,700 £5,019
Haut Brion Blanc 95-96 £7,300 93-95 £6,900 £6,400 93-95 £5,900 £7,324
Pavillon Blanc 94-95 £1,776 92-94 £1,512 £1,865 93-94 £950 £1,880
Pape Clément Blanc 94-95 £1,200 93-94 £1,185 £1,058 93-94 £850 £926
Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 93-94 £990 92-93 £860 £863 92-94 £570 £734
La Clarté de Haut Brion 93-94 £630 91-93 £700 £629 90-92 £590 £700
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 92-94 £820 92-94 £850 £730 91-93 £575 £630
Les Champs Libres 92-94 £516 91-93 £500 £495 91-93 £420 £480
Cos d’Estournel Blanc 92-93 £1,020 92-94 £985 £890 92-94 £500 £790
Aile d’Argent 92-93 £672 92-93 £610 £620 92-93 £480 £660
Lynch Bages Blanc 92-93 £360 92-94 £350 £600 92-94 £245 £660
Malartic Lagravère Blanc 92-93 £500 91-92 £430 £467 90-92 £355 £365
Nardian 91-93 NA 89-91 £0 91-93 £185
Latour Martillac Blanc 91-92 £265 89-90 £275 £267 89-91 £185 £208
Olivier Blanc 89-92 £250 89-91 £240 £214 88-90 £175 £188
Couhins Lurton 89-91 £240 90-92 £240 £255 89-91 £200 £194
Bouscaut Blanc 89-91 £280 91-92 £240 £267 87-89 £200 £253
Picque Caillou Blanc 89-91 £177 88-90 £170 £178 87-89 £140 £129
Clos Floridène Blanc 88-90 £154 89-91 £140 £128 90-92 £126 £125

Sauternes

Vintage 2017 2016 2014
EP = En Primeur
Prices by Liv-ex
GQ score EP UK GQ score EP UK Market price GQ score EP UK Market price
Yquem 94-96 NA 94-96 NA £0 95-96 £2,850 £2,576
Suduiraut 93-95 £565 92-94+ £520 £422 93-95 £410 £408
Guiraud 93-95 £388 90-91 £348 £314 92-93 £295 £320
Rieussec 92-94 £496 89-92 £480 £400 93-95 £400 £320
Lafaurie Peyraguey 92-94 £410 90-92 £410 £399 94-95 £340 £252
La Tour Blanche 92-94 £340 92-93+ £320 £289 93-94 £260 £311
Sigalas Rabaud 92-94 £295 92-94+ £295 £289 93-95 £275 £290
Rayne Vigneau 91-93 £360 90-91 £328 £362 92-94 £255 £277
Doisy Daëne 91-93 £320 91-93 £300 £300 93-94 £260 £141
Coutet 91-93 £340 91-93 £318 £320 94-95 £230 £258
Clos Haut Peyraguey 91-93 £295 89-90 £280 £251 92-94 £220 £239
Rabaud Promis 91-92 £247 87-89 £250 £282 92-94 NA £350
Doisy Védrines 90-91 £320 89-91 £275 £246 90-92 £220 £220

My top 20

Chateau Appelation Classification Drinking window GQ score
Petrus Pomerol Not classified 2026-2045 95-97
Lafleur Pomerol Not classified 2025-2045 95-97
Ausone Saint Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé A 2028-2048 95-97
Latour Pauillac 1er Cru Classé 2027-2050 95-97
Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 1er Cru Classé 2027-2047 95-97
Margaux Margaux 1er Cru Classé 2027-2045 95-97
Haut Brion Pessac Léognan 1er Cru Classé 2027-2050 95-97
La Mission Haut Brion Blanc Pessac Léognan Not classified 2021-2037 95-97
Le Pin Pomerol Not classified 2025-2040 95-96
Haut Brion Blanc Pessac Léognan Not classified 2022-2035 95-96
La Mission Haut Brion Pessac Léognan Cru Classé 2024-2042 95-96
Palmer Margaux 3ème Cru Classé 2024-2040 95-96
L’Eglise Clinet Pomerol Not classified 2025-2045 94-96
Vieux Château Certan Pomerol Not classified 2026-2043 94-96
Angelus Saint Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé A 2025-2043 94-96
Léoville Barton Saint Julien 2ème Cru Classé 2027-2045 94-96
Léoville Las Cases Saint Julien 2ème Cru Classé 2027-2045 94-96
Mouton Rothschild Pauillac 1er Cru Classé 2027-2047 94-96
Pichon Baron Pauillac 2ème Cru Classé 2026-2047 94-96
Pontet Canet Pauillac 5ème Cru Classé 2024-2045 94-96
Yquem Sauternes 1er Cru Supérieur 2024-2040 94-96

 

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