Author: Berry Bros. & Rudd
We are nearing the end of the 2007 Bordeaux en-primeur campaign, with the last few wines expected to be released in the coming days. This time of year is usually a busy and hectic one in the Fine Wine office, though this year it has been a little quiet. Our favourites have sold relatively well, though we have walked away from our allocations of a great deal of wine, largely on account of prices.
We pride ourselves in this office on not selling wine that we wouldn’t buy ourselves (funds permitting) and there have been many 2007 releases where we just couldn’t see the value. The key advantages for buying en-primeur are simple: one is assured of the provenance of the wine when it comes to drink it, one has a greater degree of flexibility in terms of bottle size (I have a penchant for double-magna) and, importantly, it is often the cheapest way to buy, the idea being that the châteaux offer the wine early at a lower price in order to help their cashflow.
The final factor has been the sticking point for a few wines this year. The strong euro hasn’t helped us by any means though the pricing policy of the châteaux has varied from the reasonable (Mr Barton, as always) to the unbelievable (plenty of examples here). Wines such as Leoville-Barton will almost certainly sell out, and should be more expensive to buy once physically available; this also holds true for Lynch-Bages, which almost invariably jumps in price at some stage (the trick is to call the timing of this jump).
Pontet-Canet and Haut-Bailly are different calls: they don’t quite have the “form” of Leoville-Barton or Lynch-Bages – we follow these wines because we know that a great deal of passion, expertise and investment is going into these properties and that they are very much on the up.
So how much is a case of wine worth? Is a case of 2007 Lynch-Bages worth £408? My answer is yes, no question. In five or ten years’ time buyers of this wine will be able to drink a bottle of outstanding Pauillac for an “on the table” price of less than £42.00. Our cheapest retail price for Lynch Bages is £66.00 for the 1994 (a vintage comparable with 2007 in terms of quality, maybe) and it’s notable that en-primeur buyers of the 1994 paid just over £180 per case for their wine…
At the time of writing we have one first growth available: 2007 Ch. Margaux at £2460 per case in bond. I personally think that the price is about right: it’s cheaper than the 2006, a quarter of the price of the heavenly 2005 and, most importantly, an excellent wine, well worthy of its status as one of the best wines in the world.
It does make the 2004 look like exceptional value at £2400 per case, though stocks of the 04 are dwindling. The release price of the 2007 is more than 150% up on the release price of the 2004, and this does prompt arguments of a lack of realism on the part of the Bordelais, though can we really argue that they should be giving their wine away when they see their previous releases more than double in price in a matter of a few years?