June 03: The well-known Bordeaux En Primeur was cancelled last month due to Covid, but two of the Growths, Chateaux Pontet-Canet and Palmer have disclosed the prices of 2019, at almost a third discount on the 2018 vintage, even as our Bordeaux expert John Salvi MW in his analysis of the Vintage, predicted a fall, not only because of the Pandemic but also because the Vintage was GOOD but not GREAT as some have being insisting, writes Subhash Arora
Chateau Pontet-Canet, the fifth growth of Pauillac that grows its grapes biodynamically, had set the ball rolling about a week ago with the prices reduced by a third of the 2018 vintage. According to James Suckling a London wine merchant was offering it for £61 a bottle compared to £108 for the 2018 on a 6-bottle case basis.
“Great wines are for pleasure and I try to bring more happiness to this crazy world!” reportedly says Alfred Tesseron, owner of Pontet-Canet. However, the reality is that the market has been hit by no En Primeur held in Bordeaux (some online virtual tastings notwithstanding), the economic conditions being uncertain, USA having the threat of 25% additional duties on imports from France and the 2019 Vintage not being as great.
Fermenting and aging part of its production in amphoras and aging in large used wooden casks, Suckling, nevertheless claims that the Pontet-Canet 2019 was one of the best he had tasted out of the more than 750 wines tasted so far.
Continuing with the trend Margaux based Third Growth Château Palmer released its 2019 vintage yesterday at €161 per bottle, a third cheaper than its 2018 release price to the Negociants at €240. According to Live-ex, the wine is being offered at £167 a bottle, equivalent to a 31% discount on the 2018 release price of £241 a bottle. “If more critics concur, at this price the wine would look like a good value offer,” Liv-ex opines.
Palmer’s second wine, Alter Ego 2019 was also released at the same time at £45 each ex-Negociant; The 2018 vintage wasn’t released, according to The Drinks Business.
Interestingly, some of the older vintages are available at even cheaper price and they are already in bottle. Consider a 2012 (RP 96), available at a 10% discount to the current release. Or a 2004, with 95 points from Neal Martin, offered at the same price, but with 15 years in bottle, according to Liv-ex.
The question is if anyone would want to buy these wines as futures, this year. Some key trade members in London and Hong Kong are reportedly not interested. US market is anyway in a state of flux due to the 25% tax imposed by POTUS. No one is willing to take the risk.
The En Primeur is organised by Union des Grands Crus Bordeaux (UGCB) every year in the first week of April, attended by buyers, journalists and wine professionals from across the world. It was first postponed, then cancelled- first such instance since it started in 1982, though many people question its relevance every year around this time since Chateau Latour walked out of the process. This year, several experts like James Suckling have been tasting wines sent to them in their office. He plans to taste around a thousand labels at his Hong Kong office, for instance.
A spate of announcements is expected from other Chateaux during the coming weeks. In fact, the Second Growth from Saint Estephe- based Chateau Cos d’Estournel has also announced its prices today, though the discount to 2018 is lower at only 24%. As compared to the Release Price of €144 each last year, the current price is €110. The Second wine Les Pagodes de Cos 2019 has been reduced from €34.80 to €30, as announced by a Negociant in Bordeaux, Magenta Selections.
Our Bordeaux expert, John Salvi MW who also worked with Chateau Palmer for several years during his active career, and who being also a resident of Margaux analyses each vintage for delWine by collecting weather data and visiting and tasting wines from several chateaux every year. For his assessment of 2019 and 2018 vintages, please visit:
En Primeur: Primer on Bordeaux Vintage 2019
First Look at the 2018 Vintage in Bordeaux
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