The pace of price increases for the Bordeaux 2016 vintage picked up this month, with Château Pavie and Château Angélus, in Saint-Émilion, rising 17% from 2015, and Château Palmer and Château Lynch-Bages, in the Médoc, gaining 14%, Liv-ex data shows.
The increases underscore the view of producers and critics at recent tastings that the vintage is potentially the best for six years. August was hotter by five degrees Celsius and 30% sunnier than normal, according to a University of Bordeaux study. The first 13 days of September were the hottest since 1950.
The 2016 vintage follows a volatile decade for Bordeaux, which saw prices peak in 2011, on the back of speculative buying, then slump by more than 40% over the next five years. Mediocre or poor harvests from 2011 to 2013 were followed by an improved vintage in 2014 and a high-quality crop in 2015. With producers now saying that 2016 marks a new high point, buyers point to a risk that higher prices may not reflect underlying demand.
“It’s about a bit of brand positioning,” Simon Larkin, a Master of Wine and managing director of Atlas Fine Wines Ltd in London, said in a phone interview. “I’d like to see a bit more realism on the agenda. Some of the increases are getting larger.”
The wines, which growers said are comparable in structure with the landmark 2009 and 2010 vintages and may surpass them, are sold forward while still maturing in barrels. UK-based buyers face additional costs because of the 12% decline in the pound against the euro since the UK's vote to leave the European Union last June.
What growers and buyers are saying about the 2016 vintage
Pavie and Angélus, close neighbours in Saint-Émilion and both promoted to the top rank of Premier Grand Cru Classé A in the region’s 2012 classification, each had their wines priced at €294 ($329) a bottle from Bordeaux merchants, while Palmer was priced at €240 and Lynch-Bages at €96, according to Liv-ex data.
Château Lafite Rothschild released a first tranche of wine at €455 a bottle – up 8% from €420 in 2015 – while the price for its second wine, Carruades de Lafite, rose 13%, to €135, according to Liv-ex data. Château Gazin, in Pomerol, boosted its price to €60 a bottle from €45.60 – a 32% increase.
In contrast, two top Saint-Estèphe estates, Château Cos d’Estournel and Château Montrose, have kept prices unchanged from 2015, at €120 and €102 a bottle, respectively, according to Liv-ex. Sweet white wines from the 2016 vintage in Sauternes have also generally been priced at their 2015 levels.
The 2016 wines are being priced as growers across Bordeaux are assessing damage to the 2017 crop from frost last month. Smaller growers were generally harder hit than the larger, higher-priced estates.