Bordeaux estates are starting to price their 2016 wines for release to the international trade at a higher level than the 2015 vintage, according to data from the London-based Liv-ex online wine exchange, reflecting the assessment of producers and critics that the vintage is potentially the best for at least six years.
Alter Ego, the second wine of Chateau Palmer in Margaux, was priced at 49 euros ($53.50) a bottle for its 2016 vintage by Bordeaux merchants, up 11 percent from the 2015 price of 44 euros, according to Liv-ex data. Chateau d’Armailhac, a Pauillac vineyard owned by Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, was priced at 32.40 euros a bottle, up 13 percent.
The vintage comes after a volatile decade for Bordeaux, which saw prices peak in 2011 on the back of speculative buying, then slump more than 40 percent in the following five years. Mediocre or poor harvests between 2011 and 2013 were followed by an improved vintage in 2014 and a high-quality crop in 2015. Now producers in the region say 2016 marks a new high point.
“Despite the trials and tribulations of the 2016 vintage, the wet weather in the first six months and the drought until the harvest, the vintage turned out to be a remarkably successful one,” James Snoxell, head of buying at Armit Wines in London, wrote in his Bordeaux vintage report.
Buyers who attended trade tastings in the region last month agreed quality is high and indicated they expect that to be reflected in increases of 10 percent or more for many 2016 release prices relative to 2015s.
The wine, which they said is comparable in structure and richness with the landmark 2009 and 2010 wines and in some respects surpasses them, is sold forward while still maturing in barrels. U.K.-based buyers face additional costs because of the 10 percent decline in the pound against the euro since the U.K. vote to leave the European Union last June.
August temperatures last year were 5 degrees Celsius more than normal while the month had 30 percent more sunshine than average, according to a study by Laurence Geny and Axel Marchal of the University of Bordeaux. The first 13 days of September were the hottest since 1950, followed by brief rain and then more sun which helped ripening.
Chateau Branaire Ducru in Saint Julien was priced this week at 39.60 euros a bottle for its 2016 wines by Bordeaux merchants, up 7 percent from the 2015 vintage, while further north Chateau Ormes de Pez in Saint Estephe was priced at 21.60 euros a bottle, up 9 percent, according to Liv-ex. Prices of Chateau Clerc Milon and Chateau Cantemerle also rose.
Last month Chateau Cos d’Estournel’s 2016 wines were priced at 120 euros a bottle by Bordeaux merchants, unchanged from its 2015 release price. The estate is in Saint Estephe, at the northern end of the Medoc, and is a close neighbor of Chateau Lafite Rothschild.
Sweet white wines from the 2016 vintage in Sauternes have generally been priced at the same level as the 2015s, with Chateau Rieussec priced at 42 euros a bottle and Chateau Suduiraut at 45.60 euros, according to Liv-ex.
The 2016 wines are being priced at a time when growers across Bordeaux are assessing damage caused by frost last month to the 2017 crop. Smaller growers were generally harder hit than the larger, higher-priced estates.