Talking Trade – Bordeaux stays in the spotlight

  • Clearer picture of the frost damage in Bordeaux is emerging. The last heavily frost-struck vintage, the 2017, is now the most traded Bordeaux vintage by volume so far this year.
  • Bordeaux held on to its improved share of trade this week though it lost a little ground as Italian trade rose again.
  • Lafite’s 2018 vintage led trade by value for the second time this month.

Frost in Bordeaux

The frost damage of early April led headlines again this week. The CIVB, Bordeaux’s regional body, announced that, “between 30% and 50% of the vineyards in Bordeaux have been affected by the frost, with the level of damage varying from vineyard to vineyard”.

The most recent Bordeaux vintage to feel the effect of frost was 2017, which according to JancisRobinson.com, resulted in, “the lowest yields in over 25 years across the region”.

The Bordeaux 2017 vintage has heightened its activity in the secondary market in 2021 and is the most traded Bordeaux vintage by volume. Prices however are a different story and nearly 80% of 2017 Bordeaux 500 wines are trading below their London release.

Bordeaux holds on to trade

The last of the Bordeaux 2018s are becoming physical and the vintage is the top traded by value year-to-date. In-bottle scores have elevated the status of the vintage. Between Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni at Vinous, James Suckling, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW and Jeb Dunnuck, 17 wines from the vintage were awarded 100-points. Lafleur 2018 and Margaux 2018 were both awarded 100 points by three different critics.

Bordeaux trade by value maintained its improved share reached last week. At 45.8% of trade by value, the region is well above its (rising) year-to-date average of 37.3%. All five of the top traded wines of the week came from the region.

Italy saw the largest jump in share, moving up to 15.5% of trade by value. The region was led by Tuscany (56.4%) and Piedmont (40.2%) was close behind.

Top traded wines of the week

For the second time in the past month, Château Lafite Rothschild 2018 was the most traded wine of the week. The wine traded 1.4% higher (£100) this week than last (£7,300) and is up 23.3% from its London release.

The 94-point (NM) Château Lafite Rothschild 2015 joined its younger sibling. The year it became physical (2018) it was the 7th most traded wine by value. Released in the UK at £4,350 per 12×75 the wine is up 29.6%.

Also from the 2018 vintage and topping the list is Château Haut Brion. It was most recently awarded 100 points from both Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW of the Wine Advocate and Jeff Leve from the Wine Cellar Insider. The wine has not seen the same price performance as the 150th anniversary 2018 Lafite Rothschild and is down 7.8% from its UK release.

The Liv-ex 2020 En Primeur Report is now available to read and download exclusively to members here.

Key findings:

  • The timing of this year’s En Primeur no longer looks as stifling as it once did, and most critics’ tastings and reports should be concluded by early May.
  • These assessments will be vital to the success of the campaign, with release prices predicted to rise, but should not obscure the delicate position of Bordeaux in the wider market.
  • Initial indications suggest potential for high quality-wines, but 2020 appears to be a heterogenous vintage.
  • High temperatures in the growing season affected volumes, making the 2020 crop smaller than 10-year average.
  • With on-going stock retention practices and the possibility of bad frost damage in the region, the number of cases released this year could shrink further.
  • The trade should expect a small, fast-paced campaign, likely to happen in late May-June.