This is the first of our market updates in relation to the 2014 vintage that our various syndicates invested in during the summer of 2015. The research for this report has been provided by our wine buyer, business partner and Bordeaux expert, Stuart McCloskey.
As you read this report Stuart is back in Bordeaux doing the rounds with the producers and checking for the early indicators of both quality and price for the 2015 vintage that we will be offered in the spring. More about the 2015 vintage in our next circular and at our investors evening which is scheduled to be on 22nd March in London – details to follow but please ink your diaries now!
2014 Bordeaux En-Primeur – The Story So Far
Pricing was the crucial component as old and new buyers of En-Primeur wines needed to see an incentive to buy after the Châteaux released their 2011, 2012 and 2013’s at unrealistic price levels. Moreover, the lack of understanding from many Bordeaux producers caused much ill feeling, which in turn, called in to question the future of En-Primeur.
However, and despite naive pricing from some Châteaux, the 2014 En-Primeur campaign has arguably been the most successful campaign since 2010 in terms of sales, as many Châteaux released their 2014’s at attractive prices against the current market price of the 2006 and 2008 vintages, which are both on-par in terms of quality.
Interestingly, seven Châteaux clearly shaped this year’s campaign for us. Those being Châteaux Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Pontet Canet, Duhart Milon, Canon, Rauzan Segla, Lynch Bages and the second wines of Lafite and Mouton, namely Carruades de Lafite and Petit Mouton. Pleasingly we managed to get allocations of all these wines for our investors.
We also looked at which wines ranked highest in terms of both sales per volume (12x75cl cases) and by total value. Unsurprisingly, and a long-time favourite, Château Pontet Canet (of which we bought a whopping 70 cases at £ 648 per case) romps home the clear winner as the most sold 2014 Château of the entire campaign. Château Lafite Rothschild takes the No: 1 spot for total sales per value with Pontet Canet being pipped to the post by just over £1,000.00.
Instead, preferring to handle sales directly therefore, maximising more profits and selecting which merchants’ will be offering their wine. Unfortunately, allocations this year have been brutally slashed and the following Châteaux sold out quickly, which was completely understandable given their release prices.
Lafite Rothschild @ £2,950 (10 cases bought): Comparable mature vintages such as ’01, ’02, ’04, ’06, ’07 and ’08 all exceed £4,500.00 and the 96+ (Robert Parker) 2005 regularly trades around £6,000.00.
Mouton Rothschild @ £ 2,350 (10 cases bought): The 2014 is superb moreover; this is the cheapest vintage available on the market with the ’01 trading @ £3,600.00, ’06 @ £3,300 and the ’08 @ £3,100.00. Their 2014 has received glowing reviews from all the leading critics’ 96-97 James Suckling, 94-96 Neal Martin, 93-96 Antonio Galloni, 17.5 Jancis Robinson and 95+ Decanter
Carruades de Lafite, @ £ 920 (5 cases bought) Chateau Lafite’s second wine, was a favourite of the Asian market however; both prices and demand fell hard since the wine market correction. That said; and on recent performances / sales, Carruades de Lafite is clearly on its way back. The recently released 2014 is now trading around 10% higher than its release price.
Le Petit Mouton @ £ 750 (4 cases bought) Château Mouton Rothschild’s second wine, is enjoying huge demand for both physical and the 2014 En-Primeur. The latter was released @ £750.00 IB per case and is now regularly trading @ £1,000.00 IB per case, which is an incredible uplift in six month.
Château Rauzan Segla @ £ 375 (20 cases bought): was a must-buy and one of our biggest sellers – priced to sell as this is their lowest price of any vintage from this second growth. The critics’ loved it with Tim Atkin awarding a whopping 95 points “This Chanel-owned property has produced a suitably stylish wine in 2014, but one that doesn’t sell at haute couture prices. In fact, it should be among the bargains of the vintage. Elegant, shimmering and silky, with balletic poise, mineral undertones and flavours of cassis, lead pencil and liquorice”.
Château Pichon Lalande (we didn’t buy any) who have cannily dipped below their neighbour, Pichon Baron and Château Pontet Canet (a very sensible decision too) was a roaring success. Their 2014 offering is cheaper than the majority of back vintages but has clearly produced something special in 2014… “This is an excellent wine, one within touching distance of the First Growths” says Neal Martin.
Château Montrose @ £ 850 (5 cases bought) which Neal Martin awards 95-97 and describes as coming “perilously close to matching the heights of the 2009 and 2010. This is a brilliant Montrose, one of the best you will find on the Left Bank this vintage” was a huge success particularly as the ’09 sells well @ £2,000.00 and the 2010 @ £1,600.00.
Châteaux Cos d’Estournel, Leoville Barton, Las Cases and Pichon Baron all struggled to find buyers – including us!
Third to Fifth Growths
Lynch Bages, (we bought 8 cases) was snapped up at a fantastic price of £575.00 IB per case. This was cheaper than any comparable vintage physically available, therefore making it one of this year’s ‘must-buys’. Sadly, we could only manage a small allocation during the first and only round of offers ( the strong demand reinforcing the correct pricing strategy from the Château)
Château Duhart Milon, (we bought 40 cases) sold-out its entire stock @ £400.00 IB per case Quality and demand has increased year-on-year however, their 2014 offering is down by 20% (compared to the 2013 release) and of course is a much better wine. Moreover, the 2014 is circa 25% cheaper than any vintage in the market with comparable vintages (2008, 2007 and 2006) all selling @ £550.00+ per case…
Château Palmer which has undoubtedly produced one of the wines of the vintage however, we were struggling to get excited @ £1,500.00 per case and didn’t buy any for our Waud Investment Wine syndicates.
Châteaux Calon Segur, Grand Puy Lacoste, and Beychevelle found some buyers, but again not Waud Investment Wines this time at least.
Château d’Armailhac (we bought 20 cases) – Mouton’s classed growth Pauillac offers amazing value and joins Stuarts ‘must buy’ list @ £230.00 IB per case.
Suckling awards an impressive 93-94 and Jancis MW 17 (Mouton 17.5).
Château Angélus, @ £ 1,700 (10 cases bought) one of St Emilion’s superstars, and a wine now in huge demand particularly following their promotion to the first growth status in 2012, joining the ranks of Cheval Blanc and Ausone. Granted, £1,700.00 is cheaper than all other vintages however, if still rather punchy. Fortunately, we have strong links with the vineyard and have been able to secure a small parcel cheaper than most others.
Unsurprisingly, Gerard released Château Pavie at the same price as Angelus.
The standoff between Châteaux Cheval Blanc and Ausone was a tad silly as both Châteaux were waiting for the other to release. Château Ausone released first @ £3,400.00 IB per case with Cheval Blanc creeping out soon after with the exact same price of £3,400.00 IB per case. Stuart suggests opting for Cheval Blanc which clearly produced one of the ‘wines of the vintage’ – albeit too toppy for our Waud Investment Wine available funds.
Neal Martin 95-97 “The Château Cheval Blanc 2014 is a blend of 45% Cabernet Franc and 55% Merlot, picked from 19 September until 8 October. The alcohol level is 13.25% matured in 100% new oak, which Pierre Lurton told me was prolonged due to the heterogenous soils and wanting to wait for the Cabernet Franc on clay soils to reach full maturity. It is quintessential Cheval Blanc on the nose: predominantly red fruit here rather than black, touches of incense and dried roses, a dab of liquorice underneath.
Château Canon (We bought 20 cases) was a sensational buy @ £375.00 IB per case. This became ‘Best’ right-bank buy of the entire campaign particularly when you look closely at the critics’ scores and Château Canon’s markets values…
Neal Martin awards 93-95 which is on-par with the 2011 now selling @ £600.00 IB per case. Furthermore, Neal pens “a sublime Château Canon that might dare rank alongside the 2009 and 2010” HUGE praise indeed with the ’09 selling @ £1,000.00 and the ’10 @ £850.00 IB per case…
Neal rates Canon higher than Château Angélus (91-93), which released @ £1,700.00 IB per case and awards the same score as Château Ausone, which will easily command a price tag of at least ten times that of Canon…
Pomerol’s superstar winemaker, Denis Durantou entire portfolio was an incredible success in 2014 and rightly so.
Château L’Eglise Clinet (we bought 6 cases) was offered and immediately sold-out @ £1,300.00 IB per case. Allocations of their second wine, La Petite Eglise (we secured just 3 cases @ £ 220) are even harder to come by as the total production was under 600 cases. This was another immediate sell-out.
Denis Durantou also produces a string of superb wines in Lalande Pomerol and Côtes de Castillon.
Montlandrie le Castillon de Denis Durantou offers brilliant value for money and has received excellent reviews from all the leading critics’.
Tim Atkin top’s the scores with 94 points (same score Tim awards for Château Ausone!). What an incredible bargain @ £120.00 IB per case of 12x75cl
La Chenade – (Lalande Pomerol – we bought 20 cases at just £ 100 per case) is sourced from a section of the Les Cruzelles vineyard with gravel soil and is a small production of 1,500 cases. 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 30% new oak. 88-90+ Neal Martin “The La Chenade 2014 is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc from gravel soils, picked September 24-29 and October 17-21, respectively. Matured in 30% new oak, it has a slightly simpler bouquet compared to Denis Durantou’s Saintayme, but still very pure with blackberry and hints of undergrowth, a light marine influence coming through with aeration.
Graves / Pessac Léognan:
Château La Mission Haut Brion sold extremely well, but we focussed on Domaine de Chevalier ‘Rouge’ here (we bought 20 cases at £ 375)
Inevitably, some Châteaux got lost in the stampede which is their own fault for waiting too long however, there are few which deserve another mention.
Château Doisy Védrines: Released @ £117.50 IB per case of 12×37.5cl (half bottles), not only does this represent extraordinary value (half the price of Climens) but when you compare the critics’ scores / reviews, it makes this almost too good to be true…94-96 Point Neal Martin “The Château Doisy-Védrines 2014 is a blend of 85% Sémillon and 15% Sauvignon Blanc, a modest 134 grams per litre residual sugar and a pH of 3.55 (a figure that might be a little lower than recent vintages.)
- 94-97 Wine Spectator
- 95-96 James Suckling
- 18.0 Jancis Robinson
- 18.0 René GABRIEL
- 17.5 Decanter
Château Moulin Saint-Georges (Saint Emilion Grand Cru), came highly recommend @ £185.00 IB per case –The ’08 is selling well @ £240.00 IB per case currently.
The Vauthier family and winemaker Phillipe Baillarguest are putting as much effort into producing the best Château Moulin Saint-Georges as they are with Château Ausone itself.
Also from the Vauthier stable comes another Saint Emilion Grand Cru, this time in the form of Château Fonbel, which quite frankly is a steal and comes highly recommended @ £105.00 per case… The ’08 is regularly selling @ £150.00.
88-90 Neal Martin “The Château de Fonbel 2014 is a blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Carmenère and 5% Petit Verdot.
Château Clerc Milon is made by the Mouton team and was offered @ £320.00 IB per case (the 2008 sells well around the £420.00 mark).
Château Talbot @ £290.00 IB per case, is the cheapest price available for any physical vintage. James Suckling awards a whopping 94-95 (same score as Château La Mission Haut Brion) “This is really powerful with excellent depth of fruit and richness. Spices, blueberries and lightly toasted oak now. But it shows really serious structure. Best Talbot in years, maybe decades”.
Château Gloria, the St Julien property, made a brilliant wine in 2014 and their opening price of £205.00 is equally dazzling. What a fantastic bargain! Beautiful crafted and the critics’ agree too; Again, Tim Atkin MW awards another 95 points “Unclassified it may be, but Jean-Louis Triaud’s property often produces some of the most profound and well-priced Saint Julien’s.
I hope you have found this comprehensive review of the 2014 En Primeur wines that we bought last year to be both interesting and encouraging, as there appear to be a good number of bargains from within our portfolio of wines selected with the expert guidance of Stuart McCloskey.
We will keep you regularly updated with wine and investment performance as these wines age and the market for them grows – you will recall that the general market advice is to leave our investment wines for at least five years before expecting to trade or drink your wines as the mood takes you!
I am looking forward to more news on the 2015 vintage from Stuart when he returns from Bordeaux.
Stuart, Charles and I look forward to seeing you, your fellow investors and I hope more investors with us at our pre campaign briefing in London on 22nd March.
Jeremy C. Waud