The Bordeaux 2011 En Primeur campaign will start shortly. Next week, the trade will go and taste the wines but this week, several wine critics have already done so. Robert Parker, who said on Twitter that he had no interest in the 2011 vintage before going out to Bordeaux, has also tasted the new vintage. On his blog, Parker said that "the 2011 is better than expected. It's close to both 2001 and 2008 in overall quality". Other tasters seem to confirm this.
There is also a lot of speculation on pricing. The consensus amongst consumers and trade is that prices will need to come down a lot in order for Bordeaux 2011 to have a chance of selling. The Chateaux agree that prices need to come down but at this stage won't be drawn into saying by how much.
The basic rule for En Primeur pricing is that it needs to be cheaper than comparable, physically available vintages. There has to be an incentive for consumers to buy something that they can't drink for a good few years. With that in mind, we make an attempt at establishing the price levels of the 2011 First Growths.
Below you'll find a table with the last 11 vintages of the 5 First Growths, their RP scores and current UK prices.
We then focus on 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2008 as being the vintages that will likely compare best with 2011. We have calculated the average price and average score for each of the First Growths, for those 5 vintages:
We feel this "basket" of "average" vintages would be a fair proxy for 2011. Assuming that the consumer would be tempted to purchase 2011 if it comes at a 10% discount compared to the basket, we then have target consumer prices. Please see below.
Finally, using normal margins for the trade, the Negociants and the Chateaux, we arrive at the release price for the 2011. Below, we have used the price ex Negociant, as this is the most widely quoted and comparable price.
So there we have it. If we have the consumer in mind – which we all should do and never not – prices need to come down by 57% for Mouton, Margaux and Latour and by 64% for Haut Brion. The only exception is Lafite, for which 8% would be enough. If you think 57% is a lot, then bear in mind that €260 a bottle is double the release price of the 2008.
You might also want to have a look at the Liv-ex blog, where you'll find a similar analysis although it arrives at different conclusions.
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