Following the entry of Rauzan-Ségla 2020 onto the market on Thursday (10th June), yesterday (Monday 14th June) saw releases from two more top Margaux properties: Durfort-Vivens and Giscours.
“The texture is to-die-for” – Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister, on Rauzan-Ségla’s (pictured above) 2020 vintage
Preceding the arrival of the first release from a First Growth on Friday (recap here), Rauzan-Ségla released its latest vintage at £66.50 per bottle. Wine Lister partner critics, Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni (for Vinous), both award the 2020 95-97 points, with the latter calling it “a super-classic Rauzan-Ségla that will delight readers in search of restrained elegance”. Tasting alongside Nicolas Audebert at the property, Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister is also complimentary, noting “the texture is to-die-for: not too smooth and not too coarse, with a real bite to it, a savouriness”.
Neighbouring estate, Durfort-Vivens kicked off this week’s releases, having received praise across Wine Lister’s partner critics in 2020. James Lawther for JancisRobinson.com awards it the best score received by the critic outfit since the 2015 (17.5), noting a “Mouth-watering, saline finish”, while Ella describes distinctly floral notes, including “violets, freesias, and lilies”, with a “beguiling, lithe” palate. At £44 per bottle, Durfort-Vivens 2020 enters the market 50% below the 2018 (whose price has risen significantly since release due to strong scores and tiny production levels). While the latest release is not as small a crop (if smaller than usual), the quality nearly matching 2018 combined with the estate’s future potential should gain appeal from buyers.
Giscours 2020 also released yesterday at £41 per bottle. James Lawther for JancisRobinson.com gives the wine 16.5+ points, noting “Supple texture, good persistence and freshness all the way through”. Ella describes its “bouquet of concentrated bilberry fruit and old velvet cushions” on the nose, and a “classy, structured frame… on the palate”. Offering similar quality to the now physical 2018, which has seen price growth of nearly 25% since its release, this is a promising pick for fans of the property.
Wine Lister has now released Part II of its annual Bordeaux Study, exploring which wines have seen the greatest step up in quality in 2020, and evaluating the leading Bordeaux bottles for long-term price performance and presence at auction. Check out the Study Digest for some key findings here, or purchase the full report on our Analysis page. Pro subscribers can access their free copy here.
Price nearly always plays a part in the decision-making process of purchasing wine. Typically, much emphasis is placed on the importance of “value” – “how much quality am I getting for the price of this bottle”, for which Wine Lister has its very own indicator, Value Picks. However is simply offering “good value” enough?
Wines purchased for long-term cellaring carry financial risk just as investment does. With this in mind, Wine Lister’s Economics scores reflect not only a wine’s price, but the performance of that figure over time. As well as a three-month average market price, and six-month / three-year price growth, Wine Lister’s algorithm takes into account price stability as a factor in determining a wine’s Economic strength.
Using historical prices provided by our data partner, Wine Owners, we calculate the standard deviation of a price over the last 12 months, expressed as a proportion of the average price over the same period.
Volatility can be caused by price movements both up and down. Nobody wants to see the price of a wine plummet after purchase, but equally, wines with prices rising too high and too fast display risk too, and are therefore also sanctioned with lower Economics scores.
Below is an extract from this year’s Bordeaux Market Study featuring the 15 most stable Bordeaux wines. All five left bank first growths appear, testament that higher-scoring wines tend to experience less volatility. This is also tied in with liquidity: frequently traded wines tend to benefit from multiple reference points allowing a consistent market price to be determined. Conversely, a wine traded less frequently often sells at a markedly different price from one transaction to the next, resulting in a much more volatile market price.
While Château Latour’s slow and steady price growth (as shown in the chart below) results in relatively low six-month price performance and three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) ratings, its strong Economics score is thanks to a high three-month average price, a high volume of bottles traded at auction, and a low price deviation of just 2.4% over the last 12 months.
The chart below shows a very different picture – this wine has experienced a 14.7% price increase in six months. Though this in itself is positive, its price has therefore deviated 12.5% in the last 12 months, and the yo-yoing nature of the price over the longer term earns it a much lower Economics score (492).
En primeur pricing is a crucial factor in the commercial success of top Bordeaux crus. With this in mind, Wine Lister has dedicated a section of this year’s Bordeaux study to the conundrum. We show historical pricing trends post release for a panel of 76 wines. The analysis indicates the effectiveness of release prices, based on the change between average ex-négociant release and current market prices (2009-2016 vintages):
Above are the top 20 best-performing Bordeaux wines post en primeur release (to view the performance of all 76 wines, see page 14 of the Bordeaux study). The second wines of Lafite and Mouton have enjoyed the greatest gains in the marketplace, with Pavillon Rouge not far behind in third place.
Clos Fourtet is the best of the rest, followed by Calon Ségur, Beychevelle, Clerc-Milon and Smith Haut Lafitte. Lafite is the best-performing first growth, followed by Margaux and Mouton, with Haut-Brion making smaller gains.
This year’s en primeur campaign has not yet been met by the same enthusiasm as the 2016 or 2015 vintages. The average quality of 2017 is lower (by 10% if we take Wine Lister Quality scores for the same 76 wines) – a major factor in explaining price sensitivity, and why the average discount so far of 7% (9% excluding Haut-Batailley’s contrary price hike) is far from sufficient to oil the wheels of the campaign.
In our Bordeaux Market Study 2018, released just last week, we clarify an illustrative methodology for calculating release prices. Wine Lister looks at current market prices for similar recent vintages, and works backwards through three steps:
- Vintage comparison: As there is no obvious comparison for 2017, we apply the average quality to price ratio of the last nine vintages in order to arrive at a derived future market price, based on the average Wine Lister Quality score.
- Ex-château price: By removing the margins taken by the négociant and importer we reach the equivalent ex-château price.
- En primeur discount: Finally, we apply a discount of 10%-20% to incentivise buying en primeur, rather than waiting until the wine is physically available.
The chart below shows the theoretical application of this methodology to a basket of top wines. See page 13 of the Bordeaux study for a more detailed explanation.
Prices released in the campaign thus far have varied from 20% discounts (Palmer, Domaine de Chevalier Rouge) to a 46% increase (Haut-Batailley) on last release prices.
Follow Wine Lister on Twitter for realtime en primeur release information, and use our dedicated en primeur page to compare 2017 release prices to last year.
Other wines featured in the top 20 best-performing Bordeaux post en primeur release are: Labégorce, Canon, Haut-Batailley, Ferrière, d’Armailhac, Haut-Bailly, Giscours, Pape Clément, Durfort-Vivens, Pedesclaux, Angélus, and Talbot.
Subscribers can download a copy of the full Bordeaux Study 2018 from the analysis page.
As we outlined in our introduction to the vintage, Bordeaux 2017 eludes generalisation. Striking arbitrarily, the late April frost resulted in a heterogenous Bordeaux vintage in terms of both volumes and quality.
Ahead of the official release of Wine Lister’s latest Bordeaux Market Study tomorrow (don’t forget to subscribe to secure full access, via the Analysis page)*, here we give you a preview of the top 20 Quality scores for Bordeaux 2017. Wine Lister’s Quality scores for Bordeaux 2017 are based on the recently-released scores for four of our five partner critics** – Jancis Robinson, Bettane+Desseauve, and Vinous’ Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin – as well as a small weighting for longevity:
The frequent flashes of yellow in the chart above are testament to the kindness of the 2017 vintage to Bordeaux’s sweet whites, with Yquem and L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne achieving first and second places (scoring 988 and 986 respectively). Other sweet wines, Rieussec, Suduiraut, and Lafaurie-Peyraguey make some of the largest gains on their 2016 positions. Sauternes & Barsac stand out as the only appellations whose combined 2017 Quality score is above that of the 2016 (up 21 points).
When it comes to reds, the right bank fares best, and is home to seven of the vintage’s top 10 wines, five of them from Pomerol. Lafleur is the top-scoring red (in third place overall) with a Quality score of 978, followed by Petrus and Vieux Château Certan on 971 apiece. Pomerol’s La Conseillante makes the largest strides of any red wine in the top 20, up 21 places since 2016.
Overall, Pomerol is the highest-scoring appellation of the vintage, with an average Quality score of 959 (nonetheless down 25 points from 2016).
The left bank has fared less well with two of the five left bank appellations seeing score decreases of c.10% (Margaux and Saint-Estèphe, achieving 850 and 829 respectively). Despite dropping six places – from the top spot last year – Latour wins the left bank crown, followed by consistent overperformer Léoville Las Cases.
Other wines featuring in the top 20 Bordeaux 2017 Quality scores are: Ausone, Figeac, Mouton, Le Pin, La Mission Haut-Brion, Lafite, Haut-Brion, l’Eglise Clinet, and La Tour Blanche. You can view Quality scores for wines outside the top 20 here.
*Now published: for more analysis of the 2017 vintage, subscribe to read our Bordeaux Study.
**Jeannie Cho Lee was unfortunately unable to travel to Bordeaux to taste this year.