As July begins, much of the wine world may feel more grey and drizzly than the weather would suggest, due to a case of post-primeurs blues. Indeed, Wine Lister’s founder, Ella Lister, reports in her recent article for JancisRobinson.com that “…the majority of merchants are reporting revenues down approximately two-thirds on 2016”. In that article, a comparison of Quality scores across recent vintages highlights the value proposition of the 2014 vintage. In this blog post we dig a bit deeper.
A few weeks into this year’s en primeur campaign releases, the Wine Lister team noticed a distinct pattern. With almost every new release, we sounded more and more like broken records, echoing that château X’s 2017 release price, while below the last two vintages, made the 2014 look like good value. While it has been pigeonholed as a good but not great vintage, 2014 achieved consistently high critics’ scores that imply its reputation should be better.
The chart below shows Bordeaux 2014 and 2017 average Quality scores by appellation, comparing 2014 three-month average prices with 2017 release prices.
Based on 75 key Bordeaux classified growths, the chart illustrates the relationship between quality and price (note the price gap for 2014 and 2017 Saint-Émilion, despite similar average Quality scores). Only Pomerol and Pessac-Léognan achieved higher Quality scores on average in 2017 than in 2014, with Wine Lister’s partner critics preferring 2014 across all other appellations.
While the trade puts aside its allocations of 2017 for the time being, perhaps the silver lining is the light this vintage shines on relative value elsewhere. Is it time for merchants and collectors alike to focus on 2014?
We used Wine Lister’s comparison tool in our search for good-value back vintages in order to compare different vintages and their respective critics’ scores and prices. For example, Malescot Saint-Exupéry achieves a Quality score of 894 in 2014, versus 735 in 2017. Despite the substantial price reduction on the 2016 and 2015 vintages, the 2017 UK market price remains 5% higher than the 2014, the latter receiving higher scores from three of the four Wine Lister partner critics. Neal Martin disagrees, awarding the 2017 a potential 2 points more than 2014 saying, “it is not a complex Malescot St. Exupéry, but I admire the balance and focus”.
Malescot Saint-Exupéry 2014 has the highest Value Pick score of any recent vintage:
Use the Vintage Value Identifier chart (pictured above) on every wine page to pick out the best value back vintages. For example, Cantenac-Brown’s 2014 looks like a particularly good buy, at £25.50 per bottle for the 2014 (whose Quality score is 800), versus the 2017 at £34.05 per bottle, with a Quality score of 715. Its 2015 looks good too.
As a sort of postscript to the difficult 2017 en primeur campaign (read our CEO Ella’s thoughts here), over the past week or so Pomerol powerhouses Petrus and Le Pin were released at £1,480 and £1,750 per bottle respectively. With Pomerol wines achieving the top three Quality scores of all reds for 2017 – and five of the top 10 – it was the top-performing red appellation of the vintage.
Now that we have release prices for all of Pomerol’s top wines, we can see which came out on top in terms of overall Wine Lister score*.
With a score of 979, Petrus was not just Pomerol’s leading wine of 2017, but the number one wine in Bordeaux. This is perhaps unsurprising given that it received the joint-second best Quality score of the vintage of all reds (971) – alongside Vieux Château Certan – and also has a Brand score of 998 (beaten only by Lafite, Latour, Mouton, Yquem, and Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut) along with a wine-level Economics score of 978 (third-best in Bordeaux). With Wine Lister’s Founding Members voting it the second-most prestigious wine in the world in a recent survey, behind DRC La Romanée-Conti, Petrus is currently unbeatable in Bordeaux.
Number two on the 2017 Pomerol leaderboard is Vieux Château Certan (959). While the confidence rating attributed by Wine Lister’s Founding Members slipped a point over the past year from 9/10 to 8/10, it nevertheless achieves Pomerol’s second-best Brand score (972). Thus, despite its relatively modest Economics score (909) – still putting it amongst the very best on Wine Lister’s 1,000 point scale – the 2017, thanks to its excellent Quality score, manages to edge just ahead of Lafleur in terms of overall Wine Lister score (957).
Lafleur 2017, the best red wine of the vintage for Quality (978), was released in early May at £430 per bottle, a 7% decrease on the 2016 release price. This was Neal Martin’s favourite of the five, Wine Lister’s newest partner critic awarding it a score of 95-97 /100 and commenting: “This is an awesome 2017 from Baptiste Guinaudeau, one of the few that will oblige several years in the cellar”.
Le Pin 2017 was released in the UK at £1,750 per bottle, its 25% decrease on the 2016 release price the largest year-on-year reduction of the five. It experiences the lowest Quality score of the five for the vintage (951), and also has the group’s lowest Brand score (944). The fact that the 2017 betters Lafleur and La Conseillante in terms of overall Wine Lister score is thus the result of its formidable Economics score (980), which it achieves not just because of its high average price but also strong growth rates, which are the best of the group over both the long and short-term.
Rounding out the group is La Conseillante (945). Whilst it is by far the most affordable of the group, it is the only one of the five whose 2017 climbed the Bordeaux Quality score table compared to 2016, surging 21 spots to be the eighth best red and 11th best overall.
Remember that you can catch up on all of the campaign’s releases on our dedicated en primeur page.
* Please note that overall Wine Lister scores for en primeur wines use estimated Economics scores based on the performance of back vintages.
Petrus 2017 was released in the UK at £1480 per bottle (19% down on 2016), with a lower Quality score: 971 (vs 991).
You can download the slide here: Wine Lister Factsheet Petrus 2017
Ausone 2017 released at €400 ex-château (18% down on 2016), which will likely result in a UK release price of c.£492 (also 18% down on 2016), with a lower Quality score: 969 (vs 987).
You can download the slide here: Wine Lister Factsheet Ausone 2017
Cheval Blanc 2017 released at €432 ex-négociant (22% down on 2016), with a UK release price of £442 (17% down on 2016), and a lower Quality score: 938 (vs 989).
You can download the slide here: Wine Lister Factsheet Cheval Blanc 2017
Vieux Château Certan 2017 released at €168 ex-négociant (13% down on 2016), with a UK release price of £172 (also 13% down on 2016), and a lower Quality score: 971 (vs 991).
You can download the slide here: Wine Lister Factsheet Vieux Château Certan 2017
Lafite 2017 released at €350 ex-château (8% down on 2016), and is being offered in the UK at £415 (15% down on 2016), with a lower Quality score: 947 (vs 987).
You can download the slide here: Wine Lister Factsheet Lafite Rothschild 2017
La Mission Haut-Brion Rouge 2017 released at €240 ex-négociant (29% down on 2016), which will likely result in a UK release price of c.£247 (c.25% down on 2016), and a lower Quality score: 949 (vs 981).
You can download the slide here: Wine Lister Factsheet La Mission Haut-Brion Rouge 2017
Haut-Brion Rouge 2017 released at €348 ex-négociant (17% down on 2016), which will likely result in a UK release price of c.£358 (c.14% down on 2016) and a lower Quality score: 945 (vs 991).
You can download the slide here: Wine Lister Factsheet Haut-Brion Rouge 2017
Ducru-Beaucaillou 2017 released at €120 ex-négociant (14% down on 2016), with a UK release price of £124 (13% down on 2016), and a lower Quality score: 921 (vs 971).
You can download the slide here: Wine Lister Factsheet Ducru-Beaucaillou 2017