Lafite’s premium falls

When we reported on the Lafite premium in March 2012 we questioned whether the recent uptick in prices – from December 2011–March 2012 – heralded the return of China's demand.

Lafite was at a premium of 5% over the other First Growths (average price of the last ten vintages) when the market started to move in summer 2005. As shown in the trendline on the chart above, its ensuing climb was relatively consistent, and it was at a premium of 50% when Lehman Brothers collapsed.

 Asian demand subsequently caused its value over the other Firsts to rocket. Lafite’s premium doubled from 60% in July 2009 to 120% in May 2010, before it peaked at 130% in November 2010. Waning demand from China saw this then steadily fall until September 2011.

The rise in the following months suggested that China’s demand had resurfaced. As the trendline illustrates, it seemed that Lafite was returning to its original rate of increase. Yet the last few months have seen the gap between Lafite and its fellow First Growths narrow. At 75%, its premium is now almost half of what it was at its pinnacle.

Having broken through its growth line, can we now expect to see Lafite return to its pre-China average of around 50%, a premium founded on the wine’s superior quality rather than its label?