The news broke yesterday that Jean-Guillaume Prats is set to leave Chateau Cos d’Estournel in the New Year. He has managed the estate since 2001, the year it was sold to industrialist Michel Reybier, and his name is very much associated with the brand. Under Prats, Cos’s reputation and quality has risen – but so has its prices.
From an investor’s perspective the wine has not excelled beyond its peers. Below we have indexed the performance of Cos against the Left Bank 200 (within which it sits) and the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100. Having originally outperformed the Left Bank 200, over the last five years Cos has almost exactly copied its path – it is currently 0.4% below it.
Yet despite Cos showing no better returns than the index average, Prats managed to push the wine’s prices beyond that of its peers. The 2009 (LWIN 1008788) – one of Parker’s perfect 09s, but not acclaimed by all (Jancis Robinson most recently scored it 17+) – was one of the most expensive wines of the vintage. The chart below shows the price at which Cos’s vintages entered the Liv-ex index against the average price of the same vintage for wines in the Left Bank 200. As you can see, Cos was more expensive in all years except 2007, sometimes significantly so: its 2003 price was up 106% on the Left Bank 200 average.
Over the last few years, Prats has widened the gap between Cos and its peers. The current Market Prices for the 2010 and 2011 vintages are over 45% more than the LB 200 average without Cos. It remains to be seen whether this premium can continue without Prats’s influence.