Spotlight on… Beychevelle

bottle

Owner: Grands Millesimes de France

Appellation: Saint-Julien

Classification: Quatrieme Cru (Fourth Growth)

Vineyard area: 90 hectares

Average annual production: 40,000 – 50,000 cases

Colour: Red

Grape varieties: 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot

Second wine: Amiral de Beychevelle

History

Chateau Beychevelle was built in 1565 by Bishop Francois de Foix-Candale. The property was later inherited by his niece, wife of French Aristocrat Jean-Louis de Nogaret de la Valette. Due to de Nogaret de la Valette’s importance, ships sailing by the estate were required to lower their sails as signs of respect. This was how Beychevelle’s name originated as “Baisse Voile”, meaning “lower the sails”.

In 1970, after several years of changing hands, Beychevelle fell under the ownership of Aymar Achille-Fould, French Postmaster General and member of Parliament. He decided to create a second wine in 1974: Amiral de Beychevelle.

When Achille-Fould died in 1986, the GMF group purchased 89% of the estate. The remaining 11% belongs to the pension fund of the Societe Generale Bank.

In 1989 professor Roberto Gnozzi sculpted the emblem for Chateau Beychevelle: a ship with a griffin figurehead and a lowered sail. The figurehead is a fitting emblem as, according to Greek mythology, a griffin was the guardian of the Greek God Dionysus’ wine goblet.

Market performance

beychevelle-v-bordeaux-500-one-year

The Beychevelle index – which tracks the price movements of the last ten physical vintages – is up 31.4% year-on-year. It has outperformed both the Bordeaux 500 and the Left Bank 200, which are up 23.1% and 23.7% respectively over the same period. Demand for Beychevelle has been strong in Asia, due to brand-based buying and the dragon-like similarities of the wine’s emblem.

Beychevelle MP v WA score

The chart above compares Beychevelle Market Prices against their Wine Advocate scores. There is little difference in price between wines with high scores and those with lower scores. For example, the 2011 (WA 87) and 2012 (WA 92) are both similarly priced despite varied quality. This indicates that brand buying is active here.

However, buyers that are interested in higher-scoring wines might find relative value in the 2010 (WA 94). It is the highest scoring of the last ten physical vintages and is priced in the mid-range at £845 per 12×75.

While critic scores appear to have little influence on price, age is important. When Beychevelle Market Prices are plotted against age, the trend line shows a strong positive correlation. The three wines that drift furthest below the trend line are the 2006, 2011 and 2012. These might be considered undervalued compared to Beychevelle vintages around the same age.

Beychevelle MP regression chart

Vintage prices

Of the recent vintages, 2014 and 2013 have been the top performers over the past twelve months, up 52.5% and 51.6% respectively. The 2011 followed close behind with a 43.9% increase. Despite this significant increase for the 2013 and 2014 vintages, these wines remain the cheapest vintages available on the market.

Beychevelle vintage performance one year


 

Spotlight on… Haut Brion

label

Owner: Domaine Clarence Dillon S.A.S.

Appellation: Pessac-Leognan AOC

Classification: Premier Cru Classe (First Growth)

Vineyard area: 49 hectares

Average annual production: 8,500 – 10,200 cases (Chateau Haut Brion), 550 – 650 cases (Chateau Haut Brion blanc)

Colour: Red and white

Standard Blend: 46% Merlot / 42% Cabernet Sauvignon / 11% Cabernet Franc / 1% Petit Verdot

Second wines: Le Clarence de Haut Brion / La Clarte de Haut Brion (white)

History

In 1533, civil and criminal court clerk, Jean de Pontac purchased the deeds to Haut Brion. However, the estate did not begin to gain an international reputation until 1660, when the cellar book of King Charles II of England notes the purchase of “169 bottles, in a single shipment, of Hobrion [Haut Brion] […] at the price of 21 shillings and 4 pennies per bottle”. This was the name by which the wine would come to be known.

The property remained in the Pontac family until 1749 when it was inherited by Joseph de Fumel. After the fall of Bastille in 1789, Fumel was elected Mayor of Bordeaux. However, in 1794 he was arrested and guillotined by the revolutionaries, who confiscated Chateau Haut Brion.

In 1855 Haut Brion was listed as one of the four First Growths, along with Margaux, Lafite and Latour. Joseph’s grandson Eugene took over the family estate in 1873, before famously stating that “phylloxera will not dare show its face here!” The pest then devastated the vineyard in 1880, forcing Eugene to completely reconstruct his vines using Vitis Riparia rootstocks.

After several years between hands, Haut Brion was sold to the American Clarence Dillon in 1935. Clarence appointed his nephew Seymour Weller to oversee the property. Clarence’s granddaughter, Joan Dillon, succeeded Seymour Weller in 1975. After a previous marriage to Prince Charles of Luxembourg, Joan married Philippe de Noailles, the duc de Mouchy. While Philippe served as managing director from 1979-1983, Joan remained the owner of the estate. Joan’s son from her previous marriage, HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg was named managing director of Chateau Haut Brion in 2002 and took over ownership of Domaine Clarence Dillon from his mother in 2008.

Market Performance

hb-v-fg-since-market-low

The Haut Brion index – which tracks the price movements of the last ten physical vintages – is up 31.7% since the market’s low in July 2014. This makes Haut Brion the second best performing First Growth since the turn of the market, pipped only by Mouton Rothschild which is up 35.4%.

Market Value

average-fg-pop

Out of the First Growths, Haut Brion has the highest average score across the ten most recent physical vintages and the most 100-points scoring wines, but it also has the lowest average Market Price. This gives Haut Brion the lowest POP* score, Liv-ex’s loose measure of value, where the lowest POP indicates the greatest value for money.

lowest-fg-pops

Looking at individual wines, Haut Brion dominates the table of those appearing to offer best value. Of the ten wines with the lowest POP scores, six are Haut Brion vintages, two are Margaux and two are Mouton Rothschild. The top spot – the wine appearing to offer the best relative value – is taken by Haut Brion 2012. It has a POP of 188.6. By way of comparison, the wine with the highest POP is Latour 2010: with 100 points and a market price of £10,750, its POP score is 537.5.

fg-score-vs-price

The chart above compares First Growth Market Prices against their Wine Advocate scores. The trend line highlights the relationship between score and price. Wines below the trend line appear to offer better value, for example Haut Brion dominates below the trend line and the 2012 vintage appears to offer the best value.

Acclaimed vintages

market-price-v-points

Haut Brion is the only First Growth to score 100 points for all three of the great vintages – 2005, 2009, 2010 – of the last ten years. There is a very clear difference in price between Haut Brion in these vintages and those from ‘off’ years, with ’05, ’09, and ’10 priced in the range of £6,200-£6,430, and all other physical vintages below £3,450.

The recently released 2015 sits between the “great” years in terms of price, and followers of Neal Martin might find value here. Martin awarded the 2015 vintage 98-100 points in barrel and described the wine as ‘a veritable kaleidoscope of aromas’.

vintage-performance-one-year

Of the recent vintages, 2013 and 2008 have been the top performers over the past 12 months, up 42.1% and 35.3% respectively. The 2014 followed close behind with a 35.1% increase. Despite the percentage increases, these continue to be among the cheapest vintages on the market. The 2012 has the smallest increase in price, but was already trading at the highest vintage price (except for the great vintages) a year ago.


*A wine’s POP score is its price-over-points ratio, our loose measure of value. It is calculated by dividing the price of a nine-litre case of wine by a shortened 20-point score (scores from The Wine Advocate). We have calculated this 20-point score by simply subtracting 80 from the official rating (for barrel-score spreads we use the mid-point of the score), on the basis that any wine under 80 points is unlikely to attract a secondary market. In theory, the lower the POP score the better value a wine is.


 

Spotlight on… Angelus

angelus

Owner: Stephanie de Bouard de Laforest

Appellation: Saint-Emilion AOC

Classification: Grand Cru Classe A

Vineyard area: 39 hectares

Grape varieties planted: 50% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon

Standard blend: 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc (2014)

Average annual production: 100,000 bottles (Grand Vin)

Second wine: Le Carillon d’Angelus

Colour: Red

History

In 1782, Jean de Bouard de Laforest – one of the King’s bodyguards – settled on the estate in Saint-Emilion. His son Maurice inherited the property and extended it to include a three-hectare enclosure named Angelus in 1920. The inspiration for Chateau Angelus comes from the painting of the same name by the French impressionist Jean-Francois Millet. The estate is found in a natural amphitheatre and, according to folk law, vine workers could hear the angelus bells of the three neighbouring churches at the same time.

In 1945, Maurice’s sons Jacques and Christian inherited the property and continued their family’s work. The property was classified in 1954 and the two sons extended it further to exceed 20 hectares by 1985. In 1987, Jacques’ son Hubert took over the management of the estate and was joined by his cousin Jean-Bernard Grenie and then his daughter Stephanie in 2012.

In 2012 Chateau Angelus and nearby Pavie were both upgraded to Grand Cru Classe A in the Saint Emilion re-classification. To celebrate the Chateau’s promotion Stephanie designed the iconic black and gold bottle for the 2012 vintage.

Most recently the wine has featured in the 2015 James Bond film Spectre, following an appearance in Casino Royale in 2006.

Market Performance

market-performance

The broader Bordeaux market tumbled from mid-2011 but both Angelus and Pavie continued to rise. This was helped in no small part by their upgrade to Grand Cru Classe A in September 2012, as the chart above indicates.

Over five years, the Angelus index – which tracks the price movements of the last ten physical vintages – is up 81.5%. It has significantly outperformed the Bordeaux 500 index which is up 6.2%.

Acclaimed vintages

market-price-v-points

There is a very clear difference in price between the 100-point 2005 vintage and those from other years. The 2009 and 2010 vintages – both scored 99+ points – are currently trading at discounts of 22.6% and 26.2% respectively to the similarly scored 2005. Despite critical acclaim, those wines have not been able to command the price of the 100-point 2005. Robert Parker described the 2009 as “a candidate for perfection” and James Suckling described the 2010 as “the greatest Angelus ever for me”, awarding it 99 points.

Vintage prices

vintage-prices

So far this year, the 2010 has been the most actively traded Angelus vintage by both value and volume – the wine traded more than 2.5 times the 2009. Its price has also been rising and it now commands a Market Price of £3,102 per 12×75, an increase of 29.3% on the previous year.

angelus-vintage-performance

Of the recent vintages, 2008 and 2013 have been the top performers over the past 12 months, up 41% and 44.6% respectively. The 2006 follows close behind with a 40.4% increase. Despite the percentage increases, these wines continue to be among the cheapest vintages on the market. The 2012 has seen the smallest increase in price, but it was already trading at the second highest price a year ago, due to the success of its black and gold label.


 

Spotlight on… Margaux

10127812009_8-1

Owner: Corinne Mentzelopoulos

Appellation: Margaux AOC

Classification: Premier Cru (First Growth)

Vineyard area: 87 hectares, of which 80 are planted (Red), 12 hectares (White)

Average annual production: 130,000 bottles (Grand vin Chateau Margaux), 115,000 bottles (Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux), 40,000 bottles (Margaux du Chateau Margaux), 12,000 bottles (Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux)

Colour: Red and White

Standard Blend: 87% Cabernet Sauvignon / 8% Merlot / 3% Cabernet Franc / 2% Petit Verdot (2015)

Second wine: Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux

History

At the end of the 17th Century, Chateau Margaux occupied 265 hectares, with a third dedicated to vines. The estate began to attract international appeal when Thomas Jefferson placed an order for Margaux in 1784 on which he wrote “there couldn’t be a better Bordeaux bottle”. However, the boom of Bordeaux was short-lived due to the start of the French Revolution (1789 – 1799).

Chateau Margaux changed hands several times in the years after the French Revolution and throughout the early 19th Century. Wine trader Fernand Ginestet acquired the property in 1950. Fernand and his son reorganised the vineyard, turning Chateau Margaux into one of the best wine producers in Bordeaux. However, the recession of the 1970s and a series of poor vintages forced them to sell the property.

Chateau Margaux was eventually sold to Andre Mentzelopoulos in 1977, who reconstructed both the property and the vineyards. Unfortunately, Andre died in 1980, unable to enjoy fruits of his labour.

His daughter Corinne worked with a team chosen by her father and organised an exchange of shares negotiated with the Agnelli family. In 2003 the Agnelli Group sold their shares to Corinne Mentzelopoulos, making her the sole shareholder of the estate.

Recently Philippe Bascaules was appointed managing director of Chateau Margaux. He is to succeed the late Paul Pontallier who worked at the estate since 1983. Bascaules was originally hired by Pontallier in 1990 and worked alongside him for 21 years. After spending the last few years at Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook winery in Rutherford Napa, Bascaules will return to the estate in 2017.

Margaux 2015

Chateau Margaux was awarded the “wine of the vintage” in the Liv-ex Bordeaux 2015 members’ survey. The 2015 vintage also received widespread critical acclaim, with James Suckling describing it as “the greatest Margaux ever made” and awarding it 100 points.

Neal Martin awarded the wine 98-100 points and described it as a fitting tribute to the late managing director, Paul Pontallier. In an article for Wine Advocate, Martin compares Pontallier to the late David Bowie: “while neither creator lived to share these parting gifts, they live on through the immense pleasure they will bestow for many years to come”.

The 2015 now commands a Market Price of £5,300 per 12×75, up 27.7% on its original UK merchant offer price.

Market Performance

vs-first-growths

The Margaux index – which tracks the price movements of the last ten physical vintages – is up 21.2% over the past year. This makes Margaux the second best performing First Growth over one year, pipped only by Lafite Rothschild. It has outperformed the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 index which has gained 19.5% over the same period.

Vintage prices

table

Of the recent vintages, 2013 and 2014 have been the top performers over the past 12 months, up 44.3% and 34.3% respectively. The 2007 followed close behind with a 33.3% increase. Despite the percentage increases, these continue to be among the cheapest vintages on the market. The 2005 has the smallest increase in price, but was already trading at the highest vintage price a year ago.

price-graph

There is a very clear difference in price between top Margaux vintages and those from ‘off’ years, with ’05, ’09, ’10, ’15 priced in the range of £5,300-£6,600, and all others below £3,600. Of the lower priced vintages, buyers might find value in 2012 (WA 96). It is available for less than the lower scored 2006, 2007, and 2011 vintages with a Market Price of £3,300 per 12×75.


Spotlight on… Canon

canon-label

Owner: Wertheimer Family (owners of luxury brand Chanel)
Appellation: Saint Emilion
Classification: Premier Grand Cru Classe B
Vineyard area: 34 hectares
Average annual production: 7,500 cases (Grand vin Chateau Canon), 6,000 cases (Croix Canon)
Colour: Red
Standard blend: 72% Merlot / 28% Cabernet Franc (2015)
Second wine: Croix Canon (known as Clos Canon until 2011)

History

Canon started out as part of the Clos St Martin vineyard in the eighteenth century. It was purchased in 1720 by Jacques Kanon who expanded the vineyard and built the original chateau. Kanon sold the estate in 1770 to Raymond Fontemoing, a leading Libournais negociant who improved and established the wine. In 1853 the estate was given the name Chateau Canon. It was sold by the Fontemoing family in 1857.

In 1919 the property was purchased by Gabriel Supau as a gift for his daughter and her husband Andre Fournier. The Fournier family invested in modernising the estate and vineyard. It remained under their ownership until 1996 when the Wertheimer Family (owners of luxury brand Chanel) bought the property.

Chateau Canon was managed by John Kolasa until 2015 and his team are responsible for much of the recent progress in wine production. In 2014, Nicolas Audebert – former winemaker at Cheval des Andes (an LVMH owned property in Argentina) – was hired to replace John Kolasa on retirement.

There is some contention over the origin of the Chateau Canon name. One theory is that “Canon” is the phonetic spelling of Jacques Kanon’s surname. The Fontemoing family, however, owned a second property in Fronsac named Chateau Canon. There is also speculation that the name was adopted by the Fontemoing’s to sell both wines under one brand name.

Acclaimed vintages

Canon did not receive significant attention until the release of the highly rated 2015 vintage. Neal Martin awarded the wine 98-100 points and James Suckling gave it a straight 100 points. It is the first Canon vintage to achieve a perfect score. Suckling said it was the greatest red ever produced by the chateau, adding that it was “even better than the great wines of the 1950s and 1960s.” Martin said that after a bad run of vintages in the 1990s, the 2015 “marks the opening of a new chapter for the revitalized estate”. He sees Canon as a potential Premier Grand Cru Classe A wine.

The 2015 sold through on release and is now offered at a Market Price of £1,274 per 12×75, up 70% on its original UK merchant offer price. Liv-ex members ranked it as their joint third favourite ‘value’ wine in the Liv-ex Bordeaux 2015 Members’ Survey.

canon-chart

Vintage prices

The last ten physical vintages have risen by 20.3% on average over the last 12 months and buyers have tended to focus on value. The 90-point 2007 has risen the most over the period, up 56.7%. It was the cheapest physical vintage available one year ago, 16% less than its identically scored 90-point 2008 sibling. The 94-point 2009 vintage is the worst performing physical vintage, having fallen 1.2% over the past year. It was the most expensive vintage in August 2015.

canon-table

High scoring vintages

Before the release of the 2015 vintage, the 1959 had received the highest score from the Wine Advocate. It was rated 95 points by Robert Parker who said the wine had “superb richness” and was “a magnificent example of Canon”. The 2011 and 2009 are the joint third highest scoring physical vintages, while the 2014 – still in barrel – was awarded a range of 93-95 points by Neal Martin. He said it was an “outstanding” example of the Bordeaux 2014 vintage with a “pure and ‘classic’ finish.” Its Market Price is £497.


 

Spotlight on… Smith Haut Lafitte

SHL label

Owner: Cathiard family
Appelation:  Pessac-Leognan
Classification: Crus Classe des Graves
Vineyard area: 67 hectares
Average annual production: 10,000 cases (Smith Haut Lafitte), 3,000 cases (Smith Haut Lafitte blanc), 5,500 cases (Les Hauts de Smith and Le Petit Haut Lafitte)
Colour: Red, White, Rose
Standard blend: (red) 35% Merlot / 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc / 1% Petit Verdot (white) 90% Sauvignon Blanc / 5% Sauvignon Gris / 5% Semillon
Standard blend – Second wines: Les Hauts de Smith (exists in red, white and rose versions), Le Petit Haut Lafitte (red)

History

The origins of the estate can be traced back to the noble Bosq family who started growing grapes on the “Lafitte” gravel plateau in the fourteenth century. In 1720 the property was purchased by Scotsman George Smith who gave the estate its present name by adding his surname to the vineyard. In 1842, the Mayor of Bordeaux inherited the chateau from his mother and started to improve the quality of the wine. The Louis Eschenauer company distributed Smith Haut Lafitte from the early 20th century and in 1958 they purchased the estate.

In 1990, former French Olympic skier, Daniel Cathiard, bought Smith Haut Lafitte and embarked on an investment programme that included the construction of a new 1,000 barrel underground cellar. During this period, modern winemaking techniques were merged with “age old” traditional methods and the quality of the wine improved significantly.

Prior to the acquisition of Smith Haut Lafitte by the Cathiard family, the chateau bore the nickname “sleeping beauty” owing to its potential.

Market Performance

Since the Cathiard family purchased the estate in 1990, Smith Haut Lafitte’s reputation has grown. The wine has consistently scored above 90 points from the Wine Advocate (in-bottle) and its average score of 95.1 for the last ten physical vintages is above its peer group average, the Left Bank 200 index. It has also outperformed the Left Bank 200 over the last five years, rising 22.2%. Over the same period the Left Bank 200 has fallen 4.8%.

SHL graph

Vintage Prices

SHL graph2

Of the recent vintages, the 100-point 2009 has been the best performer over the past 12 months, up 32.2%. It is the highest scored vintage and it entered the Liv-ex 100 in July. This is the first time a wine from the chateau has been included in the index. Robert Parker referred to the 2009 vintage as “the finest wine ever made by proprietors Daniel and Florence Cathiard.” As can be seen from the chart below it is the highest priced Smith Haut Lafitte vintage currently available in the secondary market.

Buyers looking for value may be attracted to the 2012 vintage (WA 95) which is available for less than the lower scored 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011 vintages at a Market Price of £530 per 12×75. It is the second best performing vintage of the last twelve months.

SHL MP

This month, the 2010 vintage (WA 98+) broke out of the range it had traded in for the past three years and traded at £1,064. The recent jump has put it at a similar level to the 98-point 2005 vintage that is currently available at a Market Price of £1,050. The 2005 vintage was upgraded in Parker’s ten-year retrospective of Bordeaux 2005 last year and has seen the largest year-on-year change (41%) of wines that were upgraded in the review.

SHL 10 graph


Spotlight on… Cristal

Cristal4

Owner: The Roederer family
Vineyard area: 240 hectares
Average annual production: 300,000-400,000 bottles p/a
Colour: white
Standard blend: Pinot Noir (55%) and Chardonnay (45%)
Other wines: Cristal Rose

History

The birth of Cristal dates back to the second half of the 19th century, when the Louis Roederer champagne house in Reims turned its attention to markets beyond the French border, including Hungary, Sweden and Russia. In 1876, Alexander II of Russia sent his cellar master to La Maison Roederer and commissioned the creation of a special blend – now widely recognised as the world’s first “prestige cuvee”. Given the unstable political situation in Russia, however, the tsar called on a Flemish glass worker to design a clear bottle in order to ensure that any smuggled in bombs could be easily detected. He also requested that the bottles be flat bottomed, necessitating the use of lead crystal rather than glass (to withstand the pressure). This was the genesis of Cristal – a luxury brand owned and enjoyed by kings, princes, and more recently, rappers.

The wine was not commercially available until 1945. Since the 1990s, the champagne has been closely associated with all things hip hop – a note of contention for the house’s managing director, Frederic Rouzaud that led to the rapper “Jay-Z” boycotting the brand. Nonetheless, Cristal continues to enjoy a strong international following beyond the bounds of American hip hop and is widely considered one of the world’s greatest Champagnes.

Every bottle of Cristal is produced from the house’s own vineyards. A quarter of the blend is usually oak-fermented while the remainder is fermented in stainless steel.

Cristal 2009

Cristal 2009 is the most recent release at £549 per 6×75 (£1,098 per 12×75). Antonio Galloni awarded it 96+ points in August, praising its “remarkable depth and striking purity” and noting that it “is a superb Cristal in the making”. The 2009 is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Galloni said that the percentage of wine aged in oak is 15%, which is down slightly from previous vintages.

Market trends

Cristal 2009 has been pitched at a similar level to the 2006 and 2007 vintages. Both were awarded 97 points by Galloni. The similarly scored, 97-point 2004 last traded at £1,350 per 12×75, while the 96-point 2002 last traded at £1,850 per 12×75, perhaps reflecting the markets appreciation of the acclaimed 2002 vintage. Most of the older vintages from 2002 or earlier have increased since release as supply has diminished. The 1999 vintage, for example, traded at £920 per 12×75 in May 2005 and last traded at £1,940 per 12×75, up 111%.

Cristal 2

Out of the last ten vintages, only the 2006 is currently trading at a lower price than it was when released. The 2006 vintage only started to rise one year ago after bottoming out in 2015. It last traded at £1,030 per 12×75, up 12% from its lowest trade of £920 per 12×75 in July 2015. James Suckling awarded the 2006 vintage 97 points, Jancis Robinson gave it 18/20 and David Schildknecht of the Wine Advocate scored it 93 points.

Cristal 3


 

 

 

Spotlight on… Ducru Beaucaillou

Ducru label

Ducru Beaucaillou:
Owner: Bruno Borie
 and family
Appellation: St Julien
Vineyard area: 100 hectares
Average annual production: 120,000 bottles p/a
Second wine: La Croix de Beaucaillou

History

Having once formed part of Beychevelle, the vineyards that were destined to become Ducru Beaucaillou were partitioned and sold off in the 17th century to cover the cumbersome debts of the chateau’s late owner. By 1720 the fledgling estate was run by the Bergeron family, who named it Beaucaillou – or “beautiful pebbles” – after its stony terroir.  Following their 70-year tenure, Beaucaillou was bought by Bertand Ducru. As well as appending his name to the property, Bertrand and his children invested heavily in the vineyards and contributed much to the quality of the wine. Their efforts culminated in the chateau’s classification as a Second Growth in 1855, placing it alongside the likes of the Leovilles and Cos d’Estournel. A decade later, however, Bertrand’s daughter Marie-Louise sold Ducru Beaucaillou to Lucie-Caroline Dassier, the wife of a wealthy wine merchant. Lucie-Caroline’s husband, Nathaniel Johnston, went on to become Mayor of St Julien, though his role in the discovery of Bordeaux mix – a copper sulphate solution that ameliorated mildew – is perhaps his most famous achievement.

After Lucie-Caroline’s death, Nathaniel Johnston married Princess Marie Caradja of Constantinople and the couple commissioned an award-winning architect to extend and redesign the chateau to suit Victorian fashions. But economic hardships in 1929 forced the Johnstons to leave their palatial home and in 1941 it was bought by Francis Borie. Today the Bories own a number of chateaux in the Medoc, including Grand Puy Lacoste and Haut Batailley. Ducru Beaucaillou has been run by Francis’ grandson, Bruno, since 2003.

Market Performance

Ducru_left_bank_200

Prices for Ducru Beaucaillou soared during the China-led bull market of 2009-11 and outpaced increases for its parent index, the Left Bank 200. Although both initially declined at a similar pace after the market rolled over in June 2011, Ducru held a steadier level from the beginning of 2012 and has since shown signs of recovery. Over five years, it is up 19.6%; the Left Bank 200 is down 1.2%.

Vintage Prices

Vintage performance

Of Ducru’s recent vintages, the 2008 has been the biggest riser over the past 12 months: its market price has moved from £780 to £850 per 12×75, an increase of 9.0%. As the chart below shows, it is one of the higher-scored vintages but is still available at a significant discount to the “great” vintages of 2005, 2009 and 2010. Robert Parker called it “one of the stars of the vintage”. The next best performer is the 2012, which is up 8.1%.

Other vintages that look to offer relative value, shown below, include 2006 and 2014.

price_points

You can view more historic price data for Ducru Beaucaillou vintages on Cellar Watch by clicking here. Cellar Watch subscribers can track the prices of Ducru Beaucaillou vintages by adding them to a cellar. Sign up here.


Spotlight on … Sylvain Cathiard

Malconsorts

History

The history of Sylvain Cathiard began in the 1930s when Cathiard’s grandfather moved to Burgundy from the Savoie area of France and found work with Domaine de la Romanée Conti and Lamarche. He later purchased a small number of vineyards which were subsequently managed by his son André, who was the first of the family to bottle his own wine.

Sylvain began working for his father before taking on his own small domaine. He eventually took over the family vineyards following his father’s retirement in 1995. His own son Sebastien has since joined him, and is now making the wines.

Although based in Vosne-Romanée, Cathiard’s 5.5ha of vines also span Nuits-St-George and Chambolle-Musigny. The family’s additional small parcels include plots in Clos Vougeot and Romanée-St-Vivant.

2014 Vintage

Speaking to Allen Meadows (Burghound), Sebastian Cathiard described the 2014 campaign as “much less complicated than either 2012 or 2013 but it wasn’t without some challenges.” Yields were back to levels seen in 2009 and before, potential alcohols were good (11.8-12.8%) and skins were thick. No chemicals were used in the vineyard in 2014, and the amount of new wood and toasting of the barrels were both reduced.

Vosne-Romanée, Les Malconsorts, 2014

“In a word, brilliant”, said Allen Meadows, who awarded it 93-95 points. Neal Martin describes its “cerebral bouquet, beautifully defined”, adding that “the fruit here is very enmeshed with the oak”. He concludes: “Its persistence is awe-inspiring” and scores it 95-97.

Sylvain Cathiard, Romanée Saint Vivant, 2014

Allen Meadows describes this as “a wine of harmony and finesse that is beautifully balanced” (93-96 points), while Neal Martin observes its “dizzying, seductive intensity” and asks “One of the wines of the vintage? Most certainly. Bravo Sebastien.” (96-98 points).

Market Trends

Sylvain Cathiard’s recent secondary market performance is characterised by rapid price increases: in the 2015 Power 100, it climbed to 4th place when ranked by price performance, the highest position for a Burgundy brand.

Price history for Vosne-Romanée, Les Malconsorts, 2004 exemplifies this: it has been available in the market for just under ten years and its market price has jumped from £550 per 12×75 to £2,400: an increase of 336%. Romanée Saint Vivant, 2004 increased from £1,590 to £8,402 – up 428% – over the same period. To put this into context, the Burgundy 150 index is up 168% over ten years; the Liv-ex 100 has gained 107%.

Malconsorts_2004

The Les Malconsorts and Saint Vivant labels are the most active on the secondary market, collectively accounting for over 80% of Sylvain Cathiard trade historically. When comparing scores* against market prices, closer correlation is shown by the lower priced Les Malconsorts. As shown in the first chart, vintages with higher scores tend to demand slightly higher prices, though the 2006 and 2004 vintages do look to offer relative value.

Malconsorts

Less correlation is shown by Saint Vivant, where overall vintage quality appears to have greater impact on prices than its scores: the 2005, 2009 and 2010 vintages command significant premiums on other years.

Romanee

*Where only barrel ranges are available, the mid-point of the score is used.
Sources: www.burghound.com; www.erobertparker.com


Spotlight on … Le Pin

lepin

Owner: Thienpont family
Classification: Unclassed Pomerol
Vineyard area: 2.7 hectares
Average annual production: 5,000-6,000 bottles p/a
Colour: Red
Standard blend: 100% Merlot

History

As well as being one of the world’s most exclusive blue-chip wines, Le Pin is something of an anomaly in Bordeaux, where many of the region’s finest offerings boast a pedigree stretching back several centuries. The winery has its roots in the more recent past, when the Thienpont family (owners of Vieux Chateau Certan) purchased a vineyard in Pomerol from an elderly villager named Madame Laubie in 1979. Prior to the Thienponts’ acquisition of the land, the vineyard’s produce had been sold as generic Pomerol. The change in ownership brought with it new investment, however, and the first vintage of Le Pin (1979) – which was named after the two pine trees that grow near the vineyard – was blended in the basement of the property’s modest farmhouse. In the early 1980s, the family doubled the size of the vineyard by buying an adjacent hectare of land from a local blacksmith (or baker, some sources suggest) and embarked on extensive replanting work. Their efforts were well rewarded, and today the estate produces an exotic, concentrated wine which is fermented in stainless steel and then matured in 100% new oak barrels for 14-18 months.

Le Pin’s rise to fame – and fortune

Over the past few decades, critical acclaim and tiny production levels have elevated Le Pin’s status and prices tremendously, to the extent that it is arguably equal in stature (but historically superior in price) to the Left Bank First Growths. When the first vintages of Le Pin became available on the market in the early 1980s, they carried price tags of around £7 per bottle; the acclaimed 1982 vintage was available at around £14. Now, the cheapest recent physical vintage of the wine (the 2012) commands a market price of £11,000 per 12×75 – over £900 per bottle.

Market Trends

As the chart below shows, Le Pin has been less affected by market conditions than other Chateaux of its peer group, the Right Bank 50*, over five years – and has outperformed them. Le Pin’s prices gained less on average in the bull market of 2009-11 and then declined less after the market rolled over, before continuing to charge from mid-2012. Over five years the Le Pin index, which tracks the prices of the ten most recent physical vintages, is up 17.1% while the Right Bank 50 is up 4.9% and the Bordeaux 500 has drifted 1.6%.

* The Right Bank 50 Index represents the price movements of the last ten physical vintages of Le Pin, Petrus, Cheval Blanc, Lafleur and Ausone.

Le Pin’s vintages

Le Pin’s two recent 100-point vintages are – by a significant margin – the most expensive: the 2009 is priced 142% higher than the cheapest recent vintage, 2012. The third most expensive comes from the other “great” vintage of the last decade, 2005. It has a current score of 93 from Robert Parker who last tasted the wine in April 2008 – it was not re-evaluated at the end of June 2015 when Parker rescored a number of Bordeaux 2005 wines. Other vintages have higher current scores from Parker – and lower prices – such as the 2004. However, other critics have rated the 2005 more highly than Parker including Neal Martin (95/100) and Jancis Robinson (18.5/20).

LePin_price_points#