Spotlight on… Lafite Rothschild


Owner: Baron Eric de Rothschild

Classification: Premier Grand Cru (First Growth)

Vineyard area: 115 hectares

Colour: Red

Standard blend: Cabernet Sauvignon (80-95%), Merlot (5-20%), Cabernet Franc (0-5%), and Petit Verdot (0-5%).

Total annual production: 420,000 to 480,000 bottles


Records show that the first vines were planted at Lafite in the 1670s. Early customers included both British Prime Minister Robert Walpole and US President Thomas Jefferson.

In the years following the French Revolution, Lafite changed ownership numerous times until Baron James de Rothschild purchased Chateau Lafite in August 1868. Henceforth the estate became known as Chateau Lafite Rothschild.

The end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century were turbulent decades for the Chateau. The vineyard was severely impacted by the phylloxera crisis and mildew, forcing the estate to declassify certain vintages between 1882 and 1915. Furthermore, during World War I the estate was severely impacted by supply restrictions and the financial crisis of the Great Depression led to a reduction in vineyard area.

During World War II, both Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild were confiscated and placed under public administration. A German military base was then stationed at the two Chateaux for the entire length of the occupation. By the end of 1945, the Barons de Rothschild recovered possession of Lafite and Baron Elie was responsible for re-establishing operations at the estate. A series of excellent vintages in 1945, 1947 and 1949 helped fuel efforts to re-establish Lafite Rothschild. The 1955 vintage was evidence of the wine’s rebirth. The emerging markets in the US in the 1960s, and Asia more recently have continued to help grow Lafite Rothschild into the brand it is today.

Market Performance

During the Asia-led boom for fine wine (2009-2011), Lafite became a ‘super brand’ in China and prices skyrocketed – even more than the other First Growths – as the chart below shows. Over a two-year period, the Lafite index gained over 140%.

The popularity of the brand during this period is perhaps exemplified by price movements for the 2008 vintage. In October 2010 it was announced that the bottle would carry the Chinese symbol of the figure eight, representing good fortune. The market quickly responded with trades 67% higher than in the previous month.

Lafite v FG indices - ten years

When the market started to roll over in mid-2011, prices for Lafite began to decline. In two years, the index dropped 37%.

Recovery period

At the beginning of 2016, Lafite began to show tentative signs of recovery. It is now the best-performing First Growth over one year, up 29.2%. It has outperformed the Fine Wine 50 which is up 25% over the same period.

Lafite v FG indices

Market Prices

The chart below compares Lafite Market Prices to their Wine Advocate scores. Lafite partly follows the traditional pricing pattern for fine wine, where prices rise as the wine ages and supplies diminish. However critical acclaim also appears to have some influence, with high-scoring vintages such as 2008, 2009 and 2010 commanding premiums.

Buyers willing to wait might consider the 2014 and 2015. The wines have similar scores to older vintages, but their prices are still waiting to catch up. For example, the 2014 vintage is currently trading at a discount of 30.7% to the similarly-scored 2006.

Price v Score bar

Vintage performance

The recently physical 2014 vintage has been the top performer over the past twelve months, up 40.1%. This time last year the wine was the cheapest vintage available on the market. The similarly priced 2013 vintage followed behind with a 32.5% increase. The 2009 and 2011 have been the slowest movers of the Lafite vintages, up 23.7% and 20.3% respectively.

Vintage performance


Spotlight on… Tignanello


Owner: Marchesi Antinori

Classification: Toscana IGT

Vineyard area: 140 acres (57 hectares)

Colour: Red

Standard blend: 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc.

Average production: 20,000 – 30,000 cases


In 1850 the Antinori family acquired several small farms with vineyards in the Chianti Classico area. These included Paterno, Santa Maria, Poggio Niccolini and 47 hectares at Tignanello, which would go on to become the current Tignanello estate.

During the Second World War in 1943, the family residence at Villa Antinori was damaged and the family moved to the Tignanello estate. However, it wasn’t until 1970 that the first vintage of Tignanello was created, with 20% Canaiolo, 5% Trebbiano and 5% Malvasia alongside Sangiovese. The following year, the blend of Tignanello was not compliant with the rules of Chianti Classico. By the 1975 vintage white grapes were eliminated from its blend altogether.

Because of this, Tignanello was unable to be classified as Chianti Classico DOC and was branded as a table wine for many decades along with a group of other wines including Ornellaia, Sassicaia and Solaia. Together these wines broke away from DOC restrictions and became recognised as a group of high quality non-DOC wines: Super Tuscans.

Chianti Classico DOC has now altered the regulations, allowing Tignanello to label its wine Chianti Classico. However, the winery chose to not use Chianti Classico on the label, and continues to produce under Toscana IGT.

Market Performance

The Tignanello index – which tracks the price movements of the last ten physical vintages – is up 27.1% year-on-year. It has outperformed the Italy 100 index which is up 13.8% over the same period. Tignanello is also the best performing Super Tuscan index year-on-year, while commanding lower Market Prices than others. Second to Tignanello is its sister wine, Solaia, which is up 17.9%.

The best-performing vintages have been the 2006 and 2008 over the past twelve months, up 37.8% and 33.6% respectively. The 2007 followed close behind with a 33.1% increase.


The chart below compares Tignanello Market Prices against their scores from Antonio Galloni. The chart shows that Tignanello follows the traditional price pattern of fine wine: prices rise as the wine gets older and quantities in the market deplete.

Buyers willing to wait might therefore consider the more recent vintages. They are amongst the most highly scored, but their prices are still waiting to catch up with those of their older siblings. For example, the 2007 (AG 95) and 2013 (AG 95) have equal scores but the 2013 is available at a 32.3% discount to the 2007.


Age appears to have more of a direct impact on price than critic scores. When Tignanello Market Prices are plotted against age, the trend line shows a positive exponential correlation. The wines that drift furthest below the trend line are 2009 and 2005. These might be considered undervalued compared to Tignanello vintages around the same age.



Spotlight on… Beychevelle


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


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


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


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)


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


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


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.


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.


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


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’.


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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)


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.


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.


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)


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


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.