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Bordeaux 2009: The most expensive en primeur ever

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Well, we are waiting with baited breath for the releases of the first growths in 2009. I’ve read that London’s Farr Vintners report that Chateau Lafite-Rothschild is already ‘pre-trading’ at £10,000 [$15000] a case. Blimey. I guess when you’ve got a worldwide army of wine investors chasing your wine that’s what happens. If Lafite is releasing anything near these prices you can bet Chateau Margaux and Chateau Latour will be up there too.

These first growths prices are undoubtedly pushing the top cru classe super seconds to a minimum of £1000 [$1500] a case. Chateau Pontet-Canet and Chateau Lynch Bages first tranche prices were at £900+. Pontet’s second tranche is at £1200. We’re still waiting obviously for the Pichons, Léoville Las Cases, Ducru, Montrose and Cos d’Estournel but none of these will be cheap. Chateau Léoville Barton, which to me was of first growth quality, has been released just under £800 but that’s if you can find any. Usually sister Chateau Langoa Barton is reasonably priced but that’s started life around £450-480. This is not unreasonable given the quality, but given you can buy the 2000 today at £360 a case, the 2009 looks pricey. Chateau St Pierre, which Parker gave an upper score of 98 points, is at £560+. God knows what Chateau Léoville Poyferré will arrive in at given its undoubted quality. I gave it 94-96+ after tasting it and thought it was a blinder. Parker rates it 97-100. I’m told to expect between £800-1200. The 2008 could be picked up last year for £320 a case and wasn’t a bad wine at all. What a difference a year makes….

The question is just how long can the market sustain these prices? Strip out the inflationary effect of the Asian market and maybe things would cool somewhat but that doesn’t look much like happening. You start to worry though when everyone you know is climbing into what is essentially a commodity market, albeit a rather sophisticated one. The closest comparison is probably the art market and wow does that like to fill with hot air. I had an amusing experience at the London Wine Fair last month which capped it all. Tasting at the stand of the l’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc I noticed a tall, posh, nicely suited, but as it turned out a rather misinformed gentlemen approach the stand. Do you have any Margaux he asked? Yes, they replied. They had plenty. He said that he was from a new investment company and was looking to invest in Margaux. The rather exasperated representatives of the stand spent some time explaining to this individual that Chateau Margaux was rather different investment prospect from the cru bourgeois chateaux of the appellation they were representing. I’m not sure this information ever really sank into the polished head with the slicked back hair. Certainly he wandered off undeterred. Everyone it seems is dabbling in the fine wine investment market, even those who’ve no idea what they are doing.  I’ve a number of friends who are sinking thousands this en primeur season into the Bordeaux 2009.  Logically there’s no reason to stop them because over the past few years fine wine has been a safe investment compared with the stock market. And, if you’re going to get into a great vintage at any point, then get in en primeur. Still you do wonder how this upward curve will last, particularly for Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, which is having an exaggerated effect on the whole market.

Yet looked at another way, even despite the strength of the Euro which has fallen back in the last month or so against Sterling, I’ve been surprised that the release prices for a lot of very good Bordeaux 2009 haven’t actually been higher. OK generally some prices are around twenty percent up on 2005, some others are double, but a quick gander at the wines still available reveal a great many good Chateaux still left to be snapped up. They’re not bargains but thing is you won’t be disappointed. 2009 is a great vintage and it will undoubtedly drink well from the off. All the wines below will give great enjoyment and have been favourably reviewed. I’ve tasted most of them myself and would be happy to have them all in my cellar. So, if you feel you’ve missed the boat, don’t despair!  Have a look at these below. I should point out I’ve no commercial interest here and, nor am I shooting myself in the foot. I’ve already run out of cash and ordered as much as I can….

At the top end of the Margaux commune Chateau Rauzan-Ségla and Chateau Malescot St Exupéry are still available under £700 a case if you can still find them. Chateau Monbrison looks great at just £228 by comparison. I think this is a great wine for the money. Earlier in the campaign Berry Brothers sold out of the wonderful Chateau du Tertre 09 in less than an hour. You can still find it at Lea & Sandeman for £255. There’s lots more too. Chateau Lagrange looks great in St Julien along with Chateau Talbot, both can be found under £400 a case and Chateau Gloria – at just £285 – is seen by many as their equivalents.  I’d tuck into Chateau Belgrave and Chateau La Tour Carnet, as well as Chateau Chasse Spleen. Even cheaper is Chateau Charmail. Their 2009 is seen as the best wine they’ve made. Happy hunting….


Chateau Potensac: BBR £180 LW £183 LS £180 FV £180

Haut Medoc

Chateau Belgrave: LS £180

Chateau Cantemerle: LS £237 FV £240

Chateau Charmail: LW £135 LS £135

Chateau La Tour Carnet: LS £228 FV £230

Chateau Sociando Mallet: LS£315 FV £315

St Estephe

Chateau Beau-Site: BBR £168

Chateau Lafon-Rochet: BBR £348 LS £351 FV £340

Chateau Le Boscq: BBR £156

Chateau Le Crock: BBR £180 LW £168 LS £168

Chateau Ormes de Pez: BBR £240 LW £240 LS £240 FV £240


Chateau Clerc Milon: FV £450

Chateau D’Armailhac: LW £338 LS £330 FV £360

Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste: BBR £576 LW £576 LS £558 FV £575

Chateau Haut  Batailley: LW £143 [per six] LS £279

St Juilen

Chateau Gloria: LW £285 LS £285 FV £285

Chateau Gruaud Larose: LS £459 FV £500

Chateau Lagrange: LW £399 LS £420 FV £400

Chateau Langoa-Barton LW £480 FV £450

Chateau St Pierre: LW £537 LS £525

Chateau Talbot: BBR £399 LW £417 LS £402

Moulis & Listrac

Chateau Chasse Spleen: LW £210 LS £204 FV £210


Chateau Brane Cantenac: LS£495 FV £500

Chateau D’Issan: LW £477 LS£459 FV £450

Chateau Durfort-Vivens: BBR £288 LS £291 FV £295

Chateau du Tertre: LS £255

Chateau Ferriere: LS £240

Chateau Giscours: BBR £438 LS £429 £435

Chateau Kirwan: FV £400

Chateau Malescot St Exupery: LW £678 LS £650

Chateau Marquis de Terme: LS £291

Chateau Monbrison: LS £228

Chateau Rauzan Segla: LW £696 LS £684

Chateau Siran: LS £204

There are other merchant’s obviously, but these are the ones I follow. Websites below and I take no responsibilty for errors here or availability. Good Luck!

BBR = Berry Brothers and Rudd

LW = Lay & Wheeler

LS = Lea & Sandeman

FV = Farr Vintners

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