Prices for First Growths are down 6% over the past year, as measured by the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50, which closed July at 328. At peak in June 2011 it touched 446 before bottoming out at 261 in late 2015 as the China driven trade unwound.
Bordeaux’s market share has suffered dramatically over the past 9 years – falling from 96% to just 45.7% YTD but within that the First Growths’ share has remained relatively stable. They are after all, five of the best wines Bordeaux has to offer. There are many reasons for Bordeaux’s overall decline in market share but none are to do with quality. Over the past 11 years Bordeaux has arguably produced four of its greatest vintages – 2009, 2010, 2016 and most recently, 2019.
As scored by Neal Martin, the First Growths only keep getting better. Neal has the vintages 2015-2019 vintages ranked, on average, 2.2 points higher than the previous five, 2010-2014, and 2.6 over the five vintages from 2000-2004. Despite this, prices remain stubbornly range bound.
But there are some interesting trends within. Price per point ‘POP’ visualizes how much one must pay per point awarded. The 2000-2004 vintages of Latour look to offer good relative value when compared to the more recent vintages. Haut Brion, Margaux, and recent vintages of Mouton Rothschild also look relatively good value with their ‘POPs’ consistently in the mid to low 40’s. The effect of commemorative labels can be seen in the skewing of Mouton 2000-2004 and Margaux 2015-2019.
When will Bordeaux’s Firsts break out of their range bound trade? Not an easy question to answer. But with time supply will inevitably diminish. Jane Anson of Decanter recently reviewed the 2000s awarding the two cheapest, Margaux and Haut Brion, 100 points. She suggested the wines are now finally beginning to enter their drinking windows. All bar Mouton are trading below their peaks of 2011. Perhaps it is time to look again the Firsts, especially those with a bit of bottle age.
Attached are ALL LIVE First Growth offers currently on Liv-ex, over £2.9m across 50 vintages and start at £252.5 per 75cl for 2004 Chateau Haut Brion – see POP above.