Talking Trade – Frost hit much of Europe while the Bordeaux market heated up

  • Bordeaux enjoys its biggest week of trading so far this year, with the 2017 vintage leading overall trade by volume and value. Lafite 2018 was the week’s most-traded label by value.
  • James Suckling revealed his initial impressions of the 2020 vintage and Antonio Galloni looked back at the storied 2005s to award new scores.
  • Liv-ex has published its 2020 En Primeur report.

A spring chill overcame the Northern Hemisphere earlier in the week with temperatures touching downwards of -6 degrees celsius. The effect of this was felt throughout Europe with Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône, Piedmont and the UK all reporting losses. It has been reported in some areas that whole crops have potentially been lost to the devasting cold front, but the picture remains unclear for now.

Bordeaux past and present

Bordeaux was very much in the spotlight this week, as it will be for the forthcoming months, as the newest (and logistically challenging) En Primeur campaign approaches.

James Suckling posted some early insight into the vintage, in which he has called the 2020s, “less flamboyant” than the 2018s and, “more along the lines of the 2019s”.

Antonio Galloni also reviewed Bordeaux, but instead went back 16 years and reported on how the 2005s were evolving in bottle. He awarded five new 100-point scores. Despite his praise for the vintage, overall, when comparing the 2005s to recent vintages from 2015 to 2019, he said: “The reality is there is no comparison… Today’s wines are just consistently better across the range”.

Rising trade share

Bordeaux trade share by value reached its highest level of the year this week. The 2017 vintage led trade by both value and volume. Wines from Pauillac and Saint Emilion combined for 62.1% of the region’s total trade by value.

The USA saw an increase in trade share this week too. The secondary market has significantly expanded for American wines year-to-date. Distinct LWINS traded in the first quarter of 2021 were up 100% on 2020 and 300% on 2019.

Château Lafite Rothschild 2018 was the top traded wine of the week. The wine is the most traded 2018 Bordeaux by value year-to-date. The wine’s 1982 vintage also found bidders. The 1982 was most recently tasted by Neal Martin of Vinous, who awarded it 97-points. He noted in his 2018 tasting that, “two recent bottles demonstrate a wine that perhaps has just taken 30+ years to reach its zenith”.

Two Bordeaux wines from the 2017 vintage topped the list this week, Château Angélus and Château Smith Haut Lafitte. They were both included in Galloni’s last scoring of the vintage. Angélus was awarded 94-points while Smith Haut Lafitte was awarded 97 points and called, “very clearly one of the wines of the year”.

Extended Report – Bordeaux 2020: A sense of déjà vu

Liv-ex’s annual opening En Primeur report is now available exclusively to Liv-ex members. Liv-ex will be analysing and publishing Bordeaux analyses in the run up to and throughout the upcoming 2020 En Primeur campaign. For instant email alerts, subscribe below.