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En Primeur Unease: Rising prices create hesitancy among buyers

The sentiment surrounding this En Primeur campaign has largely been one of unease. To some, it has even become ‘a little tedious’. To others, ‘erratic’. Some simply cannot make head or tail of it. Cynics are speculating that the châteaux may be intentionally overpricing their wines to protect (or even increase) their brand value amidst a struggling fine wine market. Indeed, over the month of May, all the major Liv-ex Fine Wine indices experienced a decline, with the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 dropping by 2% and the Liv-ex Fine Wine 1000 falling by 2.4% – yet release prices continue to rise steadily.  

The original value of buying En Primeur was based on the opportunity to acquire the wines at the lowest price possible – otherwise why do it, especially now that cash actually earns interest! Provenance is a good argument, but storage these days is much improved, rendering the majority of stock ‘ex châteaux’ quality even after two decades. 

According to our Bordeaux En Primeur survey results, merchants initially anticipated an average increase of 7.7% in ex-négociant prices compared to last year. However, the current campaign average is almost double that, with ex-négociant prices of wines released so far rising 14% on average.  

Graph showing En Primeur wines YoY price increase and release date
Table showing the highest release price increases so far

The table and graph above show that price increases have been steadily rising throughout the campaign. The average increase on opening prices year-on-year currently stands at 16%. Notably, the highest price hike recorded in wines covered by Liv-ex so far was Château Angélus, with a substantial increase of 37.7% compared to the 2021 release price, more than double the campaign average.  

Below are three wines expected to be released in the next day or two. If we assume the current trend holds, we can make an educated guess at the release price and try to identify value in back vintages. The vintages in the right-hand column have comparable scores to the 2022s but are likely to represent better value. They can also be delivered (and even drunk) today.  

Table showing upcoming releases and opportunities in back vintages

NB: These predictions are based on current information and market trends, and actual release prices may vary.

Final thought 

Graph showing the Leoville Las Cases Fair Value analysis

NB: This is a hypothetical release price for the 2022 Leoville Las Cases.

There are rumours of the upcoming release of Château Léoville-Las Cases in the days ahead. If this follows the trend of a 16% increase, it would be offered at £2,262 per 12×75, offering great value to the collector. Even if it matches Château Palmer’s increase of 25%, suggesting a release price of £2,438 per 12×75, it would still represent value. But so do the 2014 and 2019 vintages, that currently sit below the Fair Value line.  

As this example demonstrates, simply comparing the new release to that of 2021 does not always give the full picture. We need to look further back at comparable physical vintages. Many of the releases so far have failed to take this into account, making the job of merchants all the more challenging. The hope is that going forward, the châteaux yet to release will consider the bigger picture as they set their prices.  

In case you missed it:

Here’s what we’ve been reading:

  • Liv-ex: Château Lagrange 2022 released En Primeur
  • Wine Spectator: Digging into 2022 Bordeaux
  • Forbes: Why The Wealthy Invest In Real Assets

Our Bordeaux En Primeur 2022 page contains everything you need to know about this year’s campaign. You can also sign up for our daily En Primeur email alerts using the form below.    

Liv-ex analysis is drawn from the world’s most comprehensive database of fine wine prices. The data reflects the real-time activity of Liv-ex’s 620+ merchant members from across the globe. Together they represent the largest pool of liquidity in the world – currently £100m of bids and offers across 16,000 wines.         

Independent data, direct from the market.