Anthony Rose: 'Some of theBordeaux high flyers have come out with jawdropping prices'

"Let them drink wine" goes the cry in Bordeaux as the gap between the Marie Antoinette haves and the sans-culottes have-nots widens. After months of dragging their heels, the Bordelais have pronounced, or their cash registers at least have rung to a familiar tune. All the tricks of the Bordeaux trade were deployed to stoke demand for the 2009 vintage. According to the wine exchange, Livex, average price rises over the great 2005 vintage were up 13 per cent until mid-June.

Between the 14 and 18 June, they went up to 29 per cent. In the final reckoning between 21 and 25 June, when Bordeaux's big hitters fired their salvoes, prices soared by 57 per cent above 2005, and 200 per cent above 2008. The pace-setters were the tiny handful of first growth châteaux like Lafite and Latour, at the retail price of £7,000-£10,000 a case, and other top estates anxious to peg their prices to the new gold standard.

Encouraged by lavish praise from the wine trade and press, but above all from the American super-critic Robert Parker's potential ratings of 100, some of the highest flyers have come out with jaw-dropping prices. Haut-Brion and La Mission are up 165 per cent and 272 per cent respectively on 2005. Yapping at their heels, other so-called "super-seconds", such as Cos d'Estournel, Palmer, Ducru Beaucaillou and Léoville Las Cases, have also priced their wines extravagantly in the expectation that the Asian market and wine-investment funds will bite. They may do, but at starting prices of £2,000-£2,500 a case, it puts an entire swathe of super-seconds out of the reach of wine lovers and into the grasp of investors. It's bitterly disappointing for consumers (I bought a case of the great 1982 Cos d'Estournel for £120) and a decision Bordeaux may come to regret if the bubble should burst.

However, the feeding frenzy that accompanied the late June releases obscures a more complex picture. For all the hype, the majority of wines in this vintage, some of which are excellent, are reasonably priced because they are not collectors' baubles or investment fodder. Among many cru bourgeois, d'Angludet, Poujeaux, Potensac, Monbrison, Phélan Ségur and Les Ormes de Pez will give immensely pleasurable drinking when the time comes.

As for classified châteaux: Cantemerle, Lafon-Rochet, Giscours, Gruaud-Larose, Branaire-Ducru and Talbot have not overcooked their release prices, but have all made superb wines worthy of cellaring for a few years. Even Calon-Ségur, excellent in 2009, only raised its price over 2005 by 11 per cent, while Grand Puy Lacoste, 5.5 per cent up, is another value choice.

Traditionally, the en primeur system has allowed wine lovers to get a good enough deal to make it worth taking the gamble of paying for wine while waiting two years before bottling and delivery. For the ego- and greed-driven wines, that's no longer the case because overpricing has raised the stakes too high. Ironically, the ambitious prices make earlier vintages look cheaper and in some cases, almost cheap. Inconceivable as it seems today, could we one day look back on 2009 and marvel at what great value it was? Or will we see heads on pikes as the tumbrils are wheeled from the Médoc to Mme Guillotine standing in the Cours du 30 Juillet, the square in Bordeaux named in 1791 for the abolition of the aristocracy? For a detailed chart of wine merchants selling the Bordeaux 2009 vintage en primeur and their prices, check out anthonyrosewine.com.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there