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June 14, 2013

En Primeur 2012 Review

FOOTER12

En Primeur 2012 releases returned to a more orderly fashion resulting in a relatively short campaign. It lasted just over a month in comparison to 2009 and 2010 which persisted for three to four months. The consensus across the industry was, in order to generate interest, chateaux needed to release at sensible levels that reflected 2008 prices.

The campaign started fairly promisingly with one of the first big names to release, Lynch Bages, offering value for money at £670 for a full case; 13% lower than 2011 and 16% lower than 2008’s current price. Some followed suit, the leading First Growth of the vintage, Mouton Rothschild, released 33% below their 2011 release price. Mouton Rothschild rose above £3,000 a case once it was awarded 95-97 Points by Robert Parker.

The First Growths reduced their prices and were received well, Mouton Rothschild, Margaux and Haut Brion all offered their first tranches at £2,800. Lafite Rothschild boldly released at £3,900, 28% down from last year and comfortably below their average case price; Latour of course remained absent, abortively pushing their 1995 at high ex-cellar prices.

Other chateaux overplayed their hands and have seen less traction with prices too high sparking little interest from buyers. Pavie and Angelus increased by 59% and 32% respectively following their elevation from Grand Cru Classe B status to Grand Cru Classe A, largely falling on deaf ears!

There have been a few exceptions including Pontet Canet which sold very well even though it only dropped 10% on price from 2011, trading at £690 a full case. This could be due to its consistent performance over the last four years, scoring 100 points in both 2009 and 2010. One of the winners of the vintage, L’Eglise Clinet, released 25% higher than 2011; this was the only red wine of the vintage to receive a potential 100 Parker Points. Overall prices were down by less than 10%.

Overview 2012
Broadly speaking 2012 was a better vintage than 2011. It has better structure and it has been likened to 2008. Merlot was more successful than its leading partner Cabernet Sauvignon, combating the late rains that troubled the left bank more than the right bank. The wines of the right bank, which are Merlot dominant, and Pessac Leognon, which contains gravelly soils and a higher percentage of Merlot than it northern counterparts, came out on top in this rather difficult ‘wine-makers’ vintage’.

Parker’s review reflected the market sentiment in general reporting that St Emilion, Cheval Blanc and Angelus 94-96, Pavie 94-96+, La Mondotte 94-97 and Pomerol; La Fleur Petrus, Hosanna 94-96 and Trotanoy 96-98, all performed very well. Pessac Leognon was the best performing region on the left bank, represented by the perennially pleasing Pape Clement and the strong Domaine de Chevalier both scoring 92-95. The white wine of Haut Brion 98-100, La Mission Haut Brion 96-98+ and Pape Clement 95-98, all performed brilliantly.

It seems that there has been limited interest from China; speaking to merchants from Hong Kong the general consensus was that pricing was still too high during this campaign.

The First Growths
For 2012, the First Growths were incredibly attractive with Mouton and Margaux moving down 33% and Lafite reducing by 28% from 2011 prices.

Mouton Rothschild, 12×75 – £3,000 – 95-97 Parker
Parker’s First Growth of the vintage was Mouton Rothschild, which he scored 95-97; this now offers extraordinary value for £3,000 a case. When compared to other similar vintages the 2012 looks to be a must buy wine, with limited stock in the market:

Lafite Rothschild, £4,000, 12×75 – 93-94 Parker Points
It is the First Growth with the highest average list price across all vintages; their 2012 release price is significantly below this. With the exception of the 2011, which was released at £5,500, there are very few cases currently in the market below £6,000.

Margaux, £2,800, 12×75 – 92-94 Parker Points
The beautiful Margaux released at a very attractive 33% below its 2011 release price and 13-27% lower than other current trading vintages of comparable quality.

Haut Brion, £2,800, 12×75 – 93-95 Parker Points
With the exception of 2011, an inferior wine, it offers a discount to cases of comparable vintages (2004, 2003 and 2001) of the same price, if not very close to. We thought this was a splendid wine and will be pushing the higher end of Parker’s score.

Please find below the wines we have selected based on performance and quality versus price:

Left Bank
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 2012 12×75 – £335, 92-95 Parker Points
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2012 12×75 – £650, 93-95 Parker Points
Parker proclaimed that Domaine de Chevalier Rouge ‘is was one of the stars of the vintage’, scoring it highly, yet the estate kept the price low offering superb value. Their white wine was exceptional in 2012, unquestionably a leading white Bordeaux, which trades at a fraction of the price of Haut Brion Blanc and La Mission Haut Brion Blanc.

Pape Clement, £550, 12×75 – 92-95 Parker Points
It has been well documented that Pessac Leognon produced some of Bordeaux’s best wine in 2012 and Pape Clement arguably made the wines of the region, scoring 92-95 Parker. 92-95 points for £550 case appeals to both investors and consumers alike.
Smith Haut Lafitte, £450, 12×75 – 92-94 Parker Points
Smith Haut Lafitte received its first 100 point score in 2009, with Parker calling it a ‘prodigious effort’. It scored 98+ in 2010 and is being spoken about in the same regard as Pontet Canet. One of the best performers this vintage, a sentiment confirmed when Parker awarded it 92-94 ‘a brilliant success again’. The 2012 presents one of the best buy of the campaign in terms of price versus quality. Smith Haut Lafitte is one of the leading performers in terms of returns over the last five years and will continue to achieve price appreciation.

Grand Puy Lacoste £340 – 87-89 points
The always popular Grand Puy Lacoste is one of the best value Pauillac wines this year priced at £340 (87-89 points). It perennially provides an accessible version of the other leading estates from the most famous winemaking village on the planet.

Pichon Lalande, £650, 12×75 – 91-93 Parker Points
Pichon Lalande released at a very attractive £650 for a full case, 18% lower than it 2011 release price, and 18-35% lower than vintages of comparable quality which include 2011, 2008, 2004 and 2001.

Montrose, £640, 12×75 – 92-94 Parker Points
This 2012 is great value at £640 a case when compared to the 1990 vintage which scored 100 points and now trades for £5,100, on par with First Growth prices.

Right Bank
Troplong Mondot, £590, 12×75 – 94-96 Parker
Troplong Mondot is described by Parker as ‘one of the superstars of the vintage’ and they have equaled their wines generous fruit with their release price. it is possibly the most compelling wine of the vintage when considering quality versus price and with the 2000 Troplong Mondot trading at around £1,000 a case this wine has a lot of headroom.

Beausejour Duffau-Lagarrosse, £270, 6×75 – 93-95+ – Parker Points
Beausejour Duffau-Lagarrosse is classified as a Premier Grand Cru Classe B and has outperformed Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Angelus and Pavie in recent years. The 2012 is one of the wines of the vintage and is priced extremely competitively.

La Conseillante, Pomerol, £660, 12×75 – 92-94 Parker Points
La Conseillante is very compelling, it is a leading Pomerol estate and great value for £660 a case, scoring 92-94 points.

Pavie Macquin, St Emilion, £390, 12×75 – 92-95 Parker Points
Pavie Macquin which is found on the same plateau as Pavie released at £390, which is very good value when considering its 92-95 score. This should show good capital appreciation and will be beautiful to drink in five years and last for twenty.

Clos Fourtet, £500, 12×75 – 93-95 Parker Points
Clos Fourtet is another Chateau that has provided excellent price versus quality. Located in St Emilion and boasting 85% Merlot this Chateau continues to punch above it’s weight. For 93-95 points we believe that this is very good value.