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July 11, 2017

The Best Value First Growth And Super Second Of 2016

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Haut Brion
Now that the 2016 en primeur releases have finished, we are revising and analysing the campaign in more detail. Several leading wines sold out in minutes on the Place du Bordeaux, while others were very aggressive on price. Today we look at which First Growth and Super Second offered the best value for money, charting their Price Over Points scores. This provides a great guide in terms of investment potential, while also displaying which wines provide the most value.

With Chateau Latour absent from en primeur, of the four First Growths the Chateau with the best Price Over Points Score in 2016 was Haut Brion. It has the lowest price in 2016 at £4,850 per case of 12, or £2,425 per case of six. This represents a 6% discount to both Mouton Rothschild and Margaux and a 14% discount to Lafite Rothschild. This discount however is not endemic of their price ratio. Running back to 2005 Haut Brion trades at parity with Chateau Margaux and Mouton Rothschild, suggesting that the discount in 2016 is a positive one for Haut Brion collectors. Haut Brion 2016 was awarded 97-99 points from Neal Martin and is still very capable of a perfect 100 points from bottle. It was, however, one of the wines to be awarded a perfect 100 points by James Suckling.


The 2016 price also looks attractive when compared to other vintages of Haut Brion. It is priced at a 30% discount to the 2010 (£6,950), a 27% discount to the 2009 and 2005, all of which have a perfect 100 point score from Robert Parker. The 2016 vintage has received a median score of 98 points from Neal Martin – this indicates the release price should be between £4,800-£4,900. In fact the release price is directly between the two boundaries indicating efficient pricing. The correlation of the two variables running back to 2005 is calculated at 0.87768 – this underpins the findings and is indicative of a strong positive linear relationship. Obviously, the maximum score in the band of 99 points will offer excellent upside. In terms of POP score and value for money Haut Brion is the best value First Growth in 2016. It is also one of the greatest Haut Brions in history.

Haut Brion 2016, 12×75 – £4,850 EP or 6×75 – £2,425 EP

97-99 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Haut Brion is a blend of 56% Merlot, 37.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.5% Cabernet Franc that was picked between 19 September and 13 October. Jean-Philippe Delmas told me that this represents a touch more Merlot than last year’s vintage. It clearly has a more powerful and intense bouquet compared to the LaMission Haut-Brion, although maybe not the same killer level of detail and delineation. The palate is beautifully balanced with arching tannins that insistently grip the mouth. There are layers of black fruit, minerals, sea salt and a touch of crushed violets. Unlike the 2015 Haut-Brion, this is more linear, stricter and you could argue more nimble on its toes. Yet maybe it does not quite have the same depth and labyrinthine complexity that made the 2015 such an astonishing wine. Nevertheless, this 2016 is not far behind and it will be fascinating to compare in the future.

100 Points, James Suckling
This is a monument for Haut-Brion and reminds me of the great 1998 but in a modern and bright style. Full-bodied, very tannic and superbly structured yet always agile and vivid. Its energy and dynamic nature grabs you by the shoulder and tells you it’s great. Staggeringly precise. It can’t get better than this, can it?

Grand Puy Lacoste
The 2016 vintage was one of the finest for the left bank in modernity. In St Julien, Pauillac and St Estephe in particular, the wine shone. As such the Wine Advocate scores are very high, particularly among the Super Second wines which predominate within these communes. Super Seconds can broadly be considered Second Growths that if the 1855 Classification happened again today, would make the cut: most are already members of this elite club, but there would be some new entries. As we often posit, in great vintages the Super Second Estates create wines that would equal or surpass First Growths in all other vintages: in 2016 many have exceeded even the First Growths.

The best value Super Second in 2016 is Grand Puy Lacoste. In 2016 it was awarded 95-97 points from Neal Martin, a reflection of its incredible quality. Priced at £735 per case of six, or £367.50 per case of six, Grand Puy Lacoste has the lowest Price Over Points ratio of any Super Second, at 46. To put this into perspective, Grand Puy Lacoste has the same score as Chateau Palmer, yet is priced over 3.5 times less. The price point is magnificent, £61 per bottle for a 95-97 point scoring Super Second is remarkable and a must buy wine of the vintage.

Chateau Village WA POP Price
Grand Puy Lacoste Pauillac 95-97 46 £735
Leoville Barton St Julien 93-95 54 £750
Leoville Poyferre St Julien 95-97 50 £800
Lynch Bages Pauillac 97-99 62 £1,120
Pontet Canet Pauillac 95-97 81 £1,300
Pichon Baron Pauillac 96-98 79 £1,350
Cos d’Estournel St Estephe 98-100 74 £1,400
Pichon Lalande Pauillac 96-98 84 £1,420
Montrose St Estephe 97-99 80 £1,440
Ducru Beaucaillou St Julien 96-98 100 £1,700
Leoville Las Cases St Julien 98-100 111 £2,100
Palmer Margaux 95-97 178 £2,840


Grand Puy Lacoste, like Pontet Canet, is classified as a Fifth Growth. It is located behind Lynch Bages and on the same longitude as Mouton Rothschild and Pontet Canet. It is interesting to note that Pontet Canet and Lynch Bages would be two of the other new entries as a Second Growth if a new classification were to be made. Grand Puy Lacoste shares the same properties that makes these great Pauillac Estates capable of producing beautifully structured, powerful and complex wines. It is an Estate following the trajectory of Lynch Bages and Pontet Canet, a tantalising investment prospect. It is also worth noting that Grand Puy Lacoste is known as the Crocodile Wine in China due to it sharing the same name as the well-known French sports brand, Lacoste, adding to its cachet in Asia.

Grand Puy Lacoste 2016, 12×75 – £735 EP or 6×75 – £367.50 EP

95-97 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Grand-Puy-Lacoste is a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot that matured in 75% new oak. It has 13.3% alcohol this year. It has an extraordinarily pure bouquet with blackberry, briary, touches of pencil shaving and cedar aromas–quintessential Grand-Puy-Lacoste, basically. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin. Gone are the days when this Pauillac was as hard as nails for the first decade. The tannins are nowadays much finer and the acidity lends this tension and plenty of freshness. There is an effortless quality to this Pauillac with wonderful length and such finesse on the finish that you immediately want to go back and re-taste it. Like so many others, this improved with aeration, gaining ever more harmony and precision. What a brilliant wine. It is classic Pauillac to its core.

96-97 Points, James Suckling
This is all about the finish with a sweet-tobacco, berry and light milk-chocolate character. Full body, very fine tannins and a juicy finish. Love the intensity and finesse at the end. Lots of energy. Could better the exquisite 2014.

To buy either of these wines click here.