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Chateau Margaux ’96 Bordeaux Declines to Six-Month Low

Chateau Margaux
The facade of Chateau Margaux in the commune of Margaux, France. The house on the left bank of the Gironde estuary is at the center of a winemaking industry, and produces some of the world's most expensive vintages. Photographer: Carol Olona/Bloomberg

A case of 1996 Chateau Margaux, a Bordeaux first-growth wine estate, sold for 4,600 pounds ($7,060) on the Liv-ex market, a six-month low and down 7 percent from its high for this year as demand weakened.

The transaction on July 22 was 33 percent below the record 6,900 pounds a case at which it traded in March 2011 at the height of the bull market for Bordeaux.

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index, a benchmark for top Bordeaux wines, fell 2 percent in the second quarter after gaining 7 percent in the first three months, and has slipped further during July. A muted investor response to the Bordeaux 2012 sales campaign of the past three months has sapped appetite for older vintages, while collectors are comparing Bordeaux values increasingly with those of Burgundy, Italy and California.

“We’re dealing with a broader market that is more price-sensitive,” Stephen Williams, founder of the London-based Antique Wine Company, said.

The 1996 Margaux ranks as the estate’s fifth highest-priced wine of the past 20 years, lagging only those from 2010, 2009, 2005 and 2000, according to merchant prices collated by Liv-ex on its Cellar Watch website.

The vintage was awarded a 99 rating on a 100-point scale by U.S. critic Robert Parker, putting it among the six highest-ranked Margaux wines of the past quarter century, according to the website.

First Growth

Chateau Margaux, whose wines have been sold in London since the early eighteenth century, was acquired in 1977 by Greek retail magnate Andre Mentzelopoulos and has been run since his death in 1980 by his daughter Corinne.

The estate has 80 hectares (198 acres) planted with red-grape vines Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc and 12 hectares planted with white Sauvignon Blanc.

It produces an annual average 130,000 bottles of its main wine, a similar quantity of second wine Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux and 15,000 bottles of white Pavillon Blanc, according to its website.

The vineyard is on the left bank of the Gironde estuary and ranked among the top Medoc and Graves first-growth estates in the classification drawn up for Napoleon III’s 1855 Paris Exhibition, which remains in force. Since the promotion of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, there are five estates ranked as first growths.

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