Lafite ’09 Falls to Eight-Month Low of $11,000 on London Liv-Ex

Lafite-Rothschild ’07 Bordeaux Rises to Two-Month High of $8,500
Chateau Lafite-Rothschild has about 247 acres planted with red-grape vines. Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Eighteen bottles of 2009 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild sold for 7,080 pounds ($11,000) a case on the London Liv-ex market this week, 15 percent down from its 2013 high amid selling pressure from investors in top Bordeaux wines.

The vintage changed hands at 7,850 pounds as recently as mid-July, and the deal on Sept. 3 took it back down to the level at which it was regularly trading between July and December 2012, according to data on Liv-ex’s Cellar Watch website.

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index, tracking leading Bordeaux vintages, has declined since March 15, paring an eight percent gain made in the previous 10 weeks to leave it four percent up since the start of this year. Lafite, a first-growth wine estate in the Pauillac region on the left bank of the Gironde estuary, is one of the highest-priced growers of Medoc with Chateau Latour, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and Chateau Margaux.

In wine trading during August, “Bordeaux saw the biggest drops, though many price dips were arbitrary,” according to a commentary posted by Liv-ex on its website. The period saw little index movement and “typically light” volumes, it said.

The vintage has declined 51 percent from its peak of 14,350 pounds a case attained in February 2011, and is 29 percent below the level of 10,000 pounds at which it traded in May 2010 soon after its release onto the market.

Family Estate

The 2009 Lafite is the estate’s most expensive since the 2000 vintage, and the third highest-priced of the past 20 years, according to merchant data compiled by Liv-ex. It was rated 99+ on a 100-point scale by U.S. critic Robert Parker, putting it among the vineyard’s top two of the past 10 years, lagging only the 2003 vintage, which scored a perfect 100.

Parker described it in an online tasting note last year as “a full-bodied wine revealing the classic elegance, purity and delineated style of Lafite,” while going through a slightly closed-down phase and needing another 10 to 15 years of bottle age.

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild has more than 100 hectares (247 acres) planted with red-grape vines. Cabernet Sauvignon typically makes up from 80 percent to 95 percent of its wine, with Merlot from 5 percent to 20 percent, and smaller quantities of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The vineyards, owned by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), date back at least to the 17th century and the estate has been under the control of the Rothschild family since being acquired by Baron James de Rothschild, then head of its French branch, in August 1868.

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