A 10 percent price cut on the 2013 vintage from both Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau Margaux this week followed reductions from rival first-growths Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Mouton Rothschild as top Bordeaux estates tested market demand.
Margaux and Haut-Brion each put their 2013 wines on sale at 215 euros ($297) a bottle from Bordeaux wholesale merchants, down from 240 euros for the 2012, according to data compiled by the London-based Liv-ex wine market.
Yields fell more than 30 percent in many Bordeaux vineyards last year after cold, wet weather during flowering, according to winemakers. Investors are focusing on so-called en primeur sales of 2013 wines, which are maturing for future delivery, after prices for other vintages declined since 2011. The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 has fallen about 4 percent this year after a 3 percent drop in 2013 and a 10 percent decline in 2012.
“The wine market is quiet, not helped by another so far badly judged 2013 en primeur campaign,” Will Beck, partner at Wine Asset Managers LLP in London, said in a market report. “The industry has so far watched this with disappointment.”
Greek retail magnate Andre Mentzelopoulos bought Chateau Margaux, whose wines have been sold in London since the early 18th century, in 1977. It has been run since his death in 1980 by daughter Corinne.
The estate has 80 hectares (198 acres) planted with red-grape vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc and 12 hectares with white Sauvignon Blanc.
It produces an annual average 130,000 bottles of its main wine, a similar quantity of 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 first-growth estates in the classification drawn up for Napoleon III’s 1855 Paris Exhibition, which remains in force.
Haut-Brion has been making wine for more than 400 years and was bought in 1935 by U.S. financier Clarence Dillon, whose descendants still own the estate.
Further north in Pauillac, Mouton Rothschild priced its 2013 wines at 216 euros a bottle last week, down 10 percent from the previous vintage, while holding its Petit Mouton second wine unchanged at 66 euros, according to Liv-ex data.
Mouton, which has been under the control of the Rothschild family since being acquired by Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild in 1853, has 84 hectares planted with red-grape vines. The vines have an average age of 44 years and are planted at a density of 10,000 per hectare, according to Mouton’s website.
Lafite Rothschild, a neighboring wine estate owned by another branch of the Rothschild family, cut the price of its 2013 vintage by 14 percent from 2012 this month following the rain-hit crop and pressure from merchants for cheaper wines.
Lafite put its 2013 wines on sale at 288 euros a bottle, down from 335 euros for the 2012, according to Liv-ex data.
The 2013 vintage of the estate’s second wine Carruades de Lafite was priced at 90 euros a bottle, down 5 percent from 2012, while 2013 wine from Chateau Duhart-Milon, a nearby Pauillac producer with the same winemaking team, was set at 48 euros, 9 percent below the 2012 vintage, according to Liv-ex.
Clos Fourtet, a producer from Saint-Emilion on the right bank of the Dordogne, priced its 2013 at 44 euros a bottle, down 2 percent from the previous year, while Chateau Brane-Cantenac, in the Margaux region, reduced its price by 6 percent to 27 euros, according to Liv-ex.
In Saint-Emilion, Chateau Angelus and Chateau Pavie, two estates which were promoted to the region’s top status of Premier Grand Cru Classe A in 2012, both cut the price of their 2013 vintage by 8 percent from the previous year to 165 euros a bottle, according to data compiled by Liv-ex.
The sales campaign has gathered momentum since Bordeaux estates hosted annual tastings for the wine trade at the start of this month. Chateau Pontet-Canet, a Pauillac grower neighboring Mouton, set the pace by releasing its 2013 wine at 60 euros a bottle in March, unchanged from its 2012 vintage.
Chateau Pichon Longueville, a Pauillac second-growth, priced its 2013 wine at 54 euros a bottle, down 17 percent, according to Liv-ex, while neighboring Chateau Lynch-Bages announced a similar reduction to 50 euros a bottle. Chateau Montrose in Saint-Estephe was unchanged at 57.60 euros.