American Collectors Seen Driving 2014 Bordeaux Wine Sales

Chateau Mouton Rothschild
The vineyards and chateau of Mouton-Rothschild stand in the Bordeaux region of France. Source: Rothschild S.A. via Bloomberg

North American collectors bought 70 percent of Bordeaux 2014 wine futures transacted this year through Sotheby’s Wine as the amount sold rebounded from the previous two vintages to climb back close to volumes achieved in 2011.

Bordeaux 2014 sales were 90 percent higher than the 2013 vintage and 80 percent above the 2012 campaign, according to Sotheby’s. Sales were still 10 percent below those for the 2011 vintage.

The 2014 vintage followed two difficult years of weather in the region and marked a return to more normal conditions both in the vineyards and in the global wine market. While 2014 prices in Bordeaux were generally above those predicted by merchants, according to Liv-ex, growers said improved quality relative to 2013 and 2012 helped make 2014 wines more expensive.

“Our 2014 futures sales were stronger than we originally anticipated,” Jamie Ritchie, who heads Sotheby’s Wine, Americas & Asia, said in a statement, citing “the continued strengthening of demand in the United States.”

Top 10

Sales of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 2014 led by value, followed by Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Chateau Petrus and Chateau Haut-Brion, in line with 2013, according to Sotheby’s.

Others making up the top 10 by sales value were Chateau Margaux, Chateau Lafleur, Chateau Ausone, Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion and Vieux Chateau Certan.

The increased sales reflected both an improvement in quality after two tough vintages for Bordeaux, and a revival of collector appetite after a price slump in top Medoc wines since 2011 as Chinese demand cooled and attention in auction rooms focused more on Burgundy and regions such as northern Italy.

Pape Clement

“Luckily it’s a good wine,” Bernard Magrez, owner of Chateau Pape Clement, said in an interview during tastings of the 2014 vintage in the region earlier this year.

At Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte in Pessac-Leognan, owner Daniel Cathiard described 2014 as “a bit of a resurrection” after “difficult conditions in recent years,” while Stephan von Neipperg of Chateau Canon-La-Gaffeliere in Saint Emilion said his vintage was marked by “nice acidity, structure and integrated tannins.”

Anabelle Cruse Bardinet of Chateau Corbin said the 2014 wines arrived “in an economic context when we needed a vintage like this.”

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