Lafite-Rothschild 2008 Falls to $8,800 Five-Month Low on Liv-Ex

A case of 2008 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, the most expensive of the Medoc first-growth wine estates, sold for 5,900 pounds ($8,800) on the Liv-ex market, a five-month low and down 13 percent from its peak for this year.

Today’s price was 59 percent below the record 14,450 pounds at which it traded in February 2011, at the height of the bull market for Bordeaux, and is up 9 percent from the level to which it fell in August 2012 after Chinese demand cooled.

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index has risen 5 percent this year, with an 8 percent gain in the 10 weeks to mid-March pared by a 3 percent decline since then. Restrained investor demand for Bordeaux 2012 wine futures on sale over the past three months has weighed on prices of the region’s earlier vintages.

The 2012 sales campaign “is what really damped the recovery,” Chris Smith, investment manager at The Wine Investment Fund in London, said in a phone interview. “It stifled whatever interest there was.” The fund, invested in Bordeaux, manages $50 million.

The 2008 Lafite ranks as the estate’s fifth highest-priced wine of the past 10 years, lagging those from 2010, 2009, 2005 and 2003, according to merchant prices collated by Liv-ex on its Cellar Watch website.

The vintage was awarded a 98 rating on a 100-point scale by U.S. critic Robert Parker, matching the 2010 and ahead of the two most recent years, according to the website.

Cabernet Sauvignon

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

The vineyard, owned by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), is in Pauillac on the left bank of the Gironde estuary and ranked among the top Bordeaux first-growth estates in the classification drawn up for Napoleon III’s 1855 Paris Exhibition, which remains in force.

Its vineyards date back at least to the seventeenth 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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