Lafite ’98 at $9,000 Outperforms Liv-Ex Fine Wine Index

A case of 1998 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild sold for 5,800 pounds ($9,000) on Liv-ex in the past week, matching its mid-March level and outperforming the four percent drop in the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index over the period.

The transaction on Aug. 7 was the fourth sale at that level out of seven trades in Lafite ’98 since the start of last month and the seventh since the beginning of June, according to data on Liv-ex’s Cellar Watch website.

The regularity of trading in Lafite ’98 at that price is a barometer of stability in demand for older vintages from leading Bordeaux growers after market volatility earlier in the year during the sales campaign for the region’s 2012 wines. Lafite, a first-growth wine estate in the Pauillac region north of the city, is one of the highest-priced producers of the Medoc with Chateau Latour, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and Chateau Margaux.

“The market has moved away from ‘commodity claret,’ and intrinsic, rather than speculative, value is what is driving demand,” London wine merchant Fine+Rare wrote in its July market report on its website.

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 has declined since March 15, paring an eight percent gain made in the previous 10 weeks. While Lafite ’98 has established stability around the 5,800 pound level over the past five months, it touched a high for 2013 of 5,910 pounds last month and was trading as low as 5,100 pounds in January.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The 1998 Lafite is the estate’s seventh-most expensive of the past 20 years, according to merchant data compiled by Liv-ex. It was rated 98 on a 100-point scale by U.S. critic Robert Parker, putting it among the vineyard’s top six of the past 15 years.

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

Its vineyards 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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