Lafite ’06 Bordeaux Touches Its Lowest Level Since May on Liv-Ex

Two cases of 2006 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild sold for 5,300 pounds ($8,380) a case on the London Liv-ex market yesterday, 9.4 percent down from its 2013 high amid selling pressure from investors in top Bordeaux wines.

The vintage changed hands at 5,500 pounds as recently as last week, and the deal took it down to the level at which it was regularly trading back in February, 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 8 percent gain made in the previous 10 weeks to leave it 4 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.

“We’ve seen prices for some of the top wines come down,” Tom Gearing, director of Cult Wines Ltd., a wine investment company based in Richmond, England, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse” with Guy Johnson. “The wine market has now found a bottom. We have seen a market correction.”

While the vintage has declined 38 percent from its peak of 8,594 pounds a case attained in February 2011, it is still 74 percent above the level of 3,050 pounds at which it traded in June 2007 soon after its release onto the market.

Family Estate

The 2006 Lafite is the estate’s third cheapest in the past 15 years, ahead only of the most recent 2011 and 2012 vintages, according to merchant data compiled by Liv-ex. It was rated 97 on a 100-point scale by U.S. critic Robert Parker in a February 2009 online tasting note, putting it above the 96+ points he awarded to Lafite’s higher-priced 2005 vintage.

Parker said in the note that the selection process, in which he reported that only 42 percent of grapes were used for the flagship Lafite brand, “resulted in a full-bodied wine boasting an extraordinary perfume of charcoal, truffles, lead pencil shavings and sensationally sweet, ripe black currant and cedar notes.” He predicted it would age for three decades.

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.