Chateau d’Yquem ’07 Sauternes Drops to Record Low $3,950 a Case

Sixty bottles of 2007 Chateau d’Yquem, Bordeaux’s top-ranked Sauternes dessert wine, sold for a record low 2,460 pounds ($3,950) a case on Liv-ex in the past week as collectors focused on its newly-released 2011 vintage.

The wine sold for 11 percent less than the 2,750 pounds at which it traded in mid-June and 27 percent down from the peak of 3,375 pounds at which it traded between June and August 2011, according to data on London-based Liv-ex’s Cellar Watch website.

While the decline reflects a drop in the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index during the past six months, it also comes as investor attention has been switching to wines from other regions. Yquem recently started marketing its 2011 wines, drawing attention away from back vintages, and Sauternes typically commands lower prices than comparable Bordeaux reds based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Market performance outside red Bordeaux has been a little healthier recently, “with the exception of the hapless Yquem, which has done nothing for many years,” Will Beck, partner of London-based Wine Asset Managers LLP, said in a market report last month. The fund has $20 million under management.

Two cases of Yquem 2007 fetched as much as $4,900 each at a Zachys two-day sale in New York ended April 26, according to the auction house’s online results. The vintage is now 17 percent below the 2,960 pounds per-case price at which it traded in early 2009 after its release to the market.

Auction Prices

Last week’s sale came after the mid-price for the 2007 Yquem tracked by Liv-ex, calculated from merchant’s posted bid and offer prices, rose 3.9 percent last month to 2,634 pounds a case.

Yquem from the previous vintage in 2006 also fell to a record low last month on Liv-ex, when 12 bottles traded for a per-case price of 2,100 pounds, according to Cellar Watch data. Yquem ’06 has sold at lower prices at auction this year, with two cases fetching 1,755 pounds each at a Christie’s International Plc sale in London in June, according to results on its website.

Yquem’s 2007 vintage is its third-most expensive of the 10 most recent traded years, while the cheaper 2006 is priced at less than half the level of the more recent 2009 wines, according to merchant data tracked by Liv-ex.

Noble Rot

The 2007 Yquem was awarded 98 points out of 100 by U.S. wine critic Robert Parker in an online tasting note in February last year, according to the eRobertParker website.

He described it as “initially rather taciturn on the nose, eventually opening up beautifully with touches of lemon curd, Mirabelle and clear honey” and said it had “an effortless quality.”

The Sauternes sweet white wine derives its flavor from grapes picked after the Botrytis cinerea fungus, referred to as noble rot, sets in and boosts their sugar concentration, according to the winery’s website.

The estate said in December it wouldn’t produce any dessert wine from its 2012 harvest as grapes failed to achieve the necessary level of rot because of an abundance of rain. Over the past half-century the winery also skipped production in 1992, 1974, 1972 and 1964.

Chateau d’Yquem is owned by Paris-based LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s largest luxury goods maker, which is led by billionaire Bernard Arnault. The wine estate is managed by Pierre Lurton, who also has responsibility for Chateau Cheval Blanc in Saint-Emilion.

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