Cheval Blanc ’98 Advances to 19-Month High of $6,410 on Liv-Ex

A case of 1998 Chateau Cheval Blanc, a Saint-Emilion wine estate, sold for 3,985 pounds ($6,410) on Liv-ex this week, 17 percent above its low for this year in January, amid signs of some pickup in trading on the exchange.

The sale yesterday, following a seven-month price slide in top Bordeaux wines, was 1.5 percent above the previous 2013 high of 3,925 pounds a case reached in February, according to data on the London-based market’s Cellar Watch website.

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index, a benchmark for top claret, fell 1.5 percent in October, its sixth month of declines in the past seven and extending a slide which has taken it down about 6 percent since the end of March. Investors deterred by prices of recent Bordeaux wines have looked to older vintages as well as growers from outside the region for diversification.

Even with the price slide, “there were some positive signs” toward the end of last month, Liv-Ex said in its Cellar Watch market report. On the exchange “the bid-offer ration rose to 0.35, and active markets hit a record high.”

This week’s price was 20 percent below the 4,996 pound level which Cheval Blanc ’98 reached on Liv-ex in January 2011, as Asian demand for top Bordeaux was driving prices, and 26 percent below the level of 5,355 pounds at which it traded in August 2007 before the onset of the global financial crisis and the bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

It is more than double the 1,900 pounds at which it traded in October 2002 as the Liv-ex market was still in its early stages of development.

Cabernet Franc

The 1998 Cheval Blanc ranks as the estate’s fifth-most-expensive wine of the past 15 years, lagging behind the 2010, 2009, 2005 and 2000 vintages, according to merchant prices collated by Liv-ex on its Cellar Watch website.

The vintage was given a rating of 96+ points on a 100-point scale by U.S. wine critic Robert Parker, making it the second-highest rated of its decade after the 1990 wine, according to data on the website.

Cheval Blanc is rated among the top four growers in Saint-Emilion in the 2012 rankings published in September last year. It has the status of Premier Grand Cru Classe A alongside Chateau Ausone, Chateau Pavie and Chateau Angelus in the classification, which replaced one dating from 1996.

Cheval Blanc has 58 percent of its vineyard planted with Cabernet Franc and the remaining 42 percent with Merlot, according to the estate’s website. The average age of the vines is more than 40 years.

The estate is one of the top wines marketed by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s largest luxury goods company, along with Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon, Krug and Veuve Clicquot Champagnes and Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes.

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