Leoville Barton ’05 Slides to Seven-Year Low on Liv-Ex

Five cases of 2005 Chateau Leoville Barton, a Bordeaux second-growth wine estate, fetched 615 pounds ($989) each on Liv-ex this week, taking the vintage to a seven-year low amid muted demand for the region’s wines.

The sale on Nov. 12, accompanied by two other cases of the same vintage fetching 630 pounds each the same day, was the lowest level for the wine since July 2006, according to data on London-based Liv-ex’s Cellar Watch website. A case also sold for 620 pounds on the U.K.-based Cavex wine market on Nov. 8.

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index, a benchmark for top Bordeaux wines, fell 1.5 percent in October, its sixth month of declines in the past seven, extending a slide which has taken it down about 8 percent since mid-March. While the index tracks first growths, there are signs of a revival in broader buying interest as wines, including some Bordeaux second growths and Burgundy vintages, have outperformed it.

“It’s Bordeaux that’s been on a slide for the last few months,” Stephen Maunder, chief executive officer of Cavex, said. “We’re seeing a pick-up in activity in the last couple of days. The market’s on the move.”

This month’s trading in Leoville Barton ’05 compares with the high of 920 pounds a case it reached on Liv-ex in April 2008 during a three-year bull market in Bordeaux wine prior to the onset of the global financial crisis. It is within the range of 516 pounds to 660 pounds at which the wine traded on Liv-ex in June 2006 soon after its release to the market.

Eighteenth-Century Roots

The 2005 Leoville Barton ranks among the estate’s four most expensive of the past 15 years, according to merchant prices collated by Liv-ex on its Cellar Watch website.

The Barton family, owner of the estate, traces its history in Bordeaux back to 1725, when Thomas Barton arrived in the city from Ireland and went on to found a wine merchant which became Barton & Guestier. For the past three decades the estate has been run by Anthony Barton, who took it over from his uncle Ronald.

Leoville Barton is in the Saint-Julien district north of Bordeaux and is a neighbor of Chateau Langoa Barton, owned by the same family. Leoville Barton was designated a second-growth vineyard in the classification drawn up for Napoleon III’s 1855 Paris Exhibition, which remains in force.

Leoville Barton, covering 45 hectares (111 acres), is planted to 72 percent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, 20 percent Merlot and 8 percent Cabernet Franc, according to Leoville Barton’s website.

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