Haut-Brion ’08 Falls to Nine-Month Low as Index Retreats

A case of Chateau Haut-Brion 2008, a first-growth Bordeaux from the Pessac-Leognan district on the south side of the city, sold for 2,700 pounds ($4,370) on the Liv-ex wine exchange yesterday, its lowest level since January.

The transaction was 13 percent below this year’s high of 3,100 pounds a case reached in April, according to data on Liv-ex’s Cellar Watch website. This week’s price was 3.6 percent below the level of 2,800 pounds at which the vintage traded in December last year.

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index tracking top Bordeaux wines is heading for its seventh decline in eight months and is down about 1 percent since the end of December, having given up all of the gains it made in the first 10 weeks of this year. Collectors and investors deterred by prices of recent vintages from the region have been either reining back purchases or seeking wines from areas such as Burgundy, the Rhone, Italy, Champagne and California.

“In the months ahead non-Bordeaux exposure is likely to rise gradually,” Will Beck, partner of London-based Wine Asset Managers LLP, said in a market report. The fund has $20 million under management.

The 2008 vintage of Haut-Brion peaked in June 2011 at 5,190 pounds, since when it has declined 48 percent, according to Liv-ex data. It is still 59 percent up from the level of April 2009, when it first started trading on the Liv-ex market.

Clarence Dillon

Haut-Brion is one of the five left-bank first growths in Bordeaux’s 1855 classification, and the 2008 wine ranks as the seventh most expensive of the past 15 years, according to merchant prices compiled by Liv-ex. The estate, which has been making wine for more than 400 years, was bought in 1935 by U.S. financier Clarence Dillon and is still owned by his descendants.

The 2008 wine scored 96 points from U.S. critic Robert Parker, putting it among the top five vintages of the past 10 years, according the eRobertParker website.

Haut-Brion’s most expensive wine of the past quarter-century remains its 1989 vintage, which was awarded a perfect 100-point score by Parker. One case sold for 10,925 pounds at a Christie’s International Plc auction in London on Feb. 21 while another fetched 10,810 pounds at a Sotheby’s U.K. sale the same month.

Haut-Brion’s 2006 and 2000 vintages also touched their lowest levels since January this month, according to data on Cellar Watch.

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