Lafite ’08 Drops Near Four-Year Low as Liv-Ex 50 Extends Decline

Two cases of 2008 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, a Medoc first-growth wine estate, fetched 5,200 pounds ($8,570) each on Liv-ex this month as collectors shunned younger wines in favor of those available for drinking.

The trades, on Dec. 20, came seven months after four similar cases sold for 6,800 pounds each, their peak for the year on the London-based exchange, according to data on Liv-ex’s Cellar Watch website. They took the vintage to its lowest level since February 2010, when 12 bottles in two half cases sold for 5,150 pounds.

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index tracking top Bordeaux wines is heading for its eighth monthly decline in the past nine months, and has more than erased the gains made in the first 10 weeks of the year. The index has fallen about 10 percent since mid-March as investors, deterred by prices of recent vintages, have sought older wines or diversified to other regions.

“Markets are cyclical,” Will Beck, partner of London-based Wine Asset Managers LLP, said in a market report. “Long-term wine market fundamentals will kick back in again, maybe when we least expect it.” The fund has $20 million under management.

The Lafite 2008 vintage peaked on Liv-ex in February 2011 at 14,450 pounds a case, and has declined 64 percent since then, according to Cellar Watch data. It is still selling for more than triple the 1,700 pounds a case at which it traded in April 2009, after it first came to market.

Auction Trading

A case sold at a Christie’s International Plc auction in Hong Kong last month for as much as HK$134,750 ($17,380), according to the auction house’s website.

The 2008 Lafite is the estate’s fifth-most expensive of the past 10 years, according to merchant data compiled by Liv-ex. It was rated 98 on a 100-point scale by U.S. critic Robert Parker, putting it among the vineyard’s top four in that period.

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.

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