Lafite ’10 Vintage Falls to Lowest Level in Three Months

Thirty-six bottles of 2010 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, a Medoc first-growth wine, sold for 5,872 pounds ($9,790) a case this week, its lowest level for three months amid subdued demand for recent Bordeaux vintages.

The transaction on March 12 was within 2 percent of the record-low price of 5,800 pounds a case set on Dec. 12, according to data on Liv-ex’s Cellar Watch website. The wine traded as high as 6,500 pounds a case last month, and yesterday 24 bottles sold for 6,160 pounds a case.

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index tracking top Bordeaux wines has fallen for 10 of the past 11 months and declined 3 percent last year after a 10 percent drop in 2012. Prices have retreated as investors and collectors diversify away from recent first-growth vintages to older wines and those from other regions.

“There’s quite a lot of money sitting out there waiting to be committed to the market,” Chris Smith, investment manager at The Wine Investment Fund in London, said by phone. “There clearly is a turning point coming. The question is when.”

The same Lafite vintage sold for 12,516 pounds a case in July 2011, soon after it started trading on Liv-ex, according to data on Cellar Watch. That coincided with the peak of the bull market in Bordeaux, driven by demand from Chinese buyers.

Vineyard History

The 2010 Lafite is the estate’s fourth most expensive wine of the past 10 years, trailing the 2009, 2005 and 2003 vintages, according to merchant data compiled by Liv-ex.

It was awarded a 98 rating on a 100-point scale by U.S. critic Robert Parker in a February 2013 online tasting note, putting it among the estate’s top four wines of the past 10 years, according to the eRobertParker.com website.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild has more than 100 hectares (247 acres) planted with red-grape vines. Cabernet Sauvignon typically makes up 80 percent to 95 percent of its wine, with Merlot 5 percent to 20 percent, and smaller quantities of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The estate has been owned by the Rothschild family since its purchase by Baron James de Rothschild in August 1868, according to Lafite’s website. Its vineyards date back to the 1670s and it started shipping wine to the London market in the early 18th century, when buyers included British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole.