I got Frédéric Engerer on the phone from Taipei this afternoon from my house in Italy. He had more than 50 e-mails to answer regarding the release of his 2008 Latour to the global wine trade. The president of the famous first-growth released his wine at 110 euros to the Bordeaux wine trade, who in turn are selling it to customers around the world for about 126 euros to 132 euros. I figure that American wine consumers will be able to buy a bottle of 2008 Latour futures for about $230 to $250.
Remember that the 2008 Latour is aging in barrel at the château at the moment and will not be bottled and put on the market until 2011. So the wine trade, and perhaps consumers, will be tying up their money on 2008 futures for three years. The hope is that it will be less expensive now than later, but who knows with the global economic crisis as well as the volatile currency exchange? I have heard people say that the euro could go to $1.60 or $1.
Latour was my second-favorite first-growth in my barrel tastings this year in Bordeaux. The 2008 Latour is clearly outstanding, with plenty of currant and blackberry aromas and hints of flowers that follow through to a racy palate that slowly builds with superpolished tannins and pretty fruit. It’s serious stuff.
Engerer released about half the production of the 2008 grand vin as futures.The word from the wine trade in Bordeaux as well as abroad was that the price was reasonable and that plenty of buyers wanted some. “This is a pretty realistic price and a pragmatic price,” said Engerer. “We have made an effort and we have listened to the market. If it doesn’t move at this price, then it is really a frozen market.”
The price seems reasonable to me. I was hoping that first-growths such as Latour would come out even lower so that U.S. consumers could buy them at slightly less than $200 a bottle. I guess it was just a dream? But $230 to $250 isn’t bad.
The fact is, as I've pointed out before, you can’t find a bottle of Latour, or any other first-growth from any good vintage, in the market for $250 a bottle at the moment.
“It is the cheapest Latour available on the market [from the château],” pointed out Engerer on the phone. “Maybe some 1992, 1993 or 1987 is less. But this is the cheapest on the market for a serious vintage. 110 euros for the vintage of this quality, it is very good quality with the cheapest price. End of the story.”
I am not so sure it is the end of the story though. We still have to see what the other first-growths come out at. I assume that it will be the same level. Plus, then all the other top châteaus will follow. The prices are going to have to come down from 2007 levels. That’s for sure.
The prestigious St.-Emilion estate of Angélus came down about 42 percent from its 2007 price about a week ago with its 2008 futures. And Latour is down 45 percent with its 2008 from 2007.
“It is time to have a clear message in terms of price and timing,” added Engerer. “These are not times when wine prices are spiraling high like 2005. We know that there are problems in the market.”
We certainly do know that there are problems in the world. Just read or watch the news. So I am not sure that selling other 2008 futures is going to be easy even to the wine trade. But maybe I have it wrong? As I have written before, the wines will be sold and drunk some day, if not as futures. 2008 is a very good vintage with some outstanding quality wines in Bordeaux.