Back in Bordeaux after almost three weeks in England, and greeted by sunshine and heat that apparently has been around since we left.
I read this morning a very interesting report from Liv-ex ( www.liv-ex.com ) on Lafite Rothschild, which confirms a trend that I have increasingly noticed over the past few years. If you would like to follow this year's harvest at Lafite, have a look at the video I took for Decanter.com http://www.decanter.com/specials/286633.html
I am doing the same tomorrow morning for Latour...
Anyway, here is Liv-ex on the Fate of Lafite:
The strong demand from Asia for all things Lafite (which includes the second wine, Carruades de Lafite and the Lafite-owned Fourth Growth Duhart Milon) has been a much-discussed trend for a
number of years now. In previous years, however, Lafite has simply been the most visible of a whole host of wines that saw large price gains. In 2009 this trend has been different: Lafite and its stable mates are arguably the only wines to have shown consistent and significant price growth.
The demand for Lafite is ably demonstrated by a quick look at the trades going through on the Liv-ex trading platform. In the year to date Lafite has accounted for 22% of all transactions by value Ė if you include Carruades that rises to 26%. Furthermore, demand is yet to shows signs of
flagging. Indeed, July saw the 1982, 1999, 2000 and 2001 vintages trade at all time highs. And although some vintages, such as 1995, 2003 and 2005 are still some way of their peak values, they are all showing signs of life.
To quantify this price growth we created a Liv-ex Lafite Index of recent vintages (2000 to 2006) of both Lafite Rothschild and Carruades de Lafite. The index components are priced using the Liv-ex Mid Price, with each new vintage added to the index in June of the year it became physical.
The index is price weighted and was based at 100 in January 2004. The index has performed significantly better than any of the main Liv-ex indices, finishing July almost 140 points (or
60%) higher than the Liv-ex 100 Fine Wine Index. What is arguably most impressive, however, is the extent of the brandís recovery from last autumnís price slump. Indeed, the Liv-ex Lafite Index is now just 4.4% off its all time high. No other wine has recovered from the price slump of last
autumn so quickly and completely. Taking Carruades alone, the story is even more extraordinary: on average, recent vintages of Carruades are now 22% more expensive than they were at the peak of the market in June last year.
It seems Lafite is increasingly leaving behind its First Growth peers, whose prices it has closely tracked historically. This is most clearly demonstrated by the 1982 vintage, where Lafite, recently downgraded to 97 points by Parker, is almost three times the price of the 100-point Mouton Rothschild.
Questions remain over the sustainability of price differentials such as this. Will the market support Lafite being so clearly priced as Ďfirstí among supposed equals?
The key to this question depends on whether the Asian markets, and Hong Kong and China in particular, keep on buying. What we do know is that the Lafite price bounce has coincided with an upturn in financial market conditions in Asia. Below is the Liv-ex Lafite index plotted against
Hong Kongís Hang Seng Index, with both indices based at 100 in June 2008, the high point of the wine market.
Perhaps those with large positions should keep as close an eye on Asian financial indicators as they do on the scores of Robert Parker.