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Bordeaux Is Back: 2020 Futures Prices and Analysis

A year ago it was hard to fathom how Bordeaux wineries would conduct a futures campaign, selling their latest vintage as a global pandemic raged. But they managed to pull it off. Now they have launched the campaign for 2020 futures, and while conditions in many of their leading markets have improved, it is hardly a typical year.

American wine lovers and merchants are curious to see if top châteaus will repeat last year's pause on big price increases. With the global economy so uncertain, most wineries kept price increases fairly small. A strong dollar also helped. Many of the best-known wines sold well.

The economy is still uncertain, but there are signs that the next six months will bring strong economic growth as vaccinations accelerate and restrictions ease. People with money are looking to spend. Will that convince Bordeaux vintners that they can resume the big price increases seen in past years?

And there's a big catch for U.S. buyers: The dollar is weaker against the euro this year, meaning châteaus could release futures at the exact same price, but Americans will pay more. The bright side? The government has paused tariffs on French wines, removing a big extra cost.

Cheval-Blanc made a splash last week, kicking off the campaign. Typically one of the last estates to release futures, it was the first big name to hit the market. The 2020 was released at €380 per bottle, ex-négociant, up 2.7 percent on the 2019. It’s being offered by top U.S. retailers at an average price of $575, or $6,900 per case, an increase of 16 percent on the 2019. While it's not cheap, it's more than 30 percent cheaper than the current market price of both the 2015 and 2016 vintages.

This week, Angélus, Pavie and Léoville-Barton joined the campaign. Angélus went big, a trend since the estate was promoted to the top ranks of St.-Emilion's classified growths. It released its futures at €260 per bottle, ex-négociant, up 13 percent on the 2019 opening price of €230. Leading U.S. retailers are offering it for $379 a bottle, 23 percent higher than the 2019 but 15 percent less than the 2015 and 2016 vintages.

Angélus' St.-Emilion neighbor Château Pavie released its 2020 futures at €240 per bottle, ex-négociant, the same price as its 2019 release. U.S. retailers are selling it for about $240 per bottle, a slight increase on the 2019 futures and more than 20 percent less than the 2015 and 2016 vintages. It's a promising deal for fans of the Right Bank property.

On the Left Bank, Léoville Barton released its 2020 futures at €60 per bottle, ex-négociant, up 16.3 percent on the 2019 release price. Top retailers are offering it for an average price of $88 a bottle, or $1,056 per case. That's almost 20 percent higher than the 2019 release price, but 40 percent less than the 2016 and 2015 wines on the market.

But how are the wines?

The quality verdict on the 2020 vintage is incomplete. Some members of the trade have been able to taste barrel samples of top wines, but not many. Some wineries have attempted to ship samples around the globe with mixed results. After inconsistent shipping, Wine Spectator's lead taster for Bordeaux, senior editor James Molesworth, has opted to hold off on tasting the wines until he can conduct official blind tastings of all the notable wines.

The 2020 growing season was not perfect. A very rainy winter gave the vineyards ample water reserves, but the rain stretched into spring, leading to mildew pressures. From there the season turned hot and dry, until a significant rain event on the Left Bank in mid-August, while the Right Bank stayed mostly dry. Harvest ran on the early side, spurred by the heat. The crop is down 20 to 40 percent from 2019. Leading producers tell Molesworth it is a heterogenous vintage, with the Right Bank favored over the Left.

2020 Futures Prices

These estates represent a selection of leading wineries. Retail prices are an average of trusted retailers we follow. Prices for the 2020s are listed alongside the current prevailing retail price for Bordeaux's recent benchmark vintages, so you can measure where the wines are vis-à-vis those currently on retail shelves

Data compiled by Cassia Schifter

Château 2020 Score 2020 initial futures offering at U.S. retail 2019 initial futures offering at U.S. retail 2019-2020 retail change Current 2016 price at U.S. retail Current 2015 price at U.S. retail
Angélus NYR $379 $307 +23% $448 $446
Beychevelle NYR $NA $75 -% $121 $122
Brainaire-Ducru NYR $NA $41 -% $73 $77
Calon-Ségur NYR $NA $90 -% $167 $149
Canon NYR $NA $98 -% $205 $325
Canon-La Gaffelière NYR $NA $69 -% $111 $126
Cheval-Blanc NYR $575 $494 +16% $860 $849
Clos Fourtet NYR $NA $95 -% $135 $142
Cos-d'Estournel NYR $NA $151 -% $258 $234
Ducru-Beaucaillou NYR $NA $157 -% $229 $235
Figeac NYR $NA $171 -% $274 $240
Giscours NYR $NA $50 -% $81 $91
Grand Puy Lacoste NYR $62 $77 -20% $108 $93
Haut-Brion NYR $NA $398 -% $722 $696
Hosanna NYR $NA $144 -% $175 $209
La Fleur-Pétrus NYR $NA $190 -% $253 $249
La Mission Haut-Brion NYR $NA $257 -% $529 $501
Lafite Rothschild NYR $NA $534 -% $892 $800
Léoville Barton NYR $88 $74 +19% $163 $150
Léoville Las Cases NYR $ $193 -% $352 $240
Léoville Poyferré NYR $NA $69 -% $137 $121
Les Carmes Haut-Brion NYR $NA $98 -% $145 $117
Lynch-Bages NYR $NA $93 -% $167 $166
Malescot-St.-Exupéry NYR $NA $43 -% $85 $105
Margaux NYR $NA $459 -% $737 $1,917
Mouton-Rothschild NYR $NA $406 -% $741 $664
Palmer NYR $NA $217 -% $384 $413
Pape Clément NYR $NA $83 -% $119 $139
Pavie NYR $339 $327 +4% $459 $436
Pavie-Macquin NYR $NA $67 -% $104 $103
Pétrus NYR $NA $NA -% $3,225 $3,689
Pichon Baron NYR $NA $131 -% $201 $182
Pichon Lalande NYR $NA $153 -% $238 $216
Pontet-Canet NYR $NA $80 -% $166 $161
Rauzan-Ségla NYR $NA $77 -% $113 $151
Smith-Haut-Lafite NYR $NA $90 -% $133 $140
Talbot NYR $NA $49 -% $72 $79
Troplong-Mondot NYR $NA $89 -% $168 $146
Trotanoy NYR $NA $269 -% $375 $315
Valandraud NYR $NA $125 -% $211 $213
Vieux Château Certan NYR $NA $235 -% $379 $402

NYR means a wine has not been submitted for review yet. NA means a wine has not been released or is not sold in sufficient quantities by U.S. retailers yet to determine an average price.

Original author: Frank,
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