(Bloomberg) -- Leading Bordeaux wine estates cut the price of their 2017 vintage mostly between 5 percent and 20 percent relative to release prices for the higher-quality 2016 wines, following a year in which some vineyards suffered the worst frost in a quarter-century while others escaped damage and benefited from generally benign growing conditions.
Top Medoc producers Chateau Margaux and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, as well as Chateau Haut-Brion on the southwestern fringe of the city, all cut prices by 17 percent to 348 euros ($404) for their flagship red wines, while the more expensive Chateau Lafite-Rothschild reduced its price by 8 percent to 420 euros, according to data collated by London-based online wine market Liv-ex. Prices are those charged to importers by Bordeaux merchants.
The 2017 vintage was overshadowed by frost in late April last year, which particularly hit areas such as Saint Emilion, Pomerol, Pessac-Leognan and Margaux. While some estates suffered loss of production and vine damage, many of the top growers from more northerly regions along the Gironde estuary such as Pauillac, Saint-Estephe and Saint-Julien escaped the freeze and went on to reap the benefits of good growing conditions during the summer and harvest. Wider frost damage was suffered by vineyards farther from the river.
Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, the sister estate to Haut-Brion, cut its red wine price by 29 percent, while Pontet-Canet in Pauillac and nearby Pichon-Lalande and Lynch-Bages reduced prices by 26 percent, 25 percent and 22 percent respectively. Those cutting prices by 20 percent included Chateau Palmer in Margaux and Leoville Las Cases in Saint Julien, as well as Figeac in Saint Emilion and La Conseillante in Pomerol.
Estates south of the city were able to announce smaller reductions, with Chateau Haut-Bailly cutting prices 14 percent and Smith Haut Lafitte 12.5 percent, according to Liv-ex. Leading Saint Emilion producers Angelus and Pavie, as well as Chateau Montrose, a Saint-Estephe vineyard close to the estuary, all lowered prices by 6 percent.
Some were able to keep prices unchanged, including Sauternes producers Chateau Rieussec and Suduiraut and Chateau Evangile in Pomerol. Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion also maintained prices of their sought-after white wines.
Some leading estates were even able to push higher the price of some of their second wines, with Mouton-Rothschild pricing its Petit Mouton up 9 percent from the previous year and Margaux pricing its Pavillon Rouge up 16 percent.
The Bordeaux “en primeur” futures system, by which wine is sold to merchants and customers while still maturing in barrels, has been under pressure in recent years due to volatile prices and a run of mediocre or poor vintages between 2011 and 2013. Yet market sentiment has improved with better vintages since 2014, and most growers say the system works well in focusing the global wine trade on Bordeaux during the peak sales season.
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