The Market

records are made to be broken!

By billn on November 17, 2019 #events#the market

It was roughly 19h45 when I quit the salesroom of the 159th Hospices de Beaune wine auction – the sale didn’t actually finish until about 21h15 as there remained the small matter of almost 100 more lots to get through, but the writing was on the wall – records are made to be broken.

As a starting point, there was less wine for sale in 2019 versus 2018 – this was simply a question of the lower 2019 yields – 589 barrels of 2019 going under the hammer, down from 828 in 2018, including 118 barrels of white wine and 471 of red. A lower volume, but the early word on the quality of the 2019 vintage was positive, however, tasting was complicated. Those who tasted earlier in the week loved the wines, but those who tasted from Thursday onwards, when the weather turned much colder, were met with tight, often dissociated wines – would that change the minds of potential purchasers?

It seemed not.

The dynamics of the sale are interesting to watch – the major buyers often starting the bidding, but with much discipline, rarely offering even €100 more for a barrel when outbid. Except for poor old Frederic Drouhin, where discipline goes out of the window for certain lots; Drouhin traditionally buy all of the Beaune 1er Cuvée Maurice Drouhin – though plenty in the room still bid against him – so his barrel prices slowly crept up to over €11,000 for a barrel – probably it’s a game!

And the barrel prices? The first wine in the sale is traditionally the Beaune 1er Dames Hospitalières and it really strated the ball rolling in strong fashion – €13,000 a barrel. Outside of ‘show lots’ – such as the President’s Barrel of Corton for €260,000! – the prices were still often double the 2019 bulk prices. Despite the low volumes, reds were selling for nearly 8 percent more than in 2018 and the whites going for a ripping 18 percent more (with 100 lots still to go). So with the volume down by nearly 30%, I didn’t really expect the total from last year to be challenged – but it was looking closer than I expected. Prices have, on the whole, risen every year since 2016, though many 2019 prices still lag behind the exuberance of 2015.

I asked one of the most important purchasers (volume-wise) of the sale, Alberic Bichot, if he was happy with the prices tonight, to which he answered, “I’m are very happy for the hospital!

And the weekend itself? The usual fare, an untold number of defenceless garlics were killed, merely to sit on plates with snails…

offer of the day – bruno clavelier’s 2017s

By billn on November 11, 2019 #the market

Another, hot off the presses…

Bruno Clavelier 2017:
With last year’s prices for the 2016s (from the same merchant) in brackets:

Bourgogne Passetoutgrains 2017 75cl 22.50* (Swiss francs)

Vosne-Romanée La Combe Brûlée 2017 75cl 80.00 (84.00)
Vosne-Romanée Les Hautes Maizières 2017 75cl 80.00 (84.00)

Gevrey-Chambertin Les Corbeaux 1er Cru 2017 75cl 120.00 (123.00)
Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts 1er Cru 2017 75cl 130.00 (137.00)
Vosne-Romanée Aux Brûlées 1er Cru 2017 75cl 130.00 (137.00)
Chambolle-Musigny Combe d’Orveaux 1er Cru 2017 75cl 140.00 (147.00)

Corton Le Rognet V.V. Grand Cru 2017 75cl 135.00 (144.00)

These prices are not delivered but do include the Swiss 7.8% purchase tax.

The prices are, perhaps, still quite high, but it’s still a pleasure to be able to type lower prices!

offer of the day – louis jadot 2018

By billn on November 10, 2019 #the market

DOMAINE LOUIS JADOT 2018

As always, from my local, Swiss merchant. First the 2017, 2016 and then the 2015 offer prices in the brackets to compare, and — means not offered)

Beaune Clos des Ursules Monopole 1er Cru 2018 75cl 64.00* (59.00, 59.00, 55.00) (Swiss Francs)
Beaune Clos des Ursules Monopole 1er Cru 2018 150cl 133.00 (123.00)

Corton Grèves Grand Cru 2018 75cl 85.00 (79.50, 79.50, 79.00)
Corton Grèves Grand Cru 2018 150cl 175.00 (164.00)
Corton Pougets Grand Cru 2018 75cl 85.00 (79.50, 79.50, 79.00)
Corton Pougets Grand Cru 2018 150cl 175.00 (164.00)

Chambolle-Musigny Fuées 1er Cru 2018 75cl 89.00 (85.00)
Chambolle-Musigny Baudes 1er Cru 2018 75cl 89.00 (85.00)

Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2018 75cl 149.00 (139.00, 138.00, 128.00)
Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2018 150cl 303.00 (283.00)
Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques 1er Cru 2018 75cl 155.00 (149.00, 145.00, 138.00)
Echézeaux Grand Cru 2018 75cl 209.00 (159.00)
Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru 2018 75cl 209.00 (—, 188.00, 169.00)
Clos Saint Denis Grand Cru 2018 75cl 288.00 (—, 269.00, 259.00)
Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2018 75cl 328.00 (—)
Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2018 75cl 349.00 (339.00)
Musigny Grand Cru 2018 75cl 798.00 (795.00)

Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 1er Cru 2018 75cl 89.00 (89.00, 89.00, 88.00)
Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2018 75cl 158.00 (148.00, 139.50, 119.00)
Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2018 75cl 298.00 (285.00)
Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru 2018 75cl 376.00 (348.00)
Montrachet Grand Cru 2018 75cl 549.00 (—, 499.00, 428.00)

*Prices delivered, but without the 8% Swiss purchase tax…

No softening here – though there is certainly some restraint in the pricing of the Musigny…!

offer of the day – bonneau du martray 2017 (and older)

By billn on October 29, 2019 #the market

Just a little more than double the price since the last proper offer I saw from the same merchant – but that was for the 2010 vintage.

Nice to see some ‘library’ wines though – given the amount of testing they did with existing stocks, one should assume that these are in good shape.

DOMAINE BONNEAU DU MARTRAY
CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE 2017 75cl 229.00 (*Swiss Francs)
CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE 2016 75cl 209.00
CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE 2011 75cl 219.00
CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE 2008 75cl 219.00
CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE 1993 75cl 239.00

If the domaine was to consistently offer library releases such as this, there’s a good case to be made for not buying ‘on-release’ at all!
*As always, these swiss franc prices are delivered but lack the 7.6% Swiss VAT…

offer of the day – 2017 Millemann(?)

By billn on October 14, 2019 #the market#warning - opinion!

It’s always nice to see merchants offering the wines of up-and-coming new names – and only 2 wines at that – Corton-Charlemagne and Chambertin. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the pricing – 360 and 550 swiss francs, respectively – from the “exceptional 2017 vintage!

I understand your ‘gulp’ at those prices, but given the current price of grapes – that’s only about a 50% margin, for the Chambertin, anyway! At these prices you are forgiven for demanding more info about the producers; “Stéphanie and Pierre Millemann, well known in the winemaking world for their work as consultants in oenology and viticulture” – but not by me, alas. “The career path of this couple a long journey towards excellence,” well at these prices I hope that they are close to the end of that journey! Better still, “the bottle was chosen for its technical characteristics. It guarantees a straight neck over a sufficient length…” Super!

Whilst I (fortunately) don’t see it on the front label of the image supplied by the merchant, the merchant’s text describes the Chambertin as Chambertin Vieilles-Vignes. As I see it, at the top of the appellation, a wine is Chambertin or it is not Chambertin, the addition of extra qualifiers is something to frown upon if you are looking for the best!

offer of the day – henri boillot 2018

By billn on September 25, 2019 #the market

Domaine Henri Boillot 2018 – en primeur

I leave you with the 2017 pricing in brackets. There’s not much pricing restraint here, despite the very high yields (for whites) in 2018. It’s pretty shocking really:

Bourgogne Chardonnay 2018 75cl 26.00* (23.00) Swiss Francs
Meursault 2018 75cl 55.00 (49.00)
Meursault Les Charmes 2018 75cl 95.00 (89.00)
Meursault Les Genevrières 2018 75cl 115.00 (108.00)
Meursault Les Perrières 2018 75cl 125.00 (115.00)
Puligny-Montrachet 2018 75cl 55.00 (52.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 2018 75cl 115.00 (108.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 2018 75cl 115.00 (108.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Perrières 2018 75cl 115.00 (108.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Mouchère 2018 75cl 115.00 (108.00)

Corton Charlemagne 2018 75cl 175.00 (168.00)
Criots-Bâtard Montrachet 2018 75cl 319.00 (296.00)
Bâtard Montrachet 2018 75cl 469.00 (455.00)
Chevalier-Montrachet 2018 75cl 698.00 (688.00)
Montrachet 2018 75cl 845 (795.00)

Volnay 2018 75cl 49.00 (49.00)
Volnay Les Chevrets 2018 75cl 89.00 (89.00)
Volnay Les Caillerets 2018 75cl 99.00 (99.00)
Pommard Les Rugiens 2018 75cl 99.00 (99.00)
Clos de Vougeot 2018 75cl 169.00 (158.00)
Latricières-Chambertin 2018 75cl 219.00 (not offered)
Echézeaux 2018 75cl 229.00 (not offered)
Bonnes-Mares 2017 75cl 319.00 (298.00)
Chambertin 2017 75cl 319.00 (298.00)

*The price you see is ‘delivered’ but ex 8% Swiss purchase tax.

…to acquire Domaine Alex Gambal…

By billn on July 08, 2019 #the market

Hot off the press today:

The Boisset family announces that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with a view to acquiring the Alex Gambal estate subject to compliance with the usual regulatory provisions.

Alex Gambal, founding owner of the Burgundy estate of the same name, announces his decision to sell his estate to the Boisset family.

The American Alex Gambal, newcomer to Burgundy and passionate about wine, created his ‘Maison’ in Burgundy in 1993, then his ‘Domaine’ in 1997, followed by a rapid development of his exploitation. Today with a dozen hectares of prestigious vineyards in Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits.

The pursuit of excellence will continue, in particular by maintaining the special attention paid to vineyard work and biodynamic viticulture practices.

It is envisaged in these discussions that Alex Gambal will continue to participate in the development of the estate alongside the Boisset family.

It seems that so many people knew that these discussions were taking place, that JC Boisset decided today to make it public – even though the final contract is not yet signed. As I alluded to here, three months ago – it was a surprise sale of Domaine Dublère, as I and others were expecting another US-owned domaine to be sold – i.e. this Boisset/Gambal announcement!

Domaine René Engel – the sale…

By billn on June 16, 2019 #the market


The view is spectacular from the coffee room of the Hotel Beau-Rivage in Geneva – looking across the ‘bay’ of Lake Geneva – this hotel, long the home of expensive auctions from the likes of Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Antiquorum – is, for today, the home of Baghera.

As previously noted, Baghera have a coup – from my perspective no less of a coup than their large sale of the remaining family stocks of Domaine Henri Jayer – today we are here for the wines of Domaine René Engel, once-more the remaining(?) family stocks of a famous Vosne-Romanée domaine.

I was too young to be a buyer of Jayer when the wines were released, but not so for Domaine René Engel, wines I’d bought from the 1995 vintage; mainly Grands-Echézeaux a) because the price was so reasonable given how delicious the wine was, and b) because my friends bought the domaine’s other wines – so I could drink their other cuvées and they could drink mine!

Of course we lost Philippe far too early – all were shocked – and without any ideas for succession the family sold the domaine to Château Latour (Pinault) for a ridiculously high price – though today that sum seems so cheap – and that was goodbye to Domaine René Engel after the grapes on the vines were sold to Albert Bichot in 2005.


Just a few early thoughts: Today it seemed a smaller gathering in the salesroom – vs the Jayer sale where I was also present – but who knows how many bidders were waiting on the phones. But for a single producer sale of 1,157 bottles in 168 lots with vintages from 1921 to the final 2004 vintage, it seems to me that the family did quite well – the sale totalled 1.8 million Swiss Francs (hammer) “reaching the pre-sale high estimate.”

A taste of the bidding:
Lot 1 – 12x Villages Vosne 2004 – 5,000 swiss francs
Lot 5 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 2003 – 2,800
Lot 9 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 2002 – 3,400
Lot 10 – 12x Villages Vosne 2002 – 6,500
Lot 13 – 6x Villages Vosne 2001 – 2,200
Lot 15 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 2000 – 3,500
Lot 20 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 1999 – 4,200
Lot 22 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 1998 – 2,200
Lot 25 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 1996 – 3,500
Lot 53 – 12x Vosne Brulées 2003 – 9,000
Lot 68 – 6x Vosne Brulées 1999 – 9,000
Lot 69 – 6x Vosne Brulées 1998 – 4,500
Lot 81 – 12x Echézeaux 2004 – 13,000
Lot 81 – 2004 Echézeaux 12 bottles – 13,000
Lot 82 – 2003 Echézeaux 12 bottles – 12,000
Lot 103 – 12x Grands-Echézeaux 2004 – 20,000
Lot 113 – 6x Grands-Echézeaux 2002 – 13,000
Lot 115 – 6x Grands-Echézeaux 2001 – 11,000
Lot 117 – 6x Grands-Echézeaux 2000 – 13,000
Lot 120 – 12x Grands-Echézeaux 1999 – 30,000*
*I stop with this one – just as a placeholder – I bought this en-primeur, in-bond, for £41 per bottle – or 1,130 swiss francs for 12 as was the exchange rate in those days – nice that I found 6 in the cellar last year, but this 26 times growth of value pales when compared to that of Apple stock over the same period – that’s why wine’s for drinking, not speculating: “A mere $100 investment in the company’s stock at the beginning of 2002 would have grown to more than 95 times the original investment by mid-February 2019

offer of the day – domaine leflaive 2017 mâcon + rully

By billn on May 28, 2019 #the market

DOMAINE LEFLAIVE 2017 – Puligny-Montrachet
Mâcon-Verzé 2017 75cl 33.00 (Swiss francs*)
Mâcon-Verzé Les Chênes 2017 75cl 38.00
Mâcon-Verzé Le Monté 2017 75cl 38.00
Pouilly-Fuissé 2017 75cl 49.00
Rully 1er Cru Leflaive & Associés 2017 75cl 49.00
Image, right, ex-Domaine Leflaive

*As each year from the same merchant. These prices are delivered in Switzerland, without the additional 8% Swiss purchase tax which you should include. The Pouilly-Fuissé and the Rully were previously offered (same price, September 2018) so are presumably not sold out – it’s the first time that I saw the Mâcons offered though. Of these, I tasted only the Mâcon-Verzey Le Chêne when at the domaine in October 2018.

Good as the wines undoubtedly are, the Leflaive/Puligny tax is about 50%(+) versus fine makers from those regions…

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