I think most people were expecting the vintage to open with a tiny little POP or maybe even a sigh, but it appears that 2011 will be a campaign of surprises! Whatever it takes to draw attention to the wines, I suppose, especially in a less-than-anticipated year like 2011. Of course the top estates will craft wonderful wines, as they always do, but overall there is less than the usual excitement in the market for 2011…Not everyone has the cash for another great vintage, much less another ‘vintage of the Century’.
Prices are expected to drop somewhere between 25-40%, which is about what it will take to jumpstart the campaign. That would be a pleasant surprise. This is good news from top to bottom, collectors can snag First Growths (well, Lafite, anyways) with mid-90’s ratings for (are you holding your breath?) around $700-$750 a bottle on release price.
This represents a pretty sizable decrease over the 2010 vintage, where we offered (and sold every bottle) of Lafite-Rothschild for $1,150-$1,700, depending on when in the campaign you called me!
Another surprise is that Lafite-Rothschild has actually opened the vintage, offering a small amount at 360 Euro to negociants, who in turn offered it at 420 Euro on the opening (first tranche) price. A fair savings over 2010, where the wines were offered at 600 euro, more than a third difference! For Lafite to open this early in the campaign is very rare. First Growths typically play the waiting game, letting all of the other Classified Growths set their prices, then wait until the other First Growths decide their price….they don’t want to be low man on the totem!
The third bit of news at this early stage of the vintage is from Ch. Latour. This hugely collectable estate announced that 2011 would be the last time you would find her wines available on the ‘futures’ market. Instead, as far as I can see, the wines will be released when the estate thinks they are more approachable (maybe 10 years?) and most likely profit themselves for their patience, rather than watch their wines skyrocket in value right after the futures campaign, the profits lining the investors’ pockets rather than the Chateau.
It’s awfully early in the vintage to digest this much news! But it sure is exciting to watch.