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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

2001 Bordeaux en primeur prices have come down enough to avoid the disaster which many feared, but not enough to encourage a strong market. Such is the conclusion of major UK buyers, following the announcement of prices by four of the five First Growths last week, most other chteaux having already declared. Chteaux Latour, Margaux, Mouton and Haut-Brion released the first tranche at E85 (53.77) per bottle ex-chteau, which, plus 2% courtage, takes the price to E86.70. (Chteau Lafite is expected to follow suit.) The first tranche is being sold on at E102-105 (64.50-66.42) ex-ngoce, and offered by UK merchants from 74.16 (890 per case of 12) in bond. The average price of the first and second tranches of the 2000 vintage was E205 ex-ngoce, so prices are half what they were last year. The exceptional price rises for 2000, however, mean that 1999 is a more realistic reference point, and chteau owners have been under pressure to reduce prices to those levels - FFr600/E91.50 ex-ngoce for the First Growths. At 10% more than 1999, and 50% less than 2000, in terms of ex-ngoce prices, those for the 2001 First Growths are described as just about OK' by Stephen Browett of Farr Vintners, one of the UK's largest en primeur merchants. But he says that most other chteaux must be' at 1999 prices to have a hope of selling well. Sales of high-priced garage wines from the Right Bank are reported to be sluggish, as most buyers focus on more traditional names. (See next week's Harpers for more on the 2001 en primeur campaign.)