When Latour first announced its decision to quit selling
their wines En Primeur we published a blog outlining the implications
of this: for the chateau, the merchants, the consumers and the wine industry in

Nearly a year later, we have the chance to see this
initiative in action. Yesterday saw the first ex-chateau release of a Latour
back vintage: approximately 1,200 cases of the 1995. The upside is that this
sort of offer provides an opportunity for negociants and merchants to acquire large
parcels of mature stock. Another positive is that the provenance is guaranteed
– although many question the real benefits of holding an ex-chateau wine over a
wine held securely in professional storage. As Liv-ex Director Anthony Maxwell
told the drinks business, “Is a
guarantee of château cellaring any better than having never left Octavian?”

Whether Latour 1995 manages to find a market at its
ex-chateau price is uncertain. The wine is currently being offered in London
for just under £5,000. As shown in the chart below, this is already at the top
end of where the wine has traded historically. When the market was at its peak it
traded at £5,400 – but the Liv-ex 100 has fallen 24% since then. Yesterday Latour
1995 traded on Liv-ex at £4,100, suggesting the market is far from convinced.

In many respects Latour is a test case, with its success
hinging on how much the market really cares about ex-chateau stock. Is it worth
a 20% premium? And if so, how enduring will that premium prove to be once the
wine has been in the supply chain for a couple of years?