First Growth prices

"Americans may scream bloody murder when looking at the future prices for the 2003 first growth Bordeaux (an average of $4,000 (£2,300) a case), but if my instincts are correct, 10 years from now a great vintage of these first growths will cost over $10,000 a case…at the minimum. It is simple: The quantity of these great wines is finite, and the demand for them will become at least 10 times greater".

-          Robert Parker in Food & Wine Magazine, September 2004.

Parker’s instincts were largely correct. Lafite and Latour 2003 smashed through the $10,000 barrier (back then, around £6,500) in late-2009, Margaux 2003 crept above it in early 2011. Haut Brion and Mouton reached $7,000. Perhaps surprising to some, despite the violent correction in First Growth prices since mid-2011, both Lafite and Latour are still clinging on to the $10,000 level; helped in no small part by Parker’s perfect scores.

But what of the broader prediction – that all great vintages of Firsts would be trading over $10,000? Above are the numbers. We have used the “greats” that were around when Parker was writing his prediction in 2004: the 1982, 1990, 1996, 2000 and 2003. At the peak of the market, in early 2011, the average price per case was indeed $10,000 for all of these vintages – above $30,000 for the 1982 and close to $20,000 for the 2000.

Since then, prices have fallen by between 25% and 37% for these vintages (notably less than the Liv-ex 50, which has fallen 40%). But of the 25 wines involved in the calculations, 13 still have a market price of $10,000 (£6,900) per case or more – including all 1982s, all 2000s except for Haut Brion and all Lafites except for the 1990, which has a market price of $9,400.

Ten years on, Parker’s predictions appear largely to have come to fruition. The 1982 and 2000 are both well over $10,000 per case, while the 1990, 2000 and 2003 have a market price below this level after falling for the last three years. Of the “great” vintages that Parker was unaware of in 2004, it is the 2009 and 2010 that stand out. Without any time value, they have an average market price of $10,340 per case.