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Bordeaux Expert Claims Sauternes is the Best Value by 500%

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Sauternes and Barsac wines represent 500% better value than red Bordeaux wines according to historical price analysis.

That’s a bold claim but one I think I can evidence. My card index records cover every single wine I have ever bought during my 30 years living and working as a negociant in Bordeaux. I have taken a long hard look at the records recently and discovered some fascinating trends.

The current amazing value of Sauternes against the red wines of Bordeaux is best illustrated by looking at the cost of two fantasy mixed cases over time.

My fantasy red wine case includes a bottle each (bought at chateau opening prices) of First Growths Lafite-Rothschild and Mouton-Rothschild; Second Growths Cos d’Estournel, Ducru-Beaucaillou and Leoville-Barton; Third Growths Calon Segur and d’Issan; Fifth Growths Lynch Bages and Pontet-Canet; a Premier Grand Cru St Emilion from Pavie and, finally, some Grand Cru Pessac-Leognan from Haut Bailly and Pape Clement.

Against this my fantasy Sauternes case consists of one bottle each of: d’Arche, Climens, Doisy Daene, Filhot, Guiraud, de Malle, Nairac, de Rayne Vigneau, Rieussec, Sigalas Rabaud, Suduiraut and La Tour Blanche. Seven First Growths, five Second Growths with nine wines from Sauternes and three from Barsac.

Lets take a look at the average bottle price of the two cases at various times between now and when I first bought Sauternes from the 1983 vintage (prices pre-1992 are converted from the old Franc at 6.56).

Red Wines

1983 – 12.06 Euros, Vintage Ratings (Robert Parker) – 86 (Medoc), 89 (St Emilion & Pessac-Leognan)

1986 – 14.30 Euros, Ratings – 94 (Medoc), 89 (Pessac-Leognan), 88 (St Emilion)

1990 – 15.23 Euros, Ratings – 98 (Medoc & St Emilion), 90 (Pessac-Leognan)

1995 – 17.25 Euros, Ratings – 92 (Medoc), 89 (Pessac-Leognan), 88 (St Emilion)

2000 – 51.90 Euros, Ratings – 97 (Pessac-Leognan), 96 (Medoc & St Emilion)

2005 – 104.58 Euros, Ratings – 99 (St Emilion), 96 (Pessac-Leognan), 95 (Medoc)

2009 – 147.92 Euros, Ratings – 99 (Medoc), 98 (Pessac-Leognan), 93 (St Emilion)

Sauternes

1983 – 7.70 Euros, Rating – 88

1986 – 11.60 Euros, Rating – 94

1990 – 16.41 Euros, Rating – 98

1995 – 14.11 Euros, Rating – 85

2000 – 21.04 Euros, Rating – 88

2005 – 26.15 Euros, Rating – 96

2009 – 29.63 Euros, Rating – n/a (but likely to be 98+)

To start with Sauternes prices follow those of the red wines. In 2000, however, Sauternes had a relatively poor vintage while prices for the red wines soared. Ever since there has been speculation centered on the red wines even when both Sauternes and the red wines have had good vintages.

So our Sauternes fantasy case today is relatively much cheaper today than our red wine case. Looking at the 98 point vintages of 1990 and 2009 we can see that our Sauternes case was marginally more expensive in 1990 but five times cheaper in 2009.

As change of wine quality is not a major factor I conclude that today Sauternes is 500% better value compared to the red wines of Bordeaux than it was when I started working in Bordeaux nearly 30 years ago.

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