And not Lafite. For a change, all the buzz is about all First Growths but Lafite.
Towards the end of 2010, a consensus seemed to form in the UK that 2011 would see some changes in buying patterns. Driven by the dual forces of continuous demand from Asia and very strong (investment) demand from European buyers, prices were expected to continue their ascend. Where demand in 2010 was primarily focused on Lafite and all second labels of the First Growths, 2011 was expected to show some of the "forgotten" wines catching up.
Expectations were and are that Mouton, Margaux, Haut Brion and Latour will lead the charge for the First Growths but also that some of the super seconds and a select number of other classified growths – that are relatively cheap still – will see the biggest demand. Finally, we thought there could be some other second labels coming to the fore. For example, Echo de Lynch Bages, Aromes de Pavie, Pagodes de Cos, maybe even Larrivet Haut Brion (although not a second label).
Well, in the second week of January, after a slow-ish first week, buyers are back with a vengeance. To be more precise, UK buyers because Asia is relatively quiet at the moment. And they're after the First Growths (except Lafite). Prices are moving so rapidly, and availability – there one moment and gone the next – so volatile, that buying almost resembles an en-primeur campaign.
If you thought you could pick up a First Growth below 3,000 pounds, think again. If you do get the chance, take it. My prediction is that very soon, the lower limit will be 4,000. Latour already has cleared that hurdle and Margaux and Mouton rapidly are. Haut Brion is slightly lagging but will also do so, I firmly believe.
And Lafite? Lafite will not come down. It will plateau for a bit. It might even ease slightly but then will probably go up again once the chasing pack has closed enough of the gap. The best vintages certainly will continue their rise.
These are exciting times. If you're thinking of buying a First Growth, don't wait too long. They will be significantly more expensive when you next look.