Is Ch Suduiraut now a 4th Growth?

In writing this article I am in danger of insulting all my dear Sauternais friends – not least Christian and Pierre at Suduiraut after a headline like that!  I hope that they (and you) will read the whole article so that I can explain myself.

I have written before about how Sauternes prices have fallen behind those of red Bordeaux wines since the 2000 vintage (see Sauternes – Best Value in Bordeaux).  In this article I try to explain the practical implications of this and to really highlight the great value that exists today in Sauternes.

The London based wine trading exchange, Liv-Ex, have just released their 2011 reworking of the 1855 Classification.  Tellingly they only bother to do this for red Bordeaux wines, so Steve and I thought it would be interesting to apply their criteria to Sauternes and Barsac.

The original 1855 Classification, ordered by Napoleon III, was decided by merchants looking at historical prices achieved in the Bordeaux market and to a certain extent taking quality and reputation into account.  The Liv-Ex reworking looks at average prices achieved through the exchange for the last five vintages and then uses a banding system to decide on the revised classification (see 2011 Liv-Ex Bordeaux Classification for all the details).  The table below illustrates the changes for both Sauternes and Barsac and red wines:

Are Dauzac or Pouget really in the same class as Doisy Daene or Lafaurie-Peyraguey?  Can d’Armailhac cut it alongside Suduiraut?  Of course not – a quick look at the critics scores will tell you that!  Over the same time period Suduiraut averages 94.5 points on against 89.9 for d’Armailhac and Doisy Daene 93.8 points compared to 88.2 for Dauzac.

But this is the current state of the market!  Driven by China and associated speculation red wine prices have increased dramatically.  Sauternes prices have remained reasonable (until now) and currently represent fantastic value in comparison.  For example, for 2010 En Primeur you can buy nearly 3 cases of Ch Coutet or Ch Suduiraut for the same money as a single case of Ch Pontet Canet, Ch Montrose or Ch Pichon Baron – Crazy!  Now that it is legal to import Sauternes into China this situation will not last for much longer.

Frankly, I advise anyone to buy as much Sauternes as they can drink and afford.  Old vintages or new there has never been such a glut of good Sauternes at reasonable prices.  Bill Blatch

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