Wine Lister’s four Indicators – Investment Staples, Value Picks, Hidden Gems, and Buzz Brands – were designed to enable users to find the perfect wine for any scenario in just a couple of clicks. Buzz Brands, the most talked-about wines, are sure to impress: they have strong distribution across the world’s top restaurants, show high online search frequency or a recent growth in popularity, and are identified by the fine wine trade as trending or especially prestigious.
Having recently expanded and updated Wine Lister’s restaurant presence coverage, 29 new wines now qualify as Buzz Brands, their global distribution broadening. To achieve Buzz Brand status, a wine must be among the top fifth of all wines that feature at least once on the menus of the world’s best restaurants – prized for their wine lists as well as their food.
Of the 29 wines above, 11 hail from Burgundy, confirming the region’s continued demand amongst the restaurant trade. Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair fares particularly well, with three of its wines becoming new Buzz Brands, thus suggesting it is a producer on an upward trajectory. These wines also benefit from a high online search frequency, as measured by Wine-Searcher, with the wine with the highest number of searches, Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Echezeaux Grand Cru, seeing 1,400 searches per month.
Champagne has also benefitted from the restaurant presence update, with four wines from the region gaining Buzz Brand status. Of this month’s new Buzz Brands, Bollinger Rosé now has the most impressive distribution, present in 17% of the world’s top establishments.
Piedmont sees four wines attain Buzz Brand status. Two new wines from La Spinetta now qualify as Buzz Brands, with Ceretto Barolo Bricco Rocche and Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia making up the quartet.
There are three new Bordeaux Buzz Brands, and one carries the accolade of being the most searched-for wine in the table. Château Saint-Pierre receives in excess of 3,700 searches per month, which in addition to appearing on 8% of the world’s very best restaurants makes it well-deserving of its new Buzz Brand status.
Wine Lister’s Economics scores are based on a variety of price and liquidity metrics, including a wine’s three-month average bottle price, six-month price performance, and three-year CAGR. This week’s newly updated Listed section features the five top-scoring Australian wines by Economics score. Noticeably, all are red, and red wines outperform for Australia in this category (the top white, Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, has an Economics score of 498, its top traded vintages only trading 10 bottles in auction over the past year). While there is quite a difference in points between the first and fifth wine on today’s list, all are considered very strong (750–900) or among the strongest (900+) wines in Wine Lister’s database.
Several of Australia’s best-known producers feature in our top five, including Penfolds, which accounts for the top two entrants: Penfolds Grange and Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon. While both wines excel on three-month average bottle price and three-year CAGR, Penfolds Grange is particularly strong for liquidity, its top five trading vintages having traded 626 bottles over the past four quarters.
The third wine on this list, Torbreck Run Rig, experiences good trading volumes but has the lowest three-year CAGR of the five (3.27%). Fourth place goes to Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz, which is the lowest in price and sees fewer bottles traded than the others, but has an excellent six-month price performance of 11.88% and good price stability. Finally, the list is completed by Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz, which has one of the higher three-year CAGRs, at 6.4%.
Don’t forget – if you’re not yet a subscriber to Wine Lister, you can still fully explore this week’s five Listed wines, and those for the previous four weeks, via the homepage.
As Wine Lister’s holistic rating system demonstrates, there are many factors (nine criteria, in all) to take into account when calculating a wine’s greatness. One of these is distribution in the world’s top restaurants, our measure of a wine’s prestige and clout on the international market. In order to identify the restaurants that count – not just for the food but for the wine – we have created a matrix of global restaurants with Michelin stars, 50 Best Restaurants, World of Fine Wine Best Wine List awards, and more. We take the most formidable combination of these as the basis for our painstaking analysis.
We are expanding our coverage constantly, and the latest instalment is now in. This year alone has seen an increase of 50%, to 150 restaurants analysed. New entrants come from across the globe, from New York’s Balthazar to Paris’s Carré des Feuillants.
The table below shows the 20 wines to have seen their restaurant presence increase the most since the last update in April:
The top three wines are Champagnes: Salon Le Mesnil, Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, and Dom Pérignon Oenothèque (the last all the more impressive since the wine was re-branded a few years ago). None of them, however, is the wine with the largest restaurant presence. That accolade falls to Yquem, which saw its presence increase by 7.3% in the latest update, appearing on 69% of the world’s top wine lists – including Boulud in New York and Sketch in London.
Second most popular of the wines above is Mouton Rothschild, whose restaurant presence increased by 5.7%, and which overall features on 58% of the best restaurants, from The French Laundry in California to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong.
It is also interesting to note the wines that have relatively low overall restaurant presence but saw a significant increase in the latest update, suggesting that their stars are on the rise. These include Bordeaux Saint Pierre and Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Millésimé, which appeared on 2% of the previous restaurant lists but are now at 8% and 9% respectively. Meanwhile, Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge found its restaurant presence tip from 9% to 15% in the latest update.
This week’s Listed section focuses on the five Burgundy Grands Crus with the highest Quality scores. As previous analysis has shown, Burgundy’s greatest wines display better quality than those of any other major fine wine region. These five – all rare wines from some of the world’s most famous domaines – enjoy uniformly outstanding Quality scores. Unsurprisingly, they are also some of the most expensive wines in the world.
Leading the way is Domaine d’Auvenay Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, the only white. The first of three wines in the top five overseen by Lalou Bize-Leroy, only 500 bottles of this rare wine leave the estate each year. Its wine level Quality score of 991 is the third-highest in Wine Lister’s database, behind two sweet Rieslings, while its average price per bottle of £2,523 is actually one of the more affordable in this list.
Moving up to the Côte de Nuits, next come Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti Grand Cru and Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru, each with a Quality score of 990. Once again, low yields command high prices, with the former costing on average £11,267 per bottle. Proving that the reputations of two of the world’s most prominent fine wine producers are built upon firm foundations, these wines achieve the highest Quality scores of any red wine on Wine Lister.
The “Queen of Burgundy” continues her dominance with fourth-placed Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru, which achieves a Quality score of 985 points. With Henri Jayer Echezeaux Grand Cru just two points behind, these Burgundy brands comprise four of the six top red wines for Quality Score on Wine Lister.
The latest search frequency data is in from Wine-Searcher, and with it we can see which wines enjoyed the greatest popularity gains during July. After the en primeur campaign fuelled the big surges of May and June, July’s top five gainers witnessed more modest gains. There is also more variety this month, with two Champagnes and a Napa joining two Bordeaux right bank heavyweights.
Experiencing the greatest increase in popularity during July was Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut – particularly impressive considering it started from an already extraordinarily strong average of over 54,000 searches each month.
Next came Cheval Blanc, whose 2016 vintage was released in early June, before July saw the release of Salon Le Mesnil 2006. Described by Wine Lister partner critic Antonio Galloni as an “utterly compelling Champagne to follow over the next several decades”, its rise in online popularity suggests that consumers have already started to track its progress.
The last two wines are both produced on very small scales. Le Pin, notoriously rare, released its 2016 vintage in late June, which likely contributed to its increase in online popularity, at least among those lucky few with both an allocation and requisite funds. About 6,000 bottles of Napa Valley’s Abreu Madrona Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon are produced each year. As we saw in our recent post on California’s most expensive wines, production levels play a big role in the region’s prices. Perhaps the rarity of Abreu Madrona, the region’s eighth most expensive wine, is helping to boost its caché.
A wine’s reputation for quality cannot be determined by one vintage alone – the very best must be consistent, year-in, year-out. Today, we’ve analysed our data to determine which wines have the most consistent Quality scores (one of the three categories, alongside Brand and Economics that feed into Wine Lister’s holistic wine ratings).
Assessing all the wines in our database for which there are Quality scores for more than 30 vintages, we analysed the standard deviation of these scores from vintage to vintage. The top 10 wines below are the most consistent when it comes to quality:
Unsurprisingly, these are all big names that have been able to invest in the newest technologies to see them through the more challenging years. Their reliability is testament to their status as great wines. Seven of the world’s top 10 most consistently qualitative wines are French, although of the five Bordeaux left bank first growths, only Margaux, Latour and Haut-Brion make the cut, joined by Petrus and Cheval Blanc from the right bank. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is the only producer to boast two wines in the table: La Tâche and Romanée-Conti, also the two most expensive.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the most consistent wine is also the most affordable. At an average price per bottle of £124, Californian Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello sees limited fluctuation in Quality scores between the years, with the vast majority of vintages scoring between 960 and 990. It is followed by Spain’s Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Unico – whose Quality scores on Wine Lister stretch right back to its 1920 vintage, proving almost a century of consistent winemaking.
This week’s Listed section features the five Italian white wines with the strongest brands. They comprise two Langhes from Gaja (Gaia & Rey and Rossj Bass), two of Italy’s cult whites (Valentini Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Gravner Anfora Ribolla Gialla), and Cervaro della Sala (from the Antinori stable).
Whilst these wines all enjoy strong or very strong Brand scores, they do not command the same level of brand recognition as the top five Italian red wine brands, trailing them by c.90-250 points in the Brand category. Tuscan powerhouses Sassicaia, Tignanello, Ornellaia, Solaia, and Gaja’s Barbaresco all achieve Brand scores of over 975 points, with Sassicaia’s outstanding 997 points putting it ahead of the likes of Cheval Blanc and DRC La Tâche.
Wine Lister’s Brand scores comprise restaurant presence and consumer popularity. It is in the latter category that the whites have the most ground to make up. For example Gaja Langhe Gaia & Rey, which featured in our latest blog on new Investment Staples, is present in well over half the number of restaurants of its close relative Gaja Barbaresco, but it receives under a quarter of the number of searches each month on Wine-Searcher. If sommeliers are convinced that these top Italian whites can grace the tables of the finest establishments, they still fly well under the radar of most consumers.
Certain wines are a safer store of value than others. One of our four Wine Lister Indicators – Investment Staples – enables you to spot these instantly. The bespoke algorithm identifies wines of a high quality level, long-lived and not too old, above a certain price (therefore soaking up the frictional costs of collecting wine), with proven price performance, stability, and liquidity.
This last criterion is measured using the number of bottles traded at wine auctions globally. With the latest quarterly data in from Wine Market Journal, 16 new wine and vintage combinations (across nine producers) have recently become Investment Staples. These wines are all over £50 a bottle, with the majority falling under £400, but the most expensive – Roumier’s 2013 Musigny – costing £4,851.
Several of the new Investment Staples have displayed an upward price trend over the last six months, in particular Leroy’s Vosne-Romanée Aux Brûlées 2013 and Roumier’s 2008 Musigny, both of which have seen increases upwards of 30%.
Wine investment is not often associated with white wines, but six of the new Investment Staples are just that. All possess staying power, and are young enough to have room for improvement. What is more, they are made by some of the finest wine producers there are, allowing them to challenge some of their red neighbours in terms of investment fundamentals. Of these, Roulot’s Meursault Charmes 2012 has the best six-month price performance, plus one of the longest drinking windows based on the average assessment of our partner critics. Jean-Marc Roulot has been a rising star for several years now, but his wines are still in the ascendancy.
The new Investment Staples nearly all hail from Burgundy, with just a handful of entries from Piedmont and the Rhône. Those seeking something a bit different that still possesses the criteria of a solid investment might look to Italian white, Gaia & Rey 2012 from Gaja, which has a drinking window of 2015-2025, 6.3% six-month price performance, and price tag of £124.
To search for more Investment Staples, subscribers can click here, filtering by country, region, type, style, price, and score, to drill down exactly into what wine you’re after.