Bordeaux is renowned for its reds and sweet whites, but its best dry whites should not be forgotten. While the majority of Bordeaux’s top dry whites are not the flagship wine of their respective châteaux, they still achieve overall Wine Lister scores that are amongst the strongest or very strong on Wine Lister’s scale. Furthermore, as part of some of the most prestigious châteaux in Bordeaux, they all achieve Buzz Brand status.
Leading the way is Château Haut-Brion Blanc, with a score of 902. It is by far the most expensive at £569 per bottle. This puts it 62% above the current market price of Haut-Brion’s red, presumably because just one sixteenth the number of bottles are produced each year.
In second place is Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc (891). Relabelled in 2009, this was formerly Laville Haut-Brion. It has the best Quality score of the group (908), the result of very strong ratings from each of Wine Lister’s four critics and the longest ageing potential of the group – the last six vintages bottled under the Laville Haut-Brion label will still be drinking well until at least 2020.
Next comes Y d’Yquem with a score of 887. Whilst it can’t match the quality of the botrytised Sauternes for which the château is best known – not many can – it is available at a 34% discount, making it an excellent way of enjoying an iconic producer on a different occasion.
Margaux’s Pavillon Blanc achieves the fourth-best score (878). The only straight Bordeaux AOP in the group, Pavillon Blanc comprehensively outperforms its red counterpart in the Quality category (895 vs 771). That said, Pavillon Rouge has a stronger Brand score (944 vs 831) and Economics score (953 vs 920), in spite of a slightly lower price (£122 vs £138).
Confirming the dominance of the Graves when it comes to Bordeaux’s best dry whites, the last spot is filled by Domaine de Chevalier Blanc (868), the third Pessac-Léognan wine of the group. By far the cheapest of the five (£59), it is an absolute steal given its consistent high quality and ageing capacity. It also achieves the best Brand score (909), thanks to outstanding restaurant presence – it is visible on 23% of the world’s best wine lists.
In this blog we look at the price performance of five major fine wine regions over the past two years. Wine Lister’s regional indices use price data from Wine Owners, and each comprises the top five brands in its respective region (according to the Wine Lister Brand score).
In Bordeaux, for example, the top five strongest brands (measured by looking at restaurant presence and online search frequency), are the five first growths, Haut-Brion, Lafite, Latour, Margaux, and Mouton. Posting gains of 28% over two years, and largely stagnating over the last year, the Wine Lister Bordeaux index is the worst performer of the five wine price indices shown below.
Piedmont, meanwhile, has enjoyed a remarkable couple of years. Not only has its index grown by an astonishing 58% over the period, it has also been very consistent, experiencing just three months of negative growth – November 2015, May 2016, and April 2017. Sustained high growth rates suggest a region in demand. The Wine Lister Piedmont index consists of two wines from Gaja – Barbaresco and Sperss (now labelled as a Barolo again after several years of declassification to Langhe Nebbiolo), two Barolos from Conterno – the Monfortino and the Cascina Francia, and finally Bartolo Mascarello’s Barolo.
Next comes the Burgundy index (consisting entirely of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines), which has grown by more than 50% over the past 24 months, but with a few more blips. It decreased in value by 4% in December 2015, only managing to recover in March 2016. In a repeat of this festive dip, the index dropped over 5% in December 2016, but recovered the losses in just one month on this occasion. It has started to close the gap on Piedmont over recent months, adding over 15% since May.
Tuscany and California* made similar gains to Bordeaux over the period – up 33% and 29% respectively. The Tuscany index has progressed fairly serenely over the past two years, thanks to its liquid Super Tuscan components. Meanwhile the prices of California’s top wines have been less consistent, enduring a fall of nearly 9% in October 2015, recovering with a dramatic 8% rise in February 2016. This year, having enjoyed strong gains during February and March, their growth rate has since cooled off, adding just 1.5% over the past six months.
*As you will know, California has suffered tragic wildfires in recent weeks. Wine Lister’s partner critic, Vinous, is donating to relevant charities the profits from all maps purchased before the end of November 2018.
This week’s Listed section ventures out from the Old World to look at Argentina’s top five brands. Wine Lister’s Brand score measures a wine’s performance across two criteria – restaurant presence and online popularity. The five Argentine wines, from three producers, all achieve scores that are either strong or very strong on Wine Lister’s scale, indicating that South America’s strongest brands are now established on the global fine wine market.
With a Brand score of 849, Argentina’s leading icon is Cheval des Andes. A joint venture between Saint-Emilion heavyweight Cheval Blanc and Terrazas de los Andes, it leads the way when it comes to restaurant presence, featuring on 14% of the world’s top wine lists – its closest rival in that criterion, Bodega Catena Zapata Nicolás Catena Zapata appears on 9% of the same lists.
Nicolás Catena Zapata (834) turns the tables in terms of online popularity. The only Buzz Brand of the group, it receives on average 2,349 searches each month on Wine-Searcher, 27% more than Cheval des Andes (1,853). It also achieves the greatest vertical restaurant presence of the group, with 2.7 listings on average per list.
Nearly 100 points behind is third-placed Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira with a score of 739. Appearing in 7% of restaurants and receiving 999 searches each month, it achieves its best score in the Brand category, comfortably outperforming its Quality score (581) and Economics score (183).
The last two spots are filled by two more wines from Bodega Catena Zapata – Malbec Argentino in fourth place (694) and Adrianna Vineyard Malbec in fifth place (661). Both receive a similar number of searches each month (744 and 793 respectively), and are visible in 6% and 4% of restaurants respectively.
For the second consecutive quarter, the five wines which saw trading volumes rise most were all from Bordeaux. Four of the wines below are big hitters, with overall Wine Lister scores ranging from 921 (Château Montrose) to 963 (Château Lafite Rothschild).
These top crus are also mainstays at global fine wine auctions, with over 2,000 bottles of the top five traded vintages of each wine selling at auction every year, and over 5,000 for Lafite. So, while auction trading volumes – a measure of liquidity – feed into a wine’s Economics score, none of the four has seen a significant enough increase to find their Economics score significantly changed.
There is one anomaly. Château Larrivet Haut-Brion has an average price of £23 per bottle, and from the period of July 2016 until June 2017 its top five vintages sold only 103 bottles at auction. At the end of last month, however, 228 bottles of the wine’s 2000 vintage were sold at a Bonham’s auction, making the wine the most popular of the day. The update to Larrivet Haut-Brion’s trading volumes has had a strong impact on its Economics score, which has risen from 567 to 667, and boosted its overall Wine Lister score from 663 to 684.
We calculate which wines have seen the greatest incremental increases in bottles traded by using figures collated by Wine Market Journal from sales at the world’s major auction houses.
Wine Lister’s holistic, dynamic rating system tracks a wine’s performance over time. By constantly analysing a wine’s brand strength and economic performance, as well as updating its Quality score as it is retasted by our partner critics, Wine Lister’s ratings evolve over time, as demonstrated by our new score history tool.
Wine Lister’s Economics score is a perfect case in point. Reacting to the very latest market data, it analyses a wine’s performance across several criteria: three-month average bottle price; short and long-term price performance; price stability; and liquidity. A strong showing across these criteria is what defines the five wines in this week’s Listed section – Bonnes-Mares’ top wines by Economics score.
Whilst all five achieve Economics scores that put them amongst the very strongest on Wine Lister, it is Domaine Georges Roumier’s Bonnes-Mares that leads the way with an outstanding score of 970. It is the most liquid of the five, its five top-selling vintages having traded 414 bottles over the past four quarters.
In second-place is Domaine d’Auvenay’s Bonnes-Mares (967). Underlining the Queen of Burgundy’s continuing surge in demand, it has a remarkable three-year CAGR of 35.6% (nearly double that of Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier’s Bonnes-Mares, its closest rival in that criterion). Its price is the highest of the group by a considerable distance, at £1,902.
Domaine Comte Georges de Vögué fills the third spot with its Bonnes-Mares’ Economics score of 942. One of the group’s two Buzz Brands, it is the second most-traded of the five (327 bottles), and has strong short-term price performance, its price having increased 11.2% over the past six months.
The Bonnes-Mares from Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier and Maison Joseph Drouhin fill the last two spots. Whilst they display similarly modest levels of liquidity (having traded 63 and 68 bottles over the past four quarters respectively), Mugnier leads Drouhin thanks to its considerably higher price (£436 vs £281) and superior long-term price performance (three-year CAGR of 18.2% vs 13.9%).
And thanks to Wine Lister’s approach, these scores will continue to change over time, meaning that they are always relevant and reflect the wine’s evolving position in the market.
We are thrilled to announce the addition of Jeannie Cho Lee MW as Wine Lister’s fourth partner critic, representing the Asian market.
Wine Lister gathers data from multiple sources to assess thousands of wines on a truly holistic basis. Scores are made up of three main categories: Quality, Brand, and Economics. Critic ratings form a vital part of the Quality category, providing reliable scores and drinking window information.
Jeannie Cho Lee is an independent wine critic, a university professor, and an award-winning author who in 2008 was the first Asian to become a Master of Wine. Based in Hong Kong, she writes about wine on her website, www.jeanniecholee.com, and has also published several books, including Asian Palate.
Adding to our unique collaborations with three of the most reputable wine critics in the world’s major fine wine markets – Jancis Robinson (UK), Antonio Galloni (Vinous) (USA), and Bettane+Desseauve (France) – we are delighted to welcome Jeannie Cho Lee to represent the key Asian fine wine market. This careful addition will help us in our goal of providing ever more reliable and accurate ratings and analysis, while crucially maintaining the high standards of this elite pool of critics. Jeannie Cho Lee’s scores have been added to those of our existing partner critics, and fed into Wine Lister’s bespoke algorithm to produce a Quality score out of 1,000 points. Wine Lister takes each critic’s minimum and maximum wine ratings and spreads these back out over the entire scale. As each wine critic scores differently (not just on a different scale), we also account for the frequency of ratings and normalise scores for fair comparison. Each critic is weighted equally.
You may notice that some scores have changed for wines that have not been rated by Jeannie. In order to meet our goal of having the most comprehensive and up-to-date information, and the most rigorous rating algorithm, we have increased the sample set of scores upon which we carry out the normalisation between critics. This now includes the 18 months’ worth of new critic scores since our launch.
Having ushered in Autumn with some of Northern Italy’s foremost brands, our Listed section continues its whirlwind tour of the world’s great wine regions in the Rhône. Home to some of France’s most illustrious producers, the Rhône tends to garner the most attention for its reds. However, its whites are well worth a mention too, and don’t require quite the same budget. Here we look at the region’s five most expensive dry whites.
Interestingly, all five wines are from the Northern Rhône, with Hermitage home to four of them. M. Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc L’Ermite tops the table. The first of two wines from Michel Chapoutier, at £233 per bottle it is by far the most expensive of the five. It also outperforms the others in the Quality category – with an outstanding average score of 961.
Château Grillet is the only wine of the five not produced in Hermitage. This 100% Viognier from the eponymous monopole (one of only a handful of single-estate appellations in France – can you name the others?) commands an average price of £134. It enjoys by far the best Economics score of the group (824), thanks to exceptional short-term price performance – its price having risen 22% over the past six months.
Snapping at its heels is similarly priced Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc. It achieves an average Quality score of 954, just six points behind that of its red counterpart. It is also the only Buzz Brand in the group, and enjoys the best Brand score (918).
Around the £120 mark, E. Guigal Ermitage Ex Voto Blanc and M. Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc De l’Orée fill the fourth and fifth spots. Underlining the outstanding quality of the group, they both achieve scores of over 900 in the category, ranking them amongst the very strongest on Wine Lister.
If we compare the quality to price ratio of these five whites and the Rhône’s five most expensive red wines, the whites look good value. Whilst the reds achieve a slightly better average Quality score (957 vs 919), you pay a significant premium for them – their average price is over 4.5 times higher than that of the whites (£671 vs £147).
The annual spate of releases in September has influenced this month’s gainers in online search frequency. For the third consecutive month, Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut has seen the largest increase in average monthly searches, which we calculate using three-month data from Wine-Searcher measured against the previous period. Dom Pérignon 2009 was released in early September, and the wine’s increase of 5,154 searches is the largest incremental monthly increase seen this year, taking it to 60,241 average searches per month: the highest of any Champagne and fifth highest of all wines.
Following last month’s narrowing of regions within the top five (only two were featured), the breadth in September significantly increased, with icons from California, Bordeaux, Piedmont, and Chile joining Champagne. The number of searches has also increased dramatically after the summer slowdown, with 19 wines seeing an increase of over 1,000 average monthly searches. The release of Opus One 2014 at the beginning of September – judged “a gorgeous wine” by our partner critic Antonio Galloni – has boosted interest in this Napa Valley stalwart, with an increase of 4,651 searches taking it to over 40,000 searches per month.
Château d’Yquem is another wine to see online search frequency rise on the back of a September release. The 2015 was released alongside Opus One 2014 at €250 ex-négociant.
The next in the table, Bartolo Mascarello Barolo, has the lowest search frequency of any of the wines above, with an average 10,075 per month. Nevertheless, with an overall Wine Lister score of 941/1,000 the wine is one of the great names of Barolo: the fourth best overall on Wine Lister.
Almaviva celebrated its twentieth anniversary in June, while its producer Viña Concha y Toro has recently entered the global ranking inside the Top 10 Beverages category within the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the first time. With the release of Almaviva 2015 in early September adding to the interest, the wine has seen an increase of 2,858 online monthly searches, taking it to 11,291.