Bubbles are brand royalty

After a distinctly Burgundian start to 2018, we are ringing the changes this week to look at some of our most improved Brand scores, with Champagne dominating.

Alongside presence in the world’s best restaurants, Wine Lister’s Brand score measures a wine’s online popularity – as indicated by the number of searches received on Wine Searcher – as a marker of real consumer demand.

The search frequency data for December is in, and it is no surprise that searches in Champagne increased significantly leading up to the Christmas period.

During arguably the busiest period of the year for searching and purchasing wines, these five wines gained between 20% and 77% increase in search frequency. The appearance of Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut at the top of search frequency lists is a shock to no one considering its position as one of the most searched-for wines of all time. Indeed, it consistently held the number one search spot from July to September last year. The Christmas influence still managed to add 16,659 online searches, allowing this almighty brand to achieve Wine Lister’s first ever perfect Brand score (1000)!

Next on the list is Bollinger Grande Année. Its impressive 77% increase in search frequency at the end of last year can also be attributed to the festive season, but may also have been boosted by the release of the 2007 vintage earlier in the year. Bollinger’s new Brand score is up 16 points on the previous quarter at 975.

Our next two appearances hail from the same owner as the first, Champagne divinity LVMH. Moët & Chandon, often considered the definitive Champagne brand holds not one, but two spots in the top five most searched for wines of the last three months. Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage is perhaps a classic Christmas choice, but the appearance of a non-vintage cuvee, the Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial is testament to the power of the Moët & Chandon brand. Each earned an increase in search frequency of 33%, bringing Brand scores to 987 and 938 respectively.

Last but not least, Louis Roederer Cristal takes fifth place with a search frequency increase of 20%. While achieving a fractional increase in searches (4,271) compared with Dom Pérignon, its presence in 54% of restaurants and consistent high quality (Quality score 970) makes Cristal an all-round achiever, and therefore a choice that’s not just for Christmas.

Champagne’s Brand prowess is clear, but these five are the shining stars of their region. It is interesting to note that the sixth most searched-for wine on our most recent list is in fact not a Champagne at all, but Château Margaux (Brand score 998).


Listed: New Zealand’s strongest brands

Mention New Zealand, and the first thing that springs to mind will most likely be rugby. The All Blacks are not just the world’s best team, but the foremost brand in rugby. In wine terms, they are the left bank first growths; the team that even people who don’t follow rugby will recognise. Whilst peerless with the oval ball, when it comes to vinous competition New Zealand can’t compete with its Old World counterparts in terms of brand strength. However, as this week’s top five shows, New Zealand’s top brands definitely shouldn’t be discounted.

Cloudy Bay fills two of the five spots with its straight Sauvignon Blanc and Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc. With a very strong score of 889 – putting it ahead of the likes of Haut-Brion Blanc – the straight Sauvignon Blanc dominates the rest of the five across both of Wine Lister’s brand criteria. It receives 56% more searches each month on Wine-Searcher than Ata Rangi Pinot Noir (the group’s second-most popular wine). Te Koko – New Zealand’s third-strongest brand (807) – displays a similar profile to the straight Sauvignon Blanc. Its brand is its strongest facet, comfortably outperforming its Quality and Economics scores (614 and 308 respectively).

Whilst Sauvignon Blanc is New Zealand’s foremost white grape, its most prestigious reds are Pinot Noirs, with Ata Rangi’s offering and Felton Road’s Block 5 both appearing in the top five. Ata Rangi is by far New Zealand’s strongest red brand (823). It is the country’s most visible red in the world’s top dining establishments (11%), and also the most popular with consumers, receiving three times as many searches each month as the Felton Road. Whilst it appears in just 7% of top restaurants, Felton Road Block 5 enjoys the group’s best vertical presence, with two vintages / formats offered on average per list. It is also the most expensive of the five. Incidentally, the two Pinot Noirs comfortably achieve the group’s best Quality scores and are the only two with scores above 800 in the category.

Proving that New Zealand isn’t all Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, Le Sol – Craggy Range’s Syrah – completes the five, with a Brand score of 673.

Burgundy tomorrow – trends according to the trade

Our Burgundian blog series continues, bringing you new snippets from our recently published Burgundy market study. Included in the study are findings from a survey answered by Wine Lister’s Founding Members – 52 CEOs, MDs and department heads from companies representing over one third of global fine wine revenues.

The most-cited trend was one that we have already explored in our latest blog on Burgundy price performance, namely untrammelled price increases. However our panel of merchants, retailers and auction houses also identified trends such as new styles of winemaking, as well as pinpointing some of the region’s rising stars.

The new generation of Burgundian winemaker seems as committed to quality as ever, while maintaining a more open outlook than their predecessors. This often means a strong focus on terroir transparency and a light touch in the cellar.

According to the trade, many Burgundy winemakers of today seek lower extraction levels , less sulphur, and less oak influence, concentrating on purity of fruit, sometimes by means of whole bunch fermentation.

Buying trends on the consumer side match this freedom of expression, with merchants citing the lesser-known villages, such as Saint-Aubin and Fixin, as up and coming.

This being said, our Founding Members’ consensus on the new domaines to watch for quality and acclaim remained very much among Burgundy’s upper crust, with the likes of Comte Liger-Belair, Vougeraie and Roulot.

You can read about more trends in the full Burgundy market study by subscribing here. Alternatively, a preview of the first 15 pages is available here.

Listed: top five US whites by Wine Lister score

With Burgundy having dominated our thoughts recently, we thought it was time for a change. So this week, our Listed section continues on its travels, this time stopping in the USA, to consider the country’s overall top five whites. However, whilst the landscape might be different to the Côte d’Or, the grape certainly is not. As might be expected, the USA’s top five whites are all Chardonnays – and all Californian.

Leading the pack is Marcassin Vineyard Chardonnay, with an excellent score of 918 – putting it amongst the very best on Wine Lister. Its score – 55 points above second-placed Kongsgaard Chardonnay – is the result of excellent consistency across Wine Lister’s three categories. Whilst it comes second in terms of Quality (927), it leads in the Economics category (968), and is well out in front in the Brand category (879). The dominance of its brand is the result of achieving the group’s best restaurant presence – both horizontal and vertical – and being the most popular of the five – it receives nearly twice as many searches each month on Wine-Searcher as the second-most popular wine in the group.

Next comes Kongsgaard Chardonnay (863). The cheapest of the five (£86 per bottle), it experiences the group’s second-weakest Economics score (873). However, it starts to climb back up the table with the group’s third-best Quality score (894), and cements its position with the second-best Brand score of the five (817).

The three final wines in the group are evenly matched, with just 27 points separating Kistler’s straight Chardonnay, Peter Michael’s Point Rouge Chardonnay, and Kistler’s Vine Hill Vineyard Chardonnay. The two Kistlers display contrasting profiles. Whilst the straight Chardonnay comfortably outperforms the Vine Hill Vineyard in the Quality category (892 vs 805), the roles are reversed in the Economics category, with the Vine Hill Vineyard’s very strong three-year CAGR (16.5%) helping it to an excellent score of 951, c.70 points ahead of the straight Chardonnay. In the Brand category, despite achieving very similar scores, again they display contrasting profiles. The straight Chardonnay is over twice as popular as the Vine Hill Vineyard, but features in half the number of the world’s top restaurants.

Peter Michael Point Rouge Chardonnay – the USA’s fourth-best white – has a somewhat topsy-turvy profile. It enjoys the group’s best Quality score (933), but the worst Brand and Economics scores (641 and 827 respectively). Thanks to an extraordinary three-year CAGR of 47.7% it is also by far the most-expensive of the five, with a three-month average price of £457.

Burgundy’s top price performers revealed

Our most recent market study is out, this time analysing 175 of Burgundy’s finest wines. Last week’s blog gave an overview of the study’s key findings. This week we take a deeper look into one of the upward trends, exploring some of Burgundy’s best price performers.

While it is impossible to argue the position of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at the top of the Quality and Brand leaderboards, a greater mix of producers excel in long-term price performance. Lalou-Bize Leroy’s Domaine d’Auvenay is a frequent and expected feature within the top price performers, but the list is not without surprises.

Arnaud Ente, while well known by those in the trade, is a quieter name in the global wine world. What Ente lacks in brand presence he makes up for in exceptional quality. Vines, notably his enviable Meursault plots, tend to be harvested late, giving wines their signature opulence. With a Quality score of 909 and a 3-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34%, Ente’s Meursault Les Gouttes d’Or is one of the best performing whites in Burgundy and the best 5-year price performer.

The Meursault village as a whole steals the show on price performance, accounting for 6 of the top 10 wines in the Economics score-criterion. Domaine Roulot, another producer flying slightly under the radar of Burgundy’s biggest brands also demonstrates strong long-term price performance across all three of their Meursault cuvées.

Meursault is not the only white village on the up. According to our Founding Members’ survey, which accompanies the Burgundy market study, the popularity of Saint-Aubin is increasing. Whether searching for the highest quality or the best value, it seems the white vineyards of Burgundy are the places to be this year.

You can read about more Burgundy trends in the full Burgundy market study by subscribing here. Alternatively, a preview of the first 15 pages is available here.

Listed: top five red Burgundies under £300 per bottle by Wine Lister score

Today marks the close of a busy week of Burgundy 2016 en primeur tastings, with offer prices largely stable on 2015 despite tiny volumes, thanks to the more generous 2017 in the wings. However, prices have been escalating in the secondary market for several years now, with eight of the region’s top wines averaging more than £3,000 per bottle). Eyewatering, yes, but as illustrated in our recently published study, the majority of the region’s top wines are priced between £100 and £500.

To mark this week’s Burgundy en primeur tastings, the latest Listed section picks out the top five red Burgundies priced under £300 per bottle by Wine Lister score. With an outstanding average score of 913 – putting them amongst the very strongest on Wine Lister – and four of the five achieving Buzz Brand status, these wines are worth the price tag.

Leading the way is Grand Cru monopole Clos de Tart with a score of 947. Recently acquired by Artemis Domaines – Latour owner François Pinault’s holding company – it achieves the best Brand and Economics scores of the group (956 and 964 respectively), and is just pipped into second place in the Quality category by Trapet Père et Fils Chambertin Grand Cru (932 vs 940). Its price  has increased 9% over the past six months, and now at £275, it looks like it won’t qualify for this group much longer!

Next comes Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays – part of LVMH’s portfolio since 2014 – with a score of 919. Alongside Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Ducs, this is the cheapest (or least expensive) of the group (c.£150 each). It enjoys its best score in the Brand category, with the group’s highest level of restaurant presence (25%), and the second-best average monthly online search frequency (5,079).

In third place is Rousseau’s Clos de la Roche Grand Cru with a score of 910. At almost £300 per bottle, it is the most expensive of the group, contributing to its boasting the best score in the Economics category (937). It is also partner critic Jeannie Cho Lee’s favourite wine of the group; she awards it a score of 95/100 on average.

Dropping just below the 900-point mark are Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Ducs and Trapet Père et Fils Chambertin Grand Cru (899 and 891 points respectively). They display very different profiles. The latter leads the Quality category, with the former lagging 60 points behind (still with a very strong score of 879). However,Trapet’s Chambertin struggles in other categories, with the group’s lowest scores for Brand and Economics (867 and 823). Meanwhile, thanks to the group’s strongest long and short-term growth rates, Marquis d’Angerville’s Volnay Clos des Ducs enjoys an excellent Economics score (939) – the second-best of the five.

If you’d like to discover more about Burgundy and its top wines, then click here if you are a subscriber to view the full regional study, or here to see a preview if you haven’t yet subscribed.

Burgundy study – mercury rising

With the Burgundy 2016 campaign underway, our first blog of the new year sheds some light on an all too often complex region. In our inaugural Burgundy study, Wine Lister reveals some key findings. Read on to find out more or click here to access the full study (non-subscribers can see a preview of the study here).

Price: the unstoppable force?

While the region’s Brand scores are no match for Bordeaux, Burgundy’s supply and demand dynamic(emphasised by a five-year stock shortage) and high quality are driving prices ever skywards. The majority of top Burgundy wines cost between £100 and £500 a bottle, with 18 wines costing more than £2000 per bottle.

Among the impressive Economics scores (994 being the highest) it is no surprise that producers such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) and Domaine Leroy hold many of the top spots (note that the only whites to enter into the Top 25 for Economics are from Coche-Dury). However, the region as a whole rises above the rest on price performance. Burgundy‘s prices have risen more quickly than any other top fine wine region and show no sign of decelerating.

Quality: the clear winners

Indeed, DRC and Domaine Leroy consistently top the charts across all Wine Lister scores. However, Lalou Bize-Leroy is Quality queen, with 11 wines in the Quality top 25 between Leroy and d’Auvenay.

DRC and Armand Rousseau stand out as being the only two producers to gain the trade’s full confidence. Our Founding Members give the domaines a confidence rating of 10/10 (no Bordeaux chateau scores above 9/10).

Trends: what the future holds for Burgundy

Further insight from Wine Lister’s 52 Founding Members (key global fine wine trade figures)includes growth trends for Burgundy.

One commonality throughout the trade was the noticeable rise in the popularity of Saint-Aubin (Burgundy is the region home to more “rising star” producers than any other fine wine region). Other observations included a general shift towards higher quality and greater purity in winemaking style, as well as less sulphur and more whole bunch fermentation.

Subscribers can read the full study here. Non-subscribers can access a preview of the full version or subscribe here.

Listed: the top five Spanish Value Picks

December is an expensive month, a time when many of us push the boat out, embracing the seasonal festivities as the days get ever shorter and the nights longer. But December has now been and gone, and January is here. Whilst it is a time for trying to tighten one’s belt – economically and physically – it needn’t be all doom and gloom.

This is where Wine Lister’s Value Picks come in to their own. One of Wine Lister’s four indicators (designed to highlight particularly noteworthy wines for our subscribers), Value Picks identify the wines and vintages that have the best quality to price ratio (with a proprietary weighting giving more importance to quality, thus giving the finest wines a look-in). This week’s Listed section looks at Spain’s top five Value Picks. Each achieving Quality scores of at least 876, and costing under £40 per bottle, they are sure to brighten up these dark January days. Please note that the prices shown are excluding duty and VAT, and often reflect prices available only when purchasing a full case.

Leading the way is La Rioja Alta Rioja 904 Gran Reserva 2005. With an excellent Quality score of 909, this is a wine that is built to last – it is only now entering its drinking window, and will be drinking well until 2032. Not only does it qualify as a Value Pick, it is also one of Wine Lister’s Buzz Brands. Available for as little as £27 per bottle, it represents outstanding value.

Vega-Sicilia Pintia fills two spots, with the 2004 and 2002. They enjoy the group’s top two highest Quality scores (987 and 965 respectively), having received excellent ratings of 19/20 and 18/20 from Wine Lister partner critic Jancis Robinson. They need drinking up now, so why not start the year as you mean to go on and get your hands on one (or both!) of these.

Numanthia 2012, on the other hand, won’t be ready until 2022. The cheapest of the group – at as little as £26 per bottle – it might be wise to buy a case and forget about it for a few years. Achieving a Quality score of 876, you won’t regret finding a bottle of it tucked away in January 2028!

The last of Spain’s top five Value Picks is Aalto 2011. With a Quality score of 920, and right in the middle of its drinking window, it would be £28 of liquid Spanish sun to brighten up the month.