Wine Lister MUST BUYs – the top wines any fine wine lover should have in their collection

Wine Lister has a new toy.

From our user research over the three years since Wine Lister’s inception, it is clear that, even in the purchase of ultra high-end wines, wine buyers enjoy getting “maximum value”. Whether a bottle of wine costs £50, or £5,000, there is satisfaction in knowing that you have purchased “a good buy” – that the quality of your bottle relative to where (or when) it is from, and how much it costs, is worth every penny you spent.

Enter WL MUST BUY, Wine Lister’s new buy recommendation tool – a data-driven algorithm overlaid with human intelligence, and the answer(s) to this very question.

Wine Lister’s proprietary MUST BUY algorithm picks out wines of a predefined, minimum quality level presenting value within their respective vintages and appellations, and overlays the latest industry intelligence from key players in the global fine wine trade. The Wine Lister team then scours the results to identify must-buy wines based on our own tasting experience and market knowledge. This final list is dynamic, constantly changing as new data comes in and when the team reports back from our frequent travels and tastings.

There are currently just over 1,800 MUST BUYs out of the 30,000 + wine-vintages on Wine Lister. See the chart below for a breakdown of MUST BUYs by region.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Burgundy dominates the MUST BUY list, with more than double the number of MUST BUYs of any other region, taking up 31% of the complete list. Burgundian MUST BUYs range from the well-known, such as Comte Liger-Belair’s La Romanée (2007, 2012, 2013, 2014), or Marquis d’Angerville’s Clos des Ducs (2012, 2015, 2016), through to Hidden Gems such as Stéphane Magnien’s Clos Saint-Denis (2010, 2016), or David Duband’s Clos de la Roche (2013, 2014).

Bordeaux follows, encompassing a wide range from five vintages of Petrus down to two vintages of Château Marsau.

Piedmont, the Rhône and other Italian wines (from the likes of Campania, or Veneto for example) come closely behind in third, fourth, and fifth places. New world MUST BUYs are led by the USA, with 99 wines from California, and six from Oregon, while sparkling wines are represented exclusively by the 60 Champagnes to make the cut.

As well as a wide variety of regions covered, the MUST BUY list spans a huge range of prices – see MUST BUYs by price bracket in the chart below.

Though pricing is taken into account within the algorithm, the element of relativity means that high-priced wines are not necessarily disqualified. The most expensive MUST BUY wine is 2006 Romanée Conti, from the wine’s namesake Domaine, at £14,853 per bottle in-bond. The least expensive, is 2011 Condado de Haza, at £9 per bottle in-bond.

At the end of this year’s Bordeaux en primeur campaign we released our 24 Bordeaux 2018 MUST BUYs – revisit the blog on these here.

Over the coming weeks we will be releasing commentary on top MUST BUYs by segment (region, appellation, colour, price). In the meantime the full list is available for exploration and discovery here. Play to your heart’s content (MUST BUYs are accessible to all on Wine Lister’s new, free site).



Piedmont and Burgundy prices march ahead

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.

WL price indices Image 24_10_17

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.

 


Happy 1st birthday Wine Lister!

balloons

Wine Lister is one year old already (we launched in May 2016). To mark our first birthday, we thought we’d take a quick look back at how we’ve grown and developed in the last year.

First, our website has evolved non-stop! As well as bringing you a full, 360° view of thousands of individual wines, we’ve introduced lots of new features to make it easier for you to analyse and compare them. One of these is our wine comparison tool, enabling you to view wines side-by-side: simply search for the wine you’re interested in, and click the Compare button.

As a birthday treat, we’ve just revamped our home page, and, by popular demand, launched a how it works page, with explanations on the criteria that feed into our three main categories – Quality, Brand and Economics – to arrive at a single wine score using our full 1,000 point scale.

How It Works new

For companies wanting seamlessly to access our proprietary scores and data for publication on their own platforms, we’ve built a dedicated Wine Lister API. To express your interest in accessing our data via this feed, please enroll here.

On the analysis side, we established the Wine Lister blog to bring you proprietary research on fine wine trends, new releases, and exclusive wine trade observations. Plus, you can visit the analysis page of our website to find our popular, highly-visual wine factsheets, alongside in-depth regional reports – the latest of which is Wine Lister’s second annual study on Bordeaux.

Finally, our team has also multiplied, now counting seven members in total, including new colleagues in Bordeaux and Tuscany in addition to our core UK-based team.

Thank you to all of our subscribers and readers for your continued support, and we look forward to updating you with how we evolve in the twelve months to come! If you have any comments or suggestions, please email team@wine-lister.com.



Wine brands hotting up in February

The latest Wine-Searcher search frequency data is in, allowing us to update our Brand scores with changes to each wine’s popularity (one of the two criteria contributing to the Wine Lister Brand score, the other being a wine’s presence in the world’s top restaurants).

This month we’ve taken a look at the biggest movers in terms of incremental search increases (rather than percentage changes), comparing average monthly searches in the three-month period up to the end of January with those up to the end of February. While no region dominates, Bordeaux boasts two wines in the month’s top five: Ausone and Calon Ségur. It may be no coincidence that the latter attracted considerable attention in February: the heart adorning its label ensures that Calon Ségur regularly finds a place in St Valentine’s Day wine lists.

Increases in wine searches

Bordeaux is not the only region whose top wines are on the rise. Two of the leading lights from Spain and California also make this month’s top five. In February, Screaming Eagle featured in Sotheby’s first Finest and Rarest New York wine auction of 2017 – a sale that brought $3.3 million. Vega Sicilia Unico has also made headlines recently with the long-awaited release of its 2005 in December, scored 18/20 by our partner critic Jancis Robinson. With an impressive overall score of 971/1000 from Wine Lister, Vega Sicilia Unico is the table’s highest-scoring wine.

Gaining most in terms of online searches is Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Cros Parantoux, which has seen average monthly searches increase from 3,114 to 5,121. In January, the wines changed US importer for the first time in 30 years.


Post-referendum portfolio diversification

In a new climate of Brexit-induced uncertainty, with volatile fund performance and some economists forecasting recession, can fine wine offer some shelter? Research has consistently shown that wine has weak correlation with traditional financial assets, and can therefore be a useful diversification tool. Moreover, returns have been attractive historically, and less risky.

Risk Reward

Attractive growth

The graph above shows returns since June 2007 for fine wine, gold, and three major stock indices. In spite of the fine wine bubble bursting in the summer of 2011, wine has produced the best annual returns over this period, at 8%.

Note that for this analysis we have used our price data partner’s Wine Owners 150 index, which contains a range of wines from different regions and at different price points. This further underlines the wisdom of diversification at every step – a wine portfolio made up solely of Bordeaux first growths would not yet have regained losses suffered in 2011. It should also be noted that the performance of the WO 150 index does not take into account frictional costs associated with fine wine collecting, namely storage, insurance, transportation, and sales commissions.

Low risk

What about the risk profile of fine wine? Despite surpassing the S&P 500, the FTSE 100, and the Hang Seng in terms of return, fine wine displays less volatility. It is also less volatile than gold, while providing similar returns over the nine-year period.

Low correlation

Finally, we ran our own analysis to confirm fine wine’s low correlation with stock markets over the same period – in mathematical terms, the index demonstrates correlation of 0.41, 0.03, and 0.15 with the S&P 500, Hang Seng and FTSE 100 respectively (where 1 is complete correlation, and -1 denotes mirror opposites). Fine wine behaves similarly to gold, often viewed as a refuge value in times of financial turmoil – the two show correlation of 0.8.

To take the plunge?

Fine wine seems to possess at least three characteristics making it a viable – and even attractive – alternative asset; a safe haven in tumultuous times. Independently of Brexit-fuelled uncertainty, now might be an opportune time to buy into wine, as it has shown steady – but not bubble-inducing growth since the beginning of 2016.

As a non-mainstream and (ironically) illiquid asset class, fine wine should only ever make up a small proportion of any investment portfolio. And, of course, it is a multi-faceted, non-fungible asset, ultimately made for drinking and enjoying, so we recommend that any notion of investing in wine always be secondary to its primary appeal, and undertaken with expert advice!

See Wine Lister’s Investment Staples and filter by geography, price, score and more.

For more information on a specific wine – relating to quality, brand, and economics – click on any wine and open out the category bars.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this post or elsewhere on the Wine Lister website do not constitute investment advice.


Ten rising stars as predicted by the trade

Which producers will see the largest gain in brand recognition in the next two years? That is one of the many questions we asked in a unique survey of our 42 Founding Members – the majority of the world’s largest merchants, top international wine auctioneers, and several high-end retailers, together representing well over one third of global fine wine revenues.

rising stars

The chart above shows the top 10 brands expected by Founding Members to see their brand recognition increase in the next two years. Unsurprisingly, Burgundy takes the lead, making up six of the ten places. The trade’s picks included rising stars such as Arnaud Ente and Jean-Marc Roulot. Wine Lister’s Founding Members also believe that superstars such as Armand Rousseau will grow even further in brand recognition.

Penfolds also already possesses a brand so strong it is hard to comprehend how it will grow much further, as the trade predict it will. The appearance of three Bordeaux wines also comes as a surpise, given the preeminent position already occupied by brand Bordeaux in the fine wine market. Our Founding Members see room for burgeoning brand power for Châteaux Figeac, Haut-Brion, and Lynch-Bages. Why?

Figeac is causing a stir and is widely held to be on the path to regaining greatness. Haut-Brion is perhaps viewed as having less renown relative to its fellow first growths in the Médoc, in spite of Samuel Pepys fame (“a good and most particular taste”). However, Lynch-Bages is already so many leagues ahead of its peers in terms of brand recognition (check out its impressive distribution in top restaurants and online search frequency on the site), that it’s hard to see where it can go next. Have our Founding Members got it right?

To access more findings from our Founding Member survey, read the complete study, “Bordeaux – Reasons to Hope“. If you are not a subscriber yet, why not try a 14-day free trial!

 

 


Primeur 2015: a close look at the release prices

As the en primeur campaign drew to a close on Tuesday with the release of Cheval Blanc, we take a look back at pricing – first, a basic “how-to” template, and then an example of two châteaux that got it right.

Post 1

In the chart above, taken from our study “Bordeaux – Reasons to Hope“, we compare the average quality scores from the last seven vintages to the current market price for those vintages (looking at 97 top Bordeaux crus). The closest quality rating to 2015 for this sample is 2010. As such, we applied the quality to price ratio from 2010, in order to arrive at a derived future market price of £169 for the 2015 vintage on average, according to its current quality assessment. Next we have applied négociant and importer margins of around 25-30%, and a discount to the consumer of between 10-20% for buying en primeur. This would imply an average ex-château release price between £98 and £110.

Some releases in the 2015 en primeur campaign failed to follow this logic, with prices that leave little or no upside for the end-buyer, and these wines have been difficult for the négociants to sell on. However, several châteaux made en primeur work for everyone concerned this year.

One was Château Canon, for which 2015, which at 965 has the highest Wine Lister quality score since 1964 (988), performing well over its average quality level of the last decade. Despite such an exceptional quality, it was released 26% cheaper than the current market price for the 2009, the vintage closest to 2015 in terms of quality in recent history (well below at 885).

Among other châteaux experiencing successful campaigns, we also find Château Beychevelle, whose release price for the 2015, with a quality score of 910, was 38% below the current market price for the 2005, the closest vintage for quality in recent history, scoring 864 for quality.

For more detailed insights, have a look at the complete report. If you are not a subscriber yet, it takes seconds to sign up for a 14-day free trial.