Having spent the start of the Northern Hemisphere summer focusing on Old World wines of various regions, colours, styles, and prices, this week the Listed section is feeling flush and has journeyed Down Under to take a look at Australia’s five most expensive wines.
Leading the way is Penfolds Bin 60A at a cool £430 per bottle. The rarest of the rare, this has only been produced twice – once in 1962 and again in 2004 as a reaction to the vintage conditions being very similar to those from 42 years previously. As might be expected given that it is only produced in the very best vintages, the 2004 is a worthy follow-up to the fabled 1962, achieving a formidable Quality score (976). Fortunately, Wine Lister’s partner critics expect it to be drinking well until 2040, which might just give enough opportunity for a third bottling in the meantime.
Penfolds features twice more on the list, with its flagship Grange (£330) and Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon (£222). Grange is Australia’s strongest Brand (991) and also enjoys the country’s top Economics score (916). The former is the result of being both Australia’s best-represented wine in the world’s top restaurants (visible in 34%) and also its most popular, receiving on average 21,118 searches each month on Wine-Searcher, four times more than any other Australian wine. The Bin 707 is more of an anomaly in the group, its Quality score (859) over 100 points below the rest. Whilst its Economics score (871) can’t quite match Grange’s, it has comfortably achieved superior growth rates over the past three years, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 13% compared to its more renowned stablemate’s 8%.
Australia’s second most expensive wine is Torbreck’s The Laird (£416). First produced in 2005, it enjoys Australia’s best Quality score (984), but, similarly to Penfolds Bin 60A, its Brand score is unable to keep pace (635). This is probably the result of the fact that very few vintages of it are available and it has an average annual production of just 6,750 bottles each year – it is perhaps too young to have built up a significant following and there are not enough bottles of it for restaurants to get hold of.
Rounding off the group in third place is Henschke’s Hill of Grace Shiraz (£388). Again, this has an excellent average Quality score (961). It also achieves Australia’s second-best Brand score (913), present in 19% of the world’s top establishments – sommeliers are clearly very confident in the wine’s quality.
Despite the annual bustle of the en primeur campaign, it is healthy to breathe some non-Bordeaux air once in a while. With Bordeaux 2017 behind us, we examine new Buzz Brands for June from contrasting locations – Burgundy and the New World. One of four Wine Lister Indicators, ‘Buzz Brands’ use Wine Lister’s bespoke algorithms to indicate trending wines found in the highest number of the world’s best restaurants, and with high online search frequency.
This month, 10 new wines have made the Buzz Brand cut, as shown in the image below.
Six Burgundian wines (four whites and two reds) become Buzz Brands in June. This aligns with results of our latest Founding Members’ survey, where Burgundy producers earned the most number of votes (50) from key members of the global fine wine trade as most likely to see the largest brand gains in the next two years.
Louis Jadot and Domaine Leflaive both have two new white Buzz Brand references. Jadot’s Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles and Corton-Charlemagne have the highest Quality scores of this month’s Buzz Brand additions – 951 and 925 respectively. Domaine Leflaive proves its popularity with presence of its Puligny-Montrachet les Combettes and/or Meursault Sous le Dos d’Ane in 28 out of c.150 of the world’s best restaurants, and votes from the trade as a consistent seller (see p.23 of Wine Lister’s Bordeaux market study 2018 for more).
Of the red Burgundian Buzz Brands, the popularity of Domaine Leroy’s Pommard Les Vignots is perhaps unsurprising, given the producer’s renown, and the wine’s relative affordability (£505 per bottle) compared with Leroy’s more expensive offerings, such as its Musigny Grand Cru (£8,365 per bottle). Denis Mortet’s Clos de Vougeot is the only Côte de Nuits to feature in this month’s Buzz Brand additions.
The remaining four wines all hail from the New World – three from South Australia, and one from California. The latter, Vérité’s Le Désir, wins on all fronts with the highest Quality (949), Brand (740), and Economics (603) scores. The Quality comparison is hardly fair, given Le Désir’s price of £233, over four times higher the average of the three Australian representatives. Torbreck’s The Steading and the Descendant combined are present in 15 of the world’s best restaurants. Henschke’s Cyril Cabernet Sauvignon joins its pricier and better-known siblings, Hill of Grace Shiraz and Mount Edelstone Shiraz, as the producer’s third Buzz Brand.
You can see a full list of Wine Lister Buzz Brands here
Yes, that question: “which are better, Old World or New World wines?” Traditionalists may argue that the latter lack the prestige and quality of their Old World counterparts. Those with a preference for the New World might see these wines as better value for money, free of the price tag accompanying wines from famously exclusive Old World vineyards.
Wine Lister has compared the top 50 wines by Quality score from Old World and New. The average Quality score of the top 50 wines is 983 in the Old World and 948 in the New. Though both Worlds sit comfortably in the “strongest” section of the Wine Lister 1000-point scale for Quality, the price gap tells a different story. The average price for a top 50 ranking Old World wine is £2,114 per bottle – seven times higher than the average New World equivalent (£297).
The wine with the highest Quality score on Wine Lister is Egon Müller’s Scharzhofberger Riesling TBA, which achieves a wine level Quality score of 995, having fallen just one point shy of the perfect 1,000 point score for the 2010 vintage. Riesling’s quality proliferates in the top 50, with 16 entries across Germany and Alsace. The high critics’ scores are balanced by exceptionally high prices, with an average price of £2,509 per bottle.
Though the Old World Quality top 50 is in fact white wine dominant, red Burgundy is well represented, with 13 entries and an average Quality score of 983 at £3,164 per bottle. Even excluding DRC La Romanée-Conti’s remarkable price (£11,722 per bottle), Burgundy’s remaining 12 finest reds command an average price of £2,450 per bottle.
Champagne wins the price vs quality race for the whites, with an average Quality score across its four entries of 981 at £348 per bottle. Even more impressive are the five Port entries, with an average Quality score of 982 at £244 per bottle.
In contrast to the diverse set of regions represented in the Old World top 50, the New World list is dominated by California (with 40 out of 50 wines hailing from the region). These wines achieve an average Quality score of 948 at £315 per bottle – not quite as good value as the Champagnes and Ports, but seemingly better value than their red Burgundian counterparts.
Though there are fewer entries from Australia (seven in total), the New World’s number one wine for quality comes from the Barossa Valley. Torbreck The Laird has a Quality score of 984 points and a price of £427 per bottle. When comparing this to an Old World wine of the same score, the price difference is evident. Domaine Leroy’s Romanée Saint Vivant benefits from the same Quality score, but is nearly five times more expensive, at £1,975 per bottle.
Having stopped off last week in Syrah’s spiritual home – the Northern Rhône – in search of the region’s leading wines for the 2015 vintage, this week Wine Lister’s Listed section ventures to Australia, surely Syrah’s most famous home from home. Australian Shiraz might differ stylistically from the Northern Rhône’s finest Syrahs, but the Land Down Under’s foremost brands have certainly managed to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the international fine wine market.
Penfolds’ flagship Grange is Australia’s runaway leader in the Brand category. Its formidable score of 991 is not only 75 points ahead of Australia’s second strongest brand – Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz – but also nudges ahead of the Northern Rhône’s top brand – Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle. Whilst Grange can’t quite match La Chapelle in terms of the number of the world’s top restaurants in which it features (34% vs 43%), establishments in which it does appear list 1.5 times more vintages / formats on average (4.5 vs 3.0). Grange is also considerably more popular than La Chapelle, receiving nearly twice as many searches each month on Wine-Searcher. Within Australia no other wine comes close to its level of brand strength. It is visible in nearly twice as many restaurants as the group’s next-best wine in the criterion – Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz – and is searched for almost five times more frequently than the second-most popular wine of the five – Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz. Last year’s release of g3, a blend of 2008, 2012, and (the as yet unreleased) 2014 Grange will only serve to secure Grange’s standing as Australia’s top brand. Click here to see all of Grange’s vintages. Confirming Penfolds as Australia’s most prestigious producer, the St. Henri Shiraz bookends the top five with a score of 852.
Other than Grange, the only Australian wine to enjoy a Brand score above the 900-point mark – and thus making the “strongest” band on Wine Lister’s 1,000-point scale – is Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz (916). As previously mentioned, Eden Valley’s leading light achieves the group’s second-best level of restaurant presence. It is also the third-most popular wine of the five, receiving 4,107 searches each month on average and, notably, is by far the most expensive of the group.
The two remaining spots are filled by Torbreck Run Rig and Clarendon Hills Astralis Shiraz (894 and 862 respectively). Whilst they receive a very similar number of searches each month, Torbreck Run Rig edges ahead thanks to superior restaurant presence (17% vs 11%) – presumably in part due to producing over twice as many bottles each year as Clarendon Hills Astralis.
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.
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.
Trading volumes are a key measure of a wine’s success in the marketplace. To evaluate these, Wine Lister uses figures collated by Wine Market Journal from sales at the world’s major auction houses, looking at the total number of bottles sold of the top five vintages traded for each wine over the past four quarters.
A change in trading volumes impacts a wine’s Economics score. The chart below pulls out the biggest gainers in the last quarter of 2016, comparing auction data from the 12 months leading up to the end of Q3 2016 to data for the calendar year.
Wines from a variety of regions saw their Economics scores boosted by auction sales in the final quarter of 2016, suggesting a healthy broadening of interest in addition to the usual suspects.
Gaining most was Artadi Rioja Viñas de Gain, which saw trading volumes from January-December 2016 increase tenfold. Its Economics score remains relatively low, at 420/1000.
Australia and the Loire also made an appearance. Domaine Huet Cuvée Constance enjoys a very strong Economics score of 796/1000, and also excels in terms of Quality and Brand, leaving it with a very strong overall Wine Lister rating of 856/1000.
Burgundy is still on the rise at auction, and was the only region to feature twice, with Maison Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Lavaux Saint-Jacques and Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat Chambolle-Musigny.
In response to user feedback, we have added a simple new piece of functionality that will help you get exactly what you need from the Wine Lister website.
The ability to search and sort by category score means you can now access Wine Lister’s uniquely rich database in a more tailored way. Whilst we have done the hard work by computing all the data that matters into a single Wine Lister score, we recognise you may want to delve deeper into its composition.
Now, on the advanced search page, you can search and sort by each of our three score categories: Quality, Brand and Economics. This empowers you to dissect the Wine Lister database to suit your specific needs or question.
For example, what are the highest quality reds in Australia with low brand recognition (Brand score below 500)?:
What’s your question for Wine Lister? https://www.wine-lister.com/search