10 must-have Bordeaux wines for your collection

As en primeur 2018 picks up pace, we consider the 10 Bordeaux wines that any fine wine collector should acquire for their collection. These are based on the results of Wine Lister’s latest Founding Member survey, gathering the views of over 50 key players in the global fine wine trade.

You can download this slide here: 10 must have Bordeaux wines for your collection


Champagne – slow and steady wins the race

At the end of last year, Wine Lister released its first ever Champagne report. As well as exploring a handful of key trends as identified by Wine Lister’s Founding Members, the report also sheds light on top Champagnes as compared to other regions in terms of economic performance.

Prices of the top Champagnes (Dom Pérignon, Krug Vintage, Louis Roederer Cristal, Salon Le Mesnil and Dom Pérignon Rosé) have seen a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.8% over the last six years. Relative to other major fine wine regions, this long-term growth is slow, as shown in the chart below, but also stable.

One notable advantage of Champagne as an investment option it its low volatility. Indeed, Champagne prices show a much better level of stability in the secondary market (deviating by just 2.5% from the average price over 12 months) than any other major fine wine region. Slow and steady wins the race.

Moreover, recent price performance shows Champagne accelerating. Prices of top Champagnes are starting to grow at a faster rate than their counterparts in California, Bordeaux, and Tuscany, beaten only by Piedmont and the seemingly unmatchable Burgundy. Indeed, as of December 2018 top Champagnes had seen a 12-month price growth of 11%. The region’s potential for long-term investment is already being acknowledged by the trade, with one of our Founding Members, a top tier UK merchant commenting “Champagne (Salon especially) has experienced solid growth and has become a reliable investment for collectors”.

Salon Le Mesnil is the number one performing Champagne for price performance, with an Economics score of 978, closely followed by Krug’s Clos d’Ambonnay (962). Krug also tops the Champagne Economics charts with its Clos du Mesnil, Brut Vintage, and Collection. Interestingly the only NV Champagne to appear within the top 10 Champagnes for Economics is grower Jacques Selosse’s Brut Initial, with an Economics score of 911. Its price, £106 (per bottle in-bond), is a mere 18% of the average price of the other nine top Champagnes by Economics score.

To read more key findings from our in-depth Champagne study, read the free summary here. (The key findings and full study are also available to download in French on the Analysis page.)


Top five Piedmont Buzz Brands by Brand score

With the first major set of releases for 2019 in full swing (Burgundy 2017), the Wine Lister team are already looking ahead for what else is in store for wine collectors and trade members alike. In February we expect to see the release of Barolo 2015s – set to be a more concentrated and riper vintage than the previous due to high temperatures throughout the summer. In anticipation of these, Wine Lister is examining the top five Piedmont Buzz Brands by Brand score.

Ironically, the highest-scoring brand of this week’s top five is in fact not a Barolo at all. Gaja’s Barbaresco takes the top spot with a Brand score of 975. Wine Lister partner critic Antonio Galloni gives the 2014 vintage 96 points, and comments, “this is one of the most tightly wound, intense versions of Gaja’s Barbaresco I can remember tasting. Don’t miss it”.

While it is no longer breaking news to see such high quality Barbaresco emerging from under Barolo’s shadow, the making of such a well-recognised brand is impressive. This is achieved by presence in 31% of the world’s best restaurants, and a search rank of 76 out of the c.4,000+ wines on Wine Lister. Gaja’s single vineyard Barbarescos, Sorì San Lorenzo, Sorì Tildin, and Costa Russi are also popular with an average Brand score of 915.

In second place for top Piedmont Buzz Brands is Giacomo Conterno’s Barolo Monfortino Riserva. Sitting just outside the top 50 most-searched-for wines (in 51stplace), it is both the highest quality and the most expensive wine of this week’s top five, with a Quality score of 977, and an in-bond per bottle price of £766. The price tag, which is just under four times higher than the average price of the other four wines of this week’s group, is perhaps due to the tiny production quantities of just c.7,000 bottles per year.

Giacomo Conterno also takes a second spot in this week’s top five – fourth place, with his Barolo Cascina Francia, which earns a Brand score of 956 and a Quality score of 960. Despite score gaps between these two wines of a mere 14 and 17 points respectively, an average of three times as many bottles are produced of Cascina Francia than its grander (and much rarer) sibling. It is available at just 23% of the price of the Barolo Monfortino Riserva – £176 per bottle in-bond.

In third place of this week’s top five is Bartolo Mascarello’s Barolo with a Brand score of 965. While its scores across the board sit in the mid-range of this week’s top five, it achieves the best long-term price performance, with a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.7%.

Lastly, at number five of this week’s group is Bruno Giacosa’s Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva with a Brand score of 928. Although the Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva has the lowest search rank of this week’s top five (158th), online searches for this wine saw impressive increases last year (read more here). It achieves a Quality score of 974 – just two points under the best Quality performer of the group (Conterno’s Barolo Monfortino Riserva). Indeed at vintage level these two wines share a near-perfect Quality score of 998 for their respective 2004 vintages, both earning 100/100 from Antonio Galloni.

It is interesting to note the high quality that accompanies these top Piedmont Buzz Brands (an average Brand score of 959 vs. 945 for Quality). The disparity between scores is more accentuated for the equivalent group in Tuscany, which achieves a Brand score of 991 for a Quality score of 932, or in other words, a 59-point gap.


The rise of the grower vs. maison Champagnes

At the beginning of this new year, Wine Lister is prolonging the festive sparkle through a look at the major trends to emerge from our first Champagne report. Wine Lister’s Champagne study analyses a basket of 109 top wines from the world’s premier sparkling region, and includes insight into the major trends of the Champagne market as identified by Wine Lister Founding Members (c.50 key players in the international fine wine trade).

While quality across the board is something to keep us celebrating well in to 2019 (see more on this here), the notable trends could indicate an increase in year-round enjoyment of Champagne. The chart below shows responses to our question, “What are the most important trends in Champagne?” by number of votes.

The trend most-frequently ranked as number one or two by Wine Lister Founding Members was the rise of grower Champagnes, closely followed by the increased emphasis on terroir / site Champagnes. One U.K. merchant remarked that “Consumers are now identifying with specific terroir in Champagne and understanding the value of the grower…” – a comment that further leads us to suspect an increased appreciation of Champagnes as wines, and not just celebratory bubbles.

The “rise of the grower” trend is, however, juxtaposed by continued demand for big brands. Of the basket of wines treated in the study, the grower Champagne segment has seen an increase in popularity (measured by search rank) of 9% since the beginning of 2017. Though this performance is superior to the maison segment’s slight decline in popularity (-4%), grower Champagnes still sit twice as far down the popularity rankings, with an average search rank of 1,620 compared to 775.

Perhaps predictably, big brands still win the race when it comes down to the bottom line. A U.K. merchant commented, “Small growers are getting much better press, but I suspect the big name cuvées still rule the roost for sales/investment”. Indeed, when asked to award confidence ratings to specific Champagne producers, the trade cited only one grower champagne within the top two confidence scores (9/10 and 8/10), Jacques Selosse. The houses to earn top confidence ratings were Dom Pérignon, Krug, Louis Roederer, SalonBollingerPol Roger, and Taittinger, as shown on the chart below.

A top tier merchant offers some explanation into the difference in picture painted between the top Champagne trend and Champagne confidence ratings: “Production needs to be small but not so small as to result in a proliferation of Champagnes which the vast majority have never heard of. The big brands which produce great quality are still finding serious demand in the market!”

For a more in-depth look at Champagne, subscribe or log-into read the full report here. Alternatively, all readers can access a five-page executive summary. (Both versions are also available to download in French).


Listed: top 5 Rieslings under £100 by Quality score

To many a wine expert, Riesling is amongst the world’s finest white wine grape varieties, perhaps thanks to its versatile nature. The aromatic grape does well as both a sweet and dry wine, to drink straight away or suitable for long-term ageing. This week Wine Lister looks at the top five Rieslings under £100 by Quality score, which all hail from Alsace or the Mosel.

Hugel et Fils’ Riesling SGN takes the top spot this week with a Quality score of 981. This phenomenal Quality score is in part the result of an average wine life of 24 years (compared to 13 years for the rest of this week’s top five). The Riesling SGN from Hugel is therefore perhaps justifiably this week’s most expensive choice, at an average price of £98 per bottle in-bond. Sadly, it might take a Christmas miracle to source this in time for next week’s festivities. An average of just 600 bottles are produced of this Wine Lister Hidden Gem each year.

Next is Domaine Zind-Humbrecht’s Riesling Brand VT with a Quality score of 970. Though in second place for Quality, it achieves this week’s best Economics score of 633 (and also this week’s best overall Wine Lister score) – despite only 18 bottles of it having been traded at auction in the last year. It is the short-term price performance that really boosts the Economics score – the price having increased by 17% in the last six months.

In third place is this week’s first German wine – Heymann-Löwenstein’s Winninger Röttgen Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel. It achieves a Quality score of 960, and at only £52 per bottle in-bond it is this week’s most affordable option.

The two remaining spots of this week’s top five share the same Quality score (949). Domaine Albert Mann Schlossberg l’Epicentre Grand Cru is this week’s second Hidden Gem. Its Hidden Gem status is confirmed by a modest Brand score of 255 – the lowest of the group, due to presence in just 1% of the world’s top restaurants, and being only the 3,797 most-searched-for of Wine Lister’s wines on Wine-Searcher.

Rounding off the group is the second Riesling from Germany, Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Auslese Goldkapsel. If you are looking for Quality look no further than its 2006 vintage, which achieves a Quality score of 975 at an average price of £44 per bottle in-bond (compared to the wine’s overall average price of £54 in-bond). Its excellent quality-to-price ratio earns it a spot as one of Wine Lister’s Value Picks – indeed, it is given high praise from Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni, claiming it to be a “…massive and yet somehow delicate auslese of stunning quality”.


Listed: top 5 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape by Quality score

‘Tis the season of dark evenings, woolly jumpers, and open fires. To round out the perfect winter evening, Wine Lister has many a drinking suggestion up our collective cashmere sleeves, but let us start with these top five 20-year-old Châteauneuf-du-Papes by Quality score.

Unsurprisingly, the Southern Rhône beats its Northern sibling for price to quality ratios, with the average Quality score of the top five 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Papes at 968, for an average in-bond price per bottle of £354. Comparatively, the Northern Rhône’s top five 1998 average Quality score is 959 for an eye-watering £882 per bottle.

In first place of this week’s top five is Henri Bonneau’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve des Célestins. Its Quality score of 984 for the 1998 vintage is not only the best of this week’s top five, it is also Bonneau’s highest of the last 20 years, for £431 per bottle in-bond. This price tag is thanks to solid short- and long-term price performance, with six-month price growth of 16.9% and a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.2%.

Next for 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Papes by Quality score comes this week’s best brand, Château Rayas. Its Brand score of 982 is thanks to presence in 33% of the world’s best restaurants, and an impressive search ranking as the 53rd most-searched-for wine on Wine Lister. Wine Lister partner critic Jancis Robinson awards it full marks, describing it as “not dissimilar” to Rousseau. Its impressive quality and popularity are complimented by the highest Economics score of this week’s top five (988) thanks to the top six-month price performance of 21.7% and a three-year CAGR of 25%.

In third place is Domaine du Pegau’s Cuvée Da Capo 1998 with a Quality score of 973. It is the most expensive of this week’s top five, at £453 in-bond per bottle, perhaps due to its cult-style following. The Cuvée Da Capo achieves the highest average trading volumes at auction of the group (408 bottles per year), according to The Wine Market Journal.

The fourth wine of this week’s top five may also be said to have somewhat of a cult following. Beaucastel’s Hommage à Jacques Perrin 1998 is priced at £446 per bottle in-bond for a Quality score of 960. Despite this excellent score, eight of its last 15 vintages have managed even better Quality scores than the 1998 – indeed Hommage à Jacques Perrin is on average the highest-scoring Châteauneuf-du-Pape on Wine Lister (with an average Quality score of 965).

Finally, M. Chapoutier’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape Barbe Rac 1998 rounds out the group, with a Quality score of 944 and a price of £73 per bottle in-bond (or a mere 17% of the average price of the other four wines combined).

Other than the Rayas, any lucky owners of these bottles should consider cracking them open this Christmas, lest he or she risk missing their respective quality peaks.


Champagne trends

Our latest Listed blog focused on the top Grand Cru Champagnes by Wine Lister score. As the holiday season approaches, we look at a different kind of ‘top five’ on a sparkling theme – five of the major trends for the Champagne region, determined by a recent survey of Wine Lister’s Founding members.

Key members of the global fine wine trade identified the rise of grower Champagnes as an emerging trend. Jacques Selosse reigns supreme, with its Blanc de Noirs La Côte Faron achieving the best Quality score of any grower Champagne on Wine Lister (975). Only an average of 1,250 bottles are produced of this each year – half of the production volume of its Substance Brut.

Founding Members also identified an increased emphasis on terroir as something to look out for. Single vineyard expressions of Champagne are well-known and already extremely sought-after, particularly Krug’s Clos du Mesnil and Clos d’Ambonnay. The latter achieves a Quality score of 970, just 10 points above Philipponnat’s Clos des Goisses, but is over 12 times the price (£1,867 vs. £147).

The phenomenon of increased information transparency is perhaps a sign that buyers are becoming more interested in Champagnes as wines, as opposed to just celebratory bubbles. Krug’s Grande Cuvée has used “Krug ID” numbers since 2011, allowing drinkers to see the vintages, vineyard plots, and grapes included in each bottle. Library releases also cater to more “wine-focused” buyers – Champagne Brand King Dom Perignon’s P2, or Bollinger R.D. are the obvious choices for this.

Finally, interest in biodynamically farmed Champagnes is on the rise, such as Louis Roederer’s Cristal, or any cuvée from Jacques Selosse.

Download a PDF of the slide above here.

First published in French in En Magnum.


Listed: top 5 Grand Cru Champagnes by Wine Lister score

Wine Lister recently looked at red Christmas drinking options with the best Bordeaux under £50, and now that the official ‘sparkling season’ is almost upon us, it is high time to consider options for holiday bubbles. Below we examine the all-round best of the best – the top five Grand Cru Champagnes by Wine Lister score.

The number one Grand Cru Champagne is the indomitable Salon Le Mesnil (983). It fires on all Wine Lister cylinders, with impressive Quality, Brand, and Economics scores of 980, 989, and 981 respectively, meaning that it leads this week’s top five across each category. Moreover, it is the number one white wine on Wine Lister – still, sparkling, dry, or sweet. If you’re after a memorable bottle to kickstart the holiday season, then look no further than Salon 1996, its best ever vintage. As proof of the extraordinary longevity of top Champagne, the 1996 will be drinking well until at least 2025. Though expensive (£550 per bottle in-bond), you would be well-rewarded for paying the high price, Antonio Galloni calling the 1996 “the ultimate expression of Champagne as a wine”.

Next comes Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne, whose main strength is its Brand score (976). This is helped by a production volume of c.170,000 bottles per annum – almost twice that of the other four Champagnes of this week’s group combined. It consequently also achieves the highest auction-trading volumes of the group, having traded 789 bottles over the past four quarters, according to our data partner, The Wine Market Journal.

In third place is Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises. The term “vielles vignes” tends to get banded around quite frequently without much meaning, but in this case it carries rare significance. These old vines are planted on French rootstock, predating the spread of phylloxera which lead to the introduction of louse-resistant American rootstock onto the vast majority of France’s vines. As might be expected given the wine’s unique heritage, it comes with a hefty price tag (£713 per bottle in-bond). However, this rarity backs up its high price with an outstanding Quality score (963) – the joint-second best of this week’s top five.

In fourth place is Jacques Selosse’s Substance Brut (904). The only non-vintage wine of the five, it matches the Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises’ excellent Quality score (963). Its outstanding quality, coupled with its tiny production volume of 2,700 bottles per annum, start to explain the £203 price-tag of this NV grower Champagne.

Finally, in fifth place, is Pierre Péters’ Cuvée Spéciale Les Chétillons Blanc (897). Though in fifth place, its impressive Quality (923) and Economics (922) scores suggest it could be a prime choice for cellaring. It achieves the best short and long-term price growth of this week’s top five, having added 16.7% to its price over the past six months, and recording a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.5%. Any recent vintage would perhaps therefore be better placed under the Christmas tree (for an extremely lucky recipient), rather than on the Christmas table.


Listed: top 5 Burgundies by Average price

Thanks to tiny production quantities, exceptional quality, and increasing popularity, Burgundy tends to be expensive. In Wine Lister’s Burgundy Market Study (published in January this year), we analysed its rapidly-climbing prices. This week’s Listed blog focuses on the very tip of the Burgundy price hierarchy, with the top five by average price.

Four of this week’s top five hail from the Côte de Nuits, the first of which is, unsurprisingly, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s Romanée-Conti at an average price of £14,429 per bottle in-bond. The high price tag is accompanied by the best red Quality score on Wine Lister (993) and a Brand score of 989. The latter is achieved in part by being the 8th most-searched-for wine on Wine Lister (and indeed gains two and a half times as many monthly searches on Wine Searcher as the remaining wines of this week’s top five combined). Its most recent release – the 2015 vintage, receives a Quality score of 997, with Wine Lister partner critics Bettane + Desseauve and Jancis Robinson both awarding it 20/20. Even if the 2015 vintage is DRC Romanée-Conti’s best-performing in the last 15 years, its price increase of nearly 500% (from £2,925 to £17,496) since release in January is virtually incomprehensible.

In second place is one of two Musignys to feature this week. Domaine Leroy’s Musigny has an average in-bond price of £10,813 per bottle and a Quality score of 988 – just five points behind this week’s number one. Its overall Wine Lister score sits 75 points down from DRC Romanée-Conti, due to a more modest Brand score of 781. Interestingly, Leroy’s Musigny has been qualitatively more consistent over the past five releases than Wine Lister’s highest-quality red – its Quality score deviates a maximum of just one point from year to year since 2010 (compared to DRC Romanée-Conti’s maximum deviation of seven points).

Number three of this week’s top five is the second Musigny, this time from Domaine Georges Roumier. With a slightly lower price tag of £7,512 per bottle in-bond, and the second-highest Brand score of the group, Roumier is somewhat a darling of the trade – indeed, this Musigny is in the top 10% of most talked-about wines by the fine wine trade, according to Wine Lister’s Founding Member Surveys.

The last two spots are taken by wines that each stand alone among this week’s top five for their own reasons. The first, Henri Jayer’s Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux at £6,932 per bottle is the only Premier Cru to feature, as well as the only wine no longer in production.

Finally, Domaine Leflaive’s Montrachet Grand Cru is the only white of the group. As the most expensive white Burgundy on Wine Lister at £6,077 per bottle, it also earns white Burgundy’s highest Quality score of 985.


Listed: top 5 Brunellos by Quality score

To many wine collectors, the king of Italian wine is Barolo. Its popularity, particularly for older vintages, continues to grow (as proven in our latest restaurant presence analysis). However, the Piedmont sovereign’s Tuscan counterpart – Brunello – should not be overlooked. This week’s top five looks at the best Brunellos by Quality score – and all five achieve scores above 900.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top five Barolos by Quality score achieve an average score 34 points higher than this week’s Brunello group (964 vs 929). However, couple this with the fact that the Brunellos tend to cost nearly half as much as their Barolo counterparts (£142 vs £275), and Brunello’s value starts to become clear.

Biondi Santi earns two spots in this week’s top five, with its Brunello Riserva and Brunello Annata bookending the group. The former wins this week’s battle with an impressive Quality score of 938. It also achieves this week’s highest Economics score (941), contributing to its excellent overall Wine Lister score of 926 – also the best of the group. Although, at £315 a bottle it is also more than three times as expensive as the collective average price of the other four (£99).

In second place this week is Il Marroneto di Mori Alessandro Brunello Madonna Grazie. With a Quality score of 937 it is just one point behind this week’s number one – the slightly lower score being due to its shorter average ageing potential (12 vs 19 years). Its 2008 vintage provides the most impressive quality to price ratio of this week’s top five, achieving a Quality score of 938, yet available for as little as £45 per bottle in-bond.

Next in this week’s top five is Fuligni Brunello Riserva with a Quality score of 931. It appears to be the least well-known of the group, with a Brand score of 645. This is down to presence in just 5% of the world’s best restaurants, and being ranked 1,257th for monthly online searches of all Wine Lister’s wines on Wine Searcher. Its relatively modest Brand score could perhaps be the reason for its average price being the least expensive of the group (£73 per bottle).

Cerbaiona’s Brunello takes fourth place, with a Quality score of 923. Though not earning the highest Brand score of this week’s top five, it is still a Brand to watch – Cerbaiona was the only Brunello to feature in both recent top 20 lists for horizontal and vertical restaurant presence gains. Perhaps its increasing popularity is in part thanks to such an impressive score for the 2010 vintage. Vinous awards it 100 points, singing its praises: “The most anticipated wine of the night, the Cerbaiona shows why it belongs in the pantheon of the most epic wines ever made in Montalcino. A Brunello with no beginning and no end, the 2010 Cerbaiona just is. Every aroma, every shade of nuance, every texture is just…perfect.”

Last but not least is Biondi Santi’s Brunello Annata with a Quality score of 919. Though in fifth place for Quality, it achieves the highest Brand score of this week’s top five, at 934. This impressive Brand score is the result of great restaurant presence (17%) and being the 118th most searched-for wine on Wine Lister.