Search rankings for September

As part of our Brand score, Wine Lister measures popularity using the three-month rolling average searches on the world’s most visited wine site, Wine-Searcher.

We have recently updated our treatment of this data to provide relative results for all 4,000+ wines on Wine Lister. Expressing each wine’s search frequency as a ranking will make it easier for our users to interpret the data. For example, Mouton is the #1 most searched-for wine of all wines on Wine Lister, according to monthly searches on Wine-Searcher.

To mark this transition, here we examine the top 50 most popular fine wines in the world.

The first seven most searched-for wines for the period of May, June, and July include the five Bordeaux left bank first growths (Mouton, Lafite, Margaux, Latour, and Haut-Brion), right-bank powerhouse, Petrus, and Champagne super-brand, Dom Pérignon. It is perhaps of no surprise that these rankings remain unchanged since the previous period (February to April) .

Burgundian searches in the top 50 are dominated by Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, with Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, Echezeaux, and Romanée-Saint-Vivant all achieving better rankings versus the previous period. These four together achieve an average ranking of 30th place, and an average movement up the search ranking of 11 places.

Other than Dom Pérignon, the two remaining Champagnes featured in the top 50 most searched-for wines have moved up the rankings for May-July 2018 compared to the previous three-month period. Louis Roederer’s Cristal was up 12 places, presumably due to the release of its 2008 vintage in June. Krug’s most recent Grande Cuvée (166th edition) was released in late May, explaining its jump four spots up the rankings into 24th place.

More than half of the top 50 most popular wines are Bordeaux, with 30 wines hailing from the region. However, Bordeaux did not see the boost to their search ranking one might have expected during Bordeaux’s en primeur 2017, with one fewer of the region’s wines featuring in the top 50 than before the campaign kicked off. In fact, supporting Wine Lister’s analysis of this year’s lacklustre campaign, searches for many top Bordeaux châteaux actually fell during this period. For instance, Figeac, despite achieving Bordeaux’s 10th best Quality score of the 2017 vintage, slipped nine spots down the rankings.


Listed: the Côte de Beaune’s five most expensive wines

This week’s Listed blog will for most be an exercise in window shopping (or perhaps lèche-vitrine might be more appropriate). Not just the eye-watering prices, but also the extreme rarity of this week’s top five – just 500 bottles of d’Auvenay’s Chevalier-Montrachet are produced each year – act as bouncers stopping all but the most fortunate from entering this exclusive Burgundian showroom. Nevertheless, we can at least vicariously get as close to Chardonnay nirvana as possible with the Côte de Beaune’s five most expensive wines.

And these five really do get close to Chardonnay perfection, with a remarkable average Quality score of 975, putting them all amongst the top 15 still dry whites for Quality on Wine Lister. Perhaps reassuringly, Leflaive’s Montrachet, the Côte de Beaune’s most expensive wine, achieves the group’s best Quality score (985). 2010 was its best ever vintage, with a Quality score of 990, Jancis Robinson awarding it 19.5/20 and calling it: “[…] Not rich but gorgeous. Pale gold and obviously much fuller and deeper than Leflaive’s other grands crus. Rich yet so fresh! Nutty. Amazing concentrated fruit has already triumphed over the new oak. Very racy […]”. Interestingly, at £4,400 per bottle the 2010 is currently priced below all recent vintages other than the 2003.

Descending from the dizziest of heights, in second place is DRC’s Montrachet (£4,807). It is not just the Côte de Beaune’s overall top-scoring wine, but the best still dry white on Wine Lister (972). It is remarkably consistent across each of Wine Lister’s three rating categories, with Quality, Brand, and Economics scores of 975, 960, and 987 respectively. It is its Brand score that helps it nudge ahead in this Côte de Beaune showdown, with Coche-Dury’s Corton-Charlemagne the only one of the group to get close (924), the other three lagging c.250-290 points behind. Its brand superiority is the result of dominating both in terms of restaurant presence (visible in 26% of the world’s best establishments, comfortably above the Coche-Dury’s 19%) and online popularity (receiving 65% more searches each month than the Coche-Dury).

Whilst the Coche-Dury can’t quite match DRC’S Montrachet in the Brand or Quality categories, it does achieve the same phenomenal Economics score (987), having registered a superior three-year compound annual growth rate (25% vs 22%) and being the most-traded of the group at auction.

Lalou Bize-Leroy features twice in the list, first with d’Auvenay’s Chevalier-Montrachet (£3,368) and secondly with Domaine Leroy’s Corton-Charlemagne (£2,238). If ever there was proof of the life-altering potential of these hallowed wines, of his first taste of d’Auvenay’s Chevalier-Montrachet 1996, Wine Lister’s newest partner critic Neal Martin writes: “I took a large sip. It was like a thunderbolt hitting my senses: the tension, the complexity and intensity sent shivers down my spine. It was difficult to put down in words, yet this wine became instantly and indelibly etched onto my brain. Now I understood why oenophiles genuflected at the altar of white Burgundy”. With the d’Auvenay achieving a three-year compound annual growth rate of 45% and having added 18% to its value over the past six months alone, experiences such as Martin’s are only getting further out of reach for most.

The d’Auvenay is not alone in its soaring prices. As the chart below shows, demand for all of this week’s top five has skyrocketed over the past three years, each having added at least 62% to its value since July 2015. It seems the majority of us will have to satisfy ourselves with window-shopping for a little while longer.


The secret to value in Burgundy

Our in-depth study of Burgundy earlier this year showed that its prices continue to rise at a faster pace than those of any other fine wine region. With such high prices and tiny availability, wine buyers seeking good value drinking wines may often find their cellar a little light on Burgundy.

However, alongside the virtually unattainable wines at the most prestigious end of the Burgundy scale, there are some Value Picks to be found.

One of four Wine Lister Indicators, Value Picks are wines with the best quality to price ratios. Wine Lister’s proprietary Value Pick algorithm allows more expensive wines with exceptional quality to shine by reducing the impact of price in calculating the ratio.

The simple answer to good value for white Burgundy is Chablis.

For exceptional value at everyday drinking level in particular, Domaine William Fèvre stands out. Seven out of the last eight vintages of the domaine’s straight Chablis are identified as Value Picks, with prices per bottle under £13 and an average Quality score of 553 (above average on Wine Lister’s 1000-point scale).

Moving up the price ladder, Domaine William Fèvre’s Chablis Grand Crus Les Clos 2004 shows exceptional value, with a price per bottle of £50 and a Quality score of 982 – shown in the Vintage Value Identifier chart above. At a comparative score (979) for white burgundy in 2004 we find Domaine Leroy’s Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, with a price tag 60 times higher – £3,005 per bottle.

Chablis make up all top 10 white Burgundy Value Picks.

The Burgundian Value Pick with the highest Quality score is in fact a red – Domaine de la Pousse d’Or’s Volnay Premier Cru Clos de la Bousse d’Or 1995. At c.£50 per bottle and a Quality score of 983, it earns the highest Quality score for Volnay, and the third-highest for Burgundy’s 1995 vintage (after Méo-Camuzet’s Vosne Romanée Cros Parantoux and Rousseau’s Chambertin Grand Cru, priced at £1,046 and £1,448 respectively). Any lucky owners of the Clos de la Bousse d’Or 1995 should open and enjoy it now. Wine Lister partner critic, Jancis Robinson, puts its drinking window between 2006 and 2019.


Buzz Brands for Burgundy and the New World

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


Listed: top five white Burgundy 2015s by Wine Lister score

2015 was a phenomenal vintage for reds in Burgundy. However, parts of the Côte de Beaune were affected by frost, and the quality of 2015 whites is therefore less consistent. Below we examine the top five white Burgundy 2015s by overall Wine Lister score.

Domaine Leflaive takes two of the five top spots. Its Chevalier-Montrachet has the highest overall Wine Lister score of all white Burgundies in 2015 (963). This is thanks to a Quality score of 962 (four points higher than the wine’s average across the last fifteen vintages) and an impressive Economics score of 991.

Domaine Leflaive’s Bâtard-Montrachet comes in third place. Both wines benefit from Domaine Leflaive’s position as a superstar white Burgundy brand. Indeed, five of the 10 highest white Burgundy Brand scores are held by wines from Domaine Leflaive.

The second highest overall scorer of white Burgundy 2015 is Domaine Bonneau du Martray’s Corton-Charlemagne (958). It is both the highest Quality scorer (977, 10% above its average) and the lowest priced (£106 per bottle) of the five, presenting an interesting value opportunity. It is also to be found in 36% of the world’s top restaurants, the most prestigious count of this week’s top five.

Chablis is represented by Vincent Dauvissat’s Grand Cru Les Clos. Identified as one of only three Chablis Buzz Brands on Wine Lister, Dauvissat’s Cru Les Clos is present in 23% of the world’s top restaurants, helping it to a Brand score of 907. Its overall Wine Lister score of 938 for the 2015 vintage is completed by a Quality score of 947 and its second strongest ever Economics score of 969.

Finally, Maison Joseph Drouhin’s Montrachet Grand Cru Marquis de Laguiche has the fifth highest Wine Lister score for white Burgundy 2015s (917). Though it has the lowest global restaurant presence, it is more present than the other four wines in top restaurants in Asia.


Online searches for Spring

Wine Lister uses data from our partner, Wine-Searcher, to examine wines with increasing online popularity on a monthly basis.

This month, Château Canon sees a 7% increase in search frequency for January-March 2018 from the previous period. As predicted by our Founding Members (c.50 key members of the fine wine trade), who voted Château Canon number one wine likely to gain the most brand recognition in the next two years in the 2017 Bordeaux Market study, Canon was one of the big successes of last year’s en primeur campaign. Its brand continues to go from strength to strength, with search frequency in 2017 rising 35% between January and October. It will be interesting to see whether this year’s en primeur release has the same impact on its online search frequency as the 2016 vintage.

Two cult Californian wines are among the top five for latest search frequency increases.

Scarecrow saw an increased search frequency of 52% for January-March 2018 compared to the previous period thanks to its latest release in February. The 2015 vintage is as yet unscored by Wine Lister partner critics, however the estate has seen consistent Quality scores between 996-987 since 2010.

Screaming Eagle also makes the top five wines with biggest search frequency increase this month. With 17,831 average monthly searches between January and March 2018, the increase is small relative to its already vast online popularity. Indeed, Screaming Eagle remains the number one most searched for Californian wine on Wine-Searcher.

Burgundy is represented in the top search increases by Marquis d’Angerville, whose Volnay Premier Cru Taillepieds saw double its average number of monthly searches in January-March 2018 compared with the previous period. Guillaume Angerville eschews the scrum of the January Burgundy en primeur tastings in London, preferring to showcase his new vintage each March with a small tasting and lunch – the Taillepieds obviously made an impression, and achieves its highest ever Quality score (969).

Finally, searches for Azienda Agricola Falletto’s Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva continue to rise into March following the sad passing of Piedmont legend, Bruno Giacosa. The wine saw a bittersweet rise in popularity of 14% in December 2017-February 2018, which continues at a slightly slower pace (10%).


Listed: the five most expensive dry white Buzz Brands

Buzz Brands” is one of the four Wine Lister Indicators developed to help our users identify wines for different scenarios. A Buzz Brand is a wine with strong distribution in the world’s top restaurants, enjoying high levels of online search frequency or demonstrating a recent growth in popularity, and identified by the fine wine trade as trending or especially prestigious. As such, you wouldn’t expect them to come cheap, and the five most expensive dry whites definitely don’t, costing around £2,000 on average.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the miniscule production of its top wines, Burgundy fills four of the five spots (and two of these are from Coche-Dury). DRC Montrachet is the world’s second-most expensive dry white – behind Leflaive’s Montrachet which fails to achieve Buzz Brand status. It achieves the best Quality score of this week’s top five (976), just pipping Coche-Dury’s Corton-Charlemagne to the post (971). It also enjoys the highest Brand score of the group – or any dry white for that matter (960) – the result of appearing in considerably more of the word’s top restaurants than Coche-Dury’s Corton-Charlemagne, which comes second in that criterion (26% vs 19%), and also being nearly 50% more popular than any of the rest of the five.

Whilst Coche-Dury’s Corton-Charlemagne has to settle for second place in the Quality and Brand categories, it not only manages the group’s top Economics score (991), but also the highest of any dry white on Wine Lister. This is thanks to formidable price growth. It has recorded a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25%, and has added 14% to its price over the last six months alone.

It is to be expected that wines from two of Burgundy’s most hallowed grand cru vineyards command the group’s highest prices, but it might come as more of a surprise that two Meursaults from the premier cru Perrières vineyard feature. With over £1,000 separating the considerably more expensive offering from Coche-Dury and Roulot’s expression, it becomes clear that Brand score is a significant driver of price at this rarefied end of the scale, particularly within Burgundy.

Proving that expensive Buzz Brands are not only to be found in Burgundy, Haut-Brion Blanc makes an appearance in the top five. Whilst it is the most liquid of the group – its top five traded vintages have traded 49% more bottles than any other wine in the five – it has experienced by far the lowest growth rates, with a three-year CAGR of 9% compared to the Burgundy quartet’s remarkable average of 22%.

 


Founding Members’ tasting

Hidden Gems are one of four Wine Lister “Indicators”, segmenting wines that meet specific sets of criteria into groups. Hidden Gems are those wines rarely found in the top restaurants, and not often searched for online, but which either have high ratings from wine critics, or have been singled out as a hidden gem by Founding Members in Wine Lister surveys.

Last week, Wine Lister celebrated its second birthday with a special tasting of a selection of 27 “raw” hidden gems, identified by our Founding Members (c.50 key players from the international fine wine trade) when asked which wines they rated highly, but which they felt were underappreciated.

Founding Members’ Hidden Gems hail from a variety of regions, producers and vintages. Their average Wine Lister scores vary too, as shown on the histogram below, where the grey columns represent the total number of fine wines currently listed on Wine Lister which fall into each score bucket.

The full list of wines tasted is available here: Wine Lister Founding Members’ Hidden Gems

The Wine Lister team was joined by some of our trade Founding Members, data partners, and other supporters of Wine Lister. We encouraged tasters to share their comments by writing on the tasting table. All the wines were showing beautifully, and G.D. Vajra’s Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2009, tasted from magnum, won widespread praise from all the guests. It also holds the highest Quality score (927) of all wines in the room. One taster even went so far as to name it “the Lafite of Barolo”!

From left to right: David Harvey, Arthur de Lencquesaing, Dan Jago, Charles Lea, Ella Lister, Jancis Robinson, Jan Konetzki, Adam Bruntlett, Katy Andersen, Grant Ashton, Sophie Mclean, Richard Harvey, Greg Sherwood, Aita Ighodaro, Joe Fattorini.

Find out what else was said about the wines by following this link to more photos of the event.

Wines featured in the tasting: Louis Roederer Brut Premier, E. Guigal Condrieu La Doriane 2016, Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta 2014, Seña 2010, Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 2014Isole e Olena Syrah Collezione Privata 2011Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto 2016, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove 2015, 2011, 2007, Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2014, G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2013G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2009Domaine Duroché Gevrey-Chambertin Les Jeunes Rois 2015Domaine Duroché Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2015Domaine Tempier Cuvée Cabassou 2007Château La Gaffelière 2014, Le Marquis de Calon Ségur 2014, Château Haut-Bailly La Parde 2012, Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2014Château Boyd-Cantenac 2013Château d’Issan 2011Château Branaire-Ducru 2012Château Pédesclaux 2014Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2005Château Brane-Cantenac 2005Château Lafon Rochet 2010.


Old World vs New World

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.


The shape of 2018 for wine searches

Wine Lister uses search frequency data from our partner, Wine-Searcher, to examine wines with increasing online popularity on a monthly basis. Wines with the highest search frequency numbers tend to be consistent, with the Bordeaux left bank premiers crus classés generally taking the top spots.

This month’s biggest search frequency gainers also rank as some of the most searched-for wines on Wine-Searcher. Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut is the third most popular wine with over 84,000 searches after Lafite and Mouton, closely followed by Petrus in fourth place. Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin and Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage appear in the top 50, while Azienda Agricola Falletto’s Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva comes lower down at number 148 out of the circa 5,000 wines on Wine Lister, but its search frequency has recently increased by 15%.

Our last post on online search frequency revealed Wine Lister’s first ever perfect Brand score. Moving on from the Christmas period, Champagne brands still show marked increases in search frequency, but this time they do not stand alone at the top.

Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut is the largest gainer in popularity for the second time running. Increasing at a slower rate than in December, its popularity nonetheless grew by 7,097 searches into January, maintaining its 1000-point Brand score. Dom Pérignon remains the only wine to achieve a perfect score from any of the Wine Lister score categories. The other Champagne still riding high on searches is Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage, which increased by 6%.

Bordeaux creeps back onto the map for online searches at the beginning of 2018, with the first growths having featured heavily in searches up to December 2017. Petrus is in second place after Dom Pérignon, with an 8% increase in search frequency. It will be interesting to see if search increases for Bordeaux follow the same pattern as last year as we approach the 2017 en primeur campaign.

Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin appears in third place. Armand Rousseau was only one of two producers to achieve a perfect confidence rating from our Founding Members in our recent Burgundy study.

In fifth place for increased popularity is a bittersweet entry. Searches for Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva from Azienda Agricola Falletto increased as the wine world learned of the sad passing in January of Piedmont legend, Bruno Giacosa. You can read more on Bruno Giacosa’s legacy in a recent blog on Barbaresco, here.