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.
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.
Wine Lister’s holistic, dynamic rating system tracks a wine’s performance over time. By constantly analysing a wine’s brand strength and economic performance, as well as updating its Quality score as it is retasted by our partner critics, Wine Lister’s ratings evolve over time, as demonstrated by our new score history tool.
Wine Lister’s Economics score is a perfect case in point. Reacting to the very latest market data, it analyses a wine’s performance across several criteria: three-month average bottle price; short and long-term price performance; price stability; and liquidity. A strong showing across these criteria is what defines the five wines in this week’s Listed section – Bonnes-Mares’ top wines by Economics score.
Whilst all five achieve Economics scores that put them amongst the very strongest on Wine Lister, it is Domaine Georges Roumier’s Bonnes-Mares that leads the way with an outstanding score of 970. It is the most liquid of the five, its five top-selling vintages having traded 414 bottles over the past four quarters.
In second-place is Domaine d’Auvenay’s Bonnes-Mares (967). Underlining the Queen of Burgundy’s continuing surge in demand, it has a remarkable three-year CAGR of 35.6% (nearly double that of Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier’s Bonnes-Mares, its closest rival in that criterion). Its price is the highest of the group by a considerable distance, at £1,902.
Domaine Comte Georges de Vögué fills the third spot with its Bonnes-Mares’ Economics score of 942. One of the group’s two Buzz Brands, it is the second most-traded of the five (327 bottles), and has strong short-term price performance, its price having increased 11.2% over the past six months.
The Bonnes-Mares from Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier and Maison Joseph Drouhin fill the last two spots. Whilst they display similarly modest levels of liquidity (having traded 63 and 68 bottles over the past four quarters respectively), Mugnier leads Drouhin thanks to its considerably higher price (£436 vs £281) and superior long-term price performance (three-year CAGR of 18.2% vs 13.9%).
And thanks to Wine Lister’s approach, these scores will continue to change over time, meaning that they are always relevant and reflect the wine’s evolving position in the market.
Wine Lister’s Brand category measures a wine’s performance across two criteria: popularity and distribution. In conjunction with its Quality and Economic performance, this allows a holistic assessment of a fine wine. It also enables a comparison of the performance of entire fine wine regions. Below we look at the average scores over both Brand criteria of the top 50 wines in Bordeaux, Burgundy, California, Italy, and the USA.
Bordeaux dominates, with powerhouses Yquem and Mouton demonstrating the success of its classification system and the centuries-old global repute of its top crus. Its best wines are by far the most popular with consumers – searched for nearly four times more frequently on average than second-placed Italy. They are also the best distributed in the world’s most prestigious restaurants, present in 31% on average, and with 5 references per list.
Whilst Champagne comes second in terms of breadth of presence in restaurants, its top wines don’t achieve much depth in terms of vintages or formats listed – presumably because many of them are non-vintage.
Burgundy competes well in terms of restaurant presence, with the likes of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru enjoying a strong showing in top restaurants. Meanwhile the region is fourth most popular in terms of searches each month on Wine-Searcher.
Italy is unique in that Sassicaia is both its most popular wine and also its best distributed. However, whilst its top wines are the second most popular overall, they also experience the second lowest level of distribution.
Finally, the USA’s best wines achieve a strong level of vertical restaurant presence, but come last in terms of both horizontal presence and popularity, suggesting the New World still has a way to go in terms of brand strength.
Download a PDF version here.
First published in French in En Magnum.
Wine Lister’s four Indicators – Investment Staples, Value Picks, Hidden Gems, and Buzz Brands – were designed to enable users to find the perfect wine for any scenario in just a couple of clicks. Buzz Brands, the most talked-about wines, are sure to impress: they have strong distribution across the world’s top restaurants, show high online search frequency or a recent growth in popularity, and are identified by the fine wine trade as trending or especially prestigious.
Having recently expanded and updated Wine Lister’s restaurant presence coverage, 29 new wines now qualify as Buzz Brands, their global distribution broadening. To achieve Buzz Brand status, a wine must be among the top fifth of all wines that feature at least once on the menus of the world’s best restaurants – prized for their wine lists as well as their food.
Of the 29 wines above, 11 hail from Burgundy, confirming the region’s continued demand amongst the restaurant trade. Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair fares particularly well, with three of its wines becoming new Buzz Brands, thus suggesting it is a producer on an upward trajectory. These wines also benefit from a high online search frequency, as measured by Wine-Searcher, with the wine with the highest number of searches, Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Echezeaux Grand Cru, seeing 1,400 searches per month.
Champagne has also benefitted from the restaurant presence update, with four wines from the region gaining Buzz Brand status. Of this month’s new Buzz Brands, Bollinger Rosé now has the most impressive distribution, present in 17% of the world’s top establishments.
Piedmont sees four wines attain Buzz Brand status. Two new wines from La Spinetta now qualify as Buzz Brands, with Ceretto Barolo Bricco Rocche and Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia making up the quartet.
There are three new Bordeaux Buzz Brands, and one carries the accolade of being the most searched-for wine in the table. Château Saint-Pierre receives in excess of 3,700 searches per month, which in addition to appearing on 8% of the world’s very best restaurants makes it well-deserving of its new Buzz Brand status.
As Wine Lister’s holistic rating system demonstrates, there are many factors (nine criteria, in all) to take into account when calculating a wine’s greatness. One of these is distribution in the world’s top restaurants, our measure of a wine’s prestige and clout on the international market. In order to identify the restaurants that count – not just for the food but for the wine – we have created a matrix of global restaurants with Michelin stars, 50 Best Restaurants, World of Fine Wine Best Wine List awards, and more. We take the most formidable combination of these as the basis for our painstaking analysis.
We are expanding our coverage constantly, and the latest instalment is now in. This year alone has seen an increase of 50%, to 150 restaurants analysed. New entrants come from across the globe, from New York’s Balthazar to Paris’s Carré des Feuillants.
The table below shows the 20 wines to have seen their restaurant presence increase the most since the last update in April:
The top three wines are Champagnes: Salon Le Mesnil, Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, and Dom Pérignon Oenothèque (the last all the more impressive since the wine was re-branded a few years ago). None of them, however, is the wine with the largest restaurant presence. That accolade falls to Yquem, which saw its presence increase by 7.3% in the latest update, appearing on 69% of the world’s top wine lists – including Boulud in New York and Sketch in London.
Second most popular of the wines above is Mouton Rothschild, whose restaurant presence increased by 5.7%, and which overall features on 58% of the best restaurants, from The French Laundry in California to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong.
It is also interesting to note the wines that have relatively low overall restaurant presence but saw a significant increase in the latest update, suggesting that their stars are on the rise. These include Bordeaux Saint Pierre and Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Millésimé, which appeared on 2% of the previous restaurant lists but are now at 8% and 9% respectively. Meanwhile, Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge found its restaurant presence tip from 9% to 15% in the latest update.
This week’s Listed section focuses on the five Burgundy Grands Crus with the highest Quality scores. As previous analysis has shown, Burgundy’s greatest wines display better quality than those of any other major fine wine region. These five – all rare wines from some of the world’s most famous domaines – enjoy uniformly outstanding Quality scores. Unsurprisingly, they are also some of the most expensive wines in the world.
Leading the way is Domaine d’Auvenay Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, the only white. The first of three wines in the top five overseen by Lalou Bize-Leroy, only 500 bottles of this rare wine leave the estate each year. Its wine level Quality score of 991 is the third-highest in Wine Lister’s database, behind two sweet Rieslings, while its average price per bottle of £2,523 is actually one of the more affordable in this list.
Moving up to the Côte de Nuits, next come Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti Grand Cru and Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru, each with a Quality score of 990. Once again, low yields command high prices, with the former costing on average £11,267 per bottle. Proving that the reputations of two of the world’s most prominent fine wine producers are built upon firm foundations, these wines achieve the highest Quality scores of any red wine on Wine Lister.
The “Queen of Burgundy” continues her dominance with fourth-placed Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru, which achieves a Quality score of 985 points. With Henri Jayer Echezeaux Grand Cru just two points behind, these Burgundy brands comprise four of the six top red wines for Quality Score on Wine Lister.
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.
Certain wines are a safer store of value than others. One of our four Wine Lister Indicators – Investment Staples – enables you to spot these instantly. The bespoke algorithm identifies wines of a high quality level, long-lived and not too old, above a certain price (therefore soaking up the frictional costs of collecting wine), with proven price performance, stability, and liquidity.
This last criterion is measured using the number of bottles traded at wine auctions globally. With the latest quarterly data in from Wine Market Journal, 16 new wine and vintage combinations (across nine producers) have recently become Investment Staples. These wines are all over £50 a bottle, with the majority falling under £400, but the most expensive – Roumier’s 2013 Musigny – costing £4,851.
Several of the new Investment Staples have displayed an upward price trend over the last six months, in particular Leroy’s Vosne-Romanée Aux Brûlées 2013 and Roumier’s 2008 Musigny, both of which have seen increases upwards of 30%.
Wine investment is not often associated with white wines, but six of the new Investment Staples are just that. All possess staying power, and are young enough to have room for improvement. What is more, they are made by some of the finest wine producers there are, allowing them to challenge some of their red neighbours in terms of investment fundamentals. Of these, Roulot’s Meursault Charmes 2012 has the best six-month price performance, plus one of the longest drinking windows based on the average assessment of our partner critics. Jean-Marc Roulot has been a rising star for several years now, but his wines are still in the ascendancy.
The new Investment Staples nearly all hail from Burgundy, with just a handful of entries from Piedmont and the Rhône. Those seeking something a bit different that still possesses the criteria of a solid investment might look to Italian white, Gaia & Rey 2012 from Gaja, which has a drinking window of 2015-2025, 6.3% six-month price performance, and price tag of £124.
To search for more Investment Staples, subscribers can click here, filtering by country, region, type, style, price, and score, to drill down exactly into what wine you’re after.
Following on from our recent blog on the relationship between price and quality for seven leading wine regions, today we turn our attention to the role that brand strength plays on price for those same regions. The chart below compares the regions’ average three-month market price to their average Brand scores, using the same 50 overall top scoring wines in each region as in the previous post.
Bordeaux’s crus classés enjoy unassailable brand strength, a product of the success of the region’s classification system and the fact that its châteaux have enjoyed global renown for centuries. If you want brand for your buck, look no further.
Conversely, Burgundy’s extraordinary prices far exceed the level of brand clout commanded by its top crus. Its top wines trail the average Brand score of Bordeaux’s by 7%, but sell for nearly six times as much. This suggests that quality, and perhaps small production levels, play more of a part in the region’s prices.
The five remaining regions are more evenly matched. Tuscany’s wines have both the lowest average Brand score and the lowest prices, followed closely by Piedmont. Meanwhile California’s top 50 wines, which have the second-lowest average Brand score, command the second-highest prices. Top wines from the Rhône and Champagne command similar prices to their Bordeaux counterparts, but with average Brand scores more than 100 points lower.
In today’s blog, we’ve taken a look at the relationship between price and quality for seven leading wine regions. The chart below compares the regions’ average three-month market prices to their Quality scores, with the data calculated from each region’s 50 best-scoring wines (in terms of overall Wine Lister score).
While six regions are clustered relatively close to each other, Burgundy finds itself at the extreme top end of the scale: its wines outperform on quality and have the prices to match. The top 50-scoring wines in Burgundy average a whopping £1,330 per bottle, driven by the likes of DRC La Romanée-Conti at £10,776 and Domaine Leroy Musigny at £7,805.
The Rhône’s wines have the lowest average Quality score but not the lowest prices: at £188 per bottle on average, they are the fourth most expensive of the group. California and Bordeaux display a very similar profile, appearing just above the trendline, indicating that these wines command high prices not simply on account of quality – brand also plays a part.
Champagne and Piedmont, meanwhile, fall below the line, suggesting that as regions they tend to offer value for money. Piedmont’s ranking is particularly impressive: second only to Burgundy in terms of average Quality score, its wines are available for a tenth of the price on average.