Bordeaux wines that the trade is backing

Included in Part II of Wine Lister’s Bordeaux Study 2019 (released last week), are results of our latest trade survey. Wine Lister asks its Founding Members (c.50 key players in the global fine wine trade) to give “confidence” ratings to more than 100 key Bordeaux wines on a scale of 0 to 10; 0 being zero confidence.

For the third consecutive year, no Bordeaux wine received a perfect 10/10. Wines retaining their 9/10 confidence rating since last year are Le Pin, Margaux, Mouton, and Petrus. Joining them in 2019 are Lafleur, Latour, and Vieux Châteaux Certan – the latter being a particular source of interest, given its average price of £139, or just 13% of the average of the rest of the group.

Meanwhile the two remaining left bank first growths, Haut-Brion and Lafite, have slipped down into the next confidence band, receiving an average of 8/10. Saint-Émilion superstar, Canon, has also moved down one point since last year, despite also being cited by the same trade group as a wine seeing the sharpest rise in demand, and a wine of likely future prestige.

The 8/10 category contains 24 wines, compared with 21 in 2018. New entries into the 8/10 category include two of the best performers en primeur – Beychevelle and Les Carmes Haut-Brion. Others moving up to this category are Cos d’Estournel, Les Forts de Latour, and Léoville Barton.

The improved confidence in Pomerol within the top two groups is noticeable, with Lafleur and Vieux Château Certan effectively taking the places of Canon and Lafite, and two wines from the Moueix stable – La Fleur-Pétrus and Trotanoy moving up into the 8/10 category this year (at the expense of Ausone, La Mission Haut-Brion, Léoville Poyferré, Montrose, and Palmer, which have all moved down into the 7/10 group). As well as earning high confidence, Pomerol also achieves the highest number of wines in the 2018 Quality top-25.

Visit Wine Lister’s Analysis page to buy and/or download the full report, and see confidence ratings for all other wines in the study (available in both English and French).


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).


Confidence in Bordeaux – the trade’s view

As part of our recently-released Bordeaux study, Wine Lister asked its Founding Members (c.50 key members of the global fine wine trade) to give “confidence” ratings to more than 100 key Bordeaux wines on a scale of 0 to 10; 0 being zero confidence.

For the second year in a row, no wine received a perfect 10/10, unlike Burgundy, whose Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Rousseau – as rated across all of their respective cuvées – achieved the perfect score in a survey carried out in Autumn 2017.

Seven wines received a confidence rating of 9/10 from the trade; Canon, Haut-BrionLafiteLe Pin, Margaux, Mouton & Petrus. These same seven were awarded 9/10 in last year’s founding members’ survey. Vieux Château Certan is the only château to have dropped down a spot to 8/10.

Canon’s place here is distinctive not just as the only Saint-Émilion to feature, but also as a wine with market prices around £74 per bottle, sitting amongst a group whose average price per bottle is £950. A Wine Lister Buzz Brand, Canon is one of the most talked about wines by the trade.

In carrying out the survey, we did not dictate what factors should influence the respondents’ confidence in the prospects of a wine. Given that they are members of the trade, their considerations are likely to be commercially-driven, taking into account everything from improvements in quality and investment in marketing to new management teams. Canon was deemed a success by trade members for both “ratings and quality improvement”, and its “sales and management team”.

Latour is the only first growth not to feature in the highest-rated group. It was given a confidence rating of 8/10, alongside 20 other wines shown below. Three of these, Pichon Comtesse, Calon Ségur and Rauzan-Ségla (alongside its abovementioned sibling from owners Chanel, Canon) also make the trade’s list of Rising Stars – wines that will see the largest gain in brand recognition in the next two years (more on Bordeaux’s Rising Stars to come next week).

Nine wines have dropped one point in 2018 to a confidence rating of 7/10, however these have been replaced in equal number by Cheval Blanc, Figeac, La Conseillante, Tertre-Rotebœuf, Léoville Las Cases, Pavillon Rouge, Montrose, Palmer, and Pichon Baron, all up one point from their ratings in 2017.

Other wines to receive a confidence rating of 8/10 from the international fine wine trade are Ausone, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Haut-Bailly, La Mission Haut-Brion, Lafleur, and Lynch-Bages.

Visit Wine Lister’s Analysis page to read the full report and see confidence ratings for other wines in the study (available in both English and French).


Votes of confidence for Burgundy

For wine lovers the world over, Burgundy is a region to be celebrated all year round. That being said, the modern interpretation of the traditional, post-harvest festival, La Paulée de New York, holds its West Coast counterpart this week, celebrating some of Burgundy’s finest producers in San Francisco’s best restaurants.

With Burgundy on the brain, we look back at our recent Burgundy study and the results of our Founding Members’ survey. Wine Lister asked 52 key members of the global wine trade across importers, merchants, and auction houses to rate their confidence in certain domaines from 0 to 10.

Our Burgundy study is the first to feature producers with a perfect confidence score. In Burgundy, two producers received a rating of 10/10. It perhaps comes as no surprise that Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) should be one of them. The other, Domaine Rousseau, is likely to have the strong performance of its Chambertin to thank for its perfect confidence score (Rousseau’s Chambertin holds the fifth best overall Wine Lister score in Burgundy, after four DRC wines).

Six producers achieved a confidence rating of 9/10. D’Auvenay and Domaine Leroy’s marks confirm the trade’s outstanding level of confidence in Lalou Bize-Leroy. Whilst Mugnier and Roumier fly the flag for Burgundy’s top red producers, Coche-Dury and Raveneau show that the trade is sure about the prospects of the region’s most prestigious white wine producers.

26% of producers included in the survey gained a confidence rating of 8/10. Among them, Comtes Lafon, Ente, and Roulot confirm the prospects of Meursault and its top producers.

36% of producers received a score of 7/10 – still a strong result and underlining the trade’s high level of confidence in Burgundy. This confidence seems linked to the region’s consistent price performance, as one US fine wine auction house notes: “The single most interesting trend is pricing. Demand on the primary and secondary market is high, and it’s amazing to see that prices have not gone down at all…in years.”

For context, no Burgundy producer scored below 5/10, compared to 5% of Bordeaux wines in Wine Lister’s Bordeaux study last year.

For more detail on which Burgundy producers achieve top confidence ratings, see our full Burgundy study here, or subscribe to gain access.

For those joining the La Paulée festivities, we wish you a very happy Burgundy week!