Mind the gap: the positioning of Burgundy prices

Wine Lister’s recent in-depth Burgundy study considers the much-contended topic of the region’s rising prices, providing additional information for those planning on purchasing Burgundy 2019 en primeur over the coming months.

Below we examine the current distribution of prices of the 175 wines featured in the study, compared to the same wines two years ago. While 5% of wines were priced above £3,000 two years ago, a substantial 11% are today.

The graph above reveals a significant shift towards the higher end of the price scale, with multiple Burgundy wines previously priced between £1,900 and £2,700 now over £3,000. This comprises Comte Liger-Belair La Romanée, d’Auvenay’s Mazis-Chambertin and Bonnes-Mares, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche, Jean-François Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne, and Leroy’s Richebourg, Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Clos de la Roche, Corton-Charlemagne, and Latricières-Chambertin.

Alongside the figures, feeling from Wine Lister’s recent Founding Member survey confirmed that Burgundy’s seemingly boundless prices are a concern, with over half of respondents voicing apprehensions on the topic. The most common sentiment is nonetheless that little will change for wines at the very top end, and that their prices will continue to climb, as demand continues to outweigh supply significantly. One specialist merchant in the Asian market informed us that they indeed foresee “Burgundy prices heading higher at the top end”, and that they “don’t see demand slowing despite the economic issues.”

The polarised prices illustrated in the graph are echoed by the trade, who cite a phenomenon of divergence between the top-end wines, and those at mid-range or entry-level. One respondent noted “an oversupply of generic and village Burgundy”, with another predicting that “when the smoke clears, all that remains will be Bourgogne Rouge/Blanc and the crown jewels, with no market in between”.

Despite the geopolitical context of the past two years, the buzz surrounding Burgundy remains strong, and competition will be hot for accessing the best wines of the 2019 vintage, particularly given its reduced production volume.

Visit the Analysis page to purchase Wine Lister’s in-depth 2020 Burgundy study, or download it using your Pro subscription here (available in both English and French).


September releases from La Place de Bordeaux: week two

The last two days of Place de Bordeaux releases have included vintages from three powerhouse producers of different regions, whose commonality lies in their use of Bordeaux varietals. Below we examine these key releases.

Monday 7th September

The second week of September Place de Bordeaux releases began with the latest offerings from cult Californian producer, Opus One. Described by Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni, as “one of the most complete wines of the vintage”, 2017 Opus One was released onto the UK market at £228 per bottle – the same price as the 2016. Awarding it 95+ points, he states that the 2017 is “a dense, full-throttle beauty”, with “a distinctly red-toned fruit profile that distinguishes it from the surrounding vintages”. Although receiving one point less than the 2016 (which has a score of 96+ from Galloni), the latest vintage holds particular significance. 91% of fruit had been picked just before the devastating Californian wildfires commenced, eradicating two lots of Opus One vines. Awarding 17.5 points to the 2017, Wine Lister partner critic, Jancis Robinson, notes that there is “not a trace of smoke taint”, and describes “a combination of savoury and something as sweet and chalky as Edinburgh rock”.

Both the historic nature of the vintage, and the reduction in volume released this year are facts sure to encourage high levels of interest. Opus One is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the number one US wine (and joint-fifth overall) voted by the trade to have seen the sharpest rise in demand, as shown below:

Results from Wine Lister’s 2019 Founding Members survey, showing the consensus on the top 10 wines that have seen the sharpest rise in demand

Tuesday 8th September

Kicking off yesterday’s releases, Masseto 2017 was released, and merchants were offering at around £480 per bottle. Though slightly higher than last year’s first tranche release price (readers should note that this year, there is only one single tranche), the 2017 enters the market 11% below the current price of the 2016. Antonio Galloni gives the 2017 96-99 points (up from 94-97 for the 2016), calling it a “spectacular wine in the making”, with notes of “red cherry jam, mocha, leather, licorice and a dash of new oak”. While 2017 will be remembered as one of the hottest and driest growing seasons in recent history, Winemaker, Axel Heinz, states that the vintage “managed to encapsulate all the ripeness and concentration” of the climatic conditions. Indeed, Galloni notes that the latest release is “quite simply a remarkable wine for such a challenging year”. Masseto already earns strong acclaim as the wine to have seen the third-sharpest rise in demand according to the trade (see above) – the 15% reduction in volume released onto the market from last year will no doubt only encourage requests for the 2017 further.

The second wine from the cult producer, Massetino 2018 was also released yesterday, at a likely UK market price of c.£205 per bottle. Although its second vintage, this is the first international release of Massetino, as last year’s distribution was limited to the Italian and the US markets only. We sampled the latest release at CVBG’s Beyond Bordeaux tasting, and found it to have expressive, concentrated fruit on the nose, and more refined notes of Marcello cherry and minerality on the palette.

Yesterday’s releases ended with a bang, as Latour released its 2009 vintage. Merchants offering at c.£860 per bottle place the 2009 just under the current market price of the iconic 2010. This is the first ex-château stock to be released since its original en primeur release, and is available at a c.10% premium to existing stock on the market. Wine Lister partner critic, Neal Martin, awards the latest release 99 points, stating that it “is endowed with a simply magnificent nose with intense blackberry and cassis fruit laced with minerals and graphite, extremely focused to the point of overwhelming the sense”. “Wow”, he concludes.

Among other benefits available exclusively to the trade, Wine Lister’s Pro+ Subscription offers real-time release alerts and live analysis on major wine releases throughout the vinous calendar. Please email us at team@wine-lister.com to enquire.


Popularity at a price: Bordeaux in 2020

Part I of Wine Lister’s annual in-depth Bordeaux report: For better, for worse, examines the state of the market for Bordeaux wines, in the context of 2019 en primeur.

As well as providing insight into the wine trade’s latest position on key wines of the region, the study examines Bordeaux’s disconnect between consumer popularity and its market performance at the start of 2020 (exacerbated by recent macro-economic hits to the UK, Hong Kong, and the US).

As illustrated below, Bordeaux has achieved the slowest price growth on the secondary market since May 2014, while Piedmont has seen the most impressive growth – likely due to increasing attention given to the region, and the rarity factor of many of its top wines, from which Burgundy also benefits.

The price performance of Bordeaux compared to four other key fine wine regions: Burgundy, California, Piedmont, and Tuscany. The price indices comprise the top five wine brands in each respective region.

A glance at its price performance since May 2019 tells a similar, if more unnerving story – Bordeaux has floundered over the past year, down nearly 5%.

Despite its price performance difficulties, Bordeaux nonetheless continues its legacy as the most popular wine region by a large margin, based on monthly searches made on Wine-Searcher.

The average search rank of Bordeaux compared to four other key fine wine regions: Burgundy, California, Piedmont, and Tuscany. Results are based on the average searches on Wine-Searcher for the 50 top-scoring wines per region over the last year.

Irrespective of its price performance struggles, Bordeaux remains a focus of fine wine buyers – within the trade and beyond – all over the world.  The en primeur campaign is a wheel that just keeps on turning, even in spite of a global pandemic. Trade and consumers alike can’t help but back Bordeaux, for richer and poorer.

More insight into the success of the 2019 en primeur campaign will be included in Part II of this study. In the meantime, visit the Analysis page to purchase Part I, or download using your Pro subscription (available in both English and French).


Which Bordeaux brands do the trade back in 2020?

With the Bordeaux 2019 en primeur campaign now behind us, Part I of Wine Lister’s 2020 Bordeaux Study examines the results of our latest in-depth trade survey. Answered by 50 key players across major fine wine markets, the results provide insight into the wine trade’s latest position on the region, including its level of confidence in specific wines.

The trade’s faith in Bordeaux brands has increased on the whole since last year, with more Bordeaux wines moving up in their confidence rating than down. For the fourth consecutive year, no Bordeaux wine received a confidence rating of 10/10. Brands that have retained their 9/10 confidence rating since last year are LafleurLe PinMargauxMoutonPetrus, and Vieux Châteaux Certan.

Joining them in 2020 are Canon, La Fleur-Pétrus, Lafite, and Pichon Comtesse, while Latour has moved down a rating since last year, to 8/10. The survey was, however, conducted prior to the first growth’s successful 2012 release (27th May) at c.£350 per bottle, marking its first release of a vintage exclusively as mature stock.

There are 28 Bordeaux wines that earn a confidence rating of 8/10 in 2020, with nine joining them since last year: Angélus, Ausone, Belair-Monange, Carruades de Lafite, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, La Mission Haut-Brion, Montrose, Palmer, and Pavillon Blanc.

Though Margaux’s Pavillon Rouge moves down to a rating of  7/10 in 2020, three younger siblings of first growths stay at a rating of 8/10:  Carruades de Lafite, Le Petit Mouton, and Les Forts de Latour.

Part II of the Bordeaux 2020 study, including a score breakdown of 2019s, and further retrospective analysis of the en primeur campaign, will be published shortly. Watch this space.

In the meantime, visit the Analysis page to purchase Part I, or download using your Pro subscription (available in both English and French).


Launch of the Lafite 2019s en primeur

As the first major week of Bordeaux 2019 en primeur releases draws to a close, this morning (Friday 5th June) saw the release of the “first of the Firsts”, and the other reds from the Lafite stable.

Carruades de Lafite 2019 opened the stage with a price of £158 per bottle (in-bond), making it the least expensive Carruades available on the market. The Wine Lister team felt the quality of Carruades saw a significant jump up in 2018, and from what we have heard, the 2019 matches it. With this in mind, and given that volume released onto the market is 50% less than last year, this is a sure buy for anyone seeking access to the Lafite prestige with more approachability.

The grand vin, Lafite 2019, has been released at £426 per bottle in-bond – a discount of c.20% on the 2018’s current market price. The crucial factor this year are the volumes available – also 50% less than last year. On top of this, the single tranche released means buyers will only have one shot to get their hands on the 2019 en primeur (as far as we know). Domaines Baron de Rothschild’s Commercial Director, Jean-Sébastien Philippe, calls Lafite a “modern classic” in 2019, with precision, length, and finesse, but impressive ripeness, making it more approachable than the likes of 2018 or 2016.

Both Lafite and Carruades were cited by the trade as seeing sharp rises in demand (see below) according to Wine Lister’s 2020 Founding Members’ survey. Competition to access both of these wines will therefore likely be high.

Lafite’s Pomerol property, L’Evangile, has released its 2019 grand vin at £146 per bottle in-bond, 15% below the current market price of the 2018. Once again, the Wine Lister team noticed a distinct quality step up in Evangile’s 2018, which we’ve heard has been equalled in 2019. The 2019 reportedly expresses well the move towards a more modern style, and a wine of increasing tension, florality, and freshness, without losing the plush Pomerol profile.

Duhart-Milon 2019 has also been released, at £52 per bottle in-bond. Though the release price puts it more or less in line with market prices of back vintages 2018 and 2016, there is justification to be found in the excellent quality that the Lafite team believe is there in 2019. Philippe explains that Duhart-Milon’s vines sit on a cooler terroir than those of the estate’s Pauillac neighbours, which means in cooler vintages, the wine can be somewhat “austere”. The increasing average temperatures that Bordeaux has seen during recent growing seasons (2018, 2016, and 2015 vintages) therefore only serve to improve the quality of Duhart-Milon, and 2019 certainly had its fair share of heat.

Keep up to date with further Bordeaux 2019 en primeur releases through Wine Lister’s twitter, or through our dedicated en primeur page.


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).


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.)


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).


The second Founding Members’ tasting

Wine Lister’s Founding Members’ tasting (the second if its kind) was held last week in the most beautiful surroundings at Ten Trinity Square Private Club. Aside from showcasing how Wine Lister data relates to the actual liquid in the bottle, these tastings are an opportunity to thank friends and supporters of Wine Lister, from subscribers to Founding Members.

We were excited to share news of upcoming developments with our guests, including the imminent expansion of Wine Lister’s coverage (almost doubling from the current 20,000 wines scored), as well as the addition of a new rating criterion. Watch this space!

Wine Lister’s Founding Members, more than 50 major players in the international wine trade, make an invaluable contribution to Wine Lister’s research by sharing their market insights with us on a biannual basis. It is Wine Lister’s role as a fine wine intelligence agency to combine this qualitative information with quantitative data to shed analytical light on fine wines from across the world, for example in our regional reports and factsheets.

In one recent trade survey we asked Founding Members the question, “Which wines do you consider hidden gems (wines you rate highly but which are under-appreciated)?”. The responses inspired the wonderfully varied (but consistently delicious) selection of 24 hidden gems tasted last Thursday (see the full list of wines below).

From left to right: Antoine Forterre, Ella Lister, Giles Cooper, Henry Donne, Pascal Kuzniewski, Pierre-Marie Boury, Anthony Vertadier Mabille, Gareth Kristensen, Sara Guiducci.

In an illustration of how Wine Lister brings together market research with hard data, the “raw” hidden gems selected by our Founding Members are then overlaid with critics’ ratings, restaurant presence, and search frequency data. This gives us the final Hidden Gems presented on the Wine Lister website. In other words, Hidden Gems are wines that are rarely found in top restaurants, and not often searched for online, but which receive high ratings from our partner critics, and have been singled out by our Founding Members as not garnering due attention.

The Founding Members’ “raw” hidden gems featured several Bordeaux wines, including 10 out of the 24 wines shown in the tasting. However, none of these achieve final Hidden Gem status due to their already established brands.

To liven up the evening, we encouraged guests to play “guess the score” – to see how closely they could estimate the Wine Lister score of the wines that they tasted. All the wines were showing beautifully, but Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2005 was the wine that our guests successfully identified as having the highest Wine Lister score of the tasting, despite their guesses sitting an average 44 points below Pichon Comtesse 2005’s actual Wine Lister score of 931.

Conversely, Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 2014, Pédesclaux 2014, and Louis Roederer Brut Premier were all awarded higher scores on average by our guests than their official Wine Lister ratings, but the biggest difference was for G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2013. It was awarded an average score of 746 by our guests, 73 points above its actual Wine Lister score, which is brought down by a very low Economics score of 124, due to very little price movement or liquidity. This illustrates how the data-driven elements of Wine Lister scores complement the tasting component.

The wine where our guests came closest with their guesses, just 10 points out, was Brane-Cantenac 2005, estimated at 840 compared to its real Wine Lister score of 850.

Congratulations to the game’s winner, Anneka Swann of BI Wines & Spirits, who was just 37 points out on average. We would also like to thank all our other guests for their valiant efforts at guessing the scores: Adam Brett-Smith, Andrea Frost, Chad Delaney, Charles Metcalfe, James Jackson-Nichols, Nicolas Clerc, Richard Stow, Rupert Millar, Tahir Sultan, and Will Hargrove.

Wines featured in the tasting: Louis Roederer Brut Premier, Philipponnat Clos de Goisses 2007, 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, 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 d’Issan 2011Château Branaire-Ducru 2012Château Pédesclaux 2014Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2005Château Brane-Cantenac 2005Château Lafon Rochet 2010.


Ten rising stars as predicted by the trade

Which producers will see the largest gain in brand recognition in the next two years? As part of our recent Bordeaux Market Study, we asked Wine Lister’s Founding Members – c.50 key members of the trade from the world’s largest merchants, top international wine auctioneers and several high-end retailers, together representing well over one third of global fine wine revenues.

While Burgundy achieved the largest number of producers mentioned at least once (50), all 10 of the most-cited producers hail from Bordeaux.

With the en primeur campaign finally in full swing, below are Bordeaux’s biggest rising stars: the region’s top 10 brands expected by Wine Lister Founding Members to see increased recognition in the next two years.

Château Canon received the highest number of votes for the brand likely to see most increased brand recognition over the coming two years, and is therefore the number one rising star in this year’s Bordeaux Study. Canon also achieves the joint-highest confidence rating from the trade (see last week’s blog for details), and appears in the top 10 wines for price performance after en primeur release .

In a show of strength by owner Chanel, another of its properties, Rauzan-Ségla, receives the second-highest number of votes, alongside Les Carmes Haut-Brion.

Haut-Batailley, recently acquired by the Cazes family – and having released no wine in 2016 – is seen as a brand with a bright future (and the new owners clearly think so too – it was released at a very ambitious price of £43 at the end of April).

Other Bordeaux wines voted likely to see the largest gains in brand recognition over the next two years are: Brane-Cantenac, Pavie, Calon SégurFigeac, Lafleur, and Pichon Comtesse.

Visit Wine Lister’s Analysis page to read the full report (available in both English and French). Go to p.24 to see how many votes each of the above wines received.