As 2020 draws to a close, Wine Lister has compiled a report celebrating the top-performing wines and producers within a series of categories over the past year. Using our axes of Quality, Brand, and Economics, and the several factors that constitute these values, we have created seven leagues that paint a panoramic view of some of the world’s best wines, ranked within their areas of excellence.
Wine Lister’s 2020 Leagues include rankings of Quality Consistency (wines that show the smallest standard deviation between Quality scores over the last 20 vintages), and Biggest Movers (wines whose popularity has increased most in terms of online searches over the past year). Our team has also put together its top-10 wines per Wine Lister Indicator, revealing our recommendations for Hidden Gems, Value Picks, Buzz Brands, and Investment Staples.
We end the Leagues with a list of 21 Ultimate MUST BUYs for 2021, compiling a selection of MUST BUY highlights hand-picked by our fine wine experts, that offer an impressive addition to any fine wine portfolio in 2021. These are some of the picks that would feature in Wine Lister’s “fantasy cellar”.
Download your free copy of Wine Lister’s 2020 Leagues here.
Like a virtual treasure map, Wine Lister’s Hidden gem indicator helps you discover fine wines that are under the radar, yet worth uncovering. These wines are seldom found in the top restaurants, infrequently searched for online, but have high ratings from wine critics, or are assigned “Hidden gem” status by the global fine wine trade.
Of the 1,639 wines that are currently recognised as MUST BUYs by Wine Lister’s proprietary recommendation algorithm, 87 are Hidden gems. To help you uncover these underrated wines, this week we examine the Hidden gem MUST BUYs with WL scores above 95.
A preliminary look at the elected wines reveals a common trend of lower-than-average prices. While achieving WL scores of 95 and over, the 15 red Hidden gems illustrated above have an average price of £67 (per bottle in-bond) – perhaps a consequence of their slight obscurity. By virtue of being “Hidden gems”, these wines are also harder to source, however, it is worth informing your merchant of your interest in purchasing them, in the event of their availability.
Burgundy achieves five entries in this week’s subgroup, with two from a small-production négociant house, Lucien Le Moine. Well-deserving of their Hidden gem status, both wines achieve a WL score of 96. The 2012 Lucien Le Moine Charmes-Chambertin is available from Lay & Wheeler at £173 (per bottle in-bond), and the 2012 Lucien Le Moine Gevrey Chambertin Les Cazetiers can be purchased from BI Fine Wine & Spirits for £83 (per bottle in-bond).
California is represented by two wines of the same vintage and grape. The Ojai Vineyard Bien Nacido Pinot Noir 2014 hails from vines in Santa Barbara’s Santa Maria Valley, whose east-to-west face encourages the flow of cooling Pacific Ocean breezes, apt for the Burgundian variety. The Ryan Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 from cult California producer, Calera, is produced from vines in several sites across the Central Coast.
Two entries from Rhône’s Tardieu-Laurent show notably good quality-to-price ratios, achieving “Value pick” status. With a WL Score of 96, the 2005 Cornas Vieilles Vignes is priced at £43 (per bottle in-bond), while the 2006 Gigondas Vieilles Vignes has a WL Score of 95 at £24.
A joint venture between two négociants, Dominique Laurent (of Burgundy fame), and Michel Tardieu (Rhône), Tardieu-Laurent is a boutique négociant operation. Buying young wines from growers across the Rhône, the domain completes maturation and blending, before bottling with no fining nor filtration. The 2005 Tardieu-Laurent Cornas Vieilles Vignes is available to purchase from Fine + Rare (in magnum form), and the 2006 Tardieu-Laurent Gigondas Vieilles Vignes can be bought from Wine Bourse (by the case of 12).
Tardieu-Laurent also features twice on the list of white Hidden gem MUST BUYs, with both its 2008 and 2016 Hermitages Blancs achieving WL Scores of 95.
Like their red counterparts, Tardieu-Laurent’s white Hidden gems are Value picks. Jancis Robinson pays compliment to both vintages, describing the 2008 as “Clean, intense, multilayered”, and the 2016 as “Very serious stuff”. Both wines can be purchased from Corney & Barrow (by the case of 12 in-bond).
Five out of the 10 white Hidden gems shown above are Riesling-based. There is no doubt that the noble grape can produce impressive quality wines at reasonable prices, though this remains somewhat of a fine wine trade secret (when compared with the consumer popularity of other white grape varieties and styles).
The two whites from Alsace cover icon Riesling producers Hugel and Albert Mann. Germany’s entries comprise of the 2006 and 2007 vintages of Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel, which achieve WL Scores of 96 and 95 respectively.
Loosen’s four-acre Erdener Prälat vineyard has south-facing red slate soils, and a notably warm microclimate, which, combined with the warming effect of the river and the heat-retaining cliffs that surround it, ensures ripeness in every vintage. The 2006 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel can be purchased from Lay & Wheeler for £47 (per bottle in-bond).
To discover more of Wine Lister’s Hidden gem MUST BUYs, click here.
This week Wine Lister published its first in-depth study of 2020, focusing on the leading wines and producers of Piedmont.
The key takeaways from the report prove Piedmont to be somewhat of an enigmatic region, earning high praise from critics, and experiencing strong long- and short- term price performance, while still lagging behind in terms of consumer popularity.
While this is perhaps a consequence of Nebbiolo’s relative obscurity when compared with international grape varieties, Piedmont’s unique position – a veritable treasure trove of gems to uncover – presents a real opportunity both for vinous discovery and future value.
Wine Lister Pro members can read the full Piedmont report here. All free users can purchase the report for £200 from Wine Lister’s Analysis page.
Below we examine the top Barolos and Barbarescos by WL score.
Giacomo Conterno takes both first and second places in the ranking of Barolos by WL score. The icon wine, Barolo Monfortino Riserva is the only Piedmont wine to earn a WL score of 97, while the Barolo Francia shares its score of 96 with the Barolo Riserva from the legendary Bruno Giacosa’s négociant outfit, Azienda Agricola Falletto, as well as the two highest-scoring Barbarescos (see below).
While earning joint-second place for the straight Barolo Riserva, Falletto also features for two site-specific bottlings, the Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva and Barolo Villero di Castiglione Falleto, making the renowned house the joint-most prolific producer in the top Barolo rankings shown. It shares this position with Vietti, which earns WL 95 for its Villero Riserva, Ravera, and Rocche di Castiglione Barolos.
Elio Altare’s Barolo Brunate is the most reasonably priced of these top 12 Barolos, with an average price of £112 per bottle in-bond (when purchased by the case). Both of Roberto Voerzio’s highest-scoring wines, the Sarmassa and Brunate, follow with average prices of £152 and £165 respectively.
Eight Barbarescos achieve a WL score of 95 or above. The appearance of multiple wines per producer is accentuated here, with Roagna and Gaja earning three places apiece, followed by two Barbarescos from Falletto (totalling seven wines in Falletto’s hoard of WL scores of 95 and above).
Both sets of rankings provide useful leads in terms of producers to look out for, particularly heading into further releases of Barolo’s latest vintage, 2016, in the spring. For more specific recommendations of further Piedmontese wines and back vintages, see the region’s full list of MUST BUYs, and / or Piedmont’s Hidden Gems.
With Burgundy en primeur coming to a close – and such a good array of 2018s to choose from at that – fine wine collectors might feel inclined to tighten their purse strings over the coming months (perhaps until the next big campaign to come – Bordeaux 2019 en primeur). For those unable to resist the temptation of continuing to grow their wine collection, the Rhône is a perfect resting place for high-quality drinking wines.
This week we focus on a subset of Rhône MUST BUYs – those under £100 per bottle in-bond (when bought by the case), with WL scores above 95, of which there are 36.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape wins the lion’s share of top Rhône MUST BUYs under £100, with 18 entries across eight different vintages. The exceptional 2016 vintage features heavily, however for wines drinking now, 2005 Beaurenard’s CNDP Boisrenard or 2009 Clos des Papes’ CNDP are particularly interesting options.
Hermitage too fairs well, with five reds and all four whites. Value Picks 2007 Colombier Hermitage and 2004 Ferraton Ermitage Le Méal provide impressive quality and bottle age for just £33 and £35 per bottle in-bond respectively (if you can get your hands on any).
Côte Rôtie matches in number for reds, and features Hidden Gem 2012 Côte Rôtie Rose Pourpre from Pierre Gaillard, which Wine Lister partner critic, Jancis Robinson, awards 18 points, commenting, “No doubt this is a very special cuvée”.
A consistent feature throughout is Maison Tardieu-Laurent – a powerhouse producer of reference for quality matched by exceptional value in the Rhône.
See the selection of Rhône MUST BUYs featured above here, or browse the full MUST BUY selection.
Since its launch in September, Wine Lister’s MUST BUY list has unveiled fine wines across multiple regions, vintages, price points, and drinking occasions, all with the common theme of being so good, that they simply must find their place in fine wine fanatics’ cellars. Wine Lister’s prices are updated weekly, and since price (in the form of value) plays a major part in the MUST BUY algorithm, MUST BUYs too will henceforth be updated weekly.
Since its last update, the MUST BUY list has grown by four wines (to 1,697), with 22 new entries, and 18 wines that have fallen off the list. Following the same trend as last week, nine out of the 22 new MUST BUYs (or 41%) are Burgundian. Big names in Burgundy continue to do well, with three new white Buzz Brands hailing from Raveneau, Jean-François Coche-Dury, and Pierre Yves Colin-Morey respectively.
Elsewhere within white entries are two Rieslings, the Alsatian Hidden Gem, Albert Mann’s l’Epicentre 2008, and the indomitable Joh. Jos Prüm’s Wehlener Sonnenuhr, whose 2011 is now one of seven MUST BUY vintages of this sensational Value Pick.
With the clocks turned back and a wintry chill in the air, there are twice as many new red MUST BUYs as white. Burgundy and Italy make the strongest showing, with five reds apiece. Maison Joseph Drouhin sees the addition of its Chambolle-Musigny Les Baudes 2008, bringing the house’s MUST BUY total to 21 wine vintages. Meanwhile Italy’s new MUST BUYs hail from four big name growers: Gaja, Roberto Voerzio, Castello di Ama, and Isole e Olena.
Bordeaux achieves just one entry in Le Tertre-Rotebœuf 2008 (one of nine Bordeaux 2008 MUST BUYs). California also makes its mark, with Vérité’s La Joie 2013 and Colgin Cellars IX Estate Red 2011. Outside of “classic” fine wine regions, Château de Pibarnon’s Bandol Rouge 2000 also enters the fray.
See the full list of current MUST BUYs here.
Wine Lister is excited to announce the arrival of its new consumer site, aimed at supporting fine wine lovers as they navigate the fine wine seas. All users now have unlimited, free access to the world’s most comprehensive fine wine data hub. Start learning how to buy wine like a pro now, or read on to find out more.
WL MUST BUYs
Wine Lister has created its own buy recommendation tool, which combines Wine Lister data with human intelligence (such as the opinion of key members of the global fine wine trade, plus insight from the Wine Lister team’s trips and tastings), to provide a dynamic list of wines any fine wine buyer should consider for their cellar. All MUST BUYs represent high quality, and value within their respective appellations and vintages.
Browse the full MUST BUY list here.
Aggregated, 100-point score
With a focus on quality, the new 100-point Wine Lister Score combines the ratings of five of the world’s most respected wine critics – Jancis Robinson, Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin (Vinous), Bettane+Desseauve, and Jeannie Cho Lee, together with a smaller weighting for the wine’s ageing potential. The score is as objective an indication of wine quality as possible, allowing users to make site-wide comparisons across the 30,000+ wine-vintages on Wine Lister.
See this comparison, or create your own here.
Further analysis tools
Dynamic charts give users the chance to explore wines they might consider buying or selling in more detail.
The Vintage Value Identifier gives users a clear visual of price to quality ratios across vintages of a given wine, applying a score to this measure of relative value. See the example below for Mouton Rothschild: while the 2016 vintage is higher quality than 2014, its accompanying high price means that both the 2016 and 2014 vintages present the same level of value (the joint-highest of all recent back vintages shown)
Wine Lister’s dynamic Vintage Value Identifier chart, showing price vs. quality (left) and Value Pick score (right).
See the chart for Mouton Rothschild, or search for another wine here.
The Price History chart tracks a wine’s price performance over time, relative to its peer group. This can be done at vintage level, helping collectors to see performance history of a specific wine they might own. See below the example of Domaine Hubert Lignier’s Clos de La Roche 2016, whose price growth over the last year is one of the most impressive of all wines on Wine Lister (57.8%).
Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche 2016’s six-month price performance compared to performance of other Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2016s
The same dynamic chart can be used at wine level (an average across vintages, with a stronger weighting for more recent vintages), to give a general indication of a wine’s price trajectory, and therefore whether or not the wine in question could be an investment buy. See below an example for Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin, which on average sees steady price growth, and a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 31.8% (though the price has flattened out this year).
Armand Rousseau’s average price performance over two years
On top of these tools, each wine page gives users further information about the wine in question, including whether the wine qualifies for one of Wine Lister’s four Indicators. Haut Brion, as shown in the example below, is a Buzz Brand. See more information on other segments – Hidden Gems, Value Picks, and Investment Staples, or start browsing here.
We hope that you find the new site informative and useful for developing your fine wine collection. Feedback from our users is always welcome – please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments here.
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”.
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 2014, Isole e Olena Syrah Collezione Privata 2011, Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto 2016, Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2014, G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2013, G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2009, Domaine Duroché Gevrey-Chambertin Les Jeunes Rois 2015, Domaine Duroché Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2015, Domaine Tempier Cuvée Cabassou 2007, Château La Gaffelière 2014, Le Marquis de Calon Ségur 2014, Château Haut-Bailly La Parde 2012, Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2014, Château d’Issan 2011, Château Branaire-Ducru 2012, Château Pédesclaux 2014, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2005, Château Brane-Cantenac 2005, Château Lafon Rochet 2010.
Wine Lister’s first in-depth study of Burgundy published earlier this year was named “Mercury Rising” for a reason. With prices climbing more quickly than any other fine wine region, it is hard to consider the possibility of finding Burgundies of “reasonable value”. This week’s Listed blog brings you the top five Côte de Nuits by Quality score that won’t completely rupture the bank (or in other words, for under £200).
Dominique Laurent takes top spot this week with his Bonnes-Mares Vieilles Vignes, which has a Quality score of 954. Whilst this score sits comfortably amongst the highest of all Bonnes-Mares, the per bottle price of £174 does not – indeed, it is just under five times lower than the combined average price of the other eight best Bonnes-Mares on Wine Lister. Perhaps the lower price can, at least in part, be explained by its modest Brand score (531). For example, despite its Quality score sitting just one point higher, Georges Roumier’s Bonnes-Mares records a Brand score of 934, and is £1,046 more expensive.
In second place is Domaine Charlopin-Parizot’s Charmes Chambertin, with a Quality score of 944. Its high quality is not yet accompanied by an equal level of consumer recognition. With the lowest Brand score of the five (445) resulting from presence in only 2% of the world’s best restaurants and a search frequency ranking of 2,335 (of the c.4000 wines on Wine Lister), this Charmes Chambertin is a Hidden Gem (Wine Lister’s indicator that identifies under the radar wines that warrant discovery).
Domaine Jean Trapet Père et Fils’ Chambertin takes third place this week with a Quality score of 940 and just sneaking in under the £200 mark. While in third place for Quality, it has the highest overall Wine Lister score of the lot (906), thanks to its Brand (868) and Economics (896) scores. Indeed, it beats the combined average scores of the other four wines in this week’s top five in both categories by 310 and 319 points respectively.
The remaining two spots are taken by Domaine Arlaud Clos de la Roche, and Pierre Damoy Chambertin, each with a Quality score of 932. In addition to being by far the cheapest option of this week’s top five (£98 per bottle on average), Arlaud Clos de la Roche’s price is also the most stable, with volatility of just 5.7%. Conversely Damoy Chambertin’s price is the most volatile (8.7%), possibly the result of strong growth rates over both the long and short-term, having recorded a three-year compound annual growth rate of 15.6% and having added 6.5% to its price over the past six months alone.
A glass of cold Riesling on a hot summer’s day hits that sweet spot between refreshment, satisfaction, and intrigue. Any one of Germany’s finest wines for Quality under £300 would definitely deliver those three things. Moreover, with an average drinking window of 16 years, and with global warming seemingly set to deliver increasingly high summer temperatures, stock up on them now and you will be rewarded with stunning wines for years to come.
It is perhaps revealing of Riesling’s under-the-radar nature that three of this week’s top five qualify as Hidden Gems, meaning that they combine excellent critics’ ratings with modest restaurant presence and online popularity. Moreover, many of Wine Lister’s Hidden Gems were picked out by the global fine wine trade in our Founding Members’ survey, underlining the perennial mystery of Riesling as the darling of the trade, despite struggling to spark wide-scale consumer demand. Interestingly the group’s three Hidden Gems are all Beerenausleses (BAs). Schloss Johannisberg Rosa-Goldlack, Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr, and Weingut Robert Weil Kiedricher Gräfenberg’s BAs, in spite of a phenomenal average Quality score of 969, achieve an average Brand score of just 398 – the result of being present in just 2% of the world’s top restaurants and receiving only 70 online searches each month on average. Demand for excellent sweet Riesling is clearly not there at present.
However, returning to the group’s fantastic quality, it is Egon Müller’s Scharzhofberger Riesling Auslese that comes out on top with a score of 974. 2014 was its best ever vintage, with one of JancisRobinson.com’s critics, Michael Schmidt, awarding it 19/20 and heaping on the praise: “Our sensory perception is treated to an animating exuberance of exotic fruit and fresh raisins. Botrytis has been kept in check to focus on purity of expression rather than indulge in unctuous combustion”.
The group’s final spot is filled by Keller Westhofen Abtserde Riesling Grosses Gewächs (966). It is Jancis Robinson’s favourite of the five, achieving an outstanding average rating of 18.5/20 from Wine Lister’s UK partner critic. Tellingly, particularly in the context of the three BA’s lack of consumer demand, it is also the group’s most popular wine, receiving nearly 30 times more searches each month on average than the BAs. Consumers appear much more at ease with Riesling’s dryer styles.