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).


A dozen days of en primeur

Today is the 12th working day since the first major 2019 en primeur release, and over 60 wines are already out.

Among others, the last couple of days have seen the 2019 release of another first growth, a Pauillac powerhouse brand, and a major up-and-comer.

Haut-Brion released its red and white grands vins yesterday, at £295 and £560 per bottle in-bond respectively. While the red enters the market a solid 25% below the current market price of the 2018, the white is the campaign’s most expensive wine yet, and offers a smaller discount, of 5% on 2018.

Following Mouton Rothschild’s lead, Haut-Brion’s red looks well-priced within the current economic context, though buyers may note that the 2014 is available on the market around the same price. The 2012 also looks good – earning a WL score of 96, it is a Wine Lister MUST BUY (and available for c.£260 per bottle in-bond).

Also released from the Clarence Dillon family are Haut-Brion’s baby brother, Le Clarence (at c.£100 per bottle in-bond), and cousins La Mission Haut-Brion red and white. Of the two flagship reds, Haut-Brion is likely the stronger horse to back, based on its first growth status, as well as its position according to the trade among top Bordeaux wines for future prestige (see below).

According to Wine Lister’s 2020 trade survey, Haut-Brion is one of top Bordeaux wines most likely to be worth including in collectors’ future cellars.

Three further pairs of releases from Pessac-Léognan have emerged over the last two days, comprising Malartic-Lagravière, Latour-Martillac, and Carbonnieux.

On Thursday 10th June, Pauillac star-brand Lynch Bages was released, and has resulted in an onward UK selling price of c.£66 per bottle in-bond. Wine Lister’s CEO, Ella Lister, tasted it last week, and found it to be “lifted, precise”, and “a classic”. The price positioning under £70 has reportedly been well-received.

Haut-Batailley was also introduced to the market, at £36 per bottle in-bond. As its second en primeur release under Cazes ownership (the same family as Lynch Bages), the 2019 is 20% under the current market price of the 2018. Following a repositioning of Haut-Batailley’s pricing during en primeur last year, the 2019 release looks good value – the wine’s strong reputation will likely only become stronger with a new wave of investment, and prices are likely to rise accordingly. Lister describes Haut-Batailley 2019 as “pretty”, “elegant”, and “very harmonious”, with a “long, saline, dark chocolate finish” – this is a wine to buy now.

Better late than never – Wine Lister’s CEO, Ella Lister, has now tasted the majority of Bordeaux 2019s. Watch this space for her favourites, and Bordeaux 2019 MUST BUYs coming soon.

One further release for each side of the river caught Wine Lister’s eye this week: La Gaffelière 2019 was released 13% beneath the current 2018 market price. The château’s director, Thomas Soubes, told Wine Lister that he was very happy with the quality of their 2019, and Lister concurs –  she finds the wine “serious” and “charming”, with “velvet tannin” and “seductive red fruit”. La Gaffelière continues to present excellent value for its impressive quality, relative to wines sharing the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé “B” classification.

Calon Ségur 2019 was also released yesterday. As one of the top rising stars of Bordeaux, its 2019 came onto the market 10% below the 2018 release price, but crucially 31% below 2018’s current market price. Calon Ségur is one of the “poster children” for the true benefits of buying en primeur. Lister found Calon Ségur 2019 to be “perfumed”, “juicy”, and “unctuous”, with “spice on the mid-palate” and a “saline, super-precise finish”. As ever, this is worth snapping up before its price inevitably increases post en primeur release.

Also released during the same period were: Cantenac-BrownCapbern, Clos FourtetClos RenéCos Labory, KirwanMonbousquetMoulin Saint-GeorgesPaviePhélan SégurPibran, and Suduiraut.

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


En primeur release rapids: week #2 so far

Now into its second full week, the Bordeaux 2019 en primeur campaign shifted up another gear today, with the release of first growth Mouton Rothschild, and its associated properties.

After the flurry of releases yesterday (Monday 8th June) met with very mixed reviews, Mouton reset the campaign tone, with a price 30% below the current market price of 2018, and under the price of all recent back vintages. Bordeaux buyers no doubt breathed a sigh of relief at the tidy figure – £299 per bottle in-bond – the most obvious buy of the campaign so far (other than Lafleur).

Not only is this release on the money in recognising today’s difficult economic context, as well as Bordeaux’s recent price performance struggles, it also provides a brilliant deal given the reported quality of 2019. Wine Lister’s Founder and CEO, Ella Lister found Mouton 2019 to be floral, elegant, and stately. With a high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon (90%, vs. an average 83%) it promises a long, prosperous life ahead.

Mouton’s younger sibling, also released this morning, looks equally appealing, if for different reasons. Petit Mouton is one of Bordeaux’s top wines for long-term price performance, and its 2019 release price thus manages to enter the market well under all recent back vintages.

Of major Bordeaux brands, Petit Mouton achieves an average three-year CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 13.3%, placing it in fourth place of the top 10 long-term price performers, as shown above.

The other 2019s in the Mouton stable, d’Armailhac, Clerc-Milon, and Aile d’Argent were also released today, at prices (per bottle, in-bond) of £31, £52, and £60 respectively.

Yesterday’s hot ticket was right-bank royalty, Cheval Blanc, whose release at £375 also offered consumers a substantial discount on the 2018 release price (32%). Though not yet scored widely by critics, using 2018 as a proxy would mean Cheval Blanc 2019 achieves its joint-highest WL score since the 1961 (alongside the likes of recent greats – 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009, and 2005).

Fellow Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé A, Angélus, also released yesterday, though its release price in line with the physically available 2015 perhaps makes it look less attractive. There is nonetheless a real step-change in style and quality happening at Angélus, pioneered by the de Bouärd father-daughter team (Hubert and Stéphanie), which could mean this release is worth investing in for the future.

Two further releases of note from yesterday both hail from Saint-Julien. Branaire-Ducru, a Wine Lister favourite, released its 2019 at £29 per bottle in-bond, 25% down on the 2018 release price. Assuming Branaire’s 2019 is on par with 2018 quality, this is an absolute buy, as the estate’s joint best-ever grand vin at a price beneath all other recent vintages on the market. Léoville-Poyferré 2019 was also released, at £51.34 per bottle in-bond. Offering a 25% discount on last year’s release price for the same quality level, the Saint-Julien second growth is worth considering – having tasted it last week, Lister notes that it is “super-fresh, scented, and luscious”.

Also released so far this week are: Beychevelle, Carillon d’Angélus, Coutet, Gazin,  Haut-Bages Libéral, Ferrière, La Gurgue, La Tour Carnet, Larrivet Haut-Brion red and white, and Petit Cheval.


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.


Guinaudeau family 2019 wines released

This week has seen a flurry of further 2019 en primeur releases, including the likes of Palmer, Cos d’Estournel, and Domaine de Chevalier’s red and white.

Released this morning (Thursday 4th June) are wines from the Guinaudeau family, including one of the most in-demand wines from Bordeaux, Château Lafleur. Lafleur 2019 is available (for the lucky few who can get their hands on it) for c.£1,550 per 3 pack case in-bond – the same release price as in 2018. While this goes against the 30%-35% discount on last year’s prices that the trade believe may just make the 2019 campaign a success across the board, Lafleur is one of the few exceptions to this rule.

Aside from its impressive and consistent quality, Lafleur boasts one of the smallest-sized estates (4.5ha) for any top Bordeaux property. With rarity on its side, the grand vin is the number one performer for price appreciation after en primeur release.

The chart above shows the top five Bordeaux wines for average percentage increase of the last three vintages – 2018, 2017, and 2016, since their respective releases. The last three releases of Lafleur have seen an average market price increase to date of 43% – 9% more than Petrus.

Perhaps also contributing to the popularity of the Guinaudeau family’s wines is their more “Burgundian” approach to winemaking, with vineyards planted on three separate plots of very different soil types, and the final products aiming to reflect these differences.

For those unable to achieve the dizzy heights of an allocation of the grand vin, the estate’s Perrières de Lafleur (available for £256 per 6-pack in-bond for the just-released 2019 vintage) does exactly this, typically showing mineral, chalky notes from its limestone terroir. Perrières de Lafleur was officially “born” last year, after 15 years of research and testing under the wine’s beta pseudonym, “Acte”.

Finally, at the opposite end of the price spectrum to the flagship wine is Grand Village – the family’s Bordeaux Supérieur, whose quality has come on leaps and bounds over the last few vintages. Grand Village is a Value Pick in every single vintage listed on Wine Lister (2018-2013). If the 2019 is anywhere near the quality of last year, it will surely offer the same impressive quality-to-price ratio.

Follow Bordeaux 2019 en primeur releases through Wine Lister’s twitter, or through our dedicated en primeur page.


MUST BUY Investment Staples

Last week we introduced Wine Lister’s new toy, a dynamic guide to the ultimate wines any fine wine lover should consider for their cellar – WL MUST BUY. While the full list is approximately 1,800 recommendations strong, Wine Lister provides some useful segments to help cut into all that data, aside from the usual criteria that can be found in our advanced search function (region, price, colour, score etc).

Wine Lister Indicators are designed to provide suggestions for your specific buying purpose, whether it be to discover something new (Hidden Gems), impress at a dinner party (Buzz Brands), drink well without breaking the bank (Value Picks), or add to your investment portfolio (Investment Staples).

MUST BUYs and Indicators together provide a ready-made source list of the best wines to meet your needs. Below we look at the combination of our MUST BUY algorithm with Investment Staples.

Investment Staples are wines above a certain price, that are long-lived (but not too old), have proven wine price performance or represent good value compared to their peers, and are relatively stable and liquid, with recognition from our network of global fine wine trade members.

There are 18 MUST BUY Investment Staples that score 97 WL points or above. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bordeaux represents almost half of these, with eight MUST BUYs, including two first growths (2016 Mouton, and 2016 Lafite), and 1975 Petrus.

These eight Bordeaux have an average price of £511 per bottle, or just under an eighth of the average price of the three Burgundies to qualify as MUST BUY Investment Staples. However, as investments, some of them may require patience – the prices of those from 2016 have yet to increase any significant amount. By contrast, DRC’s La Tâche 2005, Richebourg 2005, and Comte Liger-Belair La Romanée 2012 are testament to Burgundy’s impressive upward price trajectory, having already achieved three-year CAGR (compound annual growth rates) of 21.8%, 23.4%, and 33.1% respectively.

Outside of Bordeaux and Burgundy, Italy holds court with MUST BUY Investment staples from Bartolo Mascarello, and the indomitable Soldera among others.

You can see the full list of MUST BUY Investment Staples here, or check out some other MUST BUY lists, such as MUST BUY Hidden Gems, or MUST BUY Value Picks.

Don’t forget that the MUST BUY list changes weekly. Revisit MUST BUY Investment Staples again next week to see new entries.


Wine Lister: available to all

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.


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.)


Saint-Estèphe: An appellation on the rise

The eyes and ears of the industry are focused on Bordeaux 2017. Price is always a key factor in the commercial success of a fine wine, but never more so than during the annual en primeur period, when release pricing can make or break a wine’s en primeur campaign.

It is therefore timely to take a look at some Bordeaux Economics score successes, this week from Saint-Estèphe. Wine Lister’s Economics score combines five criteria – based on price and volume data – to measure a wine’s commercial success (read more on the Economics score calculation here).

Calon-Ségur has the highest Economics score of all Saint-Estèphe wines (943). Not only does it score 53 points higher than the next wine in its peer group, it is also the number one third growth for Economics score, sitting in eleventh place for Economics of all Bordeaux wines. This is particularly impressive, considering that the average price per bottle of those ranking in the top 10 is £614, nine times higher than Calon-Ségur’s comparatively modest average price tag of £69 (read more about Calon-Ségur’s pricing in the en primeur: part II blog).

The number two Economics score in Saint-Estèphe is held by Montrose (889). It has the highest average Quality score of the five (936) and an average wine life of 15 years. Its steady price growth over the last two years (30%) makes it one to watch for investment potential.

Cos d’Estournel is the most expensive Saint-Estèphe wine at £104 per bottle. Though it comes in third place for Economics, it has the best Saint-Estèphe Brand score of 996, thanks to presence in 52% of the world’s best restaurants and over 23,000 online monthly searches. Its popularity is also clear from its position as the most traded of the five at auction (calculated using data from one of our partners, The Wine Market Journal).

Lafon-Rochet and Les Ormes de Pez take fourth and fifth places, with Economics scores of 694 and 682 respectively. Both are a level below the top three in terms of price per bottle and Quality score, but they match Montrose on long term price performance, with compound annual growth rates (CAGR) of 9%. Saint-Estèphe is an appellation on the rise.