With the first major set of releases for 2019 in full swing (Burgundy 2017), the Wine Lister team are already looking ahead for what else is in store for wine collectors and trade members alike. In February we expect to see the release of Barolo 2015s – set to be a more concentrated and riper vintage than the previous due to high temperatures throughout the summer. In anticipation of these, Wine Lister is examining the top five Piedmont Buzz Brands by Brand score.
Ironically, the highest-scoring brand of this week’s top five is in fact not a Barolo at all. Gaja’s Barbaresco takes the top spot with a Brand score of 975. Wine Lister partner critic Antonio Galloni gives the 2014 vintage 96 points, and comments, “this is one of the most tightly wound, intense versions of Gaja’s Barbaresco I can remember tasting. Don’t miss it”.
While it is no longer breaking news to see such high quality Barbaresco emerging from under Barolo’s shadow, the making of such a well-recognised brand is impressive. This is achieved by presence in 31% of the world’s best restaurants, and a search rank of 76 out of the c.4,000+ wines on Wine Lister. Gaja’s single vineyard Barbarescos, Sorì San Lorenzo, Sorì Tildin, and Costa Russi are also popular with an average Brand score of 915.
In second place for top Piedmont Buzz Brands is Giacomo Conterno’s Barolo Monfortino Riserva. Sitting just outside the top 50 most-searched-for wines (in 51stplace), it is both the highest quality and the most expensive wine of this week’s top five, with a Quality score of 977, and an in-bond per bottle price of £766. The price tag, which is just under four times higher than the average price of the other four wines of this week’s group, is perhaps due to the tiny production quantities of just c.7,000 bottles per year.
Giacomo Conterno also takes a second spot in this week’s top five – fourth place, with his Barolo Cascina Francia, which earns a Brand score of 956 and a Quality score of 960. Despite score gaps between these two wines of a mere 14 and 17 points respectively, an average of three times as many bottles are produced of Cascina Francia than its grander (and much rarer) sibling. It is available at just 23% of the price of the Barolo Monfortino Riserva – £176 per bottle in-bond.
In third place of this week’s top five is Bartolo Mascarello’s Barolo with a Brand score of 965. While its scores across the board sit in the mid-range of this week’s top five, it achieves the best long-term price performance, with a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.7%.
Lastly, at number five of this week’s group is Bruno Giacosa’s Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva with a Brand score of 928. Although the Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva has the lowest search rank of this week’s top five (158th), online searches for this wine saw impressive increases last year (read more here). It achieves a Quality score of 974 – just two points under the best Quality performer of the group (Conterno’s Barolo Monfortino Riserva). Indeed at vintage level these two wines share a near-perfect Quality score of 998 for their respective 2004 vintages, both earning 100/100 from Antonio Galloni.
It is interesting to note the high quality that accompanies these top Piedmont Buzz Brands (an average Brand score of 959 vs. 945 for Quality). The disparity between scores is more accentuated for the equivalent group in Tuscany, which achieves a Brand score of 991 for a Quality score of 932, or in other words, a 59-point gap.
Buzz Brands are wines that are sure to turn heads, destined to cause a stir whenever they are opened. They combine excellence across Wine Lister’s two Brand criteria – restaurant presence and online popularity – whilst also being held in the highest regard by the fine wine trade – as confirmed by Wine Lister’s Founding Members’ survey which gathers the opinions of around 50 key players in the international wine trade. This week, the Listed section focuses on Italy’s top five Buzz Brands by overall Wine Lister score.
Barolo is home to four of Italy’s top five Buzz Brands, two of which are produced by Giacomo Conterno – the flagship Monfortino in first place (973) and Francia not far behind in second place (954). The Monfortino achieves Italy’s best Quality score (977), the result of remarkable consistency from vintage to vintage, having achieved a score of 993 or above in seven of the past 10 vintages. Its best ever vintage was 2004 (998), thanks to a perfect 100-point score from Antonio Galloni, who writes: “I imagine the 2004 Monfortino will give readers an utterly spellbinding drinking experience for the next few decades”.
Whilst the Francia is pipped at the post in each category by its illustrious stablemate (trailing by 17 points in the Quality category, 11 in the Brand category, and 34 in terms of Economics), it does manage superior restaurant presence, visible in 30% of the world’s top establishments, compared to the Monfortino’s 23%. This is presumably due to over three times as many bottles of it being produced each year on average.
In third place is Azienda Agricola Falletto’s Rocche Falletto Riserva (953). It records the best Economics score of the five (969) and Italy’s second-best, beaten only by Falletto’s Barbaresco Asili Riserva (978). It does so thanks to the combination of very strong growth rates – it has recorded a three-year compound annual growth rate of 21% and has added 8% to its value over the past six months alone – and strong liquidity – its top five vintages having traded 398 bottles at auction over the past year. Perhaps collectors have been eager to get their hands on a bottle after the passing of Bruno Giacosa in January.
Proving that Super Tuscans can mix it with Piedmont’s top nebbiolos, Sassicaia takes fourth place. Whilst it cannot keep pace with Barolo’s finest in the Quality and Economics categories, Sassicaia stretches out a comfortable lead in the Brand category thanks to an extraordinary score of 998. This near-perfect score puts it alongside Haut-Brion, Margaux, and Petrus, beaten only by the Pauillac First Growths, Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut, and Yquem. Its brand dominance is the result of outstanding restaurant presence (49%) and online popularity – receiving well over three times as many searches each month as Conterno’s Monfortino, which is the group’s second-most popular wine.
Rounding out the five is Bartolo Mascarello’s Barolo. Its brand is its strongest asset, its score of 964 making it Barolo’s second-strongest brand behind Conterno’s Monfortino. Despite receiving over 20% fewer online searches each month than the Monfortino, it matches its level of restaurant presence – perhaps the azienda’s famous “no barrique no Berlusconi” message strikes a chord with sommeliers.
With its top ten wines by Quality score costing £225 per bottle on average, Piedmont might seem overindulgent for a low key midweek meal. However, with a little bit of help in the shape of Wine Lister’s Value Pick search tool, it is easy to find wines that will deliver maximum enjoyment at reasonable prices. Value Picks represent the very best quality-to-price ratio wines, with a higher coefficient applied to allow exceptional quality to be recognised. With a remarkable average Quality score of 976, and costing £40 on average, these five Piedmontese wines prove that outstanding quality is available at all price points.
If you’re after top Nebbiolo at a fair price, then Produttori del Barbaresco’s 2013s appear a safe bet, filling three spots. However, the trade-off for top value will be patience – none of the three will enter its drinking window until 2023. However, with each of them lasting over 18 years, you will be able to make the most of your prudent purchases for years to come. And what better way to explore Barbaresco’s crus in an outstanding vintage than with these three? The Asili Riserva achieves the top Quality score of the three (987), 75 points above its wine-level average. It is also the most expensive, but £42 per bottle doesn’t seem unreasonable for such quality. The Montestefano Riserva really outperformed in the 2013 vintage with a Quality score of 972, 125 points above its average score. The market is yet to react – the 2013’s price is currently 16% below its wine-level average.
Proving that if you’re looking for value for money in Piedmont, it’s not just Barbaresco that you should look out for, Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin 2007 is the region’s number one Value Pick. With a Quality score of 989 – thanks to a 98 point score from Antonio Galloni – it is not hard to see why. What’s more, whereas the Produttori del Barbaresco 2013s require cellaring, the Ciabot Mentin is just entering its drinking window.
Showing that Piedmont is not all about Nebbiolo, Giacomo Conterno’s Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia 2013 fills the remaining spot. The group’s only Buzz Brand, this would be an excellent way to sample one of Giacomo Conterno’s wines at a fraction of the cost of the domaine’s top cuvées – the hallowed Monfortino Riserva costs £608 per bottle on average.
Prices per bottle are provided by our price partner, Wine Owners, whose own proprietary algorithms process millions of rows of incoming price data from Wine-Searcher to calculate a more realistic market level price – the price at which a wine is likely to find a ready buyer – based on market supply and spread models. As lower retail prices are likely to sell first, the prices you see on Wine Lister may be below the Wine-Searcher average in some instances.
Confirming the outstanding economic performance of Piedmont’s top crus, Italy’s top five wines for economics all hail from Barolo and Barbaresco. Tuscany doesn’t get a look-in. Featuring just two producers – Giacomo Conterno and Bruno Giacosa – this week’s listed section boasts wines achieving outstanding Economics scores of over 960.
Wine Lister’s Economics score combines five criteria: three-month average price, six-month-price performance, three-year compound average growth rate (CAGR), price stability, and liquidity (volume traded).
A three-month average price of £595 per bottle tips the Economics rating in favour of Giacomo Conterno’s Barolo Monfortino Riserva, which scores a mighty 978. Its three-month average price is over double that of the second-most expensive wine.
Seven points behind in second place is the Barbaresco Asili Riserva from Giacosa’s Azienda Agricola Falletto, with an Economics score of 971. Just one point behind that, in third place, with an Economics score of 970, Giacomo Conterno’s second wine to make the top five is the Barolo (Cascina) Francia. Following a slump in its score at the end of 2016, it bounced back January and continued to rise throughout the year.
Giacosa’s Azienda Agricola Falletto Barbaresco Rabajà is fourth-highest with a score of 963. This wine has the strongest three-year CAGR of the group, at 27.5%.
Bruno Giacosa’s third entry, completing the top five with an Economics score of 963, is his Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva. It has the highest liquidity of the group, with 500 bottles of its top five vintages traded in the past year.
All of the top five hold Buzz Brand status, but their soaring prices equate to lower price stability across the group, averaging 8.6% standard deviation compared to 7.1% for the top five Tuscan wines by Economics score. Piedmont might offer more potential upside, but by definition this makes it riskier investment territory.
In this blog we look at the price performance of five major fine wine regions over the past two years. Wine Lister’s regional indices use price data from Wine Owners, and each comprises the top five brands in its respective region (according to the Wine Lister Brand score).
In Bordeaux, for example, the top five strongest brands (measured by looking at restaurant presence and online search frequency), are the five first growths, Haut-Brion, Lafite, Latour, Margaux, and Mouton. Posting gains of 28% over two years, and largely stagnating over the last year, the Wine Lister Bordeaux index is the worst performer of the five wine price indices shown below.
Piedmont, meanwhile, has enjoyed a remarkable couple of years. Not only has its index grown by an astonishing 58% over the period, it has also been very consistent, experiencing just three months of negative growth – November 2015, May 2016, and April 2017. Sustained high growth rates suggest a region in demand. The Wine Lister Piedmont index consists of two wines from Gaja – Barbaresco and Sperss (now labelled as a Barolo again after several years of declassification to Langhe Nebbiolo), two Barolos from Conterno – the Monfortino and the Cascina Francia, and finally Bartolo Mascarello’s Barolo.
Next comes the Burgundy index (consisting entirely of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines), which has grown by more than 50% over the past 24 months, but with a few more blips. It decreased in value by 4% in December 2015, only managing to recover in March 2016. In a repeat of this festive dip, the index dropped over 5% in December 2016, but recovered the losses in just one month on this occasion. It has started to close the gap on Piedmont over recent months, adding over 15% since May.
Tuscany and California* made similar gains to Bordeaux over the period – up 33% and 29% respectively. The Tuscany index has progressed fairly serenely over the past two years, thanks to its liquid Super Tuscan components. Meanwhile the prices of California’s top wines have been less consistent, enduring a fall of nearly 9% in October 2015, recovering with a dramatic 8% rise in February 2016. This year, having enjoyed strong gains during February and March, their growth rate has since cooled off, adding just 1.5% over the past six months.
*As you will know, California has suffered tragic wildfires in recent weeks. Wine Lister’s partner critic, Vinous, is donating to relevant charities the profits from all maps purchased before the end of November 2018.
The annual spate of releases in September has influenced this month’s gainers in online search frequency. For the third consecutive month, Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut has seen the largest increase in average monthly searches, which we calculate using three-month data from Wine-Searcher measured against the previous period. Dom Pérignon 2009 was released in early September, and the wine’s increase of 5,154 searches is the largest incremental monthly increase seen this year, taking it to 60,241 average searches per month: the highest of any Champagne and fifth highest of all wines.
Following last month’s narrowing of regions within the top five (only two were featured), the breadth in September significantly increased, with icons from California, Bordeaux, Piedmont, and Chile joining Champagne. The number of searches has also increased dramatically after the summer slowdown, with 19 wines seeing an increase of over 1,000 average monthly searches. The release of Opus One 2014 at the beginning of September – judged “a gorgeous wine” by our partner critic Antonio Galloni – has boosted interest in this Napa Valley stalwart, with an increase of 4,651 searches taking it to over 40,000 searches per month.
Château d’Yquem is another wine to see online search frequency rise on the back of a September release. The 2015 was released alongside Opus One 2014 at €250 ex-négociant.
The next in the table, Bartolo Mascarello Barolo, has the lowest search frequency of any of the wines above, with an average 10,075 per month. Nevertheless, with an overall Wine Lister score of 941/1,000 the wine is one of the great names of Barolo: the fourth best overall on Wine Lister.
Almaviva celebrated its twentieth anniversary in June, while its producer Viña Concha y Toro has recently entered the global ranking inside the Top 10 Beverages category within the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the first time. With the release of Almaviva 2015 in early September adding to the interest, the wine has seen an increase of 2,858 online monthly searches, taking it to 11,291.
With the days quickly shortening and misty mornings become the norm, we bid farewell to rosé for the year and welcome back old favourites. Autumn is the perfect season for Piedmontese reds, which are not only so redolent of mist-covered hills, but also pair perfectly with the region’s food at this time of year. With that in mind, this week’s Listed section features Piedmont’s top five wines by Brand score.
Whilst Barolo might be the region’s most famous appellation, it is Gaja Barbaresco that tops the table with an outstanding Brand score of 976. It performs extremely well across both of Wine Lister’s Brand criteria – restaurant presence and online popularity – coming first and second respectively. It is visible in 33% of the most prestigious establishments worldwide, and attracts more than 8,400 searches on Wine-Searcher each month.
Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino Riserva comes next (968). The first of three Wine Lister Buzz Brands in the group, it is by far the most expensive. Receiving on average 9,358 searches each month on Wine-Searcher, it is also the most popular wine in the group. Interestingly, despite experiencing the lowest restaurant presence (23%), it enjoys the greatest depth in terms of number of vintages and formats listed (4.4) – testament to its extraordinary ageing potential of over 24 years.
Bartolo Mascarello Barolo (of “no barrique, no Berlusconi” fame) fills the third spot. This staunchly traditional producer enjoys its best scores in the Brand category, with its excellent search frequency of over 7,000 searches each month helping it to a score of 960.
The last two spots are filled by another wine each from Giacomo Conterno and Gaja – Barolo Francia (formerly Casina Francia) and Sperss (now labelled as Barolo again from the 2013 vintage after 17 years declassified to Langhe Nebbiolo) [Friday fun fact – Gaja now labels wines under the Europe-wide DOP classification rather than the strictly Italian DOC status]. Both wines have strong restaurant presence, at 30% and 31% respectively. Either would be a perfect accompaniment to Alba’s famous white truffles, which will be starting to appear in some of those restaurants now.
One of Wine Lister’s four Indicators, Value Picks identify the wines and vintages which have the best quality to price ratio, with a proprietary weighting giving more importance to quality, thus giving the finest wines a look-in.
With the latest price data in, 28 new wines have recently qualified as Value Picks. While Value Picks are calculated using a three-month average bottle score for accuracy (in order to take into account any price fluctuations), we have shown the current price per bottle below for ease of comparison. Please note that the price shown is excluding duty and VAT, and often reflects prices available only when purchasing a full case:
Bordeaux dominates the new Value Picks, filling 11 of the 28 spots. Margaux’s Prieuré-Lichine seems a particularly keenly-priced brand at the moment, with both its 2015 and 2016 vintages now Value Picks. With Wine Lister Quality scores of 891 and 912 respectively – very strong and amongst the strongest on Wine Lister’s 1000 point scale – and both priced under £30, they represent excellent value buys. Within Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan is home to the highest number of new Value Picks. Of those, two are white, with Château Carbonnieux Blanc 2014 and Château Olivier 2015 achieving very similar Quality scores (809 and 806 respectively), and each priced at just £20.
The other wine to feature twice in the latest update is Domaine de Cristia Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with its 2010 and 2007 vintages. The former, which achieves a Quality score of 763, is available at just £18 per bottle. With plenty of life left in it, it looks like a great buy.
Three Piedmontese wines recently qualified as Value Picks – M. Marengo Barolo Brunate 2010, Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia 2010, and La Spinetta (Rivetti) Barbera d’Alba Gallina 2007. All three achieve powerful Wine Lister Quality scores of over 900 points. You might buy Giacomo Conterno’s wines to impress – the Barolo Cascina Francia is a Wine Lister Buzz Brand, but also averages £157 per bottle. If you’re looking for something more appropriate for a weeknight, the 2010 vintage of the same producer’s Barbera d’Alba, priced at just £30, would be an excellent Value Pick – a perfect example of how Wine Lister’s indicators can help you find the right wine for any situation.
Wine Lister’s four Indicators – Investment Staples, Value Picks, Hidden Gems, and Buzz Brands – were designed to enable users to find the perfect wine for any scenario in just a couple of clicks. Buzz Brands, the most talked-about wines, are sure to impress: they have strong distribution across the world’s top restaurants, show high online search frequency or a recent growth in popularity, and are identified by the fine wine trade as trending or especially prestigious.
Having recently expanded and updated Wine Lister’s restaurant presence coverage, 29 new wines now qualify as Buzz Brands, their global distribution broadening. To achieve Buzz Brand status, a wine must be among the top fifth of all wines that feature at least once on the menus of the world’s best restaurants – prized for their wine lists as well as their food.
Of the 29 wines above, 11 hail from Burgundy, confirming the region’s continued demand amongst the restaurant trade. Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair fares particularly well, with three of its wines becoming new Buzz Brands, thus suggesting it is a producer on an upward trajectory. These wines also benefit from a high online search frequency, as measured by Wine-Searcher, with the wine with the highest number of searches, Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Echezeaux Grand Cru, seeing 1,400 searches per month.
Champagne has also benefitted from the restaurant presence update, with four wines from the region gaining Buzz Brand status. Of this month’s new Buzz Brands, Bollinger Rosé now has the most impressive distribution, present in 17% of the world’s top establishments.
Piedmont sees four wines attain Buzz Brand status. Two new wines from La Spinetta now qualify as Buzz Brands, with Ceretto Barolo Bricco Rocche and Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia making up the quartet.
There are three new Bordeaux Buzz Brands, and one carries the accolade of being the most searched-for wine in the table. Château Saint-Pierre receives in excess of 3,700 searches per month, which in addition to appearing on 8% of the world’s very best restaurants makes it well-deserving of its new Buzz Brand status.
This week’s Listed section features the five Italian white wines with the strongest brands. They comprise two Langhes from Gaja (Gaia & Rey and Rossj Bass), two of Italy’s cult whites (Valentini Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Gravner Anfora Ribolla Gialla), and Cervaro della Sala (from the Antinori stable).
Whilst these wines all enjoy strong or very strong Brand scores, they do not command the same level of brand recognition as the top five Italian red wine brands, trailing them by c.90-250 points in the Brand category. Tuscan powerhouses Sassicaia, Tignanello, Ornellaia, Solaia, and Gaja’s Barbaresco all achieve Brand scores of over 975 points, with Sassicaia’s outstanding 997 points putting it ahead of the likes of Cheval Blanc and DRC La Tâche.
Wine Lister’s Brand scores comprise restaurant presence and consumer popularity. It is in the latter category that the whites have the most ground to make up. For example Gaja Langhe Gaia & Rey, which featured in our latest blog on new Investment Staples, is present in well over half the number of restaurants of its close relative Gaja Barbaresco, but it receives under a quarter of the number of searches each month on Wine-Searcher. If sommeliers are convinced that these top Italian whites can grace the tables of the finest establishments, they still fly well under the radar of most consumers.