Listed: the Rhône’s strongest brands

This week, the Listed section travels to the Rhône to consider the region’s top brands. As might be expected, all are red – Chave’s Hermitage Blanc, the region’s top white brand (924), is only the Rhône’s overall 12th strongest. However in a battle between North and South, it is the latter that comes out on top in the form of Beaucastel’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape with a Brand score of 993 – putting it amongst the top 25 brands on Wine Lister.

By far the cheapest of the five, Beaucastel leads across both Wine Lister Brand score criteria – presence in the world’s top restaurants and online popularity. However, whilst it is visible in 49% of the world’s finest establishments (just pipping Chave Hermitage’s 47% to the post), with 2.6 references per wine list on average it achieves the weakest vertical restaurant presence of the group, where Chave’s Hermitage manages the greatest depth (3.9 listings). If Beaucastel’s dominance within the world’s top restaurants is less clear-cut, when it comes to popularity amongst consumers it opens up a wider lead over the competition, receiving 16,565 searches on Wine-Searcher each month on average – 40% more than Jaboulet’s Hermitage La Chapelle – the group’s second-most popular wine.

Tied for second place with a Brand score of 987 are the two Hermitages from Chave and Jaboulet (La Chapelle). Whilst Chave leads in terms of restaurant presence (47% vs 43%), Jaboulet’s La Chapelle receives 6% more searches each month on average. Despite their identical Brand scores, Chave’s Hermitage is the clear winner elsewhere, with comfortable leads in the Quality category (959 vs 910) and Economics category (935 vs 863). Chave’s reward is a 36-point lead at overall Wine Lister score level (964 vs 928), and a price tag over twice that of Hermitage La Chapelle’s.

The Rhône’s overall top wine – Rayas (968) – is the region’s fourth-strongest brand (982). The group’s second Châteauneuf-du-Pape, it comprehensively outperforms the Beaucastel in terms of Quality (961 vs 876) and Economics (959 vs 823). It is thus perhaps the Beaucastel’s significantly larger annual production – roughly seven times Rayas’ – that has helped raise its brand to such lofty heights.

Rounding out the five is Guigal’s Côte Rôtie La Mouline with a score of 959. Whilst it can’t quite keep pace with the remainder of this week’s top five, it leads the two remaining “La Las” – La Landonne and La Turque – by six and 12 points respectively in the Brand category. Similarly to the Rayas, it is perhaps the extremely limited production of the “La Las” that keeps them from achieving even higher Brand scores – the combined annual output across the three cuvées is c.18,000 bottles.


Online searches for Spring

Wine Lister uses data from our partner, Wine-Searcher, to examine wines with increasing online popularity on a monthly basis.

This month, Château Canon sees a 7% increase in search frequency for January-March 2018 from the previous period. As predicted by our Founding Members (c.50 key members of the fine wine trade), who voted Château Canon number one wine likely to gain the most brand recognition in the next two years in the 2017 Bordeaux Market study, Canon was one of the big successes of last year’s en primeur campaign. Its brand continues to go from strength to strength, with search frequency in 2017 rising 35% between January and October. It will be interesting to see whether this year’s en primeur release has the same impact on its online search frequency as the 2016 vintage.

Two cult Californian wines are among the top five for latest search frequency increases.

Scarecrow saw an increased search frequency of 52% for January-March 2018 compared to the previous period thanks to its latest release in February. The 2015 vintage is as yet unscored by Wine Lister partner critics, however the estate has seen consistent Quality scores between 996-987 since 2010.

Screaming Eagle also makes the top five wines with biggest search frequency increase this month. With 17,831 average monthly searches between January and March 2018, the increase is small relative to its already vast online popularity. Indeed, Screaming Eagle remains the number one most searched for Californian wine on Wine-Searcher.

Burgundy is represented in the top search increases by Marquis d’Angerville, whose Volnay Premier Cru Taillepieds saw double its average number of monthly searches in January-March 2018 compared with the previous period. Guillaume Angerville eschews the scrum of the January Burgundy en primeur tastings in London, preferring to showcase his new vintage each March with a small tasting and lunch – the Taillepieds obviously made an impression, and achieves its highest ever Quality score (969).

Finally, searches for Azienda Agricola Falletto’s Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva continue to rise into March following the sad passing of Piedmont legend, Bruno Giacosa. The wine saw a bittersweet rise in popularity of 14% in December 2017-February 2018, which continues at a slightly slower pace (10%).


The world’s top Riesling brands

Riesling is amongst the greatest grapes at communicating time and place. Top Riesling is not only one of the most ageworthy of all wines, it is also one of the most versatile grapes, delivering crisp lime-scented examples in South Australia, and heady, honied, petrol aromas in the Mosel. The top five Riesling brands are a good example of this. Despite all hailing from Alsace and the Mosel, they showcase at least some of the variety that can, at times, cause confusion (but don’t extend to the tonguetwisting trockenbeerenauslese or flummoxing fuder numbers).

Alsatian heavyweight Trimbach fills the top two spots with its flagship Clos Sainte Hune (939) and Frédéric Emile (884). Clos Sainte Hune is the only Riesling to crack the 900-point mark in the Brand category, thus ranking amongst the most elite Brands on Wine Lister’s database. Its lead is thanks to its popularity – it is searched for twice as frequently as the group’s second-most popular wine (Prüm’s Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese). It is in fact Trimbach’s Frédéric Emile that achieves the greatest level of restaurant presence of the group, appearing in 37% of the world’s top establishments, it just pips Clos Sainte Hune to the post (34%). Confirming Trimbach as darling of the trade, the next best wine in the criterion (Prüm’s Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese) appears in 22% of top restaurants.

Egon Müller fills the last two spots with wines from the famous Scharzhofberger vineyard – its Kabinett (850) and Auslese (848). It is interesting that it is the Kabinett that comes out on top in the Brand category, despite trailing its sweeter sibling by significant margins in the Quality category (820 vs 974) and Economics category (523 vs 806). It manages to do so thanks to a greater breadth of restaurant presence (21% vs 16%), despite the Auslese achieving greater depth with 3.6 vintages / formats offered on average (the best of the group).

It is worth comparing the performance of Riesling’s top brands to the grape’s top Quality scores. Whilst these five brands achieve an average of 880 in the Brand category, the top five Rieslings by Quality score manage a remarkable average of 990 in the qualitative category. It seems that it is in terms of consumer popularity that Riesling struggles. Trimbach’s Clos Sainte Hune – the most popular Riesling in the world – is only the 241st most popular wine on Wine Lister’s database.

Riesling seems doomed to be perennially underappreciated, perhaps due to its range of sugar levels, or maybe the complexity of the German classification system. Certainly its remarkable quality does not command the brand recognition it deserves. If we compare the average of the top five Brand and Quality scores of 100% Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc wines, it is clear to see that Riesling’s outstanding quality does not currently result in a corresponding level of brand strength.

 


The shape of 2018 for wine searches

Wine Lister uses search frequency data from our partner, Wine-Searcher, to examine wines with increasing online popularity on a monthly basis. Wines with the highest search frequency numbers tend to be consistent, with the Bordeaux left bank premiers crus classés generally taking the top spots.

This month’s biggest search frequency gainers also rank as some of the most searched-for wines on Wine-Searcher. Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut is the third most popular wine with over 84,000 searches after Lafite and Mouton, closely followed by Petrus in fourth place. Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin and Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage appear in the top 50, while Azienda Agricola Falletto’s Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva comes lower down at number 148 out of the circa 5,000 wines on Wine Lister, but its search frequency has recently increased by 15%.

Our last post on online search frequency revealed Wine Lister’s first ever perfect Brand score. Moving on from the Christmas period, Champagne brands still show marked increases in search frequency, but this time they do not stand alone at the top.

Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut is the largest gainer in popularity for the second time running. Increasing at a slower rate than in December, its popularity nonetheless grew by 7,097 searches into January, maintaining its 1000-point Brand score. Dom Pérignon remains the only wine to achieve a perfect score from any of the Wine Lister score categories. The other Champagne still riding high on searches is Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage, which increased by 6%.

Bordeaux creeps back onto the map for online searches at the beginning of 2018, with the first growths having featured heavily in searches up to December 2017. Petrus is in second place after Dom Pérignon, with an 8% increase in search frequency. It will be interesting to see if search increases for Bordeaux follow the same pattern as last year as we approach the 2017 en primeur campaign.

Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin appears in third place. Armand Rousseau was only one of two producers to achieve a perfect confidence rating from our Founding Members in our recent Burgundy study.

In fifth place for increased popularity is a bittersweet entry. Searches for Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva from Azienda Agricola Falletto increased as the wine world learned of the sad passing in January of Piedmont legend, Bruno Giacosa. You can read more on Bruno Giacosa’s legacy in a recent blog on Barbaresco, here.


Five more brands warming up this winter

Following on from our recent blog in which we looked at the five wines that enjoyed the greatest absolute increase in online search frequency during November, we thought it would be interesting to look at the five wines whose improved popularity had the biggest impact on their Brand score. This throws up some less obvious candidates.

Alongside presence in the world’s best restaurants, Wine Lister’s Brand score measures a wine’s online popularity – as indicated by the number of searches received on Wine Searcher – as a marker of real consumer demand. The five wines below do not come close to rivalling the phenomenal popularity of the first growths and company whose search frequency increased the most in absolute terms in November. However, the relative change in their online search frequency led to some significant improvements in their Brand scores.

Whilst each of the five experienced an increase of at least 44% in their online search frequency, Domaine Huet Le Mont Demi-Sec’s surged 147% during November, resulting in a whopping 78-point gain in its Brand score (now 765), tipping it into the very strong category on Wine Lister’s 1,000 point scale. Its sharp increase in online popularity might be the result of the 2016 vintage being named the sixth best wine in the world by Wine Spectator last month. Whilst the 2016’s Wine Lister Quality score (917) can’t quite match the performance of two of Domaine Huet’s sweeter cuvées for the vintage, it appears that it is a brand on the up.

Next comes a duo of Italian reds – Fratelli Seghesio Barolo La Villa and Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino. Starting from a low base of just 243 searches each month, the Piedmontese red’s search frequency leapt 63% to 396, resulting in a 40-point increase in its Brand score (506). In stark contrast, Casanova di Neri’s straight Brunello already benefitted from a high level of online popularity, previously receiving 1,791 searches each month on average. It’s 72% increase in search frequency – again presumably thanks to the 2012 vintage’s fourth spot in Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines – has resulted in a new Brand score of 799, the highest of the group.

Last but not least, Turley Wine Cellars Old Vines Zinfandel and Château Simian Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Grandes Grenachières d’Hippolyte both enjoyed a 27-point increase in their Brand score with the latest search frequency data. Whilst their overall Wine Lister scores are fairly similar (605 and 577 respectively), their profiles differ markedly. The Californian red performs best in the Brand category, its new score of 650 comfortably outperforming its Quality and Economics scores (593 and 552 respectively). Conversely its Old-World peer has a weak brand (327), well below its very strong Quality score (808) and average Economics score (498).

It will be interesting to see if these brands continue to strengthen in 2018. Speaking of which, the Wine Lister team wishes you all a Happy New Year!


Biggest names make the biggest gains

With the latest online search frequency data in from Wine-Searcher, we can see which wines rose in popularity during November. Each month we look at the last three months’ worth of search data, measured against the previous period, to see which wines have grown most in popularity. With five of the world’s six most popular wines making the greatest gains during November, it appears that demand for the biggest brands shows no sign of diminishing, and that the public is quick to pick up on announcements regarding the most famous fine wine producers.

Mouton, the world’s second-most popular wine, made the greatest gains during November. This is likely thanks to the release of the label for the 2015 vintage. It features a witty juxtaposition of Gerhard Richter’s “Flux” with the reiteration of part of Mouton’s motto, “Mouton ne change” (Mouton never changes), in the context of a generational shift as Philippine de Rothschild’s three children take the helm after her death in 2014.

Snapping at Mouton’s heels was Margaux. It too announced during November that it will release its 2015 vintage in a commemorative bottle – the first time the château has done so – paying homage to Paul Pontallier who was winemaker at the property for almost 30 years. With Margaux 2015 achieving one the best Quality scores of the vintage, it seems a fitting tribute.

               

Lafite came next. In mid-November it was announced that in March 2018 Saskia de Rothschild will be taking over as chairwoman of the château and Jean-Guillaume Prats of Moët Hennessy will become President and CEO. With Lafite currently the most popular wine in the world, and one of just five wines on Wine Lister to achieve a Brand score of 999 – alongside Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut, Mouton, Latour, and Yquem (no wine scores 1,000) – the duo have a formidable reputation to maintain.

Latour was the fourth-biggest gainer, its search frequency increasing 8% (4,317 searches). Whilst the increased interest in the other Médoc first growths can be attributed to a significant announcement, the reason behind Latour’s surge in popularity is less obvious. Related news is of course the acquisition by Artemis Domaines – Latour owner François Pinault’s holding company – of Burgundian Grand Cru monopole Clos de Tart.

Breaking the Bordeaux first growths’ dominance on this month’s popularity stakes was Dom Pérignon, a brand whose online popularity has soared over the second half of the year. Early in November Moët Hennessy announced the launch of Clos19, an online shop selling its prestigious brands – one of which is Dom Pérignon. Cannily introduced before the festive season, during which Champagne’s popularity surges – it seems that the region’s strongest brand has further benefited from the new platform.


Battle of the Brand scores

The latest three-month average search frequency data is in, and with it we can see which wines’ increase in popularity has boosted their Brand score. Here we focus on the five wines that saw the largest increase. All saw at least a 29-point rise in their Brand score.

Château Montviel saw the greatest increase, gaining 60 Brand points and taking its overall Wine Lister score to 523. Its average monthly search frequency of 1,085 remains its strongest criterion score, as its three-month average price (£31) and liquidity hold it back — it has failed to trade a single bottle at auction over the past year.

The second-highest increase was Campo Eliseo, whose Brand score rose 37 points to 453. Although it holds the lowest overall Wine Lister score of the group (490), it had the greatest surge in online surge frequency (+64%).

08_11_17 Oct search frequency blog image

Following a drop in its price over the last six months, Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes also saw a welcome increase in search frequency (+51%) and a subsequent Brand score increase of 33 points to 437, pushing its overall score towards the ‘Strong’ band on the overall Wine Lister scale (now just 17 points short at 583).

The fourth-highest increase, though still the with the lowest overall search frequency of the five (172 searches), is Maison Louis Jadot Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru. Currently holding Hidden Gem status, is this an early sign that this wine won’t be under the radar for much longer?

Finally, Fratelli Brovia Barolo Rocche dei Brovia saw an increase of 29 Brand points to 654, following a 45% increase in search frequency. US partner critic Antonio Galloni rates it very highly, with the result that it achieves the highest overall Wine Lister score of the group (702).

So, with an impressive 10% increase in its Brand score this month, Château Montviel is the one to watch as we move in to the winter months.


Five icons that saw searches rise in September

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.

Search data_October

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.


A sparkling end to summer

Champagne continues to find itself a popular tipple amongst summer drinkers, the latest Wine Searcher data shows. Each month we look at the last three months’ worth of search data, measured against the previous period, to see which wines have grown most in popularity. Last month’s data featured two Champagnes in the top five, and this month’s – looking at data from June to August – features three.

Search data_September 2017

For the second month in a row, Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut finds itself in first place, with an increase of 1,919 searches taking the wine to an impressive 57,000 searches on average per month. This also makes it the fifth most searched-for wine on Wine Searcher from June to August, beaten only by Bordeaux heavyweights Lafite, Mouton, Margaux, and Petrus.

The producer’s Rosé takes the second spot, although with 9,300 searches on average per month it falls some way behind the dizzy popularity of its sibling. Proving the unquenchable appeal of drinking pink Champagne in the sun, Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé makes up this month’s trio. Starting from the lowest number of average searches of the five wines, at around 1,600 per month, it jumps to 2,300 searches with the latest data update.

The breadth of regions has narrowed this month, with the remaining two wines both Cabernet-based and hailing from Napa: Harlan Estate Proprietary Red and Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. The former is one of the region’s biggest names, a self-proclaimed “First Growth” of California, costing on average £665 per bottle. Caymus Vineyards, meanwhile, averages £100 a bottle but is a favourite amongst consumers, and with an overall score of 747/1,000 shows that high quality doesn’t always come with a high price to match.

Champagne and Californian Cabernets: the drinks of the summer. You heard it here first.


Burgundy keeps on buzzing

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.

Fine wine top buzz brands

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.