Wine Lister’s founder, Ella Lister, was in Burgundy last week and gained insight into how the 2018 vintage is shaping up. Benjamin Leroux explained that Burgundy is “getting used to picking in August”. He says that grapes picked early enough in 2018 are “showing amazingly”.
With the potential of another superb vintage under Burgundian belts, this week’s top five examines the region’s best whites by Wine Lister score. Unsurprisingly, the quality of these five wines is extremely high, their brand strength is well-established (all five are Wine Lister Buzz Brands), and the prices are eye-watering (with an average per-bottle price of over £2,500).
In first place of this week’s top five with a score of 976 is Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s Montrachet. Sweeping up the top spots across all three Wine Lister score categories, Quality (978), Brand (964), and Economics (992), it is hard to fault the top white offering from arguably the world’s most famous, and exclusive, wine estate.
Next is Domaine Leflaive’s Chevalier-Montrachet. It stands out amongst this week’s top five with a market price of £547, or just 17% of the average of the remaining wines in the group. While the all-white-producing domaine earns Buzz Brand status for its Chevalier-Montrachet, its highest-scoring wine for quality is actually the Montrachet, with a Quality score of 985. Sitting 18 points above the Chevalier-Montrachet, it also comes with a much larger price tag of c.£6,500 per bottle in-bond.
Third and fourth places in this week’s top five are occupied by the same producer – Jean-François Coche-Dury. The domaine’s Corton-Charlemagne actually comes in second of the group for quality, with a Quality score of 971, just six points behind Romanée-Conti’s Montrachet.
Coche-Dury’s Meursault Perrières is very close behind, sporting a Quality score of 959. The only Meursault to feature in this week’s top five, Wine Lister partner critic Antonio Galloni names the 2009 vintage – its highest-scoring in the last 10 years – “pure seduction” and “insanely beautiful”. The Meursault Perrières does not live up to these surrounding grands crus in quality alone – it also comes at a four-figure sum per bottle (of almost £2,000 in-bond).
Finally, in fifth place is Ramonet’s Montrachet, with an overall score of 931. Despite earning this week’s least-strong Quality score of 958, it wins the number one spot for long-term ageing, with an average wine life of 19 years – seven years longer than the average of the remaining four wines of the group. A wine to lay down then, and it also has impressive long-term price performance – the second best of the group after DRC’s Montrachet, with a compound annual growth rate of 27.7%.
This week’s Listed blog will for most be an exercise in window shopping (or perhaps lèche-vitrine might be more appropriate). Not just the eye-watering prices, but also the extreme rarity of this week’s top five – just 500 bottles of d’Auvenay’s Chevalier-Montrachet are produced each year – act as bouncers stopping all but the most fortunate from entering this exclusive Burgundian showroom. Nevertheless, we can at least vicariously get as close to Chardonnay nirvana as possible with the Côte de Beaune’s five most expensive wines.
And these five really do get close to Chardonnay perfection, with a remarkable average Quality score of 975, putting them all amongst the top 15 still dry whites for Quality on Wine Lister. Perhaps reassuringly, Leflaive’s Montrachet, the Côte de Beaune’s most expensive wine, achieves the group’s best Quality score (985). 2010 was its best ever vintage, with a Quality score of 990, Jancis Robinson awarding it 19.5/20 and calling it: “[…] Not rich but gorgeous. Pale gold and obviously much fuller and deeper than Leflaive’s other grands crus. Rich yet so fresh! Nutty. Amazing concentrated fruit has already triumphed over the new oak. Very racy […]”. Interestingly, at £4,400 per bottle the 2010 is currently priced below all recent vintages other than the 2003.
Descending from the dizziest of heights, in second place is DRC’s Montrachet (£4,807). It is not just the Côte de Beaune’s overall top-scoring wine, but the best still dry white on Wine Lister (972). It is remarkably consistent across each of Wine Lister’s three rating categories, with Quality, Brand, and Economics scores of 975, 960, and 987 respectively. It is its Brand score that helps it nudge ahead in this Côte de Beaune showdown, with Coche-Dury’s Corton-Charlemagne the only one of the group to get close (924), the other three lagging c.250-290 points behind. Its brand superiority is the result of dominating both in terms of restaurant presence (visible in 26% of the world’s best establishments, comfortably above the Coche-Dury’s 19%) and online popularity (receiving 65% more searches each month than the Coche-Dury).
Whilst the Coche-Dury can’t quite match DRC’S Montrachet in the Brand or Quality categories, it does achieve the same phenomenal Economics score (987), having registered a superior three-year compound annual growth rate (25% vs 22%) and being the most-traded of the group at auction.
Lalou Bize-Leroy features twice in the list, first with d’Auvenay’s Chevalier-Montrachet (£3,368) and secondly with Domaine Leroy’s Corton-Charlemagne (£2,238). If ever there was proof of the life-altering potential of these hallowed wines, of his first taste of d’Auvenay’s Chevalier-Montrachet 1996, Wine Lister’s newest partner critic Neal Martin writes: “I took a large sip. It was like a thunderbolt hitting my senses: the tension, the complexity and intensity sent shivers down my spine. It was difficult to put down in words, yet this wine became instantly and indelibly etched onto my brain. Now I understood why oenophiles genuflected at the altar of white Burgundy”. With the d’Auvenay achieving a three-year compound annual growth rate of 45% and having added 18% to its value over the past six months alone, experiences such as Martin’s are only getting further out of reach for most.
The d’Auvenay is not alone in its soaring prices. As the chart below shows, demand for all of this week’s top five has skyrocketed over the past three years, each having added at least 62% to its value since July 2015. It seems the majority of us will have to satisfy ourselves with window-shopping for a little while longer.
Having recently confirmed Chablis as the place to look for Burgundian Value Picks, this week’s Listed blog brings the price scale up a notch to look at the top five still dry white wines under £200 per bottle by Wine Lister score. Alongside one further appearance from Chablis, the selection is pleasantly diverse.
Domaine Bonneau du Martray’s Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru takes the number one spot. With a market price of £116 per bottle, it is in fact the least expensive of the five. Brand is its strongest category with a score of 950, generated by 4,150 monthly online searches on Wine-Searcher and presence in 36 of the world’s best restaurants. Figures from Wine Market Journal also place it first for trading volumes, with 440 bottles of its top five vintages traded at auction during the last 12 months.
The second-highest scoring still dry white under £200 is Vincent Dauvissat’s Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. It has both the highest Quality score and market price of the group (952 and £151 per bottle respectively). However, Chablis once again shows a positive price to quality ratio when compared to other white Burgundian offerings with the same Quality score. In this context, Maison Louis Jadot’s Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles and Maison Joseph Drouhin’s Montrachet Grand Cru Marquis de Laguiche are 42% and 173% more expensive (at £214 and £412 per bottle respectively).
Next on the list is Riesling Clos Sainte-Hune, Trimbach’s most iconic dry white. Its Quality and Brand scores (943 and 947 respectively) outperform its Economics score (870) resulting in an overall score of 930. Clos Sainte-Hune’s tiny production level of an average 9,600 bottles per annum (five times fewer than the 48,000 bottles of Corton-Charlemagne produced by Bonneau du Martray, for example) makes it a true rarity.
Travelling further south for the still dry white in fourth place, we find Domaine Jean-Louis Chave’s Hermitage Blanc with an overall Wine Lister score of 922. Curiously, vintage Quality score variation is more at play here than any other wine of this week’s top five. The 2016 vintage of Chave’s Hermitage Blanc earns the highest vintage Quality score of the lot (993), however 307 points separate its best from its worst vintage (2002) which is also the lowest vintage Quality score of the five.
Last but not least, the fifth highest-scoring still dry white under £200 is Domaine Didier Dageneau’s Silex, with an overall score of 914 and a market price of £124 per bottle. In a regional context, Silex takes the number one spot on all fronts with the highest Quality, Brand, and Economics scores of all Loire dry whites. As the fifth and final wine of this week’s top five, it has the highest restaurant presence with a listing in 39 of the world’s best restaurants.
2015 was a phenomenal vintage for reds in Burgundy. However, parts of the Côte de Beaune were affected by frost, and the quality of 2015 whites is therefore less consistent. Below we examine the top five white Burgundy 2015s by overall Wine Lister score.
Domaine Leflaive takes two of the five top spots. Its Chevalier-Montrachet has the highest overall Wine Lister score of all white Burgundies in 2015 (963). This is thanks to a Quality score of 962 (four points higher than the wine’s average across the last fifteen vintages) and an impressive Economics score of 991.
Domaine Leflaive’s Bâtard-Montrachet comes in third place. Both wines benefit from Domaine Leflaive’s position as a superstar white Burgundy brand. Indeed, five of the 10 highest white Burgundy Brand scores are held by wines from Domaine Leflaive.
The second highest overall scorer of white Burgundy 2015 is Domaine Bonneau du Martray’s Corton-Charlemagne (958). It is both the highest Quality scorer (977, 10% above its average) and the lowest priced (£106 per bottle) of the five, presenting an interesting value opportunity. It is also to be found in 36% of the world’s top restaurants, the most prestigious count of this week’s top five.
Chablis is represented by Vincent Dauvissat’s Grand Cru Les Clos. Identified as one of only three Chablis Buzz Brands on Wine Lister, Dauvissat’s Cru Les Clos is present in 23% of the world’s top restaurants, helping it to a Brand score of 907. Its overall Wine Lister score of 938 for the 2015 vintage is completed by a Quality score of 947 and its second strongest ever Economics score of 969.
Finally, Maison Joseph Drouhin’s Montrachet Grand Cru Marquis de Laguiche has the fifth highest Wine Lister score for white Burgundy 2015s (917). Though it has the lowest global restaurant presence, it is more present than the other four wines in top restaurants in Asia.
Our most recent market study is out, this time analysing 175 of Burgundy’s finest wines. Last week’s blog gave an overview of the study’s key findings. This week we take a deeper look into one of the upward trends, exploring some of Burgundy’s best price performers.
While it is impossible to argue the position of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at the top of the Quality and Brand leaderboards, a greater mix of producers excel in long-term price performance. Lalou-Bize Leroy’s Domaine d’Auvenay is a frequent and expected feature within the top price performers, but the list is not without surprises.
Arnaud Ente, while well known by those in the trade, is a quieter name in the global wine world. What Ente lacks in brand presence he makes up for in exceptional quality. Vines, notably his enviable Meursault plots, tend to be harvested late, giving wines their signature opulence. With a Quality score of 909 and a 3-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34%, Ente’s Meursault Les Gouttes d’Or is one of the best performing whites in Burgundy and the best 5-year price performer.
The Meursault village as a whole steals the show on price performance, accounting for 6 of the top 10 wines in the Economics score-criterion. Domaine Roulot, another producer flying slightly under the radar of Burgundy’s biggest brands also demonstrates strong long-term price performance across all three of their Meursault cuvées.
Meursault is not the only white village on the up. According to our Founding Members’ survey, which accompanies the Burgundy market study, the popularity of Saint-Aubin is increasing. Whether searching for the highest quality or the best value, it seems the white vineyards of Burgundy are the places to be this year.
You can read about more Burgundy trends in the full Burgundy market study by subscribing here. Alternatively, a preview of the first 15 pages is available here.