Top ten wines viewed – by merchant location

Earlier in August, we looked at the 50 most viewed wines on Liv-ex in 2016. Lafite Rothschild topped the table, with the other First Growths and strong brands including Pontet Canet and Lynch Bages close behind. New entrants included Krug and Gruaud Larose.

On an individual wine level, the story is similar. Haut Brion 2012 has been the most viewed, though the Chateau’s next most popular vintages – 2005 and 2009 – are down in 14th and 24th place. Four Lafite Rothschild vintages appear among the top ten.

Neither Margaux nor Latour came close to reaching the table. Their most viewed, the 2005 and 2010, came in at 29th and 36th respectively.

Top ten wines viewed worldwide

Merchants in the UK showed broad interests, with seven different names represented among the most viewed. Mouton Rothschild 2006 took the top spot while the recently released Krug 2002 – the only non-Bordeaux wine to appear in any of the tables below – reached sixth place.

Two ‘perfect’ Pontet Canet vintages – 2009 and 2010 – were also in the spotlight.

Top 10 wines viewed UK

The cheapest Lafite Rothshild vintage, 2013, was the most viewed by French merchants who also showed interest in the Chateau’s 2014, due for physical release next year.

Pape Clement 2009, which was recently awarded 100-points by Robert Parker, also appeared on their radar.

Top 10 wines viewed in France

All ten of the most viewed wines by merchants in Hong Kong were First Growths or second wines. Carruades Lafite dominates, accounting for five of the top ten.

Top ten viewed wines in Hong Kong

Outside of these three countries, the most viewed wines are more diverse. Merchants in Switzerland have looked at Cristal 2007 most – and Sassicaia 2010 second. Altesino, Brunello Montalcino 2010 was most viewed in the USA. Lafite Rothschild 2013 topped the table for China; in Belgium Haut Brion 2006 came out on top.


Liv-ex 50: Performance by currency

Currency chart

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 index, which is calculated in Sterling, levelled off in July 2014 after falling from its June 2011 peak. It has seen strong upward momentum since November 2015, rising 19.9%. Yet as can be seen from the chart above, the performance of the Fine Wine 50 is very different when viewed in other currencies.

In Japanese Yen and Euro terms, the index also stabilised two years ago. In US Dollar terms, however, the Fine Wine 50 continued to fall until recently and is down 8.6% over the last two years.

When viewed in Japanese Yen, the index has fallen 19.5% since its peak in August 2015, but remains above the low it hit in August 2012. Since Brexit, the index has fallen in all currencies apart from Sterling, where the weaker currency has boosted trade with a number of wines recently registering all-time highs.

currency table


Talking Trade: 12th – 18th August

LX50

The Fine Wine 50 Index has continued to rise and closed at 314.21 on Thursday, up 0.5% on the previous week. A number of wines have registered all-time highs on the Exchange and momentum remains strong.

Bordeaux activity was, however, lower this week and trade share was back below 70%. Bordeaux trade had picked up over the first two weeks of August as Sterling weakness saw buyers focus on the region. Sterling is up around 1.6% against the dollar this week.

regional

Italy saw activity increase and was up at 7.8% from 2.9% the previous week. It was boosted by Sassicaia 2010 (AG 96) that traded at an all-time high of £1,255 per 12×75 and was in the top wines traded by volume. Champagne also saw trade by value increase. Cristal 2007 (AG 97) and Bollinger Rd 2002 (WA 96) were both in the top wines traded by value and volume. Cristal 2009 was recently released and was pitched at a similar level to the 2006 and 2007 vintages.

First Growth trade was up at 27.1%  from 19.2% last week. Lafite was the most active, representing 55% of First Growth activity. Lafite 2010 (WA 98) was in the top wines traded by value for the second consecutive week. The wine now looks to have found a bottom having fallen since release.

value

There has been a focus on older high value vintages this week. Lafite 1996 (WA 100) was in the top five wines traded by value and Haut Brion 1995 (WA 96) was in the top ten. Lafite 1996 is up 25% since November 2015. Lynch Bages 2000 (WA 97) was the top wine traded by value and volume this week and is the third highest scored vintage. Robert Parker described the wine as “one of the all-time great examples of Lynch Bages”.

volume

Pontet Canet 2011 (WA 93) was in the top five wines traded by volume again this week. It continues to be a popular wine and is one of the cheapest available physical vintages. It has outperformed the 100-point 2010 vintage since the market bottomed out in November 2015, rising 21%.


Bordeaux’s glorious Summer

With the Bordeaux 2015 campaign now behind us, thoughts are turning to the 2016 vintage. Liv-ex has once again opened up the blog to Bordeaux grower, winemaker and writer Gavin Quinney (@GavinQuinney) of Chateau Bauduc. His insider’s report on the growing conditions and progress of this year’s crop so far is below.

It’s been exceptionally dry during the holidays, with plenty of sunshine around Bordeaux. Most tourists have been on the beach, relaxing by the pool, strolling around markets or spending time in the city of Bordeaux itself. Those with an interest in wine might have visited the new Cité du Vin, which opened in June, or taken a trip out to Saint-Emilion.

Those who have ventured out into the vineyards – beyond the refreshingly cool barrel cellars – might have seen how dry the ground looks. The parched grass verges contrast starkly with the lush green rows of vines, which are, for the most part, in remarkably rude health. As you’d imagine, young vines with shallow roots on dry soils suffer when there’s no rain but, overall, the vines are coping well, especially given the heat over the French holiday this last weekend with temperatures consistently reaching 33°C or more.

Bordeaux 2016

A glance down at the bunches and you’ll see the grapes are changing colour right now. Veraison is in full flow, as you’d expect in August, with the process in some vineyards almost complete and others not too far behind. Look closer still – if you’re at a more ambitious estate – and you can see the shrivelled bunches of grapes that were snipped off at the end of July or earlier this month. The so-called green harvest, when excess bunches are dumped on the ground to encourage those that remain on the vine to ripen more fully, can be quite shocking even to this experienced vine-spotter. More green harvesting may yet follow, as veraison can reveal the bunches that are lagging behind.

Brown leaves on the ground also show the efforts that have been made to expose the grapes to the ripening sun. It might be just on one side of the rows so far, with the second ‘effeuillage’ to take place at the start of September for the final push – and to avoid potentially punishing sunburn to date on grapes that are exposed to the afternoon sun.

Bordeaux 2016 vineyard

That’s one of the remarkable things about this year. While some less fortunate regions in France will have significantly reduced crops as a result of damaging frost in late April and, in some cases, hail damage, many vineyards in Bordeaux are heading for a what appears to be a very decent crop. There’s a long, long way to go – a month for the white harvest and up to two months for the red – but the Merlot looks plentiful in many vineyards. Given that Merlot makes up two thirds of the red in Bordeaux, and that this vast region has close to 90% red, that’s an awful lot of wine.

The consistency of the flowering on the Merlot, during the first part of June, came as a pleasant surprise to many viticulteurs. This one included. Merlot is susceptible to poor fruitset if the conditions aren’t right – notably coulure and millerandage when the berries don’t form properly – and the weather was decidedly mixed this June. We had good days and we had rainy days. The weather during the last two years at the same stage during flowering, however, was dry and sunny, and this had favourably influenced the number of potential bunches this Spring. The vines seemed to have more in reserve, as if the force was with them. Unusually, the fruit set on the Cabernet Sauvignon is more mixed, and the Cabernet grapes – say, in the northern Médoc – seem to be smaller than normal. That’s just my impression, mind, and that may not be bad news, qualitatively.

The number of potential bunches and the surprisingly successful flowering of Merlot is one feature of the season so far. Another is just how little rain we’ve had in the last eight weeks compared to the months before that. Ample rain in the Spring helpfully built up the reserves in the subsoils but added to the threat of mildew above ground. Some vineyards that fell behind on their treatments fell foul of this – black rot was also a risk – and this could certainly have a bearing on the eventual crop size.

I’ve updated my table of monthly rainfall from six sub-regions over recent years to include 2016 to date. (Admittedly, we can be a bit obsessed by the amount of rain because it has so much impact in the vineyard. For one thing – and most visitors don’t realise this – irrigation is not allowed for appellation contrôlée vineyards.)

January and February 2016 were very wet (228mm and 138mm versus a 30-year Bordeaux average of 87mm and 72mm respectively) after a dry December. You can see from the table that, while April was in line with the average, March, May and June were relatively wet. And then we’ve had precious little rain – funnily enough since 23 June, a date which is memorable, for many of us, for other reasons.

In fact, we had 40mm of rain per week on average in January and February 2016. We then had 20mm per week on average in March, April, May and June up until 23 June. Since 23 June, we’ve had less than 2mm a week. It’s been a particularly dry summer so far – and by some margin the driest July and August to date I can recall this century. (Even July and August 2003 – the roasty-toasty, early harvest – saw more rain.)

Temperature wise, we had a chillier Spring than the 30-year average: 1.3˚C colder in March, 1˚C in April, May was 0.5˚C colder than the norm and June 1˚C chiller (and 2˚C cooler than 2014 or 2015). July was normal at around 21˚C average.

It is way too early to predict quality – we could do with a little refreshment, I feel, but any prolonged September rains could put a big dampener on things. It is worth noting though that the great years of 2005 and 2010 were dry in July and August. So too, however, was 2012, and that year we also had a wet Spring, as per 2016. 2012 was a good rather than great vintage, but it was a later harvest that was compromised by the threat of rot at the end. Because of the rain during the flowering in 2016, I do think there is a greater risk of botrytis at the end of the harvest if conditions go against us.

If you’re planning on visiting Bordeaux during the harvest, 2016 won’t be an early one, despite the lovely, dry summer. Some early ripening vineyards, such as in Pessac-Léognan, will start their whites early in September but expect the dry whites to mostly come in during mid-September and the reds, for the most part, in the first half of October.

If you want to see how things are progressing in the vineyards around Bordeaux, I’ll be posting plenty of images on Twitter and Instagram @GavinQuinney using #bdx16.


Pape Clement 2012: still value?

2012 PAPE

One year ago it was observed that Pape Clement 2012 offered relative value as one of the top five Bordeaux reds in Robert Parker’s in-bottle report of the 2012 vintage. He upgraded it to 97 points from a barrel range of 92-95 points and described it as “a candidate for near-perfection”.

Pape Clement 2012 is the fourth most visited wine page of the 2012 vintage on Liv-ex this year. It has seen significant activity following the improved score and has risen 17.4% from a Market Price of £511 per 12×75 in August 2015. As the table below suggests, it still offers relative value against similar rated 2012 vintages at a current Market Price of £600.

As a brand, Pape Clement has been gaining the attention of buyers and critics alike. The 2015 was awarded 95-97 points by Neal Martin and was “highly recommended”. In April this year, Parker rated the 2009 vintage 100 points in the Hedonist’s Gazette, having previously scored it 95 points. It has since risen 52.6% and last traded at £1,275. The 100-point 2010 vintage last traded at £1,460.

Top red table


 

Spotlight on… Cristal

Cristal4

Owner: The Roederer family
Vineyard area: 240 hectares
Average annual production: 300,000-400,000 bottles p/a
Colour: white
Standard blend: Pinot Noir (55%) and Chardonnay (45%)
Other wines: Cristal Rose

History

The birth of Cristal dates back to the second half of the 19th century, when the Louis Roederer champagne house in Reims turned its attention to markets beyond the French border, including Hungary, Sweden and Russia. In 1876, Alexander II of Russia sent his cellar master to La Maison Roederer and commissioned the creation of a special blend – now widely recognised as the world’s first “prestige cuvee”. Given the unstable political situation in Russia, however, the tsar called on a Flemish glass worker to design a clear bottle in order to ensure that any smuggled in bombs could be easily detected. He also requested that the bottles be flat bottomed, necessitating the use of lead crystal rather than glass (to withstand the pressure). This was the genesis of Cristal – a luxury brand owned and enjoyed by kings, princes, and more recently, rappers.

The wine was not commercially available until 1945. Since the 1990s, the champagne has been closely associated with all things hip hop – a note of contention for the house’s managing director, Frederic Rouzaud that led to the rapper “Jay-Z” boycotting the brand. Nonetheless, Cristal continues to enjoy a strong international following beyond the bounds of American hip hop and is widely considered one of the world’s greatest Champagnes.

Every bottle of Cristal is produced from the house’s own vineyards. A quarter of the blend is usually oak-fermented while the remainder is fermented in stainless steel.

Cristal 2009

Cristal 2009 is the most recent release at £549 per 6×75 (£1,098 per 12×75). Antonio Galloni awarded it 96+ points in August, praising its “remarkable depth and striking purity” and noting that it “is a superb Cristal in the making”. The 2009 is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Galloni said that the percentage of wine aged in oak is 15%, which is down slightly from previous vintages.

Market trends

Cristal 2009 has been pitched at a similar level to the 2006 and 2007 vintages. Both were awarded 97 points by Galloni. The similarly scored, 97-point 2004 last traded at £1,350 per 12×75, while the 96-point 2002 last traded at £1,850 per 12×75, perhaps reflecting the markets appreciation of the acclaimed 2002 vintage. Most of the older vintages from 2002 or earlier have increased since release as supply has diminished. The 1999 vintage, for example, traded at £920 per 12×75 in May 2005 and last traded at £1,940 per 12×75, up 111%.

Cristal 2

Out of the last ten vintages, only the 2006 is currently trading at a lower price than it was when released. The 2006 vintage only started to rise one year ago after bottoming out in 2015. It last traded at £1,030 per 12×75, up 12% from its lowest trade of £920 per 12×75 in July 2015. James Suckling awarded the 2006 vintage 97 points, Jancis Robinson gave it 18/20 and David Schildknecht of the Wine Advocate scored it 93 points.

Cristal 3


 

 

 

Talking Trade: 5th – 11th August

FW50

This week Bordeaux activity was lower with trade share picking up across the other regions. Burgundy, the Rhone and the ‘Others’ all saw an increase. Trade by value was lower, but trade by volume was up on the previous week.

The Fine Wine 50 Index continued to rise and closed at 312.58 on Thursday, up 0.9% on last week. Sterling hit its weakest level in a month against the Dollar and this continues to provide an incentive for Dollar and Euro-based buyers.

Region

Bordeaux trade was down at 74.6% but was above July’s share of 69.5%. First Growth trade was lower at 19.2% from 32.6% last week. Lafite was the most active, representing 43% of First Growth activity with Margaux second at 23%. Lafite 2010 (WA 98) was in the top wines traded by value this week.

The Rhone saw activity increase with a focus on the Guigal La Las across a number of vintages. Guigal, Cote Rotie Mouline 2005 (WA 100) and Guigal, Cote Rotie Turque 2005 (WA 100), and lower scored Guigal, Cote Rotie Mouline 2005 (WA 95) all found the bid. The ‘Others’ region was boosted by trade in Australia’s Glaetzer, Amon Ra Shiraz 2013 (WA 96) which was in the top wines traded by volume this week.

Value

Lynch Bages 2006 and Lynch Bages 2011 appeared in the top wines traded by value and both wines traded at all-time highs this week. The 2006 traded at £922 per 12×75 up 4.7% from a last trade price of £880. A number of wines have traded at all-time highs recently, including Angelus and Talbot.

Volume

Pontet Canet 2011 (WA 93) was in the top five wines traded by volume this week and is the most viewed wine on Liv-ex outside of the First Growths between January and July 2016.


 

Lafite the most viewed wine on Liv-ex; Pontet Canet climbing

Last August we examined the 50 most viewed wines on Liv-ex, based on visits to wine pages for January-July 2015. The table below shows the most viewed wines over the same period in 2016. It also shows where there have been changes in the wine trade’s interests.

The Bordeaux First Growths continue to attract the most attention. Lafite Rothschild is now in the top spot, taking it back from Mouton Rothschild which topped the table last year. Margaux and Latour have also switched places. Once again, Clarence/Bahans Haut Brion was the only second wine not to appear in the table – but it came close in 51st place, up from 69th last year.

The three wines that climbed the most are Pontet Canet, Beychevelle and Petit Mouton. Pontet Canet jumped into sixth place, making it the most viewed wine outside of the First Growths. Merchants were most interested in its 100-point 2010 vintage, which was the most viewed individual wine overall. Petit Mouton and Beychevelle have been in the spotlight recently: both have seen prices increasing since the beginning of the year, driven largely by demand from Asia.

DRC has a mixed presence within the table. While DRC, Romanee Conti is the wine that has dropped the most – down 25 places – DRC, La Tache is among the three new entrants. This comes as DRC prices have been showing signs of strengthening.

The other two new entrants to the table are Krug and Gruaud Larose. Interest in Krug has been focused around the 2002 vintage which was released at the beginning of February.

This year, the three wines that dropped out of the top 50 came from regions outside of Bordeaux: Vega Sicilia, Dom Perignon and Ornellaia.


 

July highs for Talbot

Talbot performance

Yesterday’s blog focused on two high-scoring Right Bank vintages from Angelus that traded at all-time highs in July. Another wine – this time from the Left Bank – also stood out last month with five vintages from Talbot trading at all-time highs. These were the 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2010.

Despite having a low average score (89.5 points from the Wine Advocate over the last ten vintages), Talbot has performed well on the secondary market. As the chart above shows, the index tracking its last ten physical vintages has outperformed its peer group, the Left Bank 200 index, by 13.5%.

Talbot table

In July, Talbot 2002 traded above the higher-scored 2004, 2009 and 2010 vintages. The 2002 is the lowest-scoring Talbot of the last 24 years and was described by Robert Parker as “thin, meek, austere, and shallow” and a “major disappointment”.  The 2010 is the highest-scoring Talbot since the 1986 vintage and was described by Parker as “one of the best Talbots over recent years”. The 2002 is now being offered at a Market Price of £540, above the 2010 Market Price of £511.

Talbot 10


 

Angelus 2009 and 2010 hit all-time highs

A 2009

In July, the Right Bank 100 Index hit an all-time high of 236.19. In the same period, Angelus 2009 and Angelus 2010 – which are components of the index – also traded at new highs of £2,900 and £2,802 per 12×75 respectively. The wines have been identified as “candidates that flirt with perfection” and were awarded 99+ points by Robert Parker.

Both vintages have increased significantly in recent months. The 2010 is now up 12% from its last trade price of £2,500 in April, while the 2009 has increased 8.5% from a trade price of £2,675 in June. The 2010 is now 40% above its lowest trade price of £1,989 in June 2014.

Historically the 2010 has lagged behind the 2009. It was originally rated lower with a barrel score of 94-96+ before being upgraded to 98 points by Robert Parker. The 2009 was rated 96-100 and scored 99 points in bottle. Both were upgraded to 99+ in August 2015.

In July, Angelus 2001 (WA 97) and Angelus 2004 (WA 95) also hit all-time highs. 100-point Angelus 2005, however, remained below its peak trade price of £3,700 and last traded on the Exchange at £3,450 in June.

A 2010