The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index dipped 0.5% this week, closing on 284.7. Trade by value and volume also declined, with attention instead turning to Vinexpo in Hong Kong. This also caused the pace of En Primeur releases to slow considerably. Sterling has continued to firm against the Euro.
Bordeaux accounted for 68.8% of total trade by value. This was down on last week, and below the April average of 78.4%. First Growths represented 21.1% of total trade. Mouton Rothschild and Haut Brion were the most active, representing 39% and 21% of First Growth trade respectively.
It was a good week for Champagne with the region representing 11.3% of activity. This was boosted by interest in the newly released Salon, Mesnil 2004 and Salon, Mesnil 2002 (AG 96+). Both appear in the top five wines traded by value.
Vega Sicilia, Unico 2007 (WA 95) and Opus One 2012 (WA 96) boosted the trade share of the ‘others’ category: both appeared in the top ten wines traded by value.
Pontet Canet 2011 (WA 93+) and Pape Clement 2012 (WA 97) continue to see good trade. Both fell narrowly outside of the top volume table and have seen increased activity since their respective 2015s were released. Pontet Canet 2011 is the cheapest of the recent back vintages. Pape Clement 2012 was among Parker’s top five wines of the 2012 vintage.
It has been one month since Liv-ex reported on the first flurry of 2015 Petits Chateaux releases. At that point, price increases on the previous year were sitting at around 9% in Euro terms. For Sterling buyers, this equated to increases of approximately 19%.
Since then, the increases have increased with the entrances of several bigger names. These are shown in the table below.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that interest in the campaign has been mixed. Wines such as Giscours and Pontet Canet are reported to have found buyers. In the secondary market, Pape Clement 2015 is the only new release to have seen any activity so far. Instead, buyers have been seeking value in the back vintages.
With Vinexpo Hong Kong taking the spotlight this week, the pace of En Primeur releases has slowed considerably. After this interval, the floodgates are expected to re-open. Whether the uneven success of releases so far will guide the future of the campaign is yet to be seen.
In the meantime, Liv-ex has mapped scores by a number of key critics including Neal Martin, James Suckling and Jancis Robinson. To see – geographically – where the top scores lie, click here.
Robert Parker’s retirement from tasting Bordeaux has left the market questioning what the fine wine world will look like without the promise of future 100-point wines. Parker created the 100-point rating system, and it has become the key quality indicator in the market. Parker’s scores have significant influence on price performance and an upgrade to 100 points can cause prices to rise rapidly.
The ‘Liv-ex Parker 100 Index’ has been developed to track the performance of Bordeaux Parker 100-point wines. Wines are incorporated only once they are scored or upgraded to 100 points in bottle by Parker. Likewise, wines have only been removed once they are downgraded from 100-point status.
As can be seen from the chart above, the Parker 100 Index outperformed the Fine Wine 50 Index in the run up to the China-led boom. At this early stage of the bull cycle, buyers were focussed on quality. Between 2010 and 2011, brand-focussed Asian buyers purchased First Growths regardless of quality, and the Fine Wine 50 Index shot ahead. Once the froth was removed from the market after the 2011 peak, the Parker 100 Index recovered its primary position. It has risen 5% from the recent low in August 2014.
In the last few years, post-bull market, the performance of the Fine Wine 50 Index and the Parker 100 Index have been quite closely correlated. With Parker’s retirement announced and the supply of Parker 100-point wines therefore finite, will we see them begin to outperform once again?
This month the Liv-ex bid:offer ratio touched 1.76. This is the highest level it has been since May 2010 when the market was rising strongly on the back of the China-led boom. Also this month, the total value of live bids and offers on the Exchange reached a new record of £33.4 million.
Historically, a bid:offer ratio above 0.5 tends to indicate an uptrend in the market, or at the very least acts as a sign of price stability. In the four-year downtrend from the market peak in 2011, prices stopped falling when the bid:offer ratio stabilised at, or rose above the 0.5 level. In January, the bid:offer ratio rose above 1.0 for the first time since 2010 and since then the market has rallied.
Market activity is currently subdued as the 2015 En Primeur campaign takes centre stage, and with it the bid:offer ratio has pulled back. It currently stands at 1.43. Nevertheless, this is still a high ratio historically, a positive sign amid what has so far proved to be a lukewarm En Primeur campaign. However, with the most important releases still to come there is little room for error.
Trade by value and volume was down this week, but the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index maintained its momentum. It is up 0.3% on the week at 286.1 – its highest level since early March 2014. It has been an eventful week in the market with the 2015 En Primeur campaign markedly picking up pace.
Bordeaux trade share was up on the week with the region achieving 71.5% of total trade by value. This is well above last week’s share, but still below the April average of 78.4%.
First Growth trade represented 28.4% of total trade. Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild were the most active, representing 32% and 31% of First Growth trade respectively.
It was a good week for Italy with the region representing 11.9% of trade. This was boosted by good volumes of Sassicia 2005 (AG 93) and Sassicia 2012 (AG 94+). Both were in the top five wines traded by value.
Pavie 2011 (WA 95+) was the top wine traded by value this week, above First Growths Haut Brion 2000 (WA 99) and Lafite Rothschild 2014 (WA 94-96).
The release of Pontet Canet 2015 and Lascombes 2015 this week led to a flurry of activity in back vintages – Lascombes 2009 (WA 94) and Pontet Canet 2011 (WA 93+) featured heavily. Both appeared in the top ten wines by value and volume.
Batailley 2015 was released today at €32 per bottle ex-negociant, 48.8% higher than 2014 (€21.5). It is being offered by merchants for £354 per 12×75, up 41.6% on the 2014 release of £250. This makes the 2015 more expensive than any of the recent back vintages.
Volumes offered are reported to be down 30% on last year’s release due to the introduction of second wine, Lions de Batailley.
Neal Martin scored the wine 93-95 and noted it was “very composed” with a “structured finish.” He expected it to settle at the top of his banded score once in bottle.
For buyers looking for value, the 94-point 2009 is available for £297, and the 92-point 2012 is available in the market for £221.
Lagrange 2015 (Saint Julien) has been released at €28.8 per bottle ex-negociant, up 20% on the 2014 release price of €24. It is being offered by the international trade at £305 per 12×75. This is 27% higher than the open price of the 2014 which was first offered at £240.
Neal Martin noted its “tightly-knit bouquet”, adding that it is “not as intense as either the 2009 or 2010, although it is harmonious and graceful”.
As the chart above demonstrates, the 2015 is less expensive compared to some of the similarly scored back vintages. It is being offered below the 90+ point 2009 and is 5% below the price of the 91 point 2006.
Giscours 2015 was released today for €36 per bottle ex-negociant, up 30.4% on the 2014 (€27.6). For London buyers, its release of £390 per 12×75 makes it 44% more expensive than the 2014’s release of £270.
Critics were almost unanimous in their praise of Giscours 2015. Neal Martin awarded it an in-barrel score of 94-96 and said he would wager that “2015 will be the best since the 1961.” James Suckling did not look back as far, but stated that it was “clearly the best Giscours since 1970 and 1975”, scoring it 96-97.
The 2015’s average critic score of 94.5 is the highest of all back vintages in the table above. At £390, it is also less expensive than the 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010. As Neal Martin suggests, perhaps now is the “time to fall back in love with this great Margaux property.”
Duhart Milon 2015 was released today at €48 per bottle ex-negociant, 14.3% higher than 2014 (€42). It is being offered by merchants for £500 per 12×75, up 17.6% on the 2014 release of £425.
Neal Martin scored the wine 90-92 and called it “a fine Duhart Milon that is more compromising than the tannic ‘beasts’ of yesteryear”, although he also acknowledged that he would like to “see more personality come through by the time of bottling.”
For those who cannot wait that long, the 96-point 2010 is available for 20% more at £600, and the 94-point 2008 is in the market for a fraction more than the 2015 at £520.
Climens 2015 continued the day’s releases at €48.5 p/b ex-negociant, up 10.7% on 2014 (€43.8). It is being offered by merchants for £515 per 12×75, up 21% on the 2014 ex-London open price.
The 2015 is more expensive than several back vintages but appears to have quality to match. Neal Martin scored it 96-98, praising aromas that “included acacia honey, grapefruit and a little frangipane,” and observing that it is “destined to be a great Climens”. Those seeking a great Climens with a little longer in bottle – and at the same price as the new release – may look to the 2009, which in Martin’s eyes is also “destined to be a top tier Climens.”