Talking Trade: 23rd – 29th September

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Market activity picked up this week, increasing by both value and volume. The Fine Wine 50 closed at 321.28, firming 0.8%. The index is now at its highest level since the beginning of May 2013.

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Bordeaux activity was lower with the region taking 66.6% share of trade. Last week the region saw strong activity and a number of wines traded at all-time highs. First Growths were less active, representing just 16.3% of trade. Lafite Rothschild was the most active, and Lafite Rothschild 2005 (WA 96) the top wine traded by value.

It was a strong week for Champagne with its share of trade up at 12.4%. Bollinger, Grand Annee 2005, Bollinger, Special Cuvee NV (WA 91) and Taittinger, Comtes Champagne 2006 were all in the top wines traded by volume. The Champagne market has improved recently as the Cellar Watch September Market Report recently explored in detail. The Liv-ex Champagne 50 index has hit fresh highs in three consecutive months, climbing 5.6% since May. This is more than it moved in the three years between May 2013 and May 2016.

The ‘Others’ region also saw activity pick up. Wines from the USA were popular with Dominus 2008 (WA 99), 2009 (WA 97) and 2012 (98+) all trading this week. Liv-ex also saw its first ever trade for Chinese wine with Ao Yun 2013 trading between £1,410 and £1,600 per 6×75.

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Second and third wines were active this week. Second wine of Sassicaia, San Guido, Guidalberto 2013 (AG 92) was the top wine traded by volume, while the third wine of Calon Segur, Chapelle Calon 2010 was second. This has been a growing trend with buyers increasingly looking for brand names at accessible price points.

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Liv-ex trades Chinese wine for the first time

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Liv-ex saw its first ever trade for Chinese wine on Wednesday, when a 6×75 case of Ao Yun 2013 traded. It then saw a further flurry of activity on the market, with trades ranging between £1,410 and £1,600 per 6×75.

Ao Yun is owned by LVMH and managed by Jean-Guillaume Prats (formerly of Cos d’Estournel). The 2013 is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc.

James Suckling noted the wine’s “beautiful structure and depth”, adding: “This is a wine that really impresses with all the finesse and quality of tannins.”

Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy, Champagne and the Rhone are the major regional groups of fine wines that regularly see secondary market activity. However, the secondary market for fine wine has been broadening. In August, Liv-ex saw its first ever trade for English wine when one 6×75 case of Nyetimber, Classic Cuvee, 2010 traded on the Exchange.

Wines from around the world do regularly trade on the Exchange. This year the fine wine market has seen activity from New Zealand, Lebanon and Chile, among others. As shown in the chart below, this group – the ‘rest of the world’ – has seen increased market share in recent years.

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The Drinks Business – the case for efficiency

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The September issue of The Drinks Business includes an article called “The case for efficiency”. It argues: “Technology is revolutionising the logistics behind the sale of fine wines, with Liv-ex leading the way forward”. A copy of the article can be found online here.

The article highlights the laborious nature and the potential risks involved when moving fine wine within and between warehouses – an issue that is becoming more pertinent as the market becomes increasingly global. However, by taking advantage of technological advancements, Liv-ex and the industry as a whole is becoming better prepared to deal with these challenges.

Liv-ex Managing Director James Miles explains that in order to make fine wine trading more “transparent, efficient and safe”, it has been necessary to “transform a traditionally risky and slow process into one that’s instant”. Liv-ex’s introduction of SIB (Standard in Bond) Passports, LWIN and Vine warehouse services is helping to make this a reality.

Read the full article online here.

For another example of how LWIN has helped transform operations at LCB Vinothèque you can read our case study here.


Grand Puy Lacoste 2009 hits all-time high

Grand Puy Lacoste 2009

Grand Puy Lacoste 2009 hit an all-time high today when it traded at £600 per 12×75. This is an increase of 25% on its trade price of £480 at the beginning of 2016.

Despite this climb, the wine is still trading at a small discount to the Chateau’s equally scored 2010 vintage which last saw activity on the market at £620.

Robert Parker described the 2009 as, “very concentrated as well as velvety-textured, it is a beauty of finesse, balance, purity and nobility.” He awarded it 95 points.

Several other Grand Puy Lacoste vintages have also hit new highs this year. These include the 2007 (RP 89-91) at £315 and the 2006 (RP 94) at £425 – both in September. In August, the 92-point 2005 reached £760.


Talking Trade: 16th – 22nd September

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The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 continued to firm and closed at 318.82 on Thursday, up 0.3% on the previous week. It is now at its highest level since May 2013. Market activity improved with value and volume up on last week. Bordeaux activity was brisk with the region taking a 77.8% share of trade.

This week Latour 2007, Yquem 2014, Haut Brion 2006 and Mission Haut Brion 1999 were released ex-Chateau. None saw trade in the secondary market.

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First Growths were more active, led by Lafite 2013 (WA 87-89) – the top wine traded by value. Haut Brion 2012 (WA 98) was also in the top wines traded by value and hit a fresh high of £3,092 per 12×75. It continues to be a popular wine and was heralded as “one of the stars of the vintage” by Robert Parker.

It was a strong week for Italy with its share of trade up at 8.1%. Tignanello 2013 and Sassicaia 2013 (WA 97) both saw good volume on the Exchange. Sassicaia 2013 traded at an all-time high of £1,100.

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Pape Clement 2012 (WA 97) has seen a flurry of activity since the beginning of the month. It was the second wine traded by volume and hit a fresh high of £728. Robert Parker said it is “a truly great wine and not far off their magnificent 2005 and 2010.” The 2005 was awarded 99 points and the 2010 was awarded a perfect 100-point score.

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Bordeaux 2016 – refreshment at last

Five weeks ago, Bordeaux grower, winemaker and writer Gavin Quinney (@GavinQuinney) of Chateau Bauduc wrote a report on the progress of the 2016 vintage. Liv-ex has once again opened up the blog to Gavin. His insider’s report on how things are shaping up for the harvest is below. 

It’s five weeks since my mid-August report on ‘Bordeaux 2016’s glorious Summer’, so here’s an update on how things are shaping up for the harvest. The white harvest is well under way as we await the Merlots and Cabernets.

The ‘glorious summer’ continued, in fact, for four more weeks until the night of 13th September. It had proved to be exceptionally dry. For the 12 weeks from 23rd June (that infamous date seems a long time ago now), many areas of Bordeaux saw ten times less rainfall than the 30-year average: St-Emilion, Sauternes, Margaux and parts of the Entre-Deux-Mers had around just 14mm compared to the average of 140mm. Even Blaye, which registered more rain than most, had only 30mm in those 12 weeks – less than a quarter of the norm. It was also hot for long stretches, but as you can see from the chart below, the night-time temperatures were not unbearably warm, and the switch between cooler nights and daytime heat was beneficial for the vines.

The lengthy drought ended with a bang last Tuesday evening, with a thunderous storm that had worryingly come with a hail warning. A few hailstones caused a few anxious moments as they tapped on the windows but mercifully there was nothing more serious than that. The vineyards did, though, get a proper dousing, and not before time. The figures in my temperature and rainfall graph below refer to my local weather station. St-Emilion and the far north of the Médoc had a bit less with 32mm, while Margaux, St-Estèphe and Léognan had 47-51mm on the Tuesday and the Wednesday.

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Lafite Rothschild - Cabernet Sauvignon on the left, Merlot on the right
Lafite Rothschild – Cabernet Sauvignon on the left, Merlot on the right
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Chateau Bauduc before the storm

The night of the 13th also seemed to usher in the Autumn, with cooler daytime temperatures and noticeably chillier mornings. It feels that we’ve now entered the third and final stage of this year’s growing season. Spring was wet and relatively cold, Summer was very dry and comfortably hot, and now the build up to the Autumn harvest, and the harvest itself, will be dry, sunny and fresh – with any luck, of course. The forecast, at least, seems fine for the moment, and that rain might just be the refreshment that the vines called out for.

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Chateau Bauduc
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Saint-Emilion

Much depends on the subsoils and how the root systems coped with the lack of any summer rain – see the table below for a comparison of recent vintages. Many better-placed vines look in a remarkably good state, while younger plants on more porous or drier ground have undoubtedly suffered. It would though, I think, be a mistake to assume it’s just a case of the top appellations versus the rest: some parcels or rows in, say, Pomerol and Margaux look markedly parched, while others in the (less expensive) Côtes look as fresh as a daisy. And vice versa.

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The red vines do need some water stress in Summer to produce the best fruit but the roots need access to just enough moisture. Fortunately the wet Spring put enough in reserve for many estates.

As with last year, the argilo-calcaire (clay-limestone) terroirs of St-Emilion (pictured), for example, appear to be in rude health despite the drought. (Last year though there was rain in August.) On the Left Bank certain plots of the Haut-Médoc and its famous appellations within its borders (see Lafite, pictured) have also coped really well, while others had vines that were noticeably flagging – at least until last week’s rain. Yields have been affected by the drought but there are plenty of heavily laden bunches, especially on the Merlot. The overall crop size should be good, thanks to excellent flowering on the Merlot which makes up two thirds of the red in Bordeaux (and nearly 90% of the vineyards are red). That’s the third good production in a row following on from the poor yield of 2013.

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Chateau Bauduc

It will be fascinating to see how the prolonged stress will have stamped its character on the vineyard sites and the resulting wines. Much will depend on the run-in for the reds, both with the weather and the decision making over harvest dates. After tasting red grapes from around the region, I’d suggest there’s no rush. The rain may have caused a little dilution but given a few weeks of dry, sunny weather, the prospects are exciting if the weather holds.

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Chateau Bauduc

The dry whites have been and are currently being picked in the Graves and Pessac-Léognan (the first grapes were harvested at the beginning of the month) and now also in the Entre-Deux-Mers (pictured). These recent chilly mornings have been terrific for the Sauvignons and Semillons. Meanwhile, some of the larger ‘caves’ or co-ops have finished their whites already. ‘They want to make a safe wine like one from Gascony’, said one dismissive neighbour, a former head of the Entre-Deux-Mers syndicate. He started his whites today.

Given that we haven’t seen a growing season quite like this, I suspect there’ll be a few debates about what and when to pick. And that’s even before consulting the weather forecast.

If you want to see how the Bordeaux harvest progresses, I’ll be posting plenty of images on Twitter and Instagram @GavinQuinney using #bdx16.


 

Spotlight on… Canon

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Owner: Wertheimer Family (owners of luxury brand Chanel)
Appellation: Saint Emilion
Classification: Premier Grand Cru Classe B
Vineyard area: 34 hectares
Average annual production: 7,500 cases (Grand vin Chateau Canon), 6,000 cases (Croix Canon)
Colour: Red
Standard blend: 72% Merlot / 28% Cabernet Franc (2015)
Second wine: Croix Canon (known as Clos Canon until 2011)

History

Canon started out as part of the Clos St Martin vineyard in the eighteenth century. It was purchased in 1720 by Jacques Kanon who expanded the vineyard and built the original chateau. Kanon sold the estate in 1770 to Raymond Fontemoing, a leading Libournais negociant who improved and established the wine. In 1853 the estate was given the name Chateau Canon. It was sold by the Fontemoing family in 1857.

In 1919 the property was purchased by Gabriel Supau as a gift for his daughter and her husband Andre Fournier. The Fournier family invested in modernising the estate and vineyard. It remained under their ownership until 1996 when the Wertheimer Family (owners of luxury brand Chanel) bought the property.

Chateau Canon was managed by John Kolasa until 2015 and his team are responsible for much of the recent progress in wine production. In 2014, Nicolas Audebert – former winemaker at Cheval des Andes (an LVMH owned property in Argentina) – was hired to replace John Kolasa on retirement.

There is some contention over the origin of the Chateau Canon name. One theory is that “Canon” is the phonetic spelling of Jacques Kanon’s surname. The Fontemoing family, however, owned a second property in Fronsac named Chateau Canon. There is also speculation that the name was adopted by the Fontemoing’s to sell both wines under one brand name.

Acclaimed vintages

Canon did not receive significant attention until the release of the highly rated 2015 vintage. Neal Martin awarded the wine 98-100 points and James Suckling gave it a straight 100 points. It is the first Canon vintage to achieve a perfect score. Suckling said it was the greatest red ever produced by the chateau, adding that it was “even better than the great wines of the 1950s and 1960s.” Martin said that after a bad run of vintages in the 1990s, the 2015 “marks the opening of a new chapter for the revitalized estate”. He sees Canon as a potential Premier Grand Cru Classe A wine.

The 2015 sold through on release and is now offered at a Market Price of £1,274 per 12×75, up 70% on its original UK merchant offer price. Liv-ex members ranked it as their joint third favourite ‘value’ wine in the Liv-ex Bordeaux 2015 Members’ Survey.

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Vintage prices

The last ten physical vintages have risen by 20.3% on average over the last 12 months and buyers have tended to focus on value. The 90-point 2007 has risen the most over the period, up 56.7%. It was the cheapest physical vintage available one year ago, 16% less than its identically scored 90-point 2008 sibling. The 94-point 2009 vintage is the worst performing physical vintage, having fallen 1.2% over the past year. It was the most expensive vintage in August 2015.

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High scoring vintages

Before the release of the 2015 vintage, the 1959 had received the highest score from the Wine Advocate. It was rated 95 points by Robert Parker who said the wine had “superb richness” and was “a magnificent example of Canon”. The 2011 and 2009 are the joint third highest scoring physical vintages, while the 2014 – still in barrel – was awarded a range of 93-95 points by Neal Martin. He said it was an “outstanding” example of the Bordeaux 2014 vintage with a “pure and ‘classic’ finish.” Its Market Price is £497.


 

Latour 2007 released at Market Price

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The anticipated ex-Chateaux release of Latour 2007 was announced this morning. Latour 2007 was released ex-negociant at €355 per bottle. It is being offered by merchants for £4,100 per 12×75. This is the same level as the Market Price – the level at which it is currently available on the secondary market.

Latour released 3,000 cases of the 2007 vintage.

As the chart above shows, it is the lowest scoring Latour this century. It is available at a similar level as the 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 vintages. All carry a higher score from the Wine Advocate.

In August, Neal Martin awarded the 2007 vintage 92 points and said it is finally entering its “drinking plateau” as it approaches ten years of age. He described it as a “fine Latour from an underrated vintage.” Robert Parker scored the wine 92+ and said it was “undoubtedly one of the longest lived wines of the vintage.” James Suckling said the 2007 “lacks a little in the finish” and gave it 91 points.


 

Yquem 2014 released at £2,850

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Yquem 2014 was released at €250 per bottle ex-negociant this morning, the same price as the 2013 vintage. It is being offered in the UK market at £2,850 per 12×75, an 18.8% increase on the 2013 as a result of the fall in Sterling.

It is the highest scoring vintage since the perfect 100-point 2009. Neal Martin awarded it 96-98 points and said, “it’s not quite up there in the rarefied heights of say, the 2001 or 2009, but it is what we call in the trade, ‘the business’.” James Suckling said the wine had “brightness” and “fabulous depth of fruit”. He gave it 97-98 points.

Buyers looking for value may be tempted by some of the back vintages. The 97-point 2005 is available at a Market Price of £1,990 and the 98-point 2007 is available at £2,100.


 

Talking Trade: 9th – 15th September

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Market activity was slower with trade by value and volume down on the previous week. The Liv-Ex Fine Wine 50 was firmer, up 0.3% and is now at its highest level since June 2013. This week Solaia 2013 and Sena 2014 were released on La Place de Bordeaux.

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Bordeaux activity was down on week at 68.9%. First Growth trade was also lower. Latour was the most active, led by Latour 2009 (WA 100) and Latour 2001 (WA 95).

It was a strong week for Burgundy with high value DRC 2012s finding the bid. Trade for Champagne and the Rhone was also stronger. Krug, Clos Mesnil 1998 (AG 96) and Louis Roederer, Cristal 2007 (AG 97) saw good activity. Guigal, Cote Rotie Landonne 2007 (WA 97) and Janasse, Chateauneuf Du Pape Vv 2004 (WA 95) were the most active wines traded by volume from the Rhone.

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Lynch Bages 2000 (WA 97) was in the top five wines traded by value this week. A number of Lynch Bages vintages traded at all-time highs in August and September. The 2006 (WA 93) traded at £925 per 12×75 this week, up 21% from the beginning of 2016.

Figeac 2007 (WA 85) and Yquem 2003 (WA 94) were active this week. Both featured in the top five wines by value and volume.

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