Spotlight on… Cristal


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


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




Cristal 2009 released: worth the wait?

Cristal 2009

Cristal 2009 has recently been offered by merchants at £549 per 6×75 (£1,098 per 12×75). The wine is currently available pre-release. As such, there are no recent tasting notes available from leading critics. However back in 2010 Antonio Galloni awarded it 94-96, praising its “superb length and exceptional overall balance” and noting that it “literally shimmers on the palate”.

In November, Liv-ex posted analysis on releases from Champagne houses Taittinger and Dom Perignon. It showed that the most recently released three or four vintages from each house were available at similar levels. Older vintages – those from 2002 or earlier – commanded higher prices. They had appreciated in value as supplies began to diminish.

A similar trend is shown by Cristal vintages in the chart above. At £1,098 per 12×75, Cristal 2009 is pitched at a very similar level to the next most recent releases of the label, 2006 and 2007. Its older siblings have all gained value since release. The 1999 – a decade older than the house’s newest vintage – traded at £920 per 12×75 in May 2005. It last traded at £1,960 per 12×75, a 113% increase. As with Dom Perignon and Taittinger, therefore, those seeking Champagne for the years ahead may see value in buying early.

New highs in 2015: Champagne, Burgundy, Rest of the World


While the Bordeaux market has been treading water this year – the Bordeaux 500 is down 0.9% year to date as of the end of November – three sub-indices of the Liv-ex 1000 reached all-time highs in 2015.

In January, the Champagne 50 climbed to a record 276.89, although it has drifted 3.2% since then. Its trade share more than doubled on 2014: it accounts for 6.5% of activity by value in 2015 compared to 2.8% in the previous year.

The Rest of the World 50 reached its highest point in February, when it closed on 220.98. As theNovember Cellar Watch Market Report highlighted, the index has been boosted by strong performances from the USA’s Dominus and Opus One. Activity for wines from “other” regions, including the USA, Australia, Spain and others continues to increase, with the group accounting for 4.4% of trade by value this year, compared to 2.3% in 2014.

The highest level for the Burgundy 150 was recorded at the end of October, when it increased to 303.77. Unlike the other two regional groups, Burgundy’s share of trade on the market has dropped this year: it is down to 5.9% from 6.4% last year. With prices climbing, we asked: how high is too high?

Liv-ex releases the 2015 Power 100

In conjunction with The Drinks Business, Liv-ex has released the tenth edition of the Liv-ex Power 100 – the annual list of the most powerful brands in the fine wine market.

The Drinks Business’s full report on this year’s Power 100 has been published in the magazine’s December edition.

Key findings this year:

  • Mouton Rothschild took the top spot in the 2015 table, following two years when the Bordeaux First Growths conceded first place to other wines. With good scores across all four categories, it was boosted by the value and volume of trade it saw on Liv-ex.
  • All Bordeaux First Growths, apart from Latour, rose up the table this year, with Mouton Rothschild, Haut Brion and Margaux seeing positive year-on-year price movements.
  • The highest new entrants this year were from Burgundy: the wines of Coche Dury entered the table at number 18, and Lambrays at number 59.
  • Sassicaia was the most traded wine by volume, and the only wine from outside Bordeaux to fall among the top ten wines traded by value.
  • California continues to be a rising star, with two wines from Napa Valley seeing the best year-on-year price performance: Scarecrow and Screaming Eagle. They rose 19.9% and 15.1% respectively, with Scarecrow making its debut in the list at number 83.
  • Angelus and Pavie continue to see the benefits of the 2012 St Emilion Re-Classification, coming in 4th and 5th
  • Buyer diversification continues, with the variety of wines and vintages traded wider than ever before. 166 wines qualified for the ranking this year: an increase of 10% on 2014.

To calculate the scores, we took a list of all wines that traded on Liv-ex in the last year (1stSeptember 2014 – 31st August 2015) and grouped these by brand. We then identified brands that had traded a minimum of three wines or vintages and a total trade value of at least £10,000. Brands were ranked using four criteria: year on year price performance, trading performance on Liv-ex (value and volume traded), the number of different wines and vintages traded, and average price.

The main change we made to this year’s methodology is that we removed scores. With so many wines trading – and from so many different regions – it was becoming impossible to include scores on a like-for-like basis, and the number of critics we had to include was increasing. To keep the consistency of the ranking we removed them.

The individual rankings were then combined with a weighting of 1 for each criteria, except trading performance which had a weighting of 1.5 (as it combined two criteria: value and volume traded). The final 100 brands accounted for over 1,750 unique wines/vintages traded in the past year.

Below are the results in full for the 2015 Liv-ex Power 100. For the purpose of comparing against 2014 on a like-for-like basis, we have recalculated 2014’s ranking incorporating the new methodology.

Liv-ex 2015 Power 100

An abundance of fizz


Champagne has seen good activity in 2015, taking 6.1% of the year’s trade so far: up from 2.8% in 2014. This has largely been due to a string of releases, including Dom Perigonon 2006, Pol Roger 2004 and Cristal 2007. In July this year Antonio Galloni called the last of these “without question one of the very finest releases of the year” and awarded it 97+.

As we explored in a recent Cellar Watch Market Report, Champagne is typically produced in large quantities, and prices plateau when it enters the market. As shown in the chart above, they then rise after several years as the wine is drunk and becomes scarce. With this in mind, Cristal 2007 – with a high score and Market Price of £1,040, cheaper than all other vintages – may well look interesting to Champagne lovers.

In the balance

Regional trade shares

In 2010, as the fine wine bull market neared its peak, Bordeaux accounted for 95.7% of trade by value on Liv-ex. It was the year of the 2009 En Primeur release, and that vintage alone accounted for 13.2% of trade. Other regions barely registered: Champagne, the second strongest, took just 1.2%.

Bordeaux trade has been in steady decline since then. Pushed out by unsustainably high prices, buyers sought value from other regions. The market shares of regions beyond Bordeaux have grown substantially since 2010, with Champagne, Italy and the Rest of the World particularly leaping ahead in 2015 to so far account for 6.1%, 6.9% and 4.6% respectively.

As shown above, Bordeaux’s current market share of 74.2% is now back to 2004 levels, before the bull market began. There is little doubt that the emergence of mainland Chinese demand led to a bubble in Bordeaux prices. When viewed purely in terms of market share, one could say that bubble is now well and truly behind us. Buyers have broadened their interests – and the market looks more balanced.

Champagne becomes third most traded region


In August Italian wines became the second most traded regional group so far in 2015. Burgundy, which had been holding this position since 2011, was pushed into third place. This was largely due to high activity for Super Tuscans, and the flurry of trade for the 2010 Brunello di Montalcino vintage earlier in the year.

Champagne has also been pushing ahead, and in September joined Italy in overtaking Burgundy. So far this year, Champagne’s average monthly share of trade has been 6.6% – more than double its share in 2014 – compared to Burgundy’s 6.2%.

As the chart above shows, Burgundy benefited the most as the market for Bordeaux began to roll over in 2011: between 2011 and 2013, its trade share increased from 2.6% to 7.0%. The Burgundy 150 – the best performing sub-index of the Liv-ex 1000 over the past five years – has been looking strong. However, when looking at trade share, other regions are now moving into the spotlight: while Burgundy has drifted, Italy, Champagne and ‘Others’, which includes trade for areas such as the USA and Australia, have gained ground.

Champagne’s boost can be explained in part by the high volume of its wine available in the market after several consecutive vintages have been declared by major houses. 71 different Champagne labels have traded so far this year. Wines including Cristal 2006 and 2007, and Taittinger 2005 and 2006 have been amongst the most active.

Champagne releases: a little patience


Recent weeks have seen a number of key releases from Champagne, including the releases of the 2006 vintage from both Dom Perignon and Taittinger at £920 and £800 per 12×75 respectively.

As the chart above shows, the 2006 has come to market at a similar level as recent vintages which have yet to appreciate in value on the secondary market. With consecutive vintages declared, these wines are still showing ample supply.

Once supply begins to diminish, prices rise: signs of appreciation are visible amongst vintages earlier than and including the 2000. Taittinger 1996, which has the highest market price of the wines shown above, has a first recorded Market Price of £630 per 12×75 (in June 2003). With a current value of £1,896, it has gained 200% since.

With a number of vintages declared back-to-back, an abundance of stock has been released into the market – and according to critic scores, the quality has not declined. The 2004 from both houses in particular – with comparative scores and several years in bottle – appear to offer relative value. Perhaps this represents an opportunity for those willing to wait.

Talking trade: 18th-24th September

Liv-ex 50

As the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index once again ran flat, First Growth trade share fell to 27%. Following on from two weeks of rest of the world releases from La Place in Bordeaux, Yquem 2013 came out at £2,400 on Monday. No trade has yet been recorded in the secondary market. 


Despite the First Growths’ overall low share of trade, Bordeaux trade rose above 80% for the first time in four months, with Montrose 2010 topping the value table. Meanwhile, all eyes were on the Bordeaux 2015 harvest – despite recent showers, will this turn out to be a great vintage

Share of trade_val

Beyond Bordeaux, Champagne was the most traded region. Dom Perignon 2005 – released earlier this year, and scored 95 points from Antonio Galloni – saw good activity ahead of the imminent release of the 2006. 

Share of trade_vol


Talking Trade: 21st – 27th August


Both the Liv-ex 50 and Bordeaux trade picked up this week, with the former rising 0.5% and the latter accounting for almost three quarters of all trade, following last week’s low of 52.3%. As merchants and consumers alike began to drift back after the summer break, trade rose 14% by value and 18% by volume. 


Bordeaux also dominated the most traded by value table. Two 100 point wines took first and second place this week, although vastly separated by price: at the one end was high-value Petrus 2000, and at the other Pontet Canet 2010, the cheapest 100 point Bordeaux available. Despite being knocked off the top spot by Mouton as Liv-ex’s most searched-for wine, Lafite still managed to have two vintages feature amongst the most traded this week, with the 2010 now trading at 10% below its ex-Chateau release price. Meanwhile, Parker’s Angelus and Pavie mini verticals are due later today – although neither was amongst the most traded, bid/offer exposure levels for the wines have risen.


Beyond Bordeaux, Italy continued to see high levels of activity, taking 10.4% of all trade by value and accounting for the three most traded wines by volume this week. San Guido Difese (the third wine of Sassicaia) 2013 and 2011 traded in large numbers, while buyers also opted for the 95 point (Antonio Galloni) Tignanello 2011.

Champagne continued to take an above-average share of trade with 7.3% by value. Salon Mesnil 1999 in particular found the bid, accounting for 2.6% of total trade.