Which regions have traded most in 2016?


In 2011, prices for Bordeaux were at an hit all-time high. The region also almost completely dominated the fine wine market, accounting for nearly 95% of trade by value. In the years that followed, its prices and share of the market both dropped.

Five years on and prices for top Bordeaux have climbed – the Bordeaux 500 index is up 21.8% year to date – but its market share is largely unchanged from last year at 74.4% as trading remains broad.

Burgundy bounced back as the second most traded regional group this year, after slipping behind Italy in 2015. It took 7.7% of the market by value, compared to Italy’s 6.0%. In third place, Champagne has taken 5.3% – down a touch on last year, but well above its 2.8% share in 2014.

Market share for the ‘Rest of the World’ held steady at 4.7%. Although the USA was the biggest player here, activity broadened to include trade for English and Chinese wines for the first time. Other regions trading this year include New Zealand, Lebanon, South Africa and Argentina.

Liv-ex trades Chinese wine for the first time


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.



Liv-ex interviews David Pearson of Opus One

David Pearson, Opus One CEO

Since 2004 David Pearson has acted as CEO of Opus One, the iconic Californian estate founded as a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Liv-ex recently caught up with Pearson to discuss his experience in the wine industry and with Opus, the distribution and market for his wines, the recently released 2013 vintage and his views on the role of Liv-ex.     

What triggered your interest in the wine industry – and what led you to Opus One? 

In the summer of 1980 during summer travels through Europe, I met a most genial French Burgundian winemaker, Armand Cottin.  When he later came to visit me at UC Davis, he told me that when I finished my degree in enology, he would invite me to come to France to learn French winemaking.  He was good to his word; I began to learn about French winemaking.  But from M. Cottin I learned mostly about the warmth and conviviality of our industry.  My road to Opus One surely was a result of the fortunate chain of events whereby through the years I worked for both Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi Winery.  Ironically, I worked for Rothschild out of New York and for Robert Mondavi based primarily in France.

What major changes have been made since your appointment to Opus in 2004?

Everything at Opus One has evolved and changed, while we have at the same time stayed true to the original vision of our founders, Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi.  We began a major replant program for our vineyards and implemented new farming practices – irrigation techniques, pruning and canopy management – while bringing new technology into the cellar – optical sorting, use of indigenous yeast cultures.  Our marketing strategy has blossomed as we began to focus on the international markets.

How have production methods changed over the past ten years? How does the quality of the wine produced now compare to the Opus of the 90s? 

We have focused on each Opus One vintage working to authentically express place and time.  Greater attention to detail in the vineyards with regard to the timing and precision of our work coupled with changes in our pruning and irrigation practices have produced earlier ripening fruit at higher quality.  Opus One wines today share the same profile and character of those of the ‘90’s, while having greater concentration.

Do you have a favourite Opus One vintage? 

No, and yes…  We always say that we love all of our children; and I do love all of the vintages of Opus One.  Yet, I can’t help but admitting to have a special feeling for the more recent vintages.  I do believe that we are making some of the finest Opus One wines these days.  And yet, I have had unforgettable experiences with the older vintages, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1996 and even the 1998 from a very challenging year.

Prices for top Californian wines have been skyrocketing over the past decade. Which factors do you believe have contributed to this? 

Quality and demand.  I am aware through my travels around the world that there is a great recognition and appreciation for the quality of the wines of California and Napa.

Do you think that pricing at the current level is sustainable?

Yes, because it is based on the market’s and consumers’ true assessment of quality.

Do you think people are buying Opus One for speculative reasons?

No, not too much.  It is clear that our older vintages have been appreciating nicely in value over the past years.  But I am particularly pleased that people are drinking and enjoying Opus One.

Opus One 2013 has been recently released. There has been considerable excitement about the quality of the vintage overall. How is Opus showing?

The 2013 Opus One has all the hallmark characteristics of a great vintage: complex and attractive character, great concentration, integration and length.  The 2013 Opus One can be enjoyed now, but looks to be able to age beautifully for a very long time.

How was the price of the 2013 determined?

We take many factors into consideration.  But most importantly we look closely at current market conditions all around the world.  Exchange rate variations have played a significant factor in our eventual market pricing over the past few years.

Who do you position Opus against? Mainly Californian producers, or premium producers globally?

We honestly do not position Opus One against any particular set of wines, Californian or global.

You were pioneering in your decision to distribute via the La Place de Bordeaux. What inspired this decision, and what are the advantages of it?

Baron Philippe de Rothschild, of course, understood the potential value of La Place de Bordeaux to Opus One and drove the decision for Opus One to make the move.  The Negociants of La Place give us a broader visibility in markets around the world.  The result is a more truly market demand driven distribution of our wine.

Opus historically had a strong following in Japan. Have your key international markets changed since moving to La Place?

Japan remains a wonderful market for Opus One.  We have so many very close friends in Japan.  However we have also increased our presence around the world.  Today we are in more than 90 countries.

What are your key strategies in promoting Opus One around the world?

It is very simple: we travel to the markets and tell the story of Opus One.  We share the passion, pride and joy that our founders felt – and today we feel – for Opus One.  Also we invite our friends to come visit us at Opus One.  The wines do the rest.

From the perspective of a producer, what is your view on the role of Liv-ex, the fine wine market?

Intelligent markets are good markets.  Informed markets create sophisticated buyers who make purchase decisions based on real and relevant data.  Markets can only be intelligent with good access to reliable information.  Liv-ex plays a central and vital role in this process.

Wine critics have and continue to provide an important source of information for wine buyers. Do you see their roles changing with the increased presence of social media?

Yes.  Social media has allowed wine consumers to communicate their opinions on wine more readily and directly with each other.  Wine critics will continue to play a central role in creating and leading the conversation on wine quality.  But today and going forward the conversation will be much more dynamic and free-flowing between the media and consumers.

The second wine of Opus One, Overture, was originally only available at the winery but is now available through retail outlets and restaurants. What led you to decide to distribute it more widely?

We have produced our second wine, Overture, since 1993 – over the years only available at the winery.  With time the reputation of the wine grew by word of mouth around the world.  Significant parallel and grey markets developed for Overture, sometimes selling the wine in ways and in places that were not ideal.  The best way for us to ensure that Overture was made available to our best customers around the world was to do it ourselves.

Opus One is run as a joint venture between Constellation Brands and Philippine de Rothschild. Where does it sit within the Constellation empire, and what has been the secret to the success of this collaboration?

The secret to the success is simple.  When Constellation acquired Robert Mondavi in 2004, they agreed with Baron Philippe de Rothschild that Opus One should be managed independently from both partners.  Winemaking, sales and administration of Opus One are all done locally and independently from each.  This has allowed Opus One to remain true to the founding partners’ vision, while further establishing the unique personality of Opus One.


Almaviva 2014 released

Almaviva 2014

Almaviva 2014 was released yesterday and is being offered by the international trade at £800 per 12×75. This is a 19.4% increase on the release price of the estate’s 2013 vintage.

As the chart above shows, the wine is being offered at a similar level to other recent vintages in the market. The equally scored 2013 is currently available at a 6.3% discount to the most recent release.

James Suckling noted: “It goes on for minutes. A fabulous wine. Better in 2020 but gorgeous now.” He awarded it 97 points.

The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (68%), Carmenere (22%), Cabernet Franc (8%) and Petit Verdot (2%). It has been aged for 18 months in new French oak.

Opus One 2013 released

Opus One 2013

Opus One 2013 was released today at £1,100 per 6×75 – equivalent to £2,200 per 12×75.

At this price, it is offered around the levels of the estate’s 2011 and 2012. It looks favourable in comparison to the older vintages. For example, it is available at a 15.6% discount to the similarly scored 2008.

The wine has already seen secondary market activity: it traded twice today at £2,150 per 12×75.

There has been considerable excitement surrounding the quality of the vintage in California overall. As Robert Parker commented: “2013 for many wineries in Napa and Sonoma has produced the finest wines I have tasted in 37 years”.

Antonio Galloni has praised the quality of Opus One 2013 specifically. In December 2014 he wrote: “Firm yet also voluptuous, the 2013 has it all. The combination of fruit and structure is superb… The flavor remains quite primary, one of the signatures of this great Napa Valley vintage.” He awarded the wine a range of 94-96+ points.

English wine trades on Liv-ex for the first time

Nyetimber Classic Cuvee, 2010

On Monday, Liv-ex saw its first ever trade in English wine when one 6x75cl case of Nyetimber, Classic Cuvee, 2010 traded on the Exchange for £120.

Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy, Champagne and the Rhone are the major regional groups of fine wines that regularly see secondary market activity. Bordeaux dominates: so far in 2016, trade for the region has accounted for 74.6% of total activity by value. Bordeaux First Growths Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild and Haut Brion have been the most traded labels so far this year.

Although these groups represent the majority of activity, wines from around the world regularly trade on the Exchange: this year, the fine wine market has seen activity from New Zealand, Lebanon and Chile, amongst others. As shown in the chart below, this group – the ‘rest of the world’ – has seen increased market share in recent years as the fine wine market broadens. Increased participation of English wines would no doubt be welcomed by those in the UK trade.

Fine wine market share

Rest of the world: regional groups that have traded in 2016 (in descending order of value)

USA, Australia, Spain, Port, South of France, Alsace, Germany, Chile, Loire, Cognac, Argentina, Lebanon, South Africa, England, New Zealand.

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?

Power 100: USA and Burgundy top price performers

Last week, Liv-ex released the tenth edition of the Power 100 – the annual list of the most powerful brands in the fine wine market. The full rankings – calculated using data on price performance, trading performance on Liv-ex, the number of different wines and vintages traded, and average prices – can be found by clicking here.

The table below shows purely the strongest price performers (top 20).


The top two spots are occupied by wines from California, with Scarecrow and Screaming Eagle gaining an average of 19.9% and 15.1% respectively over one year. As November’s Cellar Watch Market report observed, this is part of a wider trend of rising prices for the region.

While California has taken the two highest rankings, much of the table is dominated by Burgundy which occupies half of the 20 positions. This is perhaps unsurprising given the gains made by the Burgundy 150 index: it is the strongest-performing sub-index of the Liv-ex 1000 year to date (+2.1%), and over five years has increased by 39.4%. DRC continues to gain, up 5.7%.

With California and Burgundy featuring prominently, many of the brands with climbing prices are those with low production levels. There is little overlap with brands trading in high volumes: just two of the top price performers also feature within the top 20 traded by volume. These are both from Bordeaux: Pavie and this year’s number one, Mouton Rothschild.

*The wines shown in the table above are those with an overall ranking of between 1-100. Several top price risers did not perform strongly enough in other areas and therefore fell outside of the Power 100.

Click here to view full rankings and methodology.

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

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.