“Stylish” Solaia 2013 released

solaia

Solaia 2013 has been released at €130 per bottle ex-negociant, the same release price as the 2012 vintage. It is being offered in the UK market at £1,450 per 12×75, higher than last year’s release as a result of Sterling weakness.

At this price it is at the same level as the 2008 and is above the 2010 which Antonio Galloni described as “one of the greatest – if not the single greatest – Solaia ever made.”

James Suckling is the only notable critic to have scored the 2013 vintage. He commented that it is a “classic as always”. He gave it 97 points and said it is “a stylish young red with currant, light herb, spice and bark aromas and flavours.” He added that the wine was balanced and attractive now but would be better in 2020.


 

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.


 

Sena 2014 released: “already a beauty”

sena

Sena 2014 was released on the international market today at £415 per 6×75 – equivalent to £830 per 12×75.

As the chart above shows, it is being offered around the level of the 2005, 2006 and 2008, but has a higher score from James Suckling.

The 2013 (WA 96) is currently available at £660, a 20.5% discount to the new release. James Suckling was even more enthusiastic about the 2013 vintage and gave it 99 points. He said it showed “the structure of a first growth Bordeaux.”

Suckling is the only notable critic to have scored the 2014 vintage and commented that it is “already a beauty”. He gave it 97 points and added that the wine is of “a wonderful purity”.


 

Talking Trade: 2nd – 8th September

lxfw50

Activity on the market picked up this week, increasing by both value and volume. The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 drifted slightly, down 0.1%.

Trade for Bordeaux increased, while activity for Burgundy returned to levels seen in July. The “others” share was boosted by trade for several Opus One vintages including the 2013 which was released on Monday at £2,200 per 12×75.

The week saw other major releases from the New World and Italy including Almaviva 2014 which came out on Wednesday at £800 and Masseto 2013 which was offered to those with allocations yesterday.

regiobnal

All of the top traded wines come from Bordeaux this week. Lafite Rothschild and Haut Brion were the most active First Growths, collectively accounting for two thirds of First Growth trade. They are both represented in the table of wines most trade by value.

top_value

Pape Clement 2012 – one of Parker’s top wines of the vintage – was the most traded wine by volume. It traded at a high of £710 per 12×75 earlier in the week. This represents a 34.5% increase on its trade price of £528 towards the beginning of the year.

top_volume

“Superstar” Masseto 2013 released

Masseto 2013

Masseto 2013 has been released and is being offered from around £4,000 per 12×75 to those lucky enough to have secured an allocation.

As the chart above shows, it is available at a similar or slightly lower level to other recent vintages currently in the market. Vintages from 2008 and earlier command more of a price premium.

The Wine Advocate’s Monica Larner commented that “the 2013 Masseto is shaping up to be a super star” and scored it 95-97 points. James Suckling was also impressed with the wine, calling it “so gorgeous and persistent. It goes on for minutes.” He awarded it 98 points.


Liv-ex interviews: a recap

livexinterviews

(Top left to right: James Molesworth, Philippe Dhalluin. Bottom left to right: Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Neal Martin)

This month Liv-ex has decided to look back on its past interviews with some of the most celebrated faces in the wine industry. We have had some fascinating conversations which have covered a range of topics including tasting and wine criticism, En Primeur and the Bordeaux market, and the region’s appeal to younger drinkers. All of these past interviews can be found on the blog here.

This year we have had the privilege of talking to Wine Spectator Senior Editor, James Molesworth as well as Mouton Rothschild’s Managing Director, Philippe Dhalluin. In 2015 we interviewed critic Neal Martin and Editor-in-Chief Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, both of the Wine Advocate. Each interview was unique and opinions varied, however there were several reoccurring topics of discussion.

Our interviewees were asked about scoring systems that have been adopted by wine critics. When asked about the difficulty of scoring impartially James Molesworth replied: “Sometimes the hardest part of the job is when I take the bag off a blind sample and find I wasn’t as enthused about a wine as I thought I would be, based on the producer”. However, he continued that despite these difficulties “blind tasting protects the fairness of the process”.

Neal Martin expressed similar views on the tension created due to building relationships with producers – he’d received “a couple of emails from people [he’s] known for years a bit miffed about their score”. However, he suggested that “the really good winemakers never take it too personally”.

dfsdfs

Following discussions on scoring, we talked about the role of Bordeaux En Primeur. From a U.S. perspective, James Molesowrth suggested that “on the consumer level, it’s absolutely fading” due to it becoming more trade orientated. Lisa Perrotti-Brown agreed and said that in order “to reignite interest in the U.S., the [2014] vintage would have to be superb […] and prices would have to be below perceived value”. Mouton Rothschild’s Philippe Dhalluin believes that “people are concentrating more on the top estates”. When asked if he thought more chateaux would be leaving the En Primeur system, Neal Martin said “It wouldn’t surprise me […] The wines that actually need En Primeur are not the wines that grab consumers’ attentions.”

Our conversations on Bordeaux continued onto the region’s appeal to younger wine drinkers. Molesworth suggested that “young people don’t have the discretionary income to spend on elite Bordeaux” and as a result are becoming more interested in the wines of the New World. We asked Neal Martin about an article he wrote in 2013. He had said “Like Dylan, jazz, golf and corduroy, wine is an occupation that should not be approached until you are in your thirties”. Martin claims he worries about “where the next generation of wine writers will come from”, which led us to discuss the changing role of the internet and its relation to wine writers and critics.

Molesworth highlighted that peer-to-peer sites like Cellar Tracker and Vivino do “allow for a greater range of discussion and opinion” but believes that “reviews from experienced professionals will always play a huge role in this business”. Martin agrees that “there’s a difference between giving an opinion on something and critiquing something”. Lisa Perroti-Brown sums up her opinion on online reviews:

“I love to read. I love to read all of the random reviews by consumers. Some of them you have to take with a pinch of salt and some of them are probably pretty accurate. We can’t taste all of the wines all of the time”.

We have more interviews lined up this autumn. Interviewees include a world renowned wine consultant, an acclaimed writer and critic, and a Californian producer. While waiting for these new interviews, feel free to look through some of our past ones below.

All interviews from this article:

 

Previous interviews from the archives:


 

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.


Cellar Watch September 2016 Market Report released

Fine wine market report - January 2016The Cellar Watch September Market Report has been released.

Containing all the latest Liv-ex research and analysis, the full issue includes:

  • August: heating up
  • All-time high for Liv-ex 1000
  • Lafite Rothschild 2013: top performer
  • Robert Parker on Bordeaux 1982
  • Final thought: Champagne—sparkling

To access the full report, please log in or subscribe to Cellar Watch.

You can download page one – with charts and data – here, or read the text below:

August: heating up

August is typically a quiet month for the fine wine market. This year activity did not slow down: a weakened Sterling offered opportunities for Euro and Dollar-based buyers, and trade by value increased by 30% on August 2015. The Liv-ex indices continued to climb, and the bid:offer ratio closed the month at 1.76, up from 1.51 at the end of July.

Bordeaux rising

After a quiet July for the region, activity for Bordeaux picked up in August: it accounted for 75.1% of trade by value compared to 69.5% the previous month. Burgundy took a steady 7.3% boosted by activity for top wines including Armand Rousseau, DRC, and Leroy. Champagne accounted for 4.9% of activity, while Italy took 5.8%.

Bordeaux greats

The four “great” Bordeaux vintages of this century were the most traded in August, collectively accounting for 44.5% of Bordeaux activity by value. 2010—with 17.5%—took the top spot, followed by 2005 (10.1%), 2009 (8.6%) and 2000 (8.4%). Lafite Rothschild 2010 was the most traded individual wine overall.

All-time high for Liv-ex 1000

August was another strong month for the fine wine indices. The Liv-ex 1000 index hit an all-time high, closing the month on 281.62. The Bordeaux and Burgundy sub-indices moved the most, with the Bordeaux 500 and Burgundy 150 both up 3%. The Liv-ex 100—up 2.9%—increased for the ninth consecutive month, its longest streak of positive movements since 2009.

For current and historic issues of the full report, please subscribe at www.cellar-watch.com

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.


Talking Trade 26th August – 1st September

With the UK trade away on Monday and the holiday season coming to a close, trade on the market dipped by both value and volume this week. The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 made modest gains, up 0.3%. The index closed August up 3.1% on the previous month’s close.

All other Liv-ex indices closed August in positive territory, including the Liv-ex 1000 – the broadest measure of the market – which climbed 3% and closed at a record high.

Regional

This week, activity for Burgundy soared. The region accounted for 16% of activity by value boosted by high volume trades for Maison Leroy, Bourgogne Rouge 2003 and 2014.  Trade for all other regions dipped, with the exception of Italy: Super Tuscan Masseto 2006 was among the top traded wines by value.

Top5_value

Clos Marquis 2009 and Giscours 2005 were among the top 5 wines traded by volume this week. Both reached their highest ever trade prices of £396 and £567 per 12×75 respectively. For Clos Marquis, this was a 22.6% increase on its previous trade price of £323.

Yop_volume