Wine sales at the latest Sotheby’s auction smashed pre-sale estimates, making more than US$2.2 million,
Initial estimates for the 25 February Finest and Rarest sale in New York were set between $1.3 and $1.9m. A 99% sell through rate was far more encouraging than its London sale three days earlier, where 77 lots – or 13% of items – remained unsold.
The sale was led by a case of Château Pétrus 1982 which fetched $58,188 nearing the high estimate.
There was also more evidence of Asian collectors going beyond Bordeaux and Burgundy with a rare nebuchadnezzar (15 litres – sounds like a good night in) of Italian wine, Masseto, which sold to a private Asian buyer for $49,000, several times the $12/18,000 estimate.
Duncan Sterling, head of Sotheby’s wine auctions, New York said: “We were pleased with the $2.2 million total achieved in our February sale. There was enthusiastic bidding from Asia and Latin America as well as a resurgence in the American market. A packed saleroom and spirited bidding from online buyers confirmed the market’s concentration on Burgundy including selections from DRC, Hubert Lignier and Jean-Marie Fourrier.
“Italian wines continued to be much in demand with stellar results for Masseto, Brunello from Gianfranco Soldera and Solaia,” he added
Sotheby’s claimed the sale was particularly notable for the renewed demand from American collectors alongside Latin America and Asia.
In August’s edition of Decanter, I asked is Burgundy a one horse-race when it comes to investment? The answer was yes – at the moment – but names like Jayer, Rousseau, Roumier and Dujac are worth a dabble in the top years.
The conclusion was backed up by an auction at Bonhams last week, selling a case of Romanee-Conti 1990 vintage for £126,500. That’s more than £10,000 per bottle or £1,750 a glass – although I suppose that depends on the size of your glass!
Another case of Romanee-Conti, this time from 1988, sold for £74,750.
Interestingly, both cases were bought by a European buyer and it will be interesting to see how they perform in the Far East when the auction house sells more cases of the 1988 and 1990 vintage in Hong Kong in November.
The price of Romanee-Conti has shown, on average, a rise of 50% over the last year, according to Liv-ex.
It’s August in London, which means the wine trade goes AWOL. Some of us mere mortals have to work, but the daily grind is eased by a free corkage deal with several Michelin-starred restaurants in the big smoke.
Five of London’s Michelin starred restaurants, The Square (2*), The Ledbury (2*), Chez Bruce (1*), La Trompette (1*) and The Glasshouse (1*) allow you to bring your own plonk for free if you’re a Bordeaux Index customer.
Last year I had a rather boozy and delicious meal at The Ledbury with several wine journos. We almost didn’t get there due to a rather elderly black cab driver having little Knowledge. This year, it’s going to be Sunday lunch at Chez Bruce.
Tina Gellie, chief sub-editor at Decanter, will be my date and lucky for her, while rummaging under my old bed at my parent’s house, I found a bottle of 1989 Lafite-Rothschild I had forgotten I had been given by my uncle. At £8960 a case (Fine & Rare Market data), I have had worse surprises.
On the down side, I’ll have to drink it rather than sell it on, as my dad has written his initials (JG)on the label in black marker pen a bid to try and claim it as his own – typical Scouser. However, all in all, a fruitful day.
Calling all New Zealand and Australian winemakers that need a hand getting into the UK market.
Naked Wines wants to hear from any winemakers who have a great product but don’t have the funds to market it or winemakers who currently consult or make wine for wineries and want to start their own project.
This year, there’s a £10 million investment pot to support winemakers but they need to find you…
They’ve already helped Bill and Claudia Small, an Aussie couple making wines in NZ get their project off the ground. Naked have sold 47,000 bottles of their wine in the UK and the latest shipment sold out in just 48 hours.
Since launch in December 2008, Naked has recruited over 100,000 customers, who between them invest over £1m each month towards funding winemakers.
Looking to invest in a wine that won’t cost you an arm and a leg but could pay handsome rewards? The word on the street is buy Chateau Lynch-Bages.
While researching another topic entirely for Decanter magazine, Lynch-Bages was the hot tip on all the wine merchants’ lips. Since the 2009 vintage was released, there’s a belief that this Pauillac chateau has set out its stall for the future – it is going to be a wine for the rich.
I remember my dad buying the 2000 when it came out en primeur as something to drink. It was a little more expensive than the usual crap he buys but it wasn’t overpriced. He’s now seen what it’s worth today (£1579, according to the new market data tool at Fine+Rare Wines) and can’t bring himself to drink something so expensive (I’ve offered to help him out if he needs some encouragement pulling the corks).
With the release of the 2009 at an all-time high, it has raised the bar for the future. Simon Staples, fine wine director at Berry Bros & Rudd, advises: “I would buy any vintage of Lynch-Bages under £700. The 2009 vintage has marked a new price point that won’t come down.”
Inevitably, the Far East has boosted demand for the wine and the price has risen accordingly. Alan Liu, sommelier at The French Window in Hong Kong, explains: “Lynch-Bages is really easy to pronounce here. We sell it to them as ‘Lansey Barr’ as that’s how it is said in Cantonese.”
So, how much can you expect to pay at the moment? The 2005 (91 Parker points) started life at under £500 en primeur, it’s now trading at £796 – which is still relatively good value when you look at the 2000 which is trading at £1579 and the 2009 at £1036.
However, the value really lies in those lesser vintages where Lynch-Bages performed well. The 2008 (91-93 points) can be picked up for the £600 mark, the 2006 (92 points) for £620 and the 2004 (also 92 points) for £618. I think I’m going to follow my own advice and pick up a few cases.
Staples adds: “Lynch-Bages has always done the investor very well. The quality of the wine has got infinitely better in the past years.”
Last week UK wine trader, Bordeaux Index reported record sales in the Far East, with fine wine sales in excess of Â£8.1 million, representing a massive increased of 72% on the previous year. Not bad for a month’s work.
With the 2009 vintage tipped to be the greatest of the century, founder of Bordeaux Index, Gary Boom, said: â€œWe fully expect the Asian market to invest heavily in this vintage, which will help continue to drive significant growth in the wine market in 2010.â€
But hang on a minute, the Chinese haven’t really bought into en primeur before: buying wine that you can’t receive for another one to two years just doesn’t equate for many Asian buyers (they have a point, it is a bit strange when you think about it).
So I asked Geraint Carter, who also works at Bordeaux Index, why this year was any different to the rest.
â€œWell it’s certainly fair to say that precedent indicates a preference for physical assets in the Chinese/HK market,â€ he admitted. â€œThat said we’re optimistic that this year will see a significant jump in participation for the following reasons:
1. They tell us they will â€“ there has been plenty of firm interest expressed from both private and trade clients.
2. Level of familiarity/sophistication with the practices of the wine trade has increased rapidly. Good merchants with proper customer relationship and substantive infrastructure, as well as the efforts of the major Chateaux to raise their profiles.
3. Some of the recent surging demand from China/HK has been driven by investors, and there’s no doubt that the 2009 en primeur campaign will be a big attraction to those looking to speculate.
4. China is enjoying a period of very loose monetary policy. Assets have and will continue to attract capital looking for yields in this type of environment.â€
They all sound like sound reasons but I’m just going to hang fire to see whether there’ll really be a massive shift in mentality from Asian buyers this year.
The people at The Wine Investment Fund have stuck their necks out and claimed that the fine wine market is going to surge by as much as 18% this year. Of course they would say that wouldn’t they? But they don’t want egg on their face, so perhaps there’s something in it.
After the market plummeted in late ‘08, the fine wine market has indeed started to pick up again. Lafite ‘05 is now back up to Â£7,995 at Berry Bros and Rudd and sales director Simon Staples believes it’s going to continue rallying this year and should be up to Â£10,000 a case by the summer. It’s a pretty tempting prospect.
In its monthly newsletter, the gents who run TWIF, say, â€œin the second half of 2009 the main indices were up 11-14%. We expect this to be the start of a prolonged and rapid upturn which makes today an ideal time to be investing.â€
But what to invest in? The much hyped 2009s will be on the market in May/June and it seems the world and his wife wants a case of Lafite and Mouton. London merchants Bordeaux Index reports the waiting list for the 09s is the longest on record (although I’m not sure that records began so long ago but it sounds impressive, doesn’t it?)
Perhaps it is time to get in and buy up lesser vintages. When the last ‘great’ vintage was on the verge of release (the 2005s, in case you’re not a fine wine geek), Liv-ex analysed the market and looked at unfashionable vintages. It reported first growth wines from lesser vintages had been overlooked and were a good investment prospect, particularly the 2001s and 2002s.
Interestingly they did the same thing in December 2009, asking whether we should â€œpass or playâ€ on the 09s. From the data, it appears the 05s weren’t such great value for money after all…
â€œIt is the comparatively lesser years of 2001 and 2002 that have shown the greatest returns, with both showing a price rise of 89% over the period. Indeed, the average price increase of all other vintages in the chart equals 63%; 18% higher than that shown by 2005,â€ said the Liv-ex report.
â€œIn essence, the high price of the 2005 vintage sparked price rises among its lower priced peers. If the trend of four years ago is repeated, then 2006 and 2008 are likely to represent the best opportunities for investment.â€
Maybe I should go out and get my hands on some first growths from lesser vintages rather than jumping into the 09 frenzy â€“ it would certainly be a lot more civilised than entering the Bordeaux bun fight.
Good news doesnâ€™t make the headlines; companies going under, buy outs and job cuts do – and thereâ€™s been plenty of that to write about in the past six months: Constellation and Diageo (among others) slashing the workforce; Fosterâ€™s selling off parts of its estate; Ehrmannâ€™s and Playford Ros swallowed up by bigger outfitsâ€¦I could go on but I wonâ€™t because there has been some good news reported in most of the major wine titles this week: The Sampler in Islington is opening two new branches.
Jamie Hutchinson and Dawn Mannis opened the store in 2006 and it has gone from strength to strength. Now, three investors have come on board, raising a cool Â£1 million to open two new stores in Kensington and Notting Hill.
Speaking to the pair for an article in decanter.com, they were both really excited about the prospects and hope to open the Kensington store before Christmas (for obvious reasons). They havenâ€™t yet found a site in Notting Hill so itâ€™s more likely the opening will come a little later. If things go well, theyâ€™d like to expand further.
It shows that if you do things right and think outside of the box, then you can succeed in hard times. As my dad always tells me, and reminded me when I decided to go freelance just as the markets crashed, â€˜In adversity, comes opportunityâ€™. He talks rubbish most of the time, but sometimes dads can be right.