Wine Spectator names its #1 wine of the year 2019

Earlier today, Wine Spectator announced the highly anticipated news of its number one wine of the year: Leoville Barton 2016.

Senior Editor James Molesworth explained the decision in a short video on the publication’s website. He says:

“For its long family tradition, for its excellent quality in a superb vintage, for its relative value, the Leoville Barton St Julien 2016 is Wine Spectator’s wine of the year for 2019.”

Since being crowned wine of the year by the influential American publication, Leoville Barton 2016 has seen a flurry of trading activity and rising prices. This began to take place almost immediately after the announcement was made.

The first trade of the day took place at £700 per 12×75. The highest (so far) has been at £1,038 for two six packs. This represents a leap of 48%.

At the time of writing, the lowest current offer is at £488 for a six pack.

Users of Liv-ex’s new website will be able to see new bids and offers for the wine appearing in near-real time, and much faster than on the original site. Click here to view the wine on Liv-ex.

Last year: The Sassicaia 2015 story

Last year, Sassicaia 2015 saw a similar uptick in prices and activity after being named wine of the year by the publication. Its trade price rose from £1,320 per 12×75 to £1,782 almost overnight, a rise of 34%.  It has sustained this level since, as the chart below shows.

Wine Spectator’s top ten wines of the year 2019

The other wines in Wine Spectator’s top ten come from a number of regions. The San Guisto Chianti Classico offers the lowest entry point for anyone looking for a taste of the top ten, while Chile’s Almaviva 2016 currently commands the highest. Fellow Bordeaux 2016, Pichon Baron, also made the top ten.

Talking Trade – Mouton Rothschild 2016 most active

  • Mouton Rothschild 2016 leads weekly trade by value 
  • Fine wine prices fall in October 
  • Bordeaux 2019: weather and harvest report 
  • Liv-ex November Market Report released

Trade slowed again in the first week of November, but Burgundy managed to claw back some of the market share it had lost in recent weeks. Bordeaux’s share dipped slightly, from 56.2% to 52.6%; activity for the region was dominated by the 2016, 2009 and 2006 vintages. Italy and Champagne were very steady and look set to close the year with market share gains on their 2018 levels. 

Mouton Rothschild 2016 (100 JD, LPB, AG, NM, JS, JMC) was the most traded wine by value this week. The First Growth last traded 1.5% below its release price (£5,180 per 12×75). 

Another “perfect” wine, from Tuscany, that also led last week’s trade, followed: Sassicaia 2016 last traded at £2,276 per case. 

Fine wine prices fall in October

The Liv-ex 1000, the broadest measure of the market, experienced its biggest monthly fall so far this year. The Champagne 50 was its only sub-index to improve this month, up 1.9%, while the Italy 100 dipped the least – only 0.1%. Both regions were excluded from the US tariffs law, and are perhaps starting to see the benefits of this. Find out more here.

Bordeaux 2019: “a very good to excellent vintage”

Bordeaux 2019 is “a very good to excellent vintage” according to Bordeaux grower, winemaker and writer, Gavin Quinney (@GavinQuinney). In this article, he summarises everything you need to know about this year’s harvest.

Liv-ex November Market Report

The Liv-ex November Market Report has been released. Containing all the latest Liv-ex research and analysis, the full issue includes a market overview “The October effect: topsy turvy”, major market movers – Italy and Champagne, Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 in different currencies, James Suckling’s wine of the year and a final thought on the changing face of the Rhone.

Bordeaux 2019 weather and harvest report

Bordeaux 2019 is “a very good to excellent vintage” according to Bordeaux grower, winemaker and writer, Gavin Quinney. In the article below, he summarises everything you need to know about this year’s harvest.

Now that the grapes are all in, and the wine safely in the tanks and barrels, there’s a chance to reflect on the year in the vineyard and how the new Bordeaux vintage has shaped up. So here is my Bordeaux 2019 update: it’s been my thing for a few years now to put some of the weather statistics into some context by drumming up a few graphs and charts, alongside some photos and explanatory blurb.

This was my twentieth full season in Bordeaux, having arrived just before the harvest in 1999, with 2000 being my first full vintage viewed at close hand. My experience is that no two vintages have been the same and, despite the considerable changes across two decades and the enormous investments in new wineries, equipment, viticulture, people and so on, it is still the weather – and how we and the vines respond to it – that determines the quality and quantity.

Bordeaux 2019 – a very good year

‘You’re joking – not another one?’ No really, Bordeaux 2019 is a very good to excellent vintage. It wasn’t straightforward, with heatwaves, drought and a rainy finish along the way, but Bordeaux enjoyed a long, dry summer and harvest with just enough rain, and no disasters like the late spring frost of 2017 or the significant losses to mildew that some growers experienced in 2018.

At the top end, it’s becoming an embarrassment of riches. 2019 makes it six very good years in a row for the northern Haut-Médoc appellations of St-Julien (pictured above), Pauillac and St-Estèphe, which were largely untouched by the 2017 frost and produced many fine 2014s, and likewise for the top estates on the plateau of Pomerol.

The much larger right bank appellation of St-Émilion (above), which saw considerable frost damage in 2017, has seen four winners out of the last five with 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019, and you can include Margaux and Pessac-Léognan from the left bank in the same context. (Many estates did well in 2017 but it was inconsistent.)

Hundreds of petits châteaux across the region, from the Graves to the Médoc, from Fronsac to the Côtes and generic Bordeaux Supérieurs, should also be able to line up impressive verticals of those same four vintages (plus 2017 too in many cases) at considerably lower price points. For trade purchasers of bulk wine, it’s a buyers’ market.

The dry whites show great promise in 2019 and, although I haven’t been down to Sauternes since the first week of October, the noble rot should have taken hold mid-month. There’s a strong chance that the unbroken run of successful sweet white vintages in all the ‘odd’ years this century is set to continue.

Bordeaux 2019 – 10 observations on the growing season

  • A dry year with 25% less rain overall than the average to the end of the harvest
  • A mild winter saw average rainfall in November, December and January, then a dry February and March
  • Spring rainfall (Q2) was close to the norm from April budbreak through to June flowering
  • Some localised Spring frosts and limited hail damage later on, though relatively small losses
  • Flowering in early June began well but a rainy, chilly spell led to uneven fruitset in many vineyards
  • No major disasters like the frost of April 2017 or the mildew that impacted multiple growers in 2018
  • A long, hot summer saw over three months of mostly fine weather from mid-June to the fourth Sunday of September
  • Heatwaves in late June and 40˚C in late July put some vines under pressure – though this was pre-ripening
  • Heavy rain on the last Friday in July, just after a heatwave, refreshed many vineyards just in time
  • Light rain in amongst the hot weather in August and mid-September helped the vines

Bordeaux 2019 – 10 observations about the harvest

  • A long harvest from late August for early dry whites and crémants, to mid-October for late reds and sweet whites
  • The harvest began with dry whites in late August through to the middle of September in fine conditions
  • On paper, despite the summer heatwaves and hot mid-September, it was a moderately late (or normal) red harvest
  • The merlot harvest in the earlier ripening areas, such as Pomerol, began tentatively in the second week of September
  • Most of the red harvest took place in the second half of September and first half of October
  • The lack of rain through the summer impacted on the size of berries, juice and yield in many vineyards
  • The weather turned on 22 September after a hot fortnight with rain for a few days, before clearing until 14 October
  • There was minimal pressure of rot so châteaux were not forced to pick early, though vigilance was needed
  • Alcohol levels are in line with a dry, warm year, with merlots around 14-14.5+% alc and Cabernets 13-14% alc
  • Yields range from moderate to plentiful, depending on the June flowering and impact of drought and a dry year
  • Overall volumes will probably be a little short of the 10-year average – not far off 2018, up on 2017, down on 2016

Comparing Bordeaux production

Overall 2019 volume will probably be a little less than the 10-year average of 508 million litres (2009-2018). Note that 2013 and 2017 were the low crops of the last decade and they brought down the average figure: the pre-2013 10-year average, for 2003-2012, was 566 million litres, albeit with a slightly larger vineyard area (an average in those years of 118,000 Hectares versus 113,000 in the last decade).

2019 yields range from moderate to plentiful, depending on flowering and impact. Most estates at the top end will be producing 35hl/ha to 55hl/ha in 2019, with greater consistency in 2019 from one Château to another than in 2018, when mildew significantly impacted some more than others. Maximum yields are set at 50-57hl/ha depending on the appellation, with a higher quota for dry white, with up to 65hl/ha for Bordeaux blanc (such as the Sauvignon Blanc at Chateau Bauduc, below).

These production figures refer to all wine from Bordeaux appellations – about 57% being a generic ‘Bordeaux’ and 43% from designated areas or appellations within the Bordeaux AOP. About 97% of all wine in the Gironde will be declared by growers this December as Bordeaux AOP/appellation d’origine protégée (formerly AOC), with the small amount that’s left being Vin de France or IGP (formerly Vin de Pays).

The OIV estimated on 31 October that 2019 French wine production overall at 41.9 million hectolitres (4,190 million litres) will be 15% down on 2018 and 7% down on the 5-year average. Bordeaux production compares quite favourably with the 2018 comparison.

Monthly rainfall

In general, the 2018-2019 autumn and winter rainfall was about average in November, December and January, but it was pretty dry in February and March. The region had, quite significantly, a rainfall deficit between October 2018 and March 2019, with about 100mm less rain on average than the norm (530mm). There was though a 250mm difference between one area and another, with some zones receiving markedly unequal amounts of rain. 2018-2019 saw a much drier October-March period than in 2017-2018 but it was not as dry as the same six month stretch in 2016-2017.

Here’s a table showing monthly rainfall from March to September in the Bordeaux region over the last decade. I’ve taken the readings from six weather stations from around Bordeaux for a more general impression, against the commonly quoted Bordeaux 30-year average. The level of rain is significant because, among other things, under appellation rules growers are not allowed to irrigate their vines (except infant ones that are not yet in production).

The best Bordeaux vintages, like 2009, 2010 and 2016, have just enough rain – but not too much – in July, August and September, after a normal, wetter spring. Bordeaux 2019 saw enough spring rain and then a dry summer and September. Timing is important: as we shall see, most of the rain in June fell in the first half of the month, while in July most fell on one day at the end, and in September too most of the rain came near the end of the month.

Overall it was a dry growing season. What isn’t shown here is the variation between sub-regions, and the detail. Margaux, for example, had 466mm of rain from 1 January to 13 October (the end of the harvest there), a third down on the 30-year average of over 700mm. St-Émilion saw 535mm and Léognan 571mm in that same period.

Monthly temperatures

Rainfall tells one part of the story but obviously the vines need sunshine. And, for the fruit, cool nights to contrast with hot days.

Here are the average temperatures by month for those same six sub-regions, with the 30-year average for Bordeaux in brackets. As a backdrop, the autumn and winter 2018-2019 was fairly mild, with the exception of a cold January. Following the April bud break and the early season growth, May 2019 was noticeably cooler than average, before the flowering began at the end of the month. June, August and September were broadly in line with the average, and July considerably warmer.

  • March 10.9°C (10.2°C)
  • April 12.1°C (12.4°C)
  • May 14.5°C (16.1°C)
  • June 19.2˚C (19.3°C)
  • July 23°C (21.3°C)
  • August 21.2°C (21.4°C)
  • September 18.9° (18.5°C)

Comparing temperatures and timing

Now here’s a geeky table showing a snapshot of heat accumulation indicating the progress of the vines during the growing season in each vintage. By adding up the daily average temperatures since the 1st of January, but removing any average temperatures below 10˚C (50ºC), the grid shows how the recent vintages compare at different stages of the growing season. The temperatures are taken from a local weather station, 10 miles/16km east of Bordeaux.

The ‘Total °C’ and the dates mentioned is the accumulation of the average daily temperatures, subtracting 10˚C each day, by that date.

The 23 May was just before flowering in 2019, and the start of flowering for earlier ripening years. You can see that 2019 got off to a slow start – as did both the superlative 2016 vintage and the difficult 2013 season, so things can go either way.

27 June was after flowering, with the newly formed grapes mostly at a stage usefully known as ‘petit pois’ before becoming ‘gros pois’. We were some way behind at this stage in 2019, despite a heat surge towards the end of June.

27 July was just before veraison in 2019, when the grapes change colour. The grapes are at a stage called ‘fermeture de la grappe’, when the bunches become fully formed with green, unripe grapes. July 2019 was a hot month – compare the accumulated temperature with, say, 2012 and 2014.

22 August is normally at the end of veraison, with the grapes now starting to ripen fully in the build up to the harvest. Véraison was quite protracted, fuelling fears of uneven ripeness later on.

The final rows show the date when the ‘Degree Days’ reached 800˚C and 1500˚C respectively. It is not used as a guide but 800˚c is a useful marker for when the bunches have been fully formed and before the colour change/veraison happens. 1500˚C often coincides with the end of the white harvest and soon after the start of the reds – all being well.

The figures do give a fair impression. 2011 was an early ripening year, and 2013 very late when the vines struggled. 2017, despite the widespread spring frost causing so much damage in many parts of Bordeaux, was an early ripening year. Stylistically, based on this, it would be no surprise if 2019 ended up as a mythical blend of 2012, 2014 and 2016, with a little 2015 thrown in. (By that I mean the charm and drinkability of the 2012s, the straightness and classicism of the 2014s, the freshness and fruity appeal of the 2016s, and the warmth of 2015.)

 The growing season

For this graph, I’ve taken the daily statistics for temperature and rainfall from those six weather stations from around Bordeaux to give a more general overview than the localised charts produced by growers and syndicates. I have then averaged out the numbers per day.

Budbreak was in early April and that month was considerably wetter and slightly chillier than the norm in most regions, though with about average rainfall in Saint-Émilion. There was also a frost alert in mid-April, with some localised damage, but nothing on the scale of the damage caused in late April 2017.

As I said above, the growing season got off to a slow start with a cool May, and it then warmed up considerably for the start of the all important flowering just as we approached the first, glorious weekend of June. Some vineyards flowered successful over these few days. I was walking around ours, encouraging the vines to hurry up as we could see the forecast, because on the Wednesday it thoroughly poured with rain. There was intermittent rain over the next week or so, and it cooled down considerably. (When this happens during the flowering the tiny flower of fused petals, called the calyptra, doesn’t fall away properly from the male and female elements, and the potential berry isn’t pollinated.)

Flowering on 2 June – a great photo from Chateau Anthonic’s Instagram account, with their kind permission

The result was that many bunches had uneven fruit set, with ‘coulure’ and ‘millerandage’ – unformed and variable/undersized berries respectively. The impact varied enormously from one zone or area to another: some vineyards were completely unaffected, while others had uneven bunches from one row or even one plant to the next.

Some uneven fruit set on old merlot vines in Pomerol, 25 June 2019

Once the flowering was out of the way, the bunches and grapes grew in fine weather, becoming hot and sunny from the end of the month and throughout a very warm July. Temperatures reached a stifling 40˚C on 23 July and many of the vines shut down. Thankfully, heavy rain fell a few days later on the Friday – with most of the July rainfall falling over one or two days.

Merlot, Ch La Fleur Pétrus, Pomerol 27 July – just after the rain and the heatwave

As far as we can tell, the July heatwave didn’t impact the bunches negatively as the grapes had only just formed and were yet to change colour.

We then had more hot weather in the second half of August and then well into September. The chillier early mornings in early September proved to be ideal for harvesting the white grapes.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Chateau Léoville-Poyferré, St-Julien, 28 August

The harvest

The first grapes to be picked in Bordeaux are the whites for making Crémant and the earlier ripening vineyards of Pessac-Léognan for their dry whites. Some began at the end of August with others the first week of September. Conditions were ideal for the Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon (below, at Chateau Bauduc), with fresher mornings and clear weather.

Sémillon harvest at Château Bauduc for crémant, 12 September 2019

The dry whites of the Graves began in early September and soon after across the Garonne in the Entre Deux Mers (above, Chateau Bauduc) and other parts of Bordeaux. Yields and quality for the dry whites are very promising.

The merlot harvest in the more precocious areas, such as Pomerol, began in the second week of September and continued from there. Most of the red harvest took place in the second half of September and first half of October.

The harvest changed on the fourth Sunday of the month – the 22nd. Up until then we’d had glorious September weather with temperatures in the high 20s and over 30˚C. With the autumn equinox approaching on the 23rd, we had rain on the Sunday and then for the next few days, then clear from 26 September until 12 October. The amount varied considerably from region to region: around 50mm here and in the northern Médoc but only half that in Margaux, with 35mm in Saint Émilion and Léognan.

Hoisting Cabernet Sauvignon grapes into a fermentation vat at Ch Pichon Baron, Pauillac, 10 October 2019

The rain acted as a refresher for the Cabernet Sauvignon that was picked in early October. Many estates in the Médoc concluded their harvest in the second week of October under clear skies. In both Saint Émilion and the Médoc that week there seemed to be no pressure from rot, with the grapes coming in in good health.

The lack of rain through the summer impacted on the size of berries, juice and yield in many vineyards but by no means all. Alcohol levels are what you’d expect from a dry, warm year, with Merlots around 14-14.5+˚C and Cabernets 13-14˚C. What will be key is the balancing acidity and maturity of the tannins.

Cabernet Franc harvest in Saint-Emilion, below the vineyard of Ch Tertre Roteboeuf. 8 October 2019

Appendix – comparing 2019 weather with 2016, 2017 and 2018

Each year is different. It’s not quite like a box of chocolates but ‘you never know what you’re gonna get.’


Bordeaux 2019 weather and harvest report

James Suckling announces his 2019 Wine of the Year

Today came with the announcement of James Suckling’s favourite wine of 2019: Siro Pacenti, Brunello Vecchie Vigne 2015 – “a perfect example of what makes 2015 Brunello so compelling to buy and drink”, according to the critic.

Not only did Suckling award it a 100-point score, but he also claimed the wine was “one of the best Brunellos I have tasted in my career”. He described it as “full-bodied and extremely dense and powerful with a super center palate of fruit and ripe yet compact tannins”. He further praised its “superb transparency and intregration” and liked the “energy and excitement to tasting it”.

In 2019, Suckling and his team rated 25,000 wines from different vintages and discovered “more than 50 perfect wines among them”. In his latest report, the critic said that his year of “travelling and tasting” was “truly phenomenal for great wines”; “a Golden Age for winemaking”. Moreover, “many regions shone in quality”, notably “Argentina, Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Tuscany, Piedmont, Rioja, Port, Champagne and Chile”.

Suckling admitted that “while the emphasis is on quality, special preference was given to more affordably priced wines” when choosing his favourites. His top ten wines, displayed in the table below, are “all priced at less than $80 a bottle”. They also “show the diversity of greatness in the wine world today, with entries from Italy, Spain, Germany, France, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina”.

Sauternes – an early Christmas delight

The Sauternes 50 index – a notoriously slow market mover – has risen 4.6% over the past three years. The broader Bordeaux 500 index has gone up 12.6% over the same period.

So far this year, Bordeaux’s fortunes have been mixed. Within its sub-indices, the Right Bank 50 has dipped the most (-3.1%), closely followed by the Sauternes 50 (-2.5%).

None of the Sauternes 50 constituent wines have made gains in the past year. As the chart below shows, Climens has fallen the most (-8.0%), while Suduiraut the least (-1.8%). Yquem, which recently released its 2017 vintage, has also dipped 7.3%.

The Sauternes story is not one of investment potential – especially when compared to the development of the broader market. But the sweet wines of Bordeaux continue to hold an allure to buyers, promising great quality (supported by broad critical acclaim) and representing the most affordable entry point into the fine wine market. And with the festive season upon us these honeyed treasures of Bordeaux are guaranteed to delight.

Bordeaux 2017: risers and fallers

The 2017 En Primeur campaign saw average release prices drop by almost 12% and volumes sold fall by 60% against the highly regarded 2016 release. Sales by value also dropped 45%. Numerous wines thus remain readily available at opening prices in Bordeaux.

According to the international merchant community, interest in the vintage was very focused on the First Growths and the most popular brands – the majority of releases struggled. Critical opinion was mixed while collectors showed a reluctance to pay 2015 prices for a vintage that was generally judged to be at the level of, or below, the 2014 vintage.

For a summary of the 2017 campaign, you can read our concluding report, Bordeaux 2017 – a risky strategy, here.

The wines are now bottled and will soon to be delivered. Critics are expected to release in-bottle scores in the coming months. UK merchants will be tasting the wines tomorrow at the annual Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting in London. It is time then, to examine what has happened to prices since release.

Of the 50 wines represented by the Bordeaux 500 index, only 7 have risen in value, 3 haven’t moved, and 37 have dropped. On average, prices are down 1% since April 2018. The Bordeaux 500 index has dipped by 0.9% over the same period. The best and worst performing wines can be found in the table above.

As with its 2016 vintage, Lafleur has been the best performer, rising 57% from release. Buyers of the second wines of the First Growths have once again done well – Carruades Lafite has jumped 37% while Petit Mouton has risen 8% in value.

As is too often the case with Sauternes, prices have struggled in the secondary market. Two First Growths feature among the reds that have drifted: Margaux down 9% and Mouton Rothschild down 10%.

But all is subject to change, especially as the wines become physical in the secondary market. How might the trade’s and critics’ renewed attention influence prices? The trend since release has been downward. Those holding the wines will be hoping for some good news from the tasting season ahead.


The increased demand for Italian wine

Value of bids and offers for Italian wines on Liv-ex

Market participants have shown increased commitment to the Italian market as demonstrated by growing exposure: the rising value of bids and offers. These are firm commitments to buy or sell a wine on the market.

Back in 2015, the total value of Italian bids and offers stood close to £2m. It now surpasses £5m and is driven largely by active buyers, as demonstrated by the bid line on the chart above. This reflects an increased interest in Italian wines.

Initiatives such as automated trading have contributed to rising exposure as more wines from more places have become readily available to more buyers.

Number of Italian wines traded vs trade share by value

As the chart above shows, the number of individual wines (including vintage) has risen an impressive 1,056% over the past decade. The number of labels trading alone has been doubling every two years.

With more Italian wines on offer, trade by both value and volume has also risen – Italy is now the third most active regional group after Bordeaux and Burgundy. Its share of trade by value has climbed from less than 2% in 2010 to account for 8.5% of the total trade so far this year. This has benefitted wine producers, international merchants and collectors alike.

Partnership with Alicante City FC

Alicante City FC are pleased to announce a partnership with leading wine and whisky investment specialists London Barrelhouse. The partnership will see London Barrelhouse’s logo adorn the new Alicante City FC football shirts ahead of their first season in 1a Regional.

London Barrelhouse are the perfect match for the club’s ethos with the two parties having a shared emphasis on a focus on a long-term goal. The company also has a collective experience of over 100 years in the asset management industry which reflects that vast wealth of experience in football that the Alicante City FC board and management all possess.

The club are delighted to be working with London Barrelhouse and are looking forward to both parties benefiting from the agreement.
As part of this partnership, we have an exclusive interview with Peter Charalambous, the Director of London Barrelhouse, who shares his views on the company’s new partnership with Alicante City FC, how the two parties can work together in the future and whether football can learn anything from the fine wine and maturing whisky sector.

Hi Peter, how did you first hear about Alicante City FC?
Peter Charalambous: Prior to founding London Barrelhouse, I was the CEO of a stockbroking company in London where the now Chairman of Alicante city fc – Elliot Livesey, was employed as an equity advisor. He moved on and founded soccer smart and my passion for football and our close friendship meant we stayed in touch.

What do you see as the main benefits of sponsoring a truly international side like Alicante City FC are?
PC: Sport can generate significant brand exposure and awareness for London Barrelhouse. Alicante being an international club represents our business perfectly as our audience of investors and collectors are international in nature. Sporting events, football in particular, can be extremely popular and attract a large international audience which reflects our current offering to our ever-growing global client base. Social media and sports are extremely compatible, hence our decision to be sponsors for this season and we hope to Increase our reach and exposure to new clients, customers and businesses.

How do you think London Barrelhouse and Alicante City FC complement each other and how do you think they can help each other going forward?
PC: We complement each other with our truly international reach and feel, along with our shared vision to become major players in our respective fields. On a personal level Elliot and I have a shared passion for competitive sport, especially football, having both played with some of the world’s most famous footballers.

London Barrelhouse encourage a longer-term approach as part of their strategy to building a portfolio which is similar to Alicante City FC’s long-term plan to reach La Liga, do you therefore think it is always important to be invested in a project for the long term?
PC: My experience over 25 years of investing has shown me the most important advantage of long-term investing is to be found in the relationship between the parties having a shared vision. Investments for longer always exhibit lower volatility than those held for shorter periods and almost always make for more rewarding and satisfying returns. The longer you invest, the more likely you will be able to weather low market periods in whatever investment you have. London Barrelhouse and Alicante City having a shared vision for the long term is important for me as like London Barrelhouse, Alicante City have a determination to grow and a business plan in place to execute it.

How important do you think it is that businesses support football clubs and other clubs which can build a community?
PC: Sport at all levels has a responsibility to inspire the next generation. Local sporting clubs are paramount in this process, in particular football clubs. Football clubs around the world can be the life and soul of the local community, offering opportunities, jobs and a community asset for all who are involved. As a result, we are delighted to be involved with Alicante City as they look to grow whilst offering Alicante everything that comes with having a local football club.

Are representatives from the company planning on visiting Alicante to see the club in action?
PC: The plan is to come out this season 100%. We are currently in the process of setting up our first international office in Singapore and this has taken up a lot of our time and resources. However, this will not deter us from coming out to several games this season as we continue to strengthen our relationship with Alicante City FC, its owners and players.

Is there anything you believe football can learn from the fine wine and maturing whisky sector?
PC: Football has become a victim of its own success and the demand for instant results has condemned a lot of clubs into administration and closure. The overriding thing that football can learn from our industry is that with fine wine and maturing whisky – “good things sometimes take time”.

Finally, why should Alicante City FC fans visit
PC: Unlike others in our industry, we offer a truly unique service with our fine and rare collection offering. This helps investors act like an expert and make what is already unique and rare, even more valuable. Alicante City fans should visit in order to see how they can benefit from tax efficient investmets that can be extremely rewarding but also helps them gain an interest and knowledge in a truly global and growing industry.

Why is fine wine easier to value than art and cars?

When it comes to investment, wine, art and cars have often been regarded as ‘pleasurable’ assets. Common perceptions exist that these tangible assets, often put under the same roof, simply serve to diversify a portfolio; they are safe yet less liquid, and if worse comes to worst, can always be enjoyed.

The notable distinctions between them, however, are rarely acknowledged. In an article published last year under the title ‘The Best Investments of 2018? Art, Wine and Cars’, the Wall Street Journal commented: “Who beat the market this year? Investors who like the finer things in life”. Financial newswires occasionally report on the performance of these alternatives through published indices, commonly citing Liv-ex with regards to fine wine and Sotheby’s Mei Moses when art is concerned.

But fine wine as an alternative asset class is not so like art and classic cars – it is easier to value accurately. The price of classic cars, for instance, is often determined by their history, prestige, condition, original features, awards and popularity: a car once driven by someone famous or with an interesting history might demand a higher price. Indices that track the classic car market are often based on auction sale results, such as the K500.

$558,000 for a single bottle of 1945 Romanée-Conti

Maybach Exelero, a one-off high performance car, costs $8 million

When it comes to art, every piece is different, and every copy is considered a replica which cannot command the same price as the original. Some argue that art, even sculptures and paintings, is ephemeral, which is part of the joy in collecting and owning it. It can also take decades for the same original piece of art to reappear on the market, making valuation challenging despite the emergence of art indices. Estimations are often the norm and can be based on the auction value of other works by the same artist, as well as demand, liquidity, activity of the art dealers and market data.

Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1500) is the most expensive painting ever sold as of 2019 for $450.3 million

Wine is a very distinctive category in that sense. Each year, producers make many bottles of the same wine. Some, like top Bordeaux, is made in significant quantities. Even the smallest producers will make several hundred cases of the same wine each year. As a result, the same products are often available simultaneously from retailers around the world, and change hands frequently. Rare old bottles such as Romanée Conti 1945, which broke a record in October becoming the most expensive wine in the world, are the exception rather than the rule. The vast majority of fine wine – collectible bottles that are built to age – is far easier to value than ‘unicorn’ bottles like these.

The chart below shows trading activity for Lafite Rothschild 2006 over five years. The red markers represent trades of the wine on Liv-ex. The dark blue line is its Market Price, which is widely used for valuations. As you can see, it tracks transaction prices very closely.

These factors – production volumes, multiple traders, availability and data – make it much easier to arrive at accurate valuations for fine wine than art or classic cars.


Fine wine releases this September

La Place de Bordeaux, the historic system used to distribute the wines of Bordeaux globally, is no longer associated with the French region only. Every September, La Place releases some of the most sought-after wines from the Rhone, Italy and the Rest of the World. Here are five releases fine wine drinkers and collectors could look forward to next month.

Masseto 2016

The 2016 vintage of the Super Tuscan is “continuing the string of successes that is bringing Italy to the forefront of the wine world”, according to the Wine Advocate’s Monica Larner. Boasting a perfect 100-point score from her, a barrel range of 99-100 from James Suckling and 94-97 from Antonio Galloni (Vinous), the wine is set to be released in the first week of September. The 2015 vintage, an “identical twin” for Larner, was very active in the months following its release, with its value rising 9% from its opening price of £5,550 per 12×75.

Solaia 2016

Another upcoming release from the region is Solaia 2016, which received 100 points from James Suckling. In a futures tasting report published back in 2017, Suckling commented on the excellent quality of the vintage across the Super Tuscans. Regarding Solaia, the critic wrote in his tasting note: “Speechless here. I thought the 2015 was already perfect but this is perfect, too. But in a different way.” Production is down 20% on last year’s release which may impact its opening price.

A more detailed view of the market for Super Tuscans is coming up in September. Stay tuned.

Opus One 2016

Opus One – one of the most celebrated Californian wineries that produces one premium Bordeaux blend a year – is also set to release its 2016 vintage this September. The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW tasted the 2016 last year after its recent bottling and awarded it  97+ points. In her tasting note, she called it “a very decadent expression of Opus One with a provocatively effortless harmoniousness that is truly difficult to resist”. Suckling gave the wine the almost perfect 99 points and also praised its “drive and brightness”.

Over the past five years, the Opus One index has risen 32%, slightly underperforming the broader California 50 index (+50%).

Seña 2017

Seña 2017 is one of the wines that featured in Suckling’s report Chile’s tale of two cities and ranked among the critic’s favourities (99 points). Despite 2017 being a hot year resulting in an “arid environment”, the wine has retained its freshness and energy, “harmony and balance”, says Suckling.

Seña is often regarded as Chile’s first Icon wine. So far this year, the 2012 and 2013 have proven popular on the market; they are also among the more affordable recent vintages. The success of the new release may therefore partially lie in it commanding the right price.


Beaucastel Hommage J Perrin 2017

Beaucastel Hommage J Perrin is one of the components of our Rhone 100 index, which has made steady gains over the past year. The 2016 vintage was the most active Beaucastel Hommage J Perrin by both value and volume in 2018. It last traded at a small premium of 3% on its release price (£3,500 per 12×75).

In a report released last week, Jeb Dunnuck observed that “2017 has turned out to be a brilliant vintage that while not in the same league as 2010 or 2016, surpasses 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015”. Dunnuck awarded the 2017 Beaucastel Hommage J Perrin a 100 points and said that “with full-bodied richness, a stacked, opulent mid-palate, building tannins, and a sensational finish, it’s another perfect wine from this team and is unquestionably in the same realm as the 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2016”. Read Dunnuck’s latest Rhone report here.

Other wines expected to be released this September include Almaviva, Clos Apalta and Nicolas Catena Zapata. Stay tuned for the latest price analysis from Liv-ex.  


Macallan 1989 Sherry Hogshead

Bowmore 1990 Hogshead