The Fine Market has rallied in the last 3 months of trading and renewed confidence has seen strong demand across all regions and vintages. As always, Bordeaux has remained the dominant force in the market, particularly the first growths. Active trading saw the Liv-ex index close October up 12% year to date, but still down 9% from October 2008. These are encouraging numbers.
Although early autumn is normally quiet across the trade, there has been a sudden resurgence for “Brand Lafite”, leaving a range of blue chip wines looking good value. Mouton has seen particular growth due to improved quality and stronger brand appreciation. Latour remains stable but surprisingly has not been as desirable as its contemporaries; the demand for mature Latour in comparison to its quality often baffles the trade. We believe 1996 and 2005 Latour remain excellent buys in the current market.
Other Classed Growth wines sales in the UK have remained solid over the last year. Asian buyers have been instrumental in this with our weak sterling. Christie’s have reported that 61% of sales in 2009 have been sold to Asia compared to 7% in 2005. Since the abolition of tax on wine, Hong Kong has become one of the world centres for fine wine. In the first 7 months of 2009 the UK exported £55 million of wine to Hong Kong, more than nine times higher than 2006. Dependence on a dominant market such as Asia can have severe implications, but the strength and growth of their wider economies and their genuine love and interest in wine and dining culture is an exciting new era for the Fine Wine trade. Goedhuis Managing Director Tom Stopford Sackville, currently based in Hong Kong, says “Demand from both trade and private clients in Hong Kong and from the mainland China continues to go at a rapid rate and I think we shall see continued growth in Asia for some time to come. I just hope that the UK does not get left behind in all this.”
2005 remains a year to buy for the long term. Recent tastings confirm that this is special. Although prices remain high in comparison to other recent vintages, purchasers will regret not buying at this earlier stage of their life. 1996 Medoc wines still look undervalued compared to some more recently released vintages, and with the dearth of fine years in the 1990’s, 1996 will start to become highly sought after.