Wine Investment | Case Studies
Case Studies | Analysis and market performance
- Ch Canon 2015: The power of critics' scores
- Ch Montrose 1996 & Richebourg A F Gros 2015: What is rescoring, and what does it do?
- Special labels: Mouton 2000, Angelus 2012 and Ornellaia
- Taittinger Comtes de Champagne: The magic of maturity
- Sassicaia 2013: Geo-politics and macro scale influence
CH CANON 2015: THE POWER OF CRITICS’ SCORES
Critics play an influential part in the value of a wine; high praise and high scores can change the price of a wine overnight with lasting effects on future vintages. When a leading critic scores a wine 100 points, the price often increases dramatically as demand surges.
Increasing critics scores throughout the 2000s demonstrated the rising quality of wine produced at Ch Canon. While quality and reputation were rising, the release price of Ch Canon remained modest, offering brilliant value against similar scoring estates. These consistently modest release prices ensured high demand for Ch Canon en primeur.
Effect of 100 point rescoring on Ch Canon 2015
In May 2016, the 2015 vintage of Chateau Canon released at £350 per 6 bottle case. Due to the increasing reputation of the chateau, the acknowledgment by critics and trade that the 2015 vintage was very high quality, and exceptional value offered by Ch Canon, the price rose by 125% over the first 18 months after release.
Then, in February 2018 Ch Canon was re-scored by two major critics, Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni, who both awarded the wine 100 points. These two perfect scores, alongside encouraging tasting notes, such as ‘2015 Canon was a benchmark wine that seemed to revitalize this historic estate’ and ‘2015 Canon is simply extraordinary in every way’, paved the way for a further price increase of 42% to £1,120 in a matter of days.
CH MONTROSE 1996 & RICHEBOURG A F GROS 2015: WHAT IS RESCORING, AND WHAT DOES IT DO?
Wine critics play an important role in the fine wine landscape. Consumers rely on critics’ reviews and scores to relay the style and quality of a wine. High quality wines receive greater attention from the press; when a wine receives a perfect 100 point score the demand surges and the price follows.
Historically seen as an underperforming wine from a stellar vintage, Montrose 1996 was scored 91 points from the eminent wine critic Robert Parker. Two re-scorings resulting in 96 points from Neal Martin in 2016, combined with supply naturally diminishing over time, led to a price increase of more than 30% in the following two years. As the wine continues to be consumed and taken off the market, its price is likely to rise further, in line with its nearest comparable vintages.
The pricing history of Domaine A F Gros’ 2015 Richebourg demonstrates the influence that critics have on the market. A F Gros Richebourg is a wine of the highest calibre, produced in miniscule quantities each year with highly prized allocations on release. On release Neal Martin, one of the eminent Burgundy critics, scored the wine 91-93 points and the price remained around £2,600 per 6 bottles for over 18 months. Upon a blind tasting and rescoring of 99 points from Neal Martin, demand for this highly limited wine sky-rocketed and the price increased 196% to £7,700 per 6 bottles.
Effect of 99 point rescoring on 2015 A F Gros Richebourg
SPECIAL LABELS: MOUTON 2000, ANGELUS 2012 AND ORNELLAIA
Consumer trends also play a critical role in the fine wine market. Superficial changes to a wine such as the label or bottle design can spur secondary market interest. The most renowned example of a special bottling is the 2000 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, which features a striking black and gold ram design on the label. While prices for other First Growths dropped significantly during the wine market decline of 2011-2014, Mouton delivered consistent growth. It now trades at £10,000 per 6 bottles, far beyond any other vintage of Mouton.
In May 2014, Chateau Angelus announced that its 2012 vintage would be released in a special black and gold bottle to celebrate its promotion to St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe A in the same year. From May, its price rose 71% to £1,500 by the end of the year. As of July 2021, Angelus 2012 trades at £1,900 per 6 bottles in bond.
Ornellaia is known for their limited edition labels each vintage. Since the 2006 release, their winemaker Axel Heinz has chosen a single word to describe each vintage, a contemporary artist of their choice then draws inspiration from this word to create a series of limited-edition labels and works of art. One bottle in each case of 6 reflects the artist’s design, and 111 large format bottles are produced each year, with each of these big bottles individually numbered and signed by the artist. These unique bottles are highly sought after, with the 9 Litre Salmanazar bottles fetching more than £50,000 at Ornellaia’s annual charity auction.
TAITTINGER COMTES DE CHAMPAGNE: THE MAGIC OF MATURITY
When it comes to vintage Champagne, age is the most influential factor on appreciation. Unlike regions such as Bordeaux or Tuscany, critics scores do not play such a defining role in prices.
Certain highly anticipated releases do see immediate price increases. Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne 2008 vintage released in autumn 2020 to rapturous critical acclaim. This resulted in an immediate 30% price jump from £535 per 6 bottles to £700, and as at November 2021 had further increased to £950 per 6 bottles.
In general, values tend to remain steady for the first few years after release. Significant price growth starts to occur as secondary market availability begins to diminish, typically between five and ten years thereafter.
The chart below demonstrates this effect across four vintages of Comtes de Champagne. The improving returns are clearly visible, kicking in as the position is held for longer.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne vintage performance
SASSICAIA 2013: GEO-POLITICS AND MACRO SCALE INFLUENCE
The prices of fine wine must be satisfied, ultimately, by consumers paying to drink these rare, delicious bottles.
While the wine market tends not to correlate with traditional financial markets, it does still succumb to the influence of geo-politics and macroeconomics. As we saw with the 2008 financial crash, when disposable incomes decline so too does demand for fine wines. More recently the French-USA trade spat saw the States impose high taxes on imports of French wine, leaving Italian wines remarkably good value in comparison. With increased demand, top wine such as Sassicaia saw an uplift in volumes traded.
From its release in 2016, Sassicaia 2013 had already delivered returns of 43% from its release price of £510 per 6 bottles. Over the course of 2020, and with pressure on supply due to US tariffs, the price jumped a further 30%, bringing the price from £750 to £975 per 6 bottles.
Sassicaia 2013 performance throughout the USA’s 2020 French wine tariff