Wine Investment | Case Studies

Case Studies | Analysis, market performace and tasting notes

Bordeaux | 2015 Ch Canon 1er Grand Cru Classé St Emilion

Since its purchase by Chanel in 1996, Château Canon has undergone a major restoration project: the vineyards were replanted and the winemaking facilities, vat rooms and cellars were completely modernised, this culminated in the renovation of the château itself in 2015. It is a happy coincidence that 2015 Canon is unquestionably one of the greatest wines produced at this wonderful estate.

Garnering praise from critics & customers alike, the wine was originally released into the market at £750 per case (12x75cl). Once the wine became physically available at the end of 2017, the market price soon went above the £2000 mark and has remained there since.

With recent reviews from Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni of Vinous awarding it 100pts and, James Suckling crowning it his wine of the year its reputation is secure and its future promising.

From the very beginning, the 2015 Canon has made an eloquent case for itself as one of the wines of the vintage. Multiple tastings from bottle only confirm what several early tastings hinted at: the 2015 Canon is simply extraordinary in every way. Sumptuous and exotic, with no hard edges and exceptional balance, the 2015 grabs hold of all the senses and never lets up. A rush of red fruit intermingled with floral notes, spice and smoke notes effortlessly runs up the wine's vertical structure as the 2015 thrills with every twist and turn. The 2015 Canon is a rare wine that is both hedonistic and intellectual - well, maybe it is a bit more hedonistic-leaning. It doesn't matter. Don't miss it. This 2015 is masterpiece from General Manager Nicolas Auderbert and his team at Canon. 100pts Antonio Galloni February 2018

The 2015 Canon was a benchmark wine that seemed to revitalize this historic estate. I was crossing my fingers that it would not disappoint in bottle and I am glad to say that it delivers the goods. It has a very intense bouquet (just as it showed out of barrel) with laser-like precision offering wild strawberry, raspberry preserve, wet limestone and hints of truffle. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, clean and fresh with pure black and red fruit whose every atom appears infused with minerals. The mouth is tingling long after the wine has exited and your brain is thinking...when is the next sip coming? It is frankly heads and shoulders above almost every Saint Émilion this vintage, to reaffirm, a benchmark for this historic estate that will give pleasure to many over the coming years. Astonishing. 100pts Neal Martin February 2018

This is the greatest red ever produced here, even better than the great wines of the 1950s and 1960s. Full body yet tight and reserved. Superbly refined tannins. Yet rich and flamboyant. Fruity yet salty and minerally. Electric finish. Stone and chalk undertones. A wonder of a young wine. 100pts James Suckling

Bordeaux | 2014 Ch Lafite Rothschild 1er Cru Classé Pauillac

The fortunes of Lafite Rothschild have been well documented, from the Hong Kong led boom of 2008 to the market wide decline at the start of 2011, the first growths have traditionally acted as a barometer of the health of the fine wine market. Put simply where first growths went, the rest of the fine wine market soon followed.

One of the key features of the first growth is their relatively low cost of entry measured against their potential performance. As en primeur release prices have crept up over the last decade, for the most part first growth release prices have offered buyers an attractive investment opportunity. 2014 Lafite Rothschild is a case in point.

The 2014 Lafite-Rothschild, tasted with head winemaker Eric Kohler, has retained that very opulent and outgoing bouquet that dare I say actually reminded me of Mouton-Rothschild. There are layers of blackberry and boysenberry fruit, still that hint of juniper berry, certainly a more extrovert Lafite-Rothschild compared to recent vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin, very focused and quite linear, again with plenty of black fruit laced with cedar and tobacco. It begins to clam up towards the saline finish, suggesting that it will need several years in bottle, but I still have high expectations for this First Growth once afforded several years in bottle. 95pts Neal Martin Wine Advocate March 2017

With a score of 95pts – the 2014 Lafite is one of the highest scoring Lafites from an ‘off’ vintage (those vintages not considered to be of the top tier such as 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2016). If one compares the market price for other good ‘off’ vintage Lafites – the opportunity, particularly when purchased at opening price, becomes clear.

 Vintage  Score  Release Price  Market Price
 2015  96+  £4,350  £5,840
 2014   95   £2,900   £4,950 
 2012   91   £4,000   £4,900 
 2010   98   £12,000   £7,300 
 2009   99+   £13,000   £7,300 
 2008   98   £1,850   £7,250 
 2006   95   £3,200   £6,400 
 2005   96   £3,750   £7,500 
 2004   95   £950   £6,500 

A ten year old ‘good’ vintage of Lafite Rothschild typically has a market price of between £6,500-7,000 per case.  The 2014 even now at £4950 has the potential to offer good returns. Even taking into account market tribulations, another reason to maintain a mid to long term investment period, one would expect the 2014 to settle around the £6,500 mark.

Burgundy | 2010 La Grande Rue Grand Cru Domaine Lamarche

Nestled between La Tache and Romanée Conti this noble vineyard has quietly but certainly made great strides to being considered alongside the other great vineyards of the appellation. Owned entirely by the Lamarche family, the winemaking has evolved since Nicole Lamarche took charge of proceedings in 2008 and with La Grande Rue it reaches its apogee.

2010 is unquestionably one of the great Burgundy vintages. A relatively benign growing season resulted in high quality fruit and the resulting wines are marked by their sophisticated, fine tannins and their seductive, balanced texture. The quality has not been lost on consumers, released into the market at £2350 per case, it has subsequently more than doubled its price, the current market being £5400. With a maximum production of around 500 cases, the quality and scarcity of the wine bode well for its future.

This is quite ripe though still fresh and bright with intensely spicy aromas of red berry and cherry liqueur. There is a seductively silky texture to the middle weight and delicious flavors that possess excellent depth as well as seriously impressive persistence. As with many wines in the range in 2010, the phenolically mature tannins possess a very fine grain and while firm, they are already well-integrated. The overall impression of this lovely effort is one of balance and harmony. In a word, terrific. 95pts Allen Meadows Burghound January 2013

Tuscany | 2015 Sassicaia

The wines of Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast offer an opportunity for portfolio diversification. A combination of perennially high-quality wine making and market place desirability results in healthy returns, particularly for those prepared to take a position at the time of release of a new vintage and the 2015 Sassicaia is a case in point.

Released into the UK market in early 2018 at £1130 per dozen, the limited amount offered by the estate meant the wine was soon trading at £1400 on the secondary market. However, a positive review by the Wine Spectator magazine in November, in which it was declared ‘wine of the year’ saw the price jump to £1750 per dozen, where it has subsequently remained.

Sassicaia is an iconic wine, as blue-chip as first-growth Bordeaux, grand cru Burgundy or Napa Valley cult Cabernet…it ages magnificently, as a tasting of the 1985 vintage at the estate late last year proved. In a stellar vintage like 2015, Sassicaia has everything: rich and concentrated black currant, blackberry, violet, mineral and spice flavors allied to a dense structure; vibrant acidity that drives the long aftertaste; and beautifully integrated oak, providing impeccable balance…Rich and concentrated, this red features black currant, blackberry, violet, mineral and spice flavors. Dense yet lively, structured yet impeccably balanced, with vibrant acidity driving the long, fruit-filled aftertaste. The oak is beautifully integrated. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2023 through 2042. 97pts Bruce Sanderson Wine Spectator

Arguably this performance is ahead of the curve, whilst Sassicaia can reasonably be expected to achieve and pass the £1800 mark, it usually occurs a few years after initial release. The 2008 an example of a similar scoring wine (97pts Wine Advocate), achieved the level seven years after its release. A patient approach is further rewarded if one looks to older vintages, the 1998, qualitatively a lesser year, is currently offered at £2200 per dozen; demonstrating the benefits of a mid to long term hold.

Champagne | 2008 Louis Roederer Cristal

The 2008 vintage in champagne was one of the most eagerly anticipated releases ever. The growing season was not without its problems, but a settled September allowed the grapes to be harvested in near perfect condition. The resulting wines display great intensity of fruit, textured mineraliity and impeccable balance and in Cristal 2008, they reach their zenith.

“The 2008 Cristal is a real head-turner. Powerful, ample and explosive in all of its dimensions, the 2008 takes hold of the sense and never lets up. There is a crystalline purity to the flavors that is simply remarkable. Although still a baby, the 2008 looks like it will soon take its place alongside the greatest Cristals. Today, it is breathtaking.” 98pts Antonio Galloni Vinous Media July 2018

Released into the market in June 2018 at £780 per 6 bottles, the pressure on supply saw prices in the secondary market race up to £1000/6. Six months later, the price looks stable. A key factor when considering vintage champagne as an investment is the rate of consumption. Typically, the wines are released after an extending period of ageing at the champagne house, and whilst they will mature further, they are ready to drink upon arrival. This contrasts with Bordeaux and Burgundy releases which required further ageing before there is a marked increase in consumption. In terms of expected performance, if one compares the 2008 to the market price of other great Cristal vintages: 2002, £1250/6 and 1996 £2100/6, the outlook is positive.

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