by Wine Owners


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Posted on 2019-04-04


In the same way the media in March was completely dominated by Brexit, so was the wine market. Instead of permanent squabbling and jostling for position, however, the main players in the house of wine commons continued to sit on their hands. Fortunately, there was no squabbling, but U.K. merchants continued to be, unsurprisingly, risk averse; some are just not buying anything for stock currently, so the market has continued to ease. The good news is this easing is a result of apathy rather than volumes of stock hitting the market. There is nothing worse for markets than uncertainty and it feels like we are in the epicentre of that storm right now.


MTD YTD 1 Year 5 Year 10 Year
WO 150 Index 306 -0.25% -1.75% 6.93% 58.95% 89.23%
WO Burgundy Index 654 -2.81% -6.54% 21.66% 128.83% 220.77%
WO Bordeaux Index 336 0.27% -0.34% 5.14% 55.61% 103.50%
WO California Index 670 1.51% -1.59% 14.15% 98.52% 316.53%
WO Champagne Index 459 -0.29% -1.47% 4.50% 67.02% 160.82%
WO First Growth Index 278 2.79% 0.38% 3.03% 45.16% 74.95%


The Burgundy Index continues to slide from its Himalayan style peaks, unsurprisingly, but what is really interesting (to me at least!) is the performance of Bordeaux, especially the First Growths. This sub index gained 2.8% in March and is the only one of the indices above to be positive in 2019. Other than the post Brexit referendum and the weak sterling inspired rally of 2016, the First Growths have been in the doldrums for nearly a decade – is this the turning point we wonder? Market commentators have been saying that Burgundy was making First Growths look cheap again for a while now, yet so far there has been little stirring of the sleeping giant.

We have just returned from Bordeaux, having tasted some, but not all, of the 2018 vintage - more on that here separately and soon. A bad outbreak of mildew and a drought later in the growing season led to severely reduced yields in some properties (two thirds in the case of Pontet Canet) which could easily mean some aggressive pricing in some quarters – yes, again!

As usual, les Bordelais were not to be found suffering from modesty or understatement, many to be claiming another incredible success. The heat from the end of July onwards resulted in small, thick skinned berries delivering highly concentrated juice, resulting in well above average alcohol levels. There are few wines coming in at less than 14% alcohol by volume - Mr. Parker must be punching the air! It almost goes without saying but those who managed the vineyard well, picked in time and maintained acidity have performed the best. At a time when winemakers and consumers are reverting to fresher, more elegant styles the timing of this vintage is somewhat ironic. If Mr. Parker’s influence was still intact we may have been looking at Bordeaux ’18 being declared as the first ever Port vintage outside of Portugal!

Overall the 2018 vintage is patchy although there are undoubtedly some very impressive wines. Some prices may work, most will not, and it could just be that our favourite vintage of modern times, the 2016, is about to be made even more compelling than it already is!


Wine Owners wine market report


Posted in: Market news and analysis, on 2019-04-04.
Tags: fine wine, wine, wine market,

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