Wine Market Investment Report March 2020

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2020-04-08


Miles Davis, 2nd April 2020. 

If we look at the performance of the wine market relative to the major asset classes, wine has, once again, demonstrated some fine defensive qualities. The wider wine market has traded in a narrow range in the last couple of years, but the WO 150 is still up 57% over a five-year period. So far this year the WO150 is -1.3%. The WO First Growth 75 Index is down 6.6% - not bad compared to the FTSE slide of over 26% (peaking at -34%). There is a correlation in that the Covid 19 crisis has brought both classes down but the difference in magnitude and the speed in which it happens is significant:




Perhaps there will be a time lag response to the wine market as liquidity is so relatively small and because professional investors will not even stop to think about wine in times such as these (a good thing!). Following the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, The Fine Wine Fund, which I was co-managing and invested entirely in blue chip Bordeaux, lost an average 5.5% a month between September and December.


Wine Current Value MTD YTD 1 Year 5 Year 10 Year
WO 150 Index 306.56 2.00% -1.52% -0.26% 54.19% 83.43%
WO Champagne 60 Index 488.78 2.24% 1.73% 6.53% 62.87% 151.71%
WO Burgundy 80 Index 786 5.20% 7.57% 17.87% 155.27% 256.58%
WO First Growth 75 Index 251.92 -0.29% -7.14% -9.68% 34.15% 46.01%
WO Bordeaux 750 Index 365.35 2.71% 0.08% 8.06% 68.39% 105.06%
WO California 85 index 685.88 1.42% 0.04% 2.46% 94.94% 292.25%
WO Piedmont 60 Index 312.96 2.44% -5.89% -2.24% 68.28% 101.01%
WO Tuscany 80 Index 339.75 2.33% 5.82% 15.45% 77.51% 96.32%


So far, the current market does not feel like it is going to react in quite the same way as either back then or like the major asset classes. To start with Hong Kong (and therefore China) has been inactive for the last nine months, first with the political troubles and now the virus and inventory must have reduced but, more importantly, the strength of the US dollar versus sterling is in play. At the start of the year GBP/USD was 1.33, falling to 1.15 on the 20th March and now at c. 1.24. The depreciation of GBP has protected sterling holders of wine and encouraged dollar buyers back into the market – indeed, we have seen this as a noticeable trading pattern, one which will probably continue.

Our own experience is that we have seen buyers of first growth Bordeaux, village and premier cru Burgundy, 2016 Piedmont and some of the super Tuscans. Most of the sub-indices are in good shape but there are two points to note here; one is that merchants rarely mark stock down unless they have to and the other is that these are calculated using the only readily available price – the offer price. Bids may well tell a different story.

Overall, the wine market is going to struggle this year and I would predict mainline prices, i.e. liquid Bordeaux and expensive Burgundy will be up against it. There will be lots of opportunities however and I do not expect a sudden crash, as we would have seen that by now. In a normal market 2016 Piedmont would have been extremely difficult to buy but, as it is, it is proving a joy. This will not be the case when the dust settles and as there’s very little to go around, I repeat my buy recommendation.

N.B. Our Burgundy index needs reworking as it has too many older, illiquid vintages contained within it.



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