Market update and news 1st Quarter 2021

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2021-04-14

Miles Davis, April 2021

The first quarter of 2021 has flown by with the wine market in fine form. There is a firm feeling of robustness about the secondary market and any prices that have been marked down only came about for the sake of expediency. Most of the indices are up with the WO 150 leading the way, up nearly 1 per cent on the month and more than 3% on the year so far. At the risk of sounding repetitive, what I like about it is the un-gung-ho nature of it, it is little by little – as it is supposed to be!

Our Italian indices have retreated a little, which is a surprise as trade in Piedmont and Tuscany has been better than ever and this maybe down to some older stock prices being marked down. Other people’s Italian indices are positive. The often-overlooked Rhone has been busy too, particularly Hermitage, both reds and whites, with bottles sailing off our proverbial shelves. There is no shortage of fizz in the Champagne market either with volume trades of Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne and Dom Perignon popping up amidst the sea of six packs.      

Wine Owners

White Burgundy has been flying out the door with two names mentioned in my previous report featuring prominently, Leflaive and Henri Boillot. Anything Premier or Grand Cru status with the word ‘Montrachet’ in there somewhere sells well, if priced sensibly. Comtes Lafon and Fontaine Gagnard also deserve a mention. Red Burgundy travels sweetly and also sells well, again if priced sensibly! Although still languishing in terms of overall market share, Bordeaux prices are firm with a gently positive persuasion. 

The release of Burgundy 2019, in the main, has come and gone and was well received. The reports from the critics were very good and although only a tiny percentage of punters actually tasted any of the wines this year they sold very well indeed. Too well for one seasoned client of ours who has now given up the fight (for allocations) and moved onto more peaceful pastures, and who knows, perhaps more profitable? 

Covid seems to have been good for en primeur merchants; no time-consuming events, with or without the private clients, and plenty of sales – simples! I recall tasting Bordeaux 2018 en primeur and, as a generalisation, found them too big, powerful and in many cases overly alcoholic for me. Two years on, the wines in bottle are getting some high scores. I am guessing, but perhaps critics are tasting and scoring in the context of a hotter, modern era. Either way, these wines are products of climate change and I wonder how they may develop in bottle. I expect rather well once fully mature, for those who are able to wait that long. I recently enjoyed a zoom tasting of Pichon Comtesse ’89 which for me was old fashioned, elegant Bordeaux personified but for someone else a wine that needed drinking up immediately. ‘Horses for races’ as an esteemed colleague once commented.

The bid to offer ratio on the platform has been interesting of late. For years Wine Owners has had a far greater supply than it has had demand. That is the case as I write but so far this year bids have outweighed supply by a multiple of roughly 1.5. We have more buyers, in terms of pure numbers but also in terms of better-quality buyers than ever before. Settlement is slicker and quicker, and we are enjoying more repeat business.

Whilst on the subject of Wine Owners, we have moved into a lovely new office in Bleeding Heart Yard, not far from the old office, but much closer to the Bleeding Heart Bistro and other nice venues.  Who is up for the WOBHLL (Wine Owners Bleeding Heart (easing of) Lockdown Lunch or other such heart attack inducing enticements?? 

And finally, in other news, the US has called a temporary ceasefire on tariffs on European wines, that may become permanent. This is positive for the market as a whole and we welcome the news. At the same time but not related, we are seeing a new wave of wine investors coming from the States and this is exciting. 

As always, please ask questions and feel free to disagree. 

All the best,


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